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Choose the Right Router Bits

How to Select and Use Router Bits in Your Woodworking Projects

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Walk into any fine woodworking supplier, and you'll likely find a wall covered with hundreds of different router bits of different profiles, shank sizes, tip types and more. Some of the router bits are practically identical to a different one right next to it. How do you know which one to choose for your particular project? How do you know if you're getting good value for your money? In these woodworking tips, learn how to choose the right router bits for your router and for your woodworking plans.

1. Ten Basic Router Bit Shapes

Bosch 1617EVS Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Router bits, whether used with a shaper, fixed base router or plunge router, can be used to apply specific profiles to the edge of a board. While some router bits are for a specific purpose, in many cases, complex shapes can be created by using one or more of the following ten basic router bit shapes:

2. The Proper Router Speed For Any Bit

Routing with a 3/4-inch Roundover Bit
(c)2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Woodworking router bits come in a variety of sizes. To work safely and to get the best possible results from your routing efforts, you need to adjust the speed of the router appropriate to the diameter of the router bit. The general rule is the larger the bit, the slower the maximum allowable router speed. In this article, you'll find a chart detailing the maximum allowable rotation speed for a variety of sizes of router bits.

3. Straight-Cutting and Spiral-Cutting Router Bits

Spiral-Cutting Router Bit
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

When a straight router cut, such as a dado or rabbet, needs to be made in a piece of stock, you have a few choices. You can use a straight router bit or a spiral-cutting router bit. Which one should you choose? In this article, learn the difference between these two similar woodworking tools and show the advantages of each.

4. Proper Router Bit Installation

Ridgid Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

In order to use router bits safely and properly, router bits need to be installed correctly in the collet of your router. Improperly installed router bits can break easily and can be quite dangerous. In this woodworking tip, learn how to install your router bits properly, to work safely and to get the best results on your woodworking projects.

5. 1/2-inch vs. 1/4-inch Shank Router Bits

Porter-Cable Plunge Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Most router kits include two collets, to accommodate both 1/4" and 1/2" shank router bits. You can buy most router bits with either size shank, so which size is better, and why? In this woodworking tip, learn the differences between 1/4" and 1/2" shank router bits, and the effects each can have on your woodworking projects.

6. Partial Profile Router Cuts

Rounding Over on a Router Table
(c)2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

There are many shapes of router bits available, but if one makes partial profile router cuts, the number of available shapes can multiply exponentially. For instance, by using partial cuts with a portion of a router bit, followed by another cut with a different bit or two, one can literally create an untold number of profiles. Learn the benefits of making partial profile router cuts.

7. How to Remove Pitch from Router Bits

Milwaukee 5616 Router
(c)2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

The best, most expensive woodworking routers will only cut as well as their bits will allow. If those router bits are covered with sticky pitch from wood sap, the bits will tend to heat up and lose temper, causing the bit to become dull very quickly. You can keep your router bits in tip-top shape by cleaning them regularly using the methods in this article.

8. Getting the Most From Your Woodworking Router

DeWalt Fixed Base Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.
Fixed base and plunge routers are used for a variety of tasks around the shop, but their most common job is to apply a bevel, chamfer, bead or one of hundreds of other shapes to the edge of a piece of wood. In this series of articles, learn how to get the most out of your woodworking router.
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