What determines quality router bits?
What to Look for? Who is Best?
- Shank Size: I like 1/2" shank bits. They are sturdy and hold up better. A shank of only 1/4" may break on you.
- Wood Finish: The best wood finishes are chatter free without burns, smooth, and need little sanding.
- Cutter Life: This determines economy of cost. Carbide bits tend to last longer that High Speed Steel.
- Efficiency: A sharp bit well ground is a safer bit and requires less power.
- Accuracy of Grind: You want any router bit to perform well, especially for joinery. However, you may find that not all bits do this. You might blame your technique. However, it could very easily be the grind of the bit.
- Balance: The spin of the bit is important to cut quality and your safety. Vibration of your bit is your worst enemy.
Who makes Quality Bits?
In Router Bits, there are more varieties to choose from than you'll ever need. Fine Woodworking magazine performed a test of bits. Results varied greatly among bits.
This was the result:
The top four finishers were the Whiteside, with an average of 0.2 chips per ft.; the Liberty, with an average of 0.3; the Oldham Viper, which averaged 0.5; and the Freud, which came in at 0.6. These bits cut cleanly at the start and at the end of the test. It's important to note that both the Whiteside and Liberty bits cut chip-free for the first 25 ft.
See Fine Woodworking Review Bit Test, for more information.
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Do You Want a Router Bit That Cuts the Cleanest and Lasts a Long Time?
Whiteside bits are rated #1 and had the lowest number of chip outs per linear foot than any other bits tested. This test included Amana, CMT, Bosch, Porter-Cable, and Freud. The Whiteside stayed sharper longer, but it was NOT the most expensive. In fact, the price is less than most.
Whiteside bits are manufactured in the United States. They have tight tolerances and thick carbide. In addition, it is a quiet router bit.
There appears to be a relationship between the noise a bit makes and the quality of cut. Bits that are machined to rigid tolerances have very little run out. Thus there is little vibration, less noise, and a smoother and cleaner cut.
Most woodworkers want this type of router bit.
I had tried several bits including most major brands and several imports. After reading this test, I bought some Whiteside bits. Boy, could I tell the difference. I was amazed.
For the best current pricing, click on Whiteside Bits.
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Starter Set: What bits make a good starting set?
This 1/2" shank 7-piece set by Whiteside is a good starting set:
3/8" Radius Round Over
3/8" x 1/2" Rabbet
3/8" Radius Cove
1/2" Flush Trim
You may want to get a bearing set as well. This provides more versatility with the rabbet bit. See the link above