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Discussion Starter #1
without getting the standadrd answer: you get what you pay for.... can someone tell me what determines a better quality bit and the difference between a $16.00 bit vs. a $83.50 bit?
(example) I purchase my first bullnose bit through MLCS and the cost was $16.00. After searching the site I see names like "CMT" and I will use them for my other example. The same style bull nose bit made by CMT is $83.50, through woodcraft.

Is the "cut" going to be that much cleaner? Is the bit going to last longer? I have no problem with spending good money for a quailty bit, but I hate paying for a name.
thanks
Tally
 

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Hi Tally
There's been a lot of discussion on that and similar topics - take a look at this thread maybe as one of the later ones:

http://routerforums.com/showthread.php?t=1956

There are many differences, such as coatings (apparently debatable as to whether it realy makes a difference), not just carbide, but what type (smaller particles are supposed to hold up longer), thickness of carbide edge, etc, etc, ad-nausium.

The reason for suggesting this thread is it references an article that goes into things such as quality and performance versus price - of course, brands that are promoted are subject to bias due to advertizing revenue - but the general premis and info as to construction and quality may be worth looking at.

There's another article I saw several months ago that went in-depth into some other aspects as well - I'll try to find it and get back with the info.

Your question is the million dollar question (and you can spend millions checking them all out) but nobody's gonna concure with some type of absolute rule or brand. And if we ever get a consus, then maybe we should start working on world hunger for the next issue!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
"If you're going to use the bit a lot, spend the bucks for a good one ... if not very often, then pare back a little 'cause life of the bit isn't so much of an issue in that case."


Thanks Gilbear. Yes I already read that post, but the quote above reference's to spend the bucks for a good one. I have a hard time thinking that just because it is expensive, it is good.

I guess everyone on this forum has their own opinion to what is good, but I would have thought that somewhere, somebody had a breakdown of what makes a good bit vs and average bit. Am I safe to assume that all bits will cut the same and it is longevity that makes one better than the other?
Tally
 

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I look at it this way ,If your in the woodworking shop to make money,And are doing router work all day long then by all means buy the high price bit. But if your like me and do it for the fun ,Or sell a piece from now to then ,Then I say buy the middle of the road bit for a good price and if it gets dull or you drop it you go and get a new one,If I paided $85.00 for a bit the sales man better come over and do the routing too..
Learning Herb
 

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I'm eagerly awaiting a cabinet making set that I'm getting through e-bay. They are new, and highly advertised as being 'industrial quality". The price was about half of other decent bargains, and about a third of brand names. As soon as I get them, and use them, I'll make a post about their performance.
 

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Top quality bits are usually more expensive. Better material, better made, etc. Once in a while though, if you are on the look out, you may find a deal on some of those expensive bits. The thread that Gilbear listed really gives you a better heads up on what to look for.

Ken
 

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An article I read some time ago where they actually ran bits through material seemed to be indicating that price isn't always directly related to the longevity of a bit's usefulness. The bits were all tested on various materials. Both hard and soft woods as well as MDF and I think they included plywood but not sure if that was the same study. In MANY cases teh less expensive bits were noticeably better than the more expensive high end name brands. And MLCS was one of the ones that did well against (I think I have this brand name right) Amana and some other bits we'd think of as being related to quality. They got into all kinds of technical stuff I won't begin to try and say I understand completely, but they talked about not only carbide quality and thickness, but the metals used in the REST of the bit as well and apparently there's more than one way to bond the carbide AND it makes a difference how well they are sharpened/dressed (that part seemed obvious) from the factory.

The message was "sometimes you DON'T get what you pay for" and sometimes it's perfectly valid to get less expensive bits and have them outlast a real expensive one.

*shrug* ... I think you find what you like and you use it until you find something better. :)
 

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Tally said:
without getting the standadrd answer: you get what you pay for.... can someone tell me what determines a better quality bit and the difference between a $16.00 bit vs. a $83.50 bit?
(example) I purchase my first bullnose bit through MLCS and the cost was $16.00. After searching the site I see names like "CMT" and I will use them for my other example. The same style bull nose bit made by CMT is $83.50, through woodcraft.

Is the "cut" going to be that much cleaner? Is the bit going to last longer? I have no problem with spending good money for a quailty bit, but I hate paying for a name.
thanks
Tally
Hello Tally,

Here is how I started out. I bought what I could afford which was a set of low quality and cost bits from Lowe's. I use them quite a bit and if I drop and mess one up or dull or damage it while learning to route then I am not out very much money. Now that I have been using a router for over a year, reading and learning more about bits and which ones I like then I will go and spend the money on good quality bits. Other words learn with a cheap set then move up to a higher quality bit or set of bits as you need them or figure out which ones you like and use the most.

Example: I recently bought what I considered a good quality 1 1/2" long 1/2"X1/2" straight bit that I use for all of my Edge Jointing and that is all I use it for. My next good quality bit purchase will be round over bits. These 2 are what I believe I use the most. Raised Panel Bits I may be wrong but I plan to purchase a cheap set to learn with then as my technique/Skill improves and I learn to use them then I will spend the money and buy a good set. Just my 2 cents.
 

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I get all my bits from Grizzly and or price cutter and I am yet to be disapointed.They both do very well.I just got a multi-sided-glue joint bit and it cuts great. they have a lot of good stuff and the price is right.
Learning Herb
 

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Just a follow up - I found the other article I mentioned on bit quality:

"Woodsmith", Vol. 27/No. 160, August/Sept 2005 - "All about Bargain Router Bits"

I think in general you DO get what you pay for - but that's not to say that you can't spend more than you NEED to (such as shopping at Needless Markup ... oops, Neaman Marcus) - I also don't drive a Bentley but still manage to get around just fine- the spread in costs you were finding seemed a little extreme to me for a somewhat common bit, but I've generally found the CMT bits to be good, clean cutting and they generally hold up well in my experience anyway. That said, I don't do this for a living and am not using them hard on a daily basis. In other words, I don't really need high cost industrial grade bits - median contractor grade bits do fine for my frequency of use and abuse - others would be nuts NOT to get industrial top end grades.

As to "all bits cutting the same", I don't believe that's true - one example would be the shear angle of the cutting edge, even on "straight cut" bits - it's cheaper to make a bit with no shear angle, but a slight shear does make for a smoother cut because it's slicing or paring instead of just cutting/chopping. You'd be surprised at the difference that alone can make, and it adds to the cost of the bit. If it's a bit you'll be using alot, take a look at that - it's worth it even if only for the reduced noise and vibration!

Another thought is that bit makers are in some pretty cut-throat competition - just like all other retail manufacturers, but with an added incentive to be competitive -- the brand of bits you own isn't considered by most to be a status symbol!
If their prices are way out of line with their product quality, they most likely won't be around for too long. However, the low cost - even poor quality - bits we'll always have with us for the obvious reasons.
The advice from GoonMan I think is appropriate - get some less expensive sets first - use them - see what you use most - and then upgrade as your use dictates. No big revelation there, but it makes sense and has stood me well.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you for the replies. Yes, I have a "starter" kit of bits and I guess I should have made myself a little clearer. I have a bull nose bit that I purchased from MLCS and what I am using it for requires the best possible cut with no or very little sanding.

"As to "all bits cutting the same", I don't believe that's true - one example would be the shear angle of the cutting edge, even on "straight cut" bits - it's cheaper to make a bit with no shear angle, but a slight shear does make for a smoother cut because it's slicing or paring instead of just cutting/chopping. You'd be surprised at the difference that alone can make, and it adds to the cost of the bit. If it's a bit you'll be using alot, take a look at that - it's worth it even if only for the reduced noise and vibration!"

Thank you, I have learned a little from this thread. I have never seen "shear" listed on any of the bits but that could just be my oversight. I will look into that a little more.
Tally
 

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I have noticed that when I buy bits from MLCS they cut fairly good but if I buy their top of the line Katana bits they seam to cut a lot smoother with less tear out or burns. So I would have to say the hight price ones are usually better especialy if you stick to the brand names. If you look around you may be able to find the brand names at lower prices.

Just my opinon
Gary
 

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Tally,

"I have never seen "shear" listed on any of the bits but that could just be my oversight."

I'm not sure that you'll see any packaging spelling out shear angle - although it might get mentioned in their advertising propoganda - It's when the lead cutting edge has a slight camber when looked at from the side, running from top to bottom - kind of like a very slight spiral - you will see it if you hold it in your hand and look.
For bits that I'm particularly concerned about, I'll often go to a retailer that carries several brands which allows you to look at them and compare such things as coatings, thickness of carbide, shear, etc., which is why I won't often shop for bits at some of the well known big-box outlets - too difficult to compare.
Sorry if I've waxed overly verbose on this!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It is a little hard to compare bits on-line. Lowes amd Home Depot carry "some" bits but they only carry the better selling bits. If I can referr to a bullnose bit, I have not found a shop or store around me that carries this particular bit.

Will the "brand" names or top of the line bits reduce tearout and gouging compared to a less exspensive bit?

I have searched and searched and can not find one thing that says why some bits are better than others, other than grade of carbide or the company saying they have the best bit. Surely, I am not the only one on this forum who has used a bullnose bit and can tell me who makes the "best" bit for production type work.
thank you for your time
Tally
 

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Initial report: My online bits arived today. Some initial disapointment at the product packaging.... a few of the bits were loose in the case. The loose bits of course managed to find each others sensitive spots, and I've found small chips in the carbide. By the end of the day (and time spent mulling it over), I blame only the crazy postman for the chips.

Fist cuts: Rail and stile match up nicely. clean cut. If the bits have any longegity, I would recomend them. Next I'll try the glue joint and multi-profile bits. 'till the next!

I've only
 

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Initial report: My online bits arived today. Some initial disapointment at the product packaging.... a few of the bits were loose in the case. The loose bits of course managed to find each others sensitive spots, and I've found small chips in the carbide. By the end of the day (and time spent mulling it over), I blame only the crazy postman for the chips.
I've learned long ago that if I receive anything damaged, I send it back for either refund or replacement. If they aren't in the shape that they are supposed to be, no need to take a chance on getting hurt for damaged parts/pieces.
Just my $0.02 worth.

Ken
 

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Not an easy question to answer. I still have & use some HSS bits that are 40 yrs old.Yep....40 yrs old. "Industrial carbide " phrase is a no brainer. For example...if you are a manufacturer of carbide tools you can purchase carbide in at least 5 grades. Your best bet on a reasonable quality is at time of purchase. Take a magnifying glass with you....check the shank machining as well as the brazing. You will be amazed at how many bits will show up with brazing voids. Check the cutting edges for nicks for the same reason. If you find after getting home with a gel dipped bit any flaw whatsoever take the bit back & ask for refund or exchange.

Lee
 

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How much experence do you have with a router. If you have little then buy the cheaper bit. You can ruin a good bit just as easy as a cheaper one. A lot depends on the type of wood you are going to use. Soft wood you can get by with a cheaper bit hard wood needs the better bits. The most expencive bits are for the ones that do the work like furniture companys and they have theirs resharpen. Sears has good bits for the average person or Lowes .
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Interesting enough, I stumbled onto "Woodworkers Journal" magazine.....December 2005 issue. The title of the article: "Router Bits: Cost, Quality and value."

Pretty good reading if you want to know more about bits and what the factors are that affect the variation, quality and value. In the article it has a breakdown of router bit quality and value index. This article helped me understand the process of bit making.
Tally
 

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A good rule is to buy the best on things such as stile and rail cutters that will get a lot of use and you need to keep it a while. Most cheap bits cut fairly well and if its not a bit you'll be using a lot it won't hurt. HHS will lose their edge quicker as a rule just buy for short time use. Do the same with carbide,just buy according to use. I have bits 30 years old not used much and still like new. Watch how deep you cut because if you take to much stock it will burn and wear even the best carbides out.
 
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