My Bur Pack includes the 8 burs most-often used to carve eggs, out of the thousands of burs available. They are standard dental burs with 1/16 inch friction grip shanks which fit all air tools and are precision engineered. As my first few years of carving passed by, I realized that my students were using just these 8 basic burs, no matter what we were working on. I began looking at the eggs I'd carved through the years and was quite surprised that I could have carved every single one of them with these burs. If you buy directly from a dental supply, you're usually forced to buy at least 6, if not more, of each type of bur that you order. So, this bur pack is very convenient and affordable. I'm considering eventually adding other specialty burs that make certain jobs easier, but for now these will get you quite far. So, let's take a quick look at what burs are included as well as a bit more detail regarding what tasks they are most commonly used for:
The #699 is officially called a "tapered crosscut fissure bur" which means it has cutting flutes going its length, it is serrated and tapers to a small, flat end. What that means to us is that it's the workhorse of our arsenal. You can use the #699 to do almost everything you want to goose eggs and anything smaller. You can cut filigree without first scoring your shell. When you want to pierce the shell, hold the bur at a 45 degree angle because it's the rim of the tip that's sharp, not the flat end itself. When cutting, keep the bur as perpendicular to the shell as possible. You'll find yourself reaching for a #699 frequently, no matter what size of egg you're working on. It is wonderful for smoothing edges, too.
|#33 1/2 Carbide
This tiny bur is another of the workhorses in my little carving world. Although I usually draw my designs directly to the shell, I did develop a method for those who can't draw to get their patterns transferred to the shell by gluing them on. The #33 1/2 serves as the best way to mark your lines no matter how your pattern got onto than one size, but the smallest one is the easiest bur to control, even when battling the large pores on an ostrich egg. Besides being the bur to use to mark your initial pattern lines, it is also great for getting into tiny places. When I've finished a relief carving I often go back and accentuate some of my lines. It's super for emu eggs as well!
What can one say about the diamond football? I've arranged this list of burs in the order of frequency that you will probably us them and for relief carving, the diamond football is critical. Not only can it remove a lot of material quickly when you are doing the roughing in of a relief carving, it can also smooth the rough carving down to the point where other finishing burs can take over. During an average relief carving of an ostrich egg, for example, you'll probably spend 80% of your time using this bur. It is amazing in the amount of different shapes it can create, too, depending on the angle at which you hold the bur. Even better, they last for a long, long time.
Our #701, like the #699, is also a tapered crosscut fissure bur, but it is way thicker and sturdier than its little brother the #699. The main thing I use this bur for is to cut away areas of thick ostrich shells. If you just plunge a #699 into the shell, you'll break it right off. Even with the #701, it's far better to make several passes over your line, scoring deeper and deeper each time, until you are all the way through the shell. I used to recommend the #702 which is even bigger and sturdier than the #701, but most people find the #702 extremely difficult to handle and to control. Even worse, the #702 is so large that it will not fit into many of the areas that you have to remove. So, the #701 is what you really need for this task.
The stone burs come in a large variety of shapes such as balls and cylinders, but the one illustrated here, bur #FL2, is my shape of choice. In dental catalogues they come in packs of 10, 12 or 15 and are called "flame" burs in terms of their shape. I, on the other hand, always refer to them as "bullet-shaped" for obvious reasons. Once you've gotten a relief carving or an emu egg very well shaped and partially smoothed with the diamond football, you can employ the green stone as the equivalent of "medium" sandpaper. It will leave tiny scratches in its wake, but since nothing in Nature is truly smooth, you may well want to create those scratches on purpose to lend a bit of texture to a leaf petal, for example.
In my case, my art reflects the world as I'd like to see it... Balanced, smooth and without conflict for the most part. So, I'm almost always on a mission to get every portion of my carvings just as smooth as possible. If it weren't for the white stone, I don't think it would be possible. Unlike carbide and diamond burs, the stones do wear down more quickly. Especially mine, which get used so much. Thus, you can reshape them by running them against sandpaper or a file. I did an article in TES which showed how to shape the stones into configurations that are extremely valuable in certain areas during the smoothing process. The white stone is the final bur I use to smooth my portraits on hen eggs, too.
|#1 Carbide Ball
Both the round ball burs here have their own qualities. The #1 carbide ball is very aggressive and can be used to engrave lines on the surface of eggshells. Some people would rather do line art on their eggs, like drawings, rather than getting into relief carving. Well, the carbide round is great for that on thicker eggs. And, it can be used for "stippling" which is usually a border or background technique to add texture and interest. I did an entire tree using stippling, so I wouldn't have to carve tiny leaves. Click on the photo to the right to see what I mean.
|#1 Diamond Ball
The #1 diamond ball is far less aggressive than the carbide, so it serves well to do line carving, or perhaps I should call it engraving, on smaller shells. For an example, see my jigsaw eggs on the Rhea eggs page. Depending on what type of shell you are using, both can do things like writing to personalize eggshell creations. You have to practice a bit to get your line depth fairly uniform, but it isn't at all difficult. I like to use a gold paint pen to go over the writing I've engraved into the shell. The final piece always comes out looking so elegant and "special," as something personalized should. The diamond ball is also a must for engraving glass, but they wear out fast! I sometimes engrave the titles of my pieces on their glass domes.
The only eight burs you really need!
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