by The Saw Doctor
Owning a router in your workshop is the most versatile portable power tool that you can have.
With the router you can shape decorative edges, trim laminates and veneers, rout hinge mortises, and cut a wide variety of woodworking joints, including dovetail, rebates, mortise-and-tenon, tongue-and-groove. That’s just to name a few.
There are hundreds of different sizes and styles of router bits available to help you make all those cuts. But with the vast number of router bits available to choose it can make it difficult to know which router bits to buy, especially if you're new to routing.
Below is a short list of some carbide tipped router bits that every one should own. There are hundreds of different sizes of router bits. The most popular and versatile include the ones below.
Let’s start the list!
Edge Forming Bits
As their name suggests, edge-forming bits are used to cut a decorative edge. Ogee, Round-Over, Cove and Beading bits fall into this category. Many edge-forming bits include a pilot bearing. Most of these bits are used for final decoration of a project where edges have already been formed and can serve as a guide for the router bit.
The Rounding over bit can also be converted to a Beading bit simply by putting a smaller bearing on the router which will give it the step to make a beading edge.
Bullnose Radius Bits
The Bullnose Bit is designed to cut a perfect half-round profile. These bits are used to carve out a nice rounded edge such as the front edge on a counter top or step treads.
Unlike Rounding over bits, the bullnose bit will not leave a flat in the middle of the timber and you can complete the profile in a one pass. Bullnose bits are available with a guide bearing or without.
Lock Mitre Router Bit
The Lock Mitre Bit is designed for joining material at 90 Degrees. The tight mitre joint provides a strong interlocking action that makes it much easier to clamp. The profile will produce a gluing surface that will strengthen the joint better than a basic rebate or butt joint.
Creating the parts with the Lock Mitre Bit is easy—with the bit height set, one part is cut horizontally on the router table, then the corresponding part is cut vertically. This bit is ideal for joining bits such as drawer boxes, panels and various cabinet parts.
A rebate is simply an L-shaped notch cut along the edge of a board or panel, which can then accept another board or panel at a right angle, forming what is called a rebating joint.
One of the easiest ways to cut a rebate is by using a rebating router bit with a ball-bearing as the pilot. Rebating bits are identified by the width and depth of cut they produce.
Rebate joints are most often used in cabinetmaking to build drawers, to join cabinet sides to cabinet tops, and to install cabinet backs. There are shielded bearings available that can be easily fitted to the rebate bit to either increase the depth or to reduce the depth of the rebate.
Tongue and Groove Bit
The tongue and groove router is available as a one or two piece set. Both bits help to create custom tongue and groove hardwood flooring and inlays.
The joint is used to fit two or more similar objects together edge-to-edge. Each piece has a slot or “groove” cut all along one edge, and a thin, deep ridge or “tongue” shaped on the opposite edge.
The tongue and groove bit is also available as a single router bit. This bit makes tongue and groove joints hard to detect.
How does this bit work? Simply invert the second piece of timber for matching joints.
Finger Joint Bits
The finger joint bits cuts finger like extensions to create a maximum gluing surface area for superior edge joints and splice joints. The fingers have a wedged shape, which when clamped together, helps to close up the joint without any gaps in the ends of two pieces of wood.
The finger joint produces a very strong joint due to the extended glue line. This bit requires a router table.
Finger Joint Bits can be used in a numerous amount of combinations as shown in the diagram. Removing and adding the slot cutters allows for a range of joint thicknesses.
I have outlined six of many router bits bits available to you. Of course there are many more bits to choose from.
The beauty about routing is that once your woodworking skills and confidence grow, you can simply add more router bits to your collection to make the projects you're proud to show off to your family and friends. There’s nothing prouder than saying “I made that!"
Until next time...Happy Cutting!