Favorite Porcelain Doll Making Tools
of the ODACA Artist & Aux members

Lou Benzell

I do an awful lot of Joan's "Buggy" work, I am providing you with one of the tools that has become as much of the porcelain doll making process as the doll itself. My brother, while in dental school inherited an old belt driven dental drill, which he used in his lab at home. The drill must have been 25 years old at the time but worked like a charm. After he graduated and opened his own office, the old drill was put in the attic and of course he bought all kinds of new modern tools. When Joan became real serious about her doll making I talked to my brother about the flexibility of his new dental drill and the advantages it had over any type of "Dremel-type" tool. He suggested that I take the one in the attic and try it. I have had the tool now for about 27 years and had to replace the belt two or three times.

Knowing that a dentist has to work in very tight places at unique angles, the drill was the perfect tool for working on Joan's miniature body parts as well as putting the final touches to her sculpting. I have acquired hundreds of drill bits, burrs, and sanders many of which are smaller than the point of a pin. I have also had to improvise chucks to hold drill bits and sanders that did not accommodate a 3/32 dental shaft. Drilling holes for armatures in arms and legs no larger than 1/8 of an inch diameter would normally create a monumental task for fit as well as for breakage. I usually do not break any more than one or two appendages out of every hundred I drill. In other instances, I have several (dental) diamond sanders that allows me to remove imperfections from fired porcelain as well as to correct and detail head, hand, foot and body sizes. The dental tool is not heavy compared to other hand held tools and can be purchased from any dental laboratory. The most enjoyable part of the tool is that it can be speed controlled with your foot as you use both hands to do your work. The dental drill will give you a perfect "round" and does not wobble or go off line when being used. Lastly, this type of tool can be used by anyone who works with media such as resin, wood and fired clay or any other type of hard material.

The next time you are at your dentists office, ask the Doctors if you can hold the drilling instrument, I think you will understand why I find this tool so comfortable and manipulative. By the way, the drill is not water cooled....just an old fashion dental drill.

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