If you have experience in woodcraft, you’ll know that many projects require smooth textures. These textures are often created by shaving the wood off a rectangular or square piece. To achieve this, you’ll need the help of a router bit.
The best router bit will ensure your work is fast, efficient, and foolproof. It should hollow out your wood to your desired shape without bruising the workpiece. This means that the router bit should be razor sharp but also incredibly reliable and fast.
Last update on 2019-12-05 at 16:27 PST - Details
Understanding the Router
The first thing that you should know is how the router works. This is important because there’s no use knowing all the facets of a router bit without understanding the primary equipment.
For starters, routers are power tools that are operated by electricity, much like all of the power tools today. However, dating back in the early 1900s, these tools did not exist. On the flip side, there were manual routers back then that made wood hollowing possible. Thanks to this, an architecture developed the concept of wooden staircases without the existence of the power router.
Nowadays, the non-powered router has faded, being replaced by motorized routers. These routers work similarly to grinders since it shaves off portions of wood by using friction and rotations per minute (rpm).
Jet Motor Hand Routers invented the first handheld router in 1915. It was one of those great inventions that resulted from an accident. This is because the founders of the router intended it to be used as an energy source for a locomotive’s headlights.
The inventors initially invented an air turbine, which was denied by the railroad company that requested the project. A few months after its rejection, it was reinvented as a tool to smooth out grooves in chairs. This idea popped out after the inventor realized how impractical and hard it was back then to use a router plane.
What You Need to Know About Router Bits
Although the base and body of the router are necessary, a router is worthless without the bit. The bit, like the pieces of a hand drill, is what hollows the wood. These are extremely important because it dictates the outcome of your desired groove or angle.
In today’s time, router bits have been modified a hundred times to suit different joinery needs and decorative demands. Router bits can be classified as a high-speed steel bit or a carbide-tipped bit. These two are heavy duty compounds that companies use to construct router bits.
Edge bit and non-edge bit
Moreover, router bits can also be divided into two categories regarding its purpose. These two are the side pieces and the non-edge its. There’s a lot of technicalities involved in it, but simply put, this is the hollowing performance of the bit.
The edge bits have a small bearing which can be adjusted to meet different depth requirements. This enables the craftsmen to shift the diameter of the bit for rabbeting bits freely.
On the other hand, the non-edge router bit is primarily used as an anti-kickback bit. This means that if the craftsmen want to play safe, this is the bit of choice. Non-edge bits are secured router bits that prevent any “kickback” which is a carpentry term for unwanted hollowing.
When buying a router bit, take into consideration the size as well. Most router bits come with an interchangeable size that shifts between ½ inch and ¼ inch. Between the two, the ½ inch shank offers more stability and precision. It’s more ideal to use on a regular basis.
Types of Bits and Wood profiles
There are many variations of bits as we previously mentioned, knowing the main types is essential for you to get a clearer idea of the bits that you’re going to buy. Below are some of the types to know:
- Straight bit - This is the most common and arguably the most used among all wood projects. It’s a straight-line bit that hollows the wood against the grain, creating a “dado” profile on the wood. The dado pattern looks like two parallel towers, with a defined and hollowed space in between.
- Rabbeting bit - This bit is what we mentioned earlier. It makes use of a bearing at the tip which increases the cutting diameter. This is typically used for joineries since it creates a stair-like pattern on the wood. The rabbeting bearings can be purchased in a set, giving you a lot of versatility.
- Chamfer bit - One of the wood profiles that is aesthetically pleasing to see. These are rounded squares or rectangles that are done to polish up a surface. You’ll often see these on a table top. The bit’s specialized bevel is what causes this smooth edge.
- Cove bit - Another aesthetic profile, the cove bit causes the side of the wood to form a concave slope. This is usually applied to high-end furniture, most notably a Victorian-inspired dresser. It’s also a common pattern used for wooden pillars.
- Dovetail bit - Dovetails have their power tool that’s specifically designed for creating a dovetail joint.
- Edge forming bit - Edge forming bits are complex decorative designs that are used for aesthetic purposes. Quarter rounds that are used to improve your wall and flooring and ceiling design are the application of this wood profile.
Tips when searching for quality router bits
One great tip to remember is that the wood’s surface after hollowing will tell a lot about the bit. Although any bit might get your desired wood profile, get a magnifying glass and look for the nitty-gritty details on the wood.
When speaking of details, everything rests on the abrasion that the wood receives. Check for any unnecessary wood shavings and uneven edges. These are usually the features that artisans tend to overlook. A good router bit should both hollow and smooth out a workpiece. Hence, the grain of the wood should be still similar before using the router.
Our Top 5 Picks
Freud comes with a ¼” top bearing shank. However, it comes in 17 more styles and sizes to fit your needs. It boasts of its TiCo hi-density carbide cuts which can ensure you of its durability.
It can cut through all composition materials such as plywood, hardwood, and softwood. But it can also be used for template work, lettering, grooving and routing out work pieces. This is because of its top mounted bearings. Also, it can also be utilized for either handheld or table mounted routers.
- It is very light despite its heavy duty carbide cuts.
- Despite its small size, it can also work as a bigger shank.
- The bearing on the template and the bit itself is enough that you don’t even have to sand edges anymore.
- Freud’s innovations such as its Red Perma-Shield non-stick coating, Quadra-Cut, and Double Grind makes it so much more efficient.
- Its performance and durability are very notable as it is also chemical attack resistant.
- The diameter size of the bit and the bearing has a little difference which can affect your work and the overall performance.
- The bearing might not be as durable and impressive as the bit itself.
On the other hand, the Whiteside Router Bits comes with a ball bearing as well. Whiteside offers a variety of router bits from solid carbide to carbide tipped router bits.
In a single pass, you can cut ¼” deep through wood with this router bit. However, despite this, you can still make deep cuts by just adjusting it and resetting the router deeper.
- The diameter size of the bearing is the same as the cutting blade.
- This makes it ideal for plunge cuts, templates and Vermont metal door hinge mortising.
- It makes very clean cuts for shallow cuts.
- It comparably cheaper compared to other brands for its performance.
- The bearings might be a little poorly constructed or sealed.
- Since it is meant for mortising, it might not be ideal for other projects.
Boasting of its router bits that are of industrial quality, Yonico 15221 is made with C3 Micrograin cutters made of tungsten carbide and steel bodies with anti-kickback design.
It also features a build up and heat resistant Teflon coating; perfect top withstands any heat that friction can produce. But the best part is, it comes with a satisfaction guaranteed lifetime warranty. The whole set includes bearings guides, a three wing carbide cutters, tongue and groove bits.
- Unlike most other brands, Yonico offers a satisfaction guaranteed, lifetime warranty just in case something happens.
- When grooving, you just need a minimal amount of glue because the joints are already so tight.
- The projects it can handle is not solely limited to tongue and grooving.
- It might not be meant for thicker plywood as it might damage the router bit itself.
- It works best with a router table which can become a bit of a hassle if you do not have it yet.
This 35 piece router bit set from EDMBG claims to have been designed with a ¼ shank. The router bits in this set are Tungsten Carbide tipped bits which can be “re-sharpened” should the need arise.
Most importantly, it comes with sealed bearings, a custom made aluminum carrying case which also comes with a handle and twin clasp closures. All in all, it is a very versatile set with different sizes and styles of router bits to fit your needs and projects.
- The router bits included in this set can give you more freedom to experiment, especially with wood work.
- It comes with a carrying case which can be pretty handy.
- This can help you keep your 35 pieces set intact, especially if you plan to take it out for projects not at home.
- It is ideal even for light work.
- Similar to the first two brands, the bearings are not as good.
- The bits can come off as a bit loose so you might have to reassemble.
Finally, HQMaste comes with a free plastic case. The router bits included in the set are ⅛” 17mm up cut spiral/carbide flat nose end ones. They are made from solid carbide and are mostly suitable for Nylon, ABS, Resin, PVC, Acrylic, MDF and Hardwood.
It is also ideal for different tasks such as 3D relief sculpturing, cutting, engraving, slotting and milling among all others. With a good range of shank diameter as well as cutting edge length and diameter, this router bit set is also another versatile tool to have.
- It can be used even with drilling equipment such as Dewalt, RotoZip and the like.
- It is very cheap considering it comes with ten pieces of router bits.
- Its spiral flat nose feature is beneficial to cut in deeper.
- The cuts might not be as clean due to the spiral flat nose.
- If used for high speed or thicker wood, it might not give the best performance.
Based on the reviews as well as the things to consider we listed above, the Yonico’s router bit might be a good option to start with. If you’re only working on a few home projects now and then, Yonico is good enough to last you some time.
This is most especially because it comes with a lifetime warranty which is not offered in most other brands. But at the end of the day, remember to choose a router bit that is fit for your project and whose performance is not a hit and miss.
After all, your project might be sacrificed if the router bit is not as good.