Read Thread: Laser carving
I use 22 gauge hypodermic needles. You can get them at farm supply stores. Clip the needle off at the base with wire cutters and then put it in a pin vise. Use the edge of the needle just as you would an x-acto knife. You can get incredible detail. Look at my profile pic. That stamp measures 2.75" x 2.5". Carved only with the needle, it took a little more than 20 hours to carve. Of course you need SERIOUS magnification to do detail that small, but it's totally possible and honestly pretty easy. I use the following type of magnifier (not the same brand): http://www.doneganoptical.com/products/optivisor
Same exact problem - my needle knife sits lonely in my kit because of this. I cannot control the cut for the life of me. Any ideas much appreciated ;)
You guys might need to try a heavier gauge needle cut off a bit shorter so it doesn't stick out of the pin vise so far. That way, you should have enough control to force it to cut in whatever direction you want, even if the cutting edge isn't perfectly aligned with the cut you're trying to make.
Should you have to "force" it, though? Right now, when I force it, because the shape of the tip is essentially a half moon, the round part of the tip of the needle really wants to steer which is what gives me problems. This is even using the tippiest part of the tip - no more than half a millimetre.
This is what I think is the beauty of a needle. You twist the vise to make the needle go one way or the other. Think of this action like you were paddling, twist a double bladed paddle one way it will slide away from you and twist the opposite it will come in to you. I try to find a place to start the cut a little distance from the line being made. If I am not mistaken Kirberts tutorial demonstrates this. This helps get the needle going straight. To be clear I use both needle and miniaturized gouge for detail.
I found Kirbert's tutorial under links, carving.