Vic's Top 5 Favourite Router Bits
There is no doubt that routers can dramatically speed up tasks in the shop, but you knew that already. The two questions I get asked most about router bits are: 1) Which ones to get? and 2) Is buying a kit of bits a good idea? The truth about kits is that they have a great selection of bits, but there are likely several you don’t need. Almost every time I see a kit of bits in someone’s shop, there are three or four that get used and the rest still have the router bit goop on them.
Router bit kits often go on sale and you think you are getting a good deal, but is it really if you aren’t going to use most of them? Instead of a kit, I recommend buying quality, individual bits. If you’re wondering which ones to purchase, here are my top five recommendations and the ones that get used in my shop all the time.
A simple straight bit is great to have at your disposal because of it’s versatility. In my shop this bit gets used to create dados, grooves, and rabbets. One of the most common uses for me is when I’m working with 3/4” cabinet-grade plywood. Often in case construction, you have to create a dado to receive a shelf or divider. I will usually cut a 1/2” dado into the case side then cut a 1/4” rabbet on the shelf, creating a 1/2” tongue. I can control the thickness of that tongue and therefore dial in the fit perfectly. Cutting a 3/4” dado for a 3/4” piece of plywood doesn’t work because 3/4” plywood is never actually 3/4”.
I think furniture should always be pleasing to the hand as well the eye, so a round over bit is perfect for the task. I like a small 1/16” round over to ease the edge of parts because it doesn’t remove too much material, keeping the edges looking crisp and clean. Different sizes of round overs can also be helpful depending on the edge treatment you are looking for.
If you find yourself working with plywoods a lot or cutting rabbets to the same sizes often, you would likely benefit from a rabbet bit. The bearings give you an appropriate offset to achieve different widths of rabbet. You can increase the versatility of a rabbet bit by purchasing different diameter bearings which will allow you to change the width of the rabbets.
The Whiteside bits I’ve mentioned here are the ones I reach for most often so I spend a bit more money on them. Buying quality bits means that they stay sharper longer, which makes them more dependable. Now I know not every one likes using routers, but when used safely and correctly, they can really speed things up in the shop. 90% of the time, I use routers and their bits in a router table because it is much safer. You have the table to rest the work on and a fence to guide things smoothly. Ultimately, what’s most important, is that you enjoy your time in the shop. If you’re curious about router bits and wonder about using them, remember… in order to understand, you must do.
Want to save 20% off on these 5 Whiteside router bits? Check them out here.
Bonus Video! Learn how to get well fitting dados