Choosing and Using the Right Router Bits for Woodworking

Understanding Router Bit Sizes, Types, and Basic Techniques

Woodworking router
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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. A router is one of the most versatile woodworking tools you can own, but it's not the tool itself that brings versatility; it's the bits. Choosing the right router bit and using it properly involves selecting the right style and size of bit for the job as well as installing the bit correctly and using an appropriate tool speed.

  • 01 of 07

    Ten Basic Router Bit Shapes

    Router bits, whether used with a shaper, a fixed-base router, or plunge router´╗┐, are used to apply precise profiles to the edge of a board. While some router bits are designed for a specific purpose or edge shape, other bits can be used to create complex profiles by varying the depth of cut and other factors. Among the many styles of bits available, most bits fall into one of ten basic shapes.

  • 02 of 07

    The Proper Router Speed for Any Bit

    Woodworking router bits come in a variety of sizes. To ensure safety and the best possible results from your routing, you must adjust the speed of the router to suit the diameter of the router bit. The general rule is the larger the bit, the slower the maximum allowable router speed.

  • 03 of 07

    Straight-Cutting and Spiral-Cutting Router Bits

    Straight (not profiled) router bits come in two basic types: straight-flute and spiral-flute. Both types are used for straight cuts, such as a dadoes and rabbets, and both offer specific advantages and disadvantages. However, for deep plunge cuts, it's best to use a spiral bit, while most bearing-guided work calls for a straight bit.

  • 04 of 07

    Proper Router Bit Installation

    In order to use router bits safely and properly, router bits must be installed correctly in the collet of your router. Improperly installed router bits can break easily and can be quite dangerous. Learn how to install your router bits properly, to ensure safety and to get the best results on your woodworking projects.

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  • 05 of 07

    1/2-Inch-Shank vs. 1/4-Inch-Shank Router Bits

    Most router kits include two collets to accommodate either 1/4-inch and 1/2"-inch router bit shanks. You can buy most router bits with either size of shank, but which size is better, and why? In many applications, the choice of shank size makes little difference in performance, but 1/2-inch shanks are generally preferred for larger bits, high tool speed, and overall bit stiffness.

  • 06 of 07

    Reducing Splinters and Tear-Out With a Router

    One of the most common problems that woodworkers encounter is when the wood splinters or tears while applying a profile with a router bit. While it's nearly impossible to eliminate the possibility of a tear-out, by taking certain precautions, you can reduce the frequency with which they occur.

  • 07 of 07

    Getting the Most from Your Router

    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 the hundreds of other shapes to the edge of a piece of wood. Learn about essential router operations to get the most out of this versatile woodworking tool.