How to Choose the Proper Speeds for Router Bits

woodworking router spinning. carpentry. close up
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Many modern woodworking routers allow you to adjust the RPM speed of the motor to match your needs. Choosing a speed can depend on the type of wood you are routing, but also on the type and size of the bit you are using. A tool spinning at too high an RPM may burn wood, while a tool spinning too slowly can leave you with a ragged, rough-cut. 

The General Rule of Thumb on Speed 

While it can take some experimentation to get the speeds exactly right, the general rule of thumb is, "the larger the bit, the slower the speed." 

The chart at the bottom of this page provides a guideline as to the maximum speed that should be used for particular diameter bits. However, this chart is just a general guideline. Consult your router's user guide or the documentation that accompanied your particular bit for specific details on setting the appropriate speed for the bit.

Mount the Bit Correctly 

Additionally, always be certain to mount the bit correctly in the tool. Make sure to insert the shank completely into the collet, then pull the bit out slightly to avoid bottoming out the bit in the collet.

Also, avoid routing freehand when shaping with large-profile bits. It is much safer to use large profile bits in a router table at the appropriate speeds.

Router Bit Speeds

Bit Diameter Maximum Speed
Up to 1 inch 24,000 rpm
1 to 2 inches 18,000 rpm
2 to 2-1/2 inches 16,000 rpm
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches 12,000 rpm