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Frank Hagan

Router Bits

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Any recommendations on good quality router bits?

I'll need a 1/4" and 1/2" straight bit soon ... as my cheapie ones are getting dull quickly.  I bought one of those 50-piece sets so I'd have a collection of bits to use for any profile I would need, and decided that as those die I would replace them with better quality bits.  They die pretty quickly!

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Another good question, Frank.  I bet there are as many opinions of this as there are of cars or beer. ;D

I bought a set, Hickory 24 piece, carbide, master set (24), several years ago and am very happy with it.  I also buy the ones sold at HD and Lowes and Ace Hardware, the individual bits, as needed.  They are in the $20 to $40 ranges.  I use only 1/2 inch shanks mostly, except for what I get for the Dremmel tool.  I have also purchased from Lee Valley, Woodcraft, and Rockler.  The Lee Valley most recent ones were for birdsmouth cutting.  Over the years I have learned not to spend money on cheap cutting tools of any kind if I can avoid it.  The cheap ones cause too much waste and pain.

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Frank and Greg, I have had excellent service from MLCS Woodworking and I find their prices to be competitive. For straight bits I prefer carbide spiral bits for most applications. I usually order them two or three at a time. They also have some great bearing-guided bits that come in handy for template following and flush trim jobs.

I bought one of those sets once and was given another as a gift. There seem to be few bits in there that I ever need. I came to the conclusion that they aren't that much of a deal for me. The bits I do use end up dying quickly and the the others go unused.

And like you Greg, I prefer 1/2" shanks and buy them when the bit I need is available with them. I have the Eliminator Chuck on two of my four routers which makes for quick bit changes. Changing bits can be a bit tedious with 1/4" shanks and the adaptor.

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I took another look last night and my set is a 20-piece set, but its one of those no-name brands.  I also have a few Freud and CMT bits that are fine, and should last a long time, but the local woodworking supply place closed up shop. The nearest woodworking store is a Rockler store is in Pasadena, about 60 miles away (through bad traffic).  I rarely get over there.

You could easily spend a fortune on router bits.  I used to drool over the Jesada catalog, but then I saw in some head-to-head reviews that they weren't any better than the more moderately priced bits.  Good tip on big box store, Greg.  I'll have to take a look at Home Depot and Lowes again to see their selection ... I think the last time I checked, years ago, all they had was Black and Decker bits, and they looked pretty cheap.

Dave, I get the MLCS catalog (in fact, I think I just got one).  I'll take a look at them too.

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