I have been gifted a router, and I'm excited to get using it. Unfortunately, I didn't get any bits to go with. Today I went to Lowes to find that bits are pretty pricey individually and sets seem all over the place with what they offer. At this point, I am continually amazed at the huge number of things I can do with a router, and I'm at a loss for where to start as far as bits.
Right now my goals are to do some nice edging on a bedside table and drawer that I'm making. I'd also like to start incorporating proper woodworking joints into my projects. Other than that... I have no idea.
Can you all point me to a good set of starter bits? Also maybe comment on what to look for when buying bits (and why).
Dec 05, 2011, 10:53 AM
Since your not a full time wood worker, Northern Tool has some cheap sets with a lots of bits in them to get you started. I've had mine for about 10 years and only had to replace a few of them because they got dull.
Dec 05, 2011, 01:51 PM
any lovely box kit with 12-40 bits for under $30 this holiday season should about do you forever as a casual woodworker.
I've about killed a rail and stile bit set making doors for cabinets, and now have about a dozen more to do, so you can overwork 'em. broke a bunch of 1/4 straight bits making drawer bottom slots, because there is not enough metal to take the heat without detempering.
the other ogees, roundovers, and 45 degree bits I have are probably hand-me-downs when I die. the paint is thinned on 'em from new, but the carbides are good for a lifetime yet.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Dec 06, 2011, 04:06 AM
Routers can do a lot of things, but truth be told, a laminate trimmer is probably more practical for general DIY work than a router. That's because it's small and light weight, so you can hold the laminate trimmer in one hand while holding the work in the other hand. A router is more powerful and much heavier and needs to be held with both hands. That means you need some kind of jig to hold your work in place while you router. If you're doing wood working, then you need a router to shape hardwoods, but if your more into DIY projects around the home, then I'd suggest you trade in your router for a laminate trimmer.
I find that Lee Valley sells decent bits cheap. They sell bearing piloted bits and you can buy the bearings separately.
I'd buy your bits as you need them. Chances are you'll end up only using a few of them for the lion's share of what you do, so why buy a whole set before you know what you need. Besides, some router bits (like cove bits) need to be bearing piloted so that you can cut along a contour, whereas other bits (like straight bits) can't have a bearing pilot because you use them to cut a mortise in wood. So, some of your bits will end up with pilot bearings and some won't, and that's why buying a set (all with pilot bearings or all without pilot bearings) doesn't make as much sense as buying what you need when you need it.
Also, spend some time finding out who sharpens router bits in your area. And, buy some lacquer thinner and some Q-tips. You'll find that you need to periodically clean your router bits, and lacquer thinner works well for that.
I started with a basic set from Sears, came with 8 or 10 bits. Definately go with carbite tipped bits, NOT the HSS (high speed steel?) bits. They dull easy, burn the wood, and don't last. Your woodworking experience will be much better with the better quality carbide tipped bits. Roundover bit, cove bit, stright bits of various sizes, roundnose bit, roman ogee bit, these are some common starter bits that may come in a set. Lee Valley sells nice sets and Eagle America does also. Sears also has good sale prices, especially if you join the "craftsman club" you get extra discounts monthly. Good luck my friend !
Apr 24, 2012, 08:09 PM
nester is right about buying them as you need them, I would also stick with the carbide bits, and if your router can take 1/2 in. shank bits use them rather than 1/4 in. the advantage for a 1/2 in. bit is it is more stable, wont overheat, and other reasons that will rsult in better work. 1/2 in. bits are recommended by all woodwork magazines and experienced wood workers. if all you are going to do is trim laminate, then get a laminate trimmer, but if you are going to do woodwork and want quality work use the biggest router you can afford. Generally 2 hp is adequate but 3 hp is really the gold standard. Also consider making a router table because if you're going to use large bits, you should not use it by hand held
Jun 03, 2012, 12:22 AM
I have found that no matter how many bits are in a set there will always be some you will never use. I've had one set of 24 bits (a gift) for over 15 years and about half have never been used. Get good quality and just what you need and you will use them over & over for years.This message has been edited. Last edited by: deweyjsikes,