Posted October 21, 2015

Exclusive: Router bit design and selection

Factors that impact router bit quality.

So your customer is ready to start his next big project. He has have the idea mapped out in his head, the materials are all laid out on the workbench and he is finally set aside time to see it all come to fruition. It is time to get to work, right?

Well, not so fast. Before starting any project, it is important to make sure you have the proper tools to complete the job. And the key to any successful project is confirming you are working with quality router bits. Router bits give shape to your project, so if they are off, so is your project. While there are many features you can look at to determine if you are working with dependable router bits, we narrow it down to three: material, shank diameter and manufacturer.

Router Bit Materials
What are the materials used to make your router bits? Most router bits are made from either high-speed steel (HSS) or carbide. Made from carbon steel, HSS bits have a high heat resistance, which allows the bits to maintain their strength longer.

The alternative is carbide tip bit. Carbide tip bits are harder and can hold an edge longer than HSS bits. And when it comes to the lifespan of the bit, HSS bits simply can’t compete. According to Router Techniques: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Routers, carbide tips can last 80-90 percent longer than HSS bits.

While the carbide bit trumps HSS in most categories, it should be noted that you must handle and store carbide bits with care. Carbide tips are brittle, so it is important you take care of them accordingly. Handled correctly, you will find they stay sharp for a longer time while also providing a cleaner cut than HSS bits. All of which makes carbide bits the higher quality material and well worth the investment.

Router Bit Shank Diameter
There are two different diameters when it comes to shank size, 1/4 and 1/2 inch. In most cases it is best to use a 1/2 inch diameter, because it is stiffer and stronger, which gives you less vibration and a smoother cut. There are some routers that only use 1/4 inch, so check your router before getting started. But in most circumstances, you are going to rely on the stability and longevity of the 1/2 inch.

Router Bit Manufacturer
Where your router bit comes from is of great importance. Whether you are spending $3.00 or $3,000 on your bit, you want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth for your purchase. While there are several companies that produce good router bits, go with a name you can trust. Whiteside Router Bits comes up time-and-again.

In a test conducted by Fine Woodworking magazine,18 different router bits were compared in an attempt to find the smoothest cutter. In the end, the Whiteside router bit was given an Excellent rating as well as being marked both Best Value and Best Overall. Made in the USA, Whiteside’s high quality micro-grain carbide bits have been a staple in the woodworking community for over 40 years, for experts and DIY hobbyists alike.

Quality Router Bits
The expectations for quality router bits have been set. Take a look at the bits you are working with before you start your next project and see if they meet our minimum standards. Are you working with a carbide tip? Is the shank size 1/2 inch? And are you working with a reliable manufacturer, such as Whiteside? If you answered “No” to any of these questions, it might be time you visit to learn more.