For great woodworking results, it’s important to use the right woodworking supplies. Router bits are useful when it comes to shaping edges of wooden products like chairs, door frames, dressers, and cabinets. They come in different profiles, tip styles, and shank sizes. However, some router bits are identical even though they’re used for different purposes.
How do you know if you’re getting what you paid for? How do you know the right bit for your project? Below are tips to help you select the right bits for your router.
Different Bits for Different Projects
When you walk into a woodworking shop, you’re likely to find different kinds of router bits. Different bits provide different solutions. The following are some common router bits available in hardware stores out there:
This bit cuts straight grooves on wood. It comes in different sizes, but the most common ones are ¾-, ½-, and ¼-inch diameters. You can use this bit to cut dadoes, grooves, or rabbets for plywood drawer bottoms and cabinet backs. Many router bits have a component known as a pilot. This part keeps the bit in place.
When using a non-piloted bit, you’ll want to firmly hold your router and guide it along a straight edge to get the most precise cuts.
If you intend to round over a sharp edge, you can use this edge-shaping bit. It can help you create smooth cuts on the edges of chair arms, shelves, tabletops, and other items made of wood.
The round-over bit has a ball-bearing pilot that regulates the width of the cut. You can adjust the base of the router to control the cutting depth.
These bits are available in a wide range of sizes. The most useful round-over bit sizes are 3/8-inch and 1-4-inch.
Roman Ogee Bit
This is perhaps the most common edge-shaping router bit in the world of woodworking. It’s known for cutting decorative detailing into the edges of horizontal rails, picture frames, vertical stiles, and tabletops.
Roman ogee router bits have ball bearings that control the width of the cuts. The size options available for this type of bits are 3/8-, ¼-, and 5/32-inch radius sizes. All of these sizes will serve most needs as long as they’re kept in perfect condition.
Many woodworkers view cove bits as the opposite of rounding-over bits. A cove bit cuts a concave radius out of edges, resulting in decorative surfaces that enhance the appearance of cabinet doors, bookshelves, and furniture legs.
These bits are categorized by the sizes of the radiuses they cut, with most of them ranging from 1/16– to 1-inch radius sizes. You can also find ¼- and 3/8- inch cove bits in some home improvement stores.
A rabbet refers to an L-shaped notch on the edge of a panel or board. Woodworkers use this notch to attach other panels at right angles. Panels joined in this manner form a rabbit joint. Rabbit joints are often used in installing cabinet backs, joining cabinet tops to cabinet sides, and building drawers.
Since creating rabbets is a time-consuming task, most people prefer to use rabbeting routers. These routers are equipped with ball-bearing pilots. They’re identified by the depth and width of cuts they produce. The most valuable one cuts ½-inch deep and 3/8-inch wide.
Get a flush-trim router bit if you work with wood veneers and plastic laminates. This straight-cutting bit is fitted with a ball-bearing pilot that helps trim overhanging surfaces.
Use a flush-trim bit when building tabletops, cabinets, plastic-laminate counters, drawer faces, and cabinet doors. The diameter determines the sizes available for this bit. You can never go wrong with those that have 1-inch-long and a ½-inch diameter cutting flutes.
Round Nose Bit
The round nose bit is designed for plunge routing flutes and grooves in wooden products. Sometimes, it’s called a core-box bit, because it cuts round-bottom grooves just like a cove bit. You can use this router bid to create 180-degree arcs on wood.
45-Degree Chamfer Bit
This is an edge-shaping router that cuts a chamfer (a 45-degree angle cut). It is commonly used to eliminate sharp, square corners from picture frames, countertops, shelves, and vertical posts.
You can also use a chamfer bit to make V-shaped grooves in between boards. When the edges of two chamfers meet, they create a V-groove.
Chamfers are available in different angles and sizes. The most highly recommended one has a 1-¼-inch diameter.
Core Box Bit
This non-piloted router bit cuts round-bottomed grooves on boards and panels. It’s often used to create flutes in vertical stiles and columns. Additionally, it is useful in routing decorative grooves in platters, wooden plates, and door panels.
The diameter for most core box bits ranges between 1/8 and 1-1/2 inches. However, a ¼- or 3/8-inch-diameter core box bit will also help create grooves fairly easily.
In woodworking, there are trapezium-shaped joints known as dovetail joints. To make these joints, you’ll use a dovetail bit. Dovetail bits are also useful in creating rabbets and tapered dadoes.
The majority of dovetail bits don’t have ball-bearings. However, some have bearings on the shanks.
Solid Carbide Spiral Upcut Bit
This router bit can be used for tenons, dados, rabbets, and mortising. There are several straight-cutting bit options and a few spiral bits from which to choose. You can try a solid carbide spiral bit to achieve different groove effects on your wood. It ejects chips better, cuts faster, and last longer than some straight-cutting bits.
As its name implies, this bit cuts ornamental V-shaped grooves in wall panels, cabinet doors, drawer faces, and table legs. It is available in a wide variety of sizes, but the most useful size would be a ½-inch-diameter bit.
This router bit offers a quick way to cut narrow grooves or slots into the edges of picture frames, drawer parts, floorboards, and cabinet door frames. It’s a good solution for routing spline grooves in spline joints.
A regular slot-cutting bit comes with a razor-sharp tungsten-carbide tooth. The width of its slots depends on the thickness of the tooth and the distance between the ball-bearing pilot and the cutting tooth. Most slot-cutting bits are ½-inch and ¼-inch deep.
It’s important to note that some of these bits come with interchangeable pilots with different diameters. You can swap out the ball-bearing pilot to alter the router’s cutting depth.
Which Bit do I Need?
When picking a router bit, you need to consider several things to get value for your cash. Here are some useful tips on choosing the right router bit.
Router Bit Material
Router bits are made of different materials, including carbide tipped and high-speed steel. It’s best to pick a carbide bit over a high steel router bit. Solid carbide bits are relatively expensive, but they’re designed for specific cabinetmaking tasks where other bits may not perform as well.
Carbide tipped bits cost more than most high-speed steel bits. However, they work better in hard materials and stay sharper for a long time.
Proper Router Speed
For the best possible results and work safety, you need a router that allows you to adjust its speed to suit the bit’s diameter. Large bits rotate slower than small ones. Choose a router bit depending on the speed with which you want to make grooves on your workpieces.
Proper Bit Installation
Router bits should be installed correctly to provide optimal safety as well as efficiency. Improperly installed bits are dangerous because they break easily. If you don’t know how to install the bits properly, consider learning from a professional woodworker. You can also check online tutorials to find out the right steps to take when setting up a router bit.
Router Bit Shank Size
A router bit’s shank size affects the overall value of a router. It’s wise to pick a ½-inch router bit over a ¼-inch shank because ½ inch shanks are sturdier and more resistant to breaking forces.
Use a Sharp Router Bit
It’s safer and easier to use a sharp router bit. Dull bits require more power than sharp bits.
Maintain a Good Balance
To get high-quality cuts, it’s important to reduce the vibration of a router bit. Make sure to use a bit with good spinning ability.
There are a lot of router bit manufacturers to choose from. However, finding a trustworthy brand can prove difficult. If you wish to refine your approach to picking the best router bit, you should browse the internet for insight and ideas from other woodworkers. You can also read home improvement magazines to find out the latest bits as well as the best manufacturers.
To find a router bit that works for you, you may test different router bits. Test the performance of different types of bits to see which one produces the finest cuts. Also, check for durability. Assessing the material used to make the bit will help to determine whether it will stand the test of time.