When it comes to setting up your woodworking shop, it is essential to make sure that you have these various router bits while learning how and when to use it. In case you don’t know, a router is one of the handiest and most versatile woodworking tools that you can ever have. You can use it for various projects, from decorating edges to cutting different woodworking joints. The question is, what are the kinds of router bits that you should have?
You can choose from over a dozen router bits, but you don’t have to buy every kind. Choosing the right style depends on your project, and match it with the router bit’s shank size, tip type, and profile. So, you must know the roles and applications of all standard router bits.
We understand that it can be confusing at first, so we are here to help you. Besides giving you the information that you need to make wise choices, let us also explain to you the purposes of various router bits.
What Are Router Bits?
Router bits are tools that you can attach to a drill or drill press to give shape to your projects. Straight router bits are the most commonly used bits of all kinds. You can use it to make cuts straight down into a material and form a groove, dado, or hollow cuts on a specific area. It comes in various cutting diameters that range from 3/16 to 1 ½ inch. Remember these three features when determining your project’s ideal router bit – router bit material, shank diameter, and quality.
Router Bit Materials
What are the materials used to make your router bits? Most router bits are either made from high-speed steel (HSS) or carbide. HSS bits are made from carbon steel and have a high heat resistance, which helps the bits to retain their strength longer. The alternative is more of a carbide edge. Carbide tip bits are more robust than HSS bits and can keep an edge longer. And as for the bit’s lifetime, HSS bits obviously can not compete. Carbide tips will last 80 to 90 percent longer than HSS bits.
Although the carbide bit trumps HSS in most categories, care must be taken to handle and store carbide bits. Carbide tips are fragile, and you should take care of them properly. When properly treated, you’ll find that they stay sharp for longer while still offering a cleaner cut than HSS pieces. All of which makes carbide bits the commodity of higher quality, and worth the investment.
Router Bit Shank Diameter
When it comes to shank thickness, there are two different diameters: 1⁄4 and 1⁄2 inch. It is safer to use a 1⁄2 inch diameter in most situations, as it is stiffer and more massive, which gives you less friction and a smoother cut. Some routers only use 1⁄4 inch, so test your router before starting. However, in most cases, you’ll rely on the 1⁄2 inch stability and durability.
Router Bit Speed
Better routers should have a speed adjustment which typically allows speed adjustment ranging from about 8,000 to 24,000 rpm (revolutions per minute). It’s because not all of the router bits can run at the same speed safely or optimally. Larger router bits have more mass and thus have the potential to create strong vibration at higher velocities. It’s essential to understand what measures router speeds.
“Revolutions per minute” is simply a measure of the number of times the bit performs a full revolution in a given period and not measuring the speed at which the bit’s body and cutting surfaces move. The outer edge of a 3 1⁄2-inch diameter bit moves at 24,000 rpm much faster than the cutting surface of a 1⁄2-inch straight bit would be at the same speed as the shaft.
Faster speed than a slower pace is more desirable, for the simple reason that a quicker speed produces more cuts per inch, and more cuts per inch usually have a smoother cut. The use of clear, high-quality bits and the proper feed rate go hand in hand with a bit speed in making a clean cut. Make practice cuts with a new bit until you can produce a smooth, even feed rate that is not so fast that it creates a rough cut, or so slow that burning and burning marks result.
|Router Bit Diameter||Maximum Speed|
|Up to 1″||22,000 – 24,000 rpm|
|1″ to 2″||18,000 – 22,000 rpm|
|2″ to 2-1/2″||12,000 – 16,000 rpm|
|2-1/2″ to 3-1/2″||8,000 – 12,000 rpm|
Many better-quality bits give an anti-kickback system with the additional safety feature. The expanded anti-kickback body and anti-kickback bit stop the bit from digging too deeply into the material and holding it on. Bits of this type have more body mass than other carbide parts, which helps dissipate heat and keep the bit sharp between grindings for more prolonged operation.
Router Bit Quality
A variety of attributes make a distinction between better quality router bits and “bargain” bits. Healthy router bits are sharp and remain sharp for a long time to come. Good bits are well balanced, so minimal vibration is created. They have excellent chip ejection properties and are built for suitable cutting geometry. Many woodworkers stick to router bits tipped with carbide. Carbide cutters can keep their edge 10 to 25 times as long as HSS (high-speed steel) pieces.
Better carbide bits are ground to a more delicate edge and have thick cutters that require numerous regrindings. They are also made of fine-grained carbide of high quality, which makes for a sharper cutting edge.
Router Bit Shanks
The bit shank of a router is the robust and cylindrical component of a bit of a router, and the bit section goes into the router’s collet. Router bit shanks have two standard sizes – ¼ and ½ inch. Most routers come with interchangeable ¼ and ½ inch collets so that any size bit can be used, but others only support ¼ inch shank bits.
Use bits with ½ inch shanks whenever possible. With less noise, they have better stability, and generally produce a smoother cut and have longer cutter life. The router bits are typically available in both shank diameters, except for minimal and very wide profiles.
Router Bit Cutting Edges
Most router bits have high-speed steel (HSS) cutting points or carbide tips fused to the bits. Many profile bits will have carbide cutters that are tougher than steel and can keep an edge longer – ten to twenty-five times longer – but are also brittler. Thus, while carbide-tipped bits are preferred, they must be handled and carefully stored to prevent chipping the cutters.
6 Router Bits That You Must Have
Go into any fine woodworking supplier, and you’ll probably find a wall lined with hundreds of different profile router parts, shank sizes, tip styles, and more. A router is one of the most versatile woodworking devices you can possess, but the flexibility is not the tool itself; it’s the parts. Choosing the right router bit and adequately using it requires selecting the right type and size of bit for the job and correctly installing the bit and using the speed of the tool needed.
#1 – Straight Router Bits
Straight router bits are a workshop staple. Such bits allow cut-outs directly into a material to form a groove or groove (a groove through the wood grain) or hollow a mortise or inlay area. They come in varying lengths and diameters.
#2 – Rabbeting Router Bits
Rabbeting router bits are driven at the tip by a rotating pilot bearing; these bits are specifically designed to cut a rabbet (shoulder) at the edge of a workpiece often used for joining parts. They can be purchased in a package that includes bearings of various diameters, allowing for the development of rabbets of different sizes by a single bit.
#3 – Flush-Trim Router Bits
As the name suggests, such bits are used to trim the edge of one material flush with the edge of another like trim a veneered surface flush with a base or use a pattern to produce several identical sections. Typically they are driven by a pilot bearing, which is the same diameter as the cutter. The bearing may be on the tip of the bit or at the base.
#4 – Chamfer Router Bits
Chamfer router bits cut a bevel at a given angle to ease or decorate a surface’s edges. They can also build the beveled edges needed for joining multi-sided constructions. Multi-sided frames, planters, wastebaskets, and other decorative items can be made using chamfer parts.
#5 – Edge Forming Bits
Edge forming router bits are most widely used for decorative edge cutting. For example, Round-Over bits cut a rounded edge of a particular radius; Ogee bits cut variations of an S-shaped profile; Edge-beading bits cut a quarter half-circle profile (called a bead); Cove bits cut a concave quarter-circle. Many edges forming bits provide a bearing for the pilot. These bits are for the final decoration of a project where edges have already been developed and may serve as guides.
- Edge Beading Bit – The edge beading router, as the name implies, is designed to form the edges of objects, such as tabletops, chair arms, shelves, and any other places you need to enhance the edge. To some degree, this router bit is similar to the round over bit, as it can often add a rounded shape edge of the workpiece. This router bit will cut a quarter or half circle profile, which is what woodworkers call a bead.
- Ogee Bit – One of the most common edges shaping bits is the Roman ogee bit, and you will find it in almost all woodworking workshops as it is part of most wood router bit sets. This bit produces a complex, s-shaped profile, and it comes in different variations. However, the most common ogee bits are those with dots on the edges. And like most other parts of the edge, they’ll come with a tip forbearing.
#6 – Specialized Bits
Specialized router bits are for different tasks. Examples are molding bits that combine multiple edge-forming profiles into a single bit. On the other hand, the stile-and-rail bits are for shaping the frame parts in frame-and-panel structures. Some examples include cabinet doors and raised-panel bits.
These bits are extensive and can only be used safely in a router placed on a wall. Many specialized bits include dovetail bits, bits from the drawer-lock, finger-joint bits, and bits from the lock-miter.
- Glue Joint Bit – The glue joint router bit is a helpful type of bit whose primary function is to build a wood joint to connect one piece to another to form a larger plate. The main benefit of the glue joint bit over other joining mechanisms, such as dowels and biscuits, is that it produces a large glue region for better adhesion.
- Dovetail Bit – Among the various router bits you can get, the dovetail is one of the most popular ones you’re likely to use a lot. It is intended to build dovetail joinery tails. However, a dovetail bit may also be used to make rabbets and tapered dadoes. This router bit will have a flat bottom with some angled sides at the base, more comprehensive.
How to Buy the Best Router Bit Sets
Your choice of router bit collection will decide the tasks you may use your router to accomplish. Although experienced woodworkers would have tens of router bits, it’s not always easy to buy the first router bit collection. If you are starting or planning to add a new set to your workshop’s router bit range, there are some essential points to bear in mind to ensure you make the right choice.
Brand Of The Router Bit
Some companies stand out as with much other woodworking equipment when it comes to router bit sets. These businesses have been in the industry for a long time. Moreover, it has been popular with various woodworkers and hobbyists looking for a bit kit. Freud, MLCS, CMT, and Whiteside are some of those popular brands.
- Freud Router Bit – Freud is known for making some of the most cutting-edge blades. They also grow their particular combination of titanium and cobalt micro grains. And this means their wood router bits are among the highest quality as they will still have optimum life for cutting.
- MLCS Router Bit – Any list of the best router brands is never complete without MLCS for beginners. Their top-quality carbide-tipped bits are also reasonably cheap when you compare them with what other brands offer you.
- CMT Router Bit – CMT is another brand you can count to install some high-quality router pieces. Although CMT may not be as popular as the others, their parts have a relatively long cut lifetime, and in most cases, they are also a bit expensive.
- Whiteside Router Bit – Many skilled woodworkers are set as part of their collection by a Whiteside router bit. Their sets come with various bits, and they are renowned for leaving on the workpiece smooth surfaces that will require almost no sanding.
Shank size is another essential factor to remember when choosing the best quality router pieces. And mainly woodworkers would have to choose between the two traditional ¼ and ½ -inch dimensions. Many routers from different brands will come with ¼ and ½ -inch interchangeable collections to allow you to use either bit.
Some routers will tolerate only the ¼ -inch bit, though. However, always using bits with the ½ -inch shanks wherever possible. They are more durable than the ¼ -inch ones, create a smoother cut with minimal vibrations, and appear to have a longer life span.
Materials Of The Router Bits
Materials matter a lot, as it dictates everything from router bits output to how long they hold a sharp edge. And three different styles will be used by several brands to make their parts.
- Carbide Tip – Carbide is the material you get on a router bit tipped with carbide. For longer than other materials such as high-speed steel, these bits retain a sharp edge and often cut hardwoods and metals.
- Solid Carbide – The router bits made from solid carbide are the most potent and reliable router bits on the market. They are suitable for heavy-duty tasks and where the toughest woods and other materials are used.
- High-Speed Steel – It will be appropriate if you are searching for cheap router bits for use with softer high-speed steel materials. These routers are suitable for casual users, but for as long as carbide tip and solid carbide bits do not retain their edge.
Although there’s nothing wrong with having a wall full of hundreds of different types of router bits, there are other types you’ll never use. Moreover, this is due in most cases that some router bits are very flexible and can perform the tasks intended for others. And these are the pieces you’re going to be using a lot. The router bits widely used include the straight cutting bits, round over bits, flush trim, cove bit, and dovetail because of their flexibility.
How to Use a Router Bit?
A router is a high-speed motor with a high-speed spinning spindle, to which you can add a greater variety of cutting bits that can produce thousands of different decorative profiles. Structural joinery cuts, such as rabbets and dice, mortises and tenons, and dovetail joints, can also be made using a router. The router motor is clamped with an opening into a flat foundation, from which the cutting bit extends.
With the motor running and the bit spinning at high speed, running the router’s base along a workpiece allows the bit to cut a shaped edge with considerable ease. Even if you own just a couple of bits, you can create hundreds of different shapes by varying the bit depth. Here are seven articles that will help you understand and make the most of this tool for working on other wooden objects.
Step 1 – Know The Basics of Router Use
The router is the modern wood shop’s primary power tool. The tool is usually used in a handheld fashion, but can also be mounted upside down on a router table, allowing you to shape wood by sliding the workpiece along a cutting bit that extends up through the table.
Many woodworkers have two or three different routes with varying levels of horsepower and additional features. Whether you’re looking for a fixed-base router or a plunge router, there are several features you can know about when buying your shop router.
Step 2 – Learn the Basic Router Bit Profiles
Both fixed-base routers and plunge routers have motor spindles fitted with collets which can accommodate a variety of router parts. Using specialty bits, or using a mixture of bits in multiple cutting passes, you can achieve an almost infinite number of edging profiles. With ten flexible router pieces, most beginning woodworkers can get by, which will complete the most common tasks.
Step 3 – How to Properly Install Router Bits
A fair router bit will produce a range of different cutting profiles, and your cutting choices with a router are almost endless, with hundreds of other bits available. But if it is not correctly mounted in the tool’s collet, no router bit can cut accurately.
An improperly mounted bit can vibrate excessively (called chatter), resulting in a rough cutting profile and can be very dangerous to the user at worst. Learning to mount your router bits properly does a long way to ensuring safe, efficient performance.
Step 4 – Learn About Straight and Spiral Router Bits
As you become familiar with some router bit profiles, you can acknowledge that several different bits may produce the same break. For example, a straight cut can be made with consecutive bits with one or more straight cutting flutes, but spiral bits with either upward or downward angled cutting flutes can also be made the same straight cut.
However, there are certain advantages for each form of bit, and knowing their different qualities is necessary, and which one to choose for each job.
Step 5 – Know How To Wood Splinters and Tear-out
One of the most problematic routing issues is the tendency of wood to splinter or break out, which is particularly prevalent with highly grained trees, such as oak. Often splintering is just irritation; however, big tear-out splinters can destroy a piece of work.
Typically you can prevent this issue by finding the right cutting bits and correctly maintaining them and using the proper technique while using your router. For example, using a dull blade and feeding the tool too quickly will very often cause splintering. Learn different ways to avoid splintering during your routing.
Step 6 – Know How To Wood Splinters and Tear-out
One of the most problematic routing issues is the tendency of wood to splinter or break out — a problem that is particularly prevalent with highly grained trees, such as oak. Often splintering is just irritation; however, big tear-out splinters can destroy a piece of work. Typically you can prevent this issue by finding the right cutting bits and correctly maintaining them and using the correct technique while using your router. For example, using a dull blade and feeding the tool too quickly will very often cause splintering. Learn different ways to avoid splintering during your routing.
Step 7 – Choose Between ¼-inch vs. ½-inch Shank Bits
Most router bits come in a ¼-inch shank or ½-inch shank. For each shank size, better routers also come with a set, allowing you to adjust the set to use bits of either size. 1/4-inch shanks are typically just right for lightweight work, such as light edge profiles or work on softwoods. However, installing your router with a ½-inch collet will provide more excellent stability and easier cutting for heavy-duty work on hardwoods. Know the benefits of the scale of each shank.
The router is one of the most useful power tools you can have in the workshop because it makes your workpiece easy to shape and decorate. But it would help if you had the right router bit to get the best service from it. There are hundreds of bits of routers out there, and each one has a function or shapes it can make. Although having as many as possible is necessary, the wise idea is to concentrate more on getting the best quality router bits.