FISCH Wave Cutter Forstner Bits Review

Superb, Long-Lasting, Professional Quality Forstner Bits.

FISCH Wave Cutter Forstner Bits

FISCH Wave Cutter Forstner Bits



For general drilling where hole concentricity and size accuracy is not overly important, woodworkers can choose from a variety of bit styles: twist, brad-point, spade, and tapered. But, for holes with super crisp rims, that are accurately sized, and have clean, flat bottoms, Forstner and Saw-Tooth bits are the better choice. As well as drilling precise, clean-edged holes in soft and hard woods, plywood, MDF, and laminates, these bits excel at drilling angled holes, overlapping holes, and holes on the edge of stock.

Forstner bits typically have two flat curved rims with inside bevels, two chippers, and a center spur. They are usually available in diameters up to around 1". Saw-Tooth bits have a similar configuration, except the rim is toothed. These bits can be had in diameters from about 1" to 4". 

I recently tried a newly designed Forstner bit – the Fisch Wave Cutter. Rather than a single curved rim, these bits feature a scalloped (wavy) edge rim. The idea is that the scalloped edge cuts quickly, produces less friction, decreases heat build-up, and improves chip ejection.

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L to R: Wave Cutter, Saw-Tooth, Forstner

In the photo above you can see the difference between the three 'styles' of Forstner bits.

The Wave Cutters are available in a wide range of diameters, from 1/4" to 2-1/8" in Imperial styles, and 15mm to 68mm in metric styles. You can purchase the bits separately, or in various boxed or blister pack sets. The smaller diameter bits (up to about 1') can be used freehand in a drill. However, for the larger bits you'll get better results using them in a drill press.

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The 7-Piece Wave Cutter Set

The 7-piece boxed set (#0317007K) contains what are probably the most frequently used sizes of Forstner bits: 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", 7/8", and 1" bits. Shank diameters range from 1/4" to 3/8". Overall bit length is about 3-1/2". According to Fisch, each bit is forged and heat treated from a blank of proprietary steel alloy, and CNC precision ground. I measured all the bit diameters, and found them to be spot-on.

The storage box is very nicely made of solid beech and plywood, and each bit has it's own slot. The box is glued together rather than nailed, the edges are slightly rounded over, and it's been spray finished with lacquer. It's nice looking and practical – for bit protection, storage, and carrying about the shop.

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The wave edge - a technological breakthrough

The 1/2" and larger bits feature the wave edge, which you can see in the photo above (the smaller diameter bits have standard curved rims). The wavy periphery on these bits is nicely polished and very sharp, as are the beveled edges on the chippers. The center spur is well defined and comes to a sharp point.

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Top: Fisch Wave bit; Bottom: Forstner bit

I found that the Wave Cutters did an excellent job in both hardwood and softwood, whether drilling face, edge, or end grain. The holes precisely matched the diameter of the bits, and the rim edges and bottom of the holes were crisp and clean. When drilling shallow holes, up to about 1" deep for the 5/8" and larger bits (up to about 3/4" with the smaller diameter bits). the bits did a good job of clearing chips. Going any deeper, there was a tendency for the holes to plug-up. To be fair, this also happens with standard Forstner bits. You can avoid this problem all-together, by sinking the bit 1/4" or so for small bits (1/2" or so for larger bits), and then pulling the bit out of the hole to allow chips to clear. 

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Perfect for staggered, angled, or edge drilling

Not only do the Wave Cutters perform well drilling straight holes, they do a very good job drilling angles holes, overlapping holes, and holes on the edge of boards. As with standard Forstner bits drilling holes on the edge of stock is easier if you clamp the stock to the drill press table – particularly when drilling into short, narrow stock.

Fisch claims that these bits can drill three times the number of holes than other Forstner bits before needing to be sharpened, and that they can be can be sharpened up to 30 times. I haven't used these bits long enough to determine whether they will last appreciably longer than standard Forstner bits, but over the three week period that I have been exclusively using the Wave Cutters in the shop, they are holding up magnificently. The holes they cut are as crisp and clean as the first time I used the bits, and they show no signs of dulling.


The 7-piece boxed Wave Cutter set costs $110, or an average of $15.70 per bit. A standard set of boxed Forstner bits cost about $80, or about $10.40 per bit. You can also purchase the 7-piece Wave Cutter in a blister pack for $80 ($11.40 per item), and an unboxed standard Forstner set for $63 ($9 per item). Regardless of the format you choose, if the Wave Cutter bits last even twice as long as standard Forstner bits, then they're a much more economical choice. If they last three times as long, they're a stellar deal.

It may not be worth your time to sharpen the smaller diameter blades. In my part of the country a commercial sharpening service charges $9 to sharpen Forstner bits 1" and under, and $12 for larger diameter bits. However, because the larger bits are more expensive – a 1-5/8" standard Forstner cost about $20 while the same size Wave Cutter is priced at $40 – you'll want to think about sharpening them yourself. I find a combination of tapered and narrow diamond files works best. However, you could also use a rotary tool equipped with an aluminum oxide stone.


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The Multi-Function Wave Cutter Pepper Mill Boring set

If you make salt shakers and pepper mills, then this set will enable you to this set contains bore up to a 12" long blanks. It consists of 1-1/16" (27mm) and 1-5/8" (41mm) Wave Cutters and a 1/4" (7mm) brad-point bit, two 3/16" (4mm) center twist drill bits and two cone tips, a 3-5/8" (93mm) and a 5-7/8" (150mm) extension bar, a #2 Morse taper adaptor, and a dismantling tool. As with the 7-piece set described above, it comes in a well-crafted storage box.

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Faceted and tapered shanks for greater holding power

What I found interesting is that the shanks on the Wave Cutters are not only faceted, so that they hold very securely in a drill press chuck, they are also slightly tapered. This enables them to be used in either of the two extension bars without the need for a set screw to secure it in place.

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Replaceable centering pins and drills

These two Wave Cutter bits have replaceable centers. You can choose from either a 1" pin or a 1-1/2" drill bit, depending on the density of the wood you're using. The centers are easily inserted into the drill bit heads, and can be quickly removed with the included dismantling tool.

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Three extension bars enhance functionality

The Pepper Mill set comes with a 3-5/8" and a 5-7/8" extension bar (left in photo above) that can be used in a drill press to increase drilling depth. There is also a 5-1/2" extension bar that has a #2 Morris taper adapter that you can use in the tailstock center sleeve of a lathe or in the Morse taper shank of a drill press.

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Wave cutters easily mount on extensions

The extension bars are bored with a slight taper to match the taper on the Wave Cutter shanks. You simply insert the Wave Cutter into the extension bar and give it a slight twist to lock it in place. I could discern no runout when the bit and extension were mounted on the drill press.

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Bit easily separates from extension bar

The dismantling tool makes easy work of removing a Wave Cutter from an extension bar. It only takes a slight amount of pressure to dislodge the bit.

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Superb bits for precision drilling

I find that these Fisch Wave Cutter bits cut very quickly, and leave super clean holes – both rims and bottoms. Used in the drill press, they feed very easily, and chip ejection isn't much of a problem, especially if you back-out the bit when drilling deep or wide holes. When drilling a dozen or more holes at a time I found that the bits didn't heat up appreciably. I also used the smaller diameter bits quite often for freehand drilling, and they performed admirably. 

Being able to sharpen the bits up to 30 times means that they provide an excellent return on investment. If you're looking for a premium quality Forstner bit you won't go wrong with the Fisch Wave Cutter.

KEY FEATURES: 

  • Forged and heat treated steel
  • CNC precision ground
  • Wavy periphery cutting edge
  • Center spur, dual chippers
  • Reduced cylindrical shank
  • 28 metric sizes from 15mm to 68mm
  • 20 Imperial sizes from 1/4" to 2-1/8"
  • Up to 30 sharpenings

COMPANY:Fisch Tools
MODEL:0317007K (7-Piece Boxed Set)
0317K0011K03 (Pepper Mill Boring Kit)
PRICE:$110.00 (7-Piece Boxed Set)
$199.00 (Pepper Mill Boring Kit)
MADE IN:Austria
SOURCE:BoraTool.com
WoodCraft.com
ToolsForWoodWorking.com 

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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