Get the Most Out of Your Router Bits | Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement

Know Your Tools: Router Bits

Router Bits

Get the Most Out of Your Router Bits



Photos by Rob Brown; Illustration by Len Churchill

Router bits can do so many things in a woodworking shop, and they’re avail­able in an assortment of general types. Straight bits are very common for cut­ting grooves, dadoes, rabbets and mortises. Flush trim bits have bearings and are used to copy shapes and flush surfaces to one another. Edge treatment bits usually have bearings, and add pro­files to the edges of workpieces. Joinery bits create joints. Decorative bits embel­lish surfaces. Specialty bits do so many tasks. Most bits today have long-lasting carbide cutters, while HSS cutters are much less common. Different-sized bear­ings are sometimes interchangeable to expand the bit’s function or the profile it leaves. Smaller bits have a 1/4" diam­eter shank, while larger or stronger bits have 1/2" shanks. A few bits are avail­able in 3/8" or 8mm diameters for very specific purposes. Some router bits have cutters on their ends and sides so they can first plunge into the wood, then cut wood while being moved forward. Almost all bits can be re-sharpened. Purchasing a set of bits is often far more economi­cal, though if you don’t think you will use many of the bits in a set, it’s likely better to buy bits individually as needed.

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Protect Yourself
These high RPM bits will throw dust and chips into the air, and make lots of noise. Protection for eyes and ears is a must while routing.
 
Keep an Edge
A dull bit will burn the wood, creating extra work for the user, and leaves a poor joint. Sharp bits are a joy to use.
 
Remove Small Amounts
Router bits aren’t made to hog off massive amounts of wood per pass. Multiple passes are safer, easier on the bit and leave a better surface.
 
Use Jigs
Jigs will help you be more accurate and safer while routing. They will also open up the possibilities of what can be accomplished.
 
Big Bits Are Different
Large router bits are best used while secured in a router table, as their rim speeds are high and they’re heavier.
 
Price: $10 to $200
Shank Diameters: 1/4", 1/2" (8mm, 1/8" and 3/8" are far less common)
Bearing Outside Diameter: Ranges from 1/4" – 1-1/8"
Bearing Inside Diameter: Ranges from 1/8" – 1/2"
 

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