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I'm quite new to routers so I was wondering is it better to buy a router bit set or to buy individual bits as I go?. Are there any reputable router bit sets? U.K. what is the best material for bits to be made of?
 

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sets give you bits that you'll likely never use...
at a minimum C3 carbide... C4 is better and C5 or higher is often impractical for the hobbyist.....
C1 is soft and C8 is some next level hard...
harder carbide give you more mileage, stay sharper longer but is harder to sharpen.. harder = brittle too...
lower numbers dull quickly and are more shock resistant...
Asian bits are often C2 and the really cheap ones are C1.......
HSS is a total waste of money...

I really like my Freud bits....
they are some real performers and their carbide gives a best feature balance...
 

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Get a SMALL starter set.

I'm quite new to routers so I was wondering is it better to buy a router bit set or to buy individual bits as I go?. Are there any reputable router bit sets? U.K. what is the best material for bits to be made of?
See for example:-
http://www.trend-uk.com/en/CZ/productlist/2/233/starter_sets.html
If you are a hobbyist, a small 6 or 12 pcs (Max) starter set will get you started.
THEN
BUY QUALITY BIT one at a time the bit you use most or just one that you specially need for your projects.
DO NOT BUY a big set..
 

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I would go with a set and don't worry about them wearing out. After you have been using the router for a year or so you'll know which ones you usually use and for those you can buy better quality ones. I have been using a set of Asian ones that I bought off Ebay over twenty years ago and they are still going strong. Unless absolutely necessary don't use the router without a table. If you do you'll be making things more difficult and in some cases more dangerous. Others will disagree but the main purpose of the router is to put an edge on something and for that it's easier to bring the wood to the tool. You can use the router for all sorts of other things that look useful but you'll soon discover that it takes longer to build a jig or set it up then it does to make the cut.
 

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I'm with Stick on sets giving you bits you'll never use. I say buy what you need, when you need it.

I have I think 5 styles of bits, and use just one. I do have a project coming up that will require an entirely different bit, so bought a cheap Chinese bit, don't care if it lasts or not, just want to see it it does what I want. If it does, then I'll get a better bit after it dies.
 

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I'm with Stick on sets giving you bits you'll never use. I say buy what you need, when you need it.

I have I think 5 styles of bits, and use just one. I do have a project coming up that will require an entirely different bit, so bought a cheap Chinese bit, don't care if it lasts or not, just want to see it it does what I want. If it does, then I'll get a better bit after it dies.
I,m with Theo and Stick. A set will give you several bits that you will never use and duplicates of the same bit. I buy them as I need them.

David
 

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I recommend buying an inexpensive set of router bits. A set of 30 bits will cost about $100.

Starting up you will have no idea which bits you will need until you try them. Not having a bit to try something out, then going out and buying a $20 bit, only to find you won’t use it again is silly. Not having a bit on hand to try out something new is just as silly, how are you going to learn what you need?

Furthermore, I suggest getting your bargain bit set in 1/4 inch shank. The bits are inexpensive because they are small and have little carbide. Most are a suitable size for use with trim routers which can only use 1/4 inch shanks.

Once you learn about router bits and what you use on a regular basis, go out a buy a quality bit. Lean toward buying your expensive bits in 1/2 inch shank unless you know it’s a bit you will most likely use with a trim router, but by then you’ll know what you need.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
 

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Art loves his table, but in my opinion, waaay overstates the "danger'' of using a router freehand.
How else are you supposed to use a plunge base? Almost everything I use a router for is done freehand.
I'm careful and so far I haven't had any untoward excitement (loss of blood being the generally accepted benchmark...).

Some small sets are very specific and are excellent value; roundover bits being a perfect example.
If you saw a good quality set of 4 or 5 roundovers at a good price, well, grab them. Just keep your eye open for clearance sales and manufacturers' promotions.
Try not to pay full retail if you're not desperate for any particular bit. Eventually you'll spot them on sale and/or free shipping.
I have both 1/4" and 1/2" routers. I like the small 1/4" trim router for doing very light edgework; for example 1/8" and 1/4" roundovers, ansd laminate trimming.
For dados and rebates I use the 1/2" router and bits exclusively; more horsepower and stronger bit shanks.
 

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I like all the advice that has been posted. And like the OP, I have been there, done that...bought a set or two of bits and only used one or two out of the 3-5 bits (from more than one set). Then 5 yers later, I needed one I hadn't used. VOILA! a brand new router bit!

But mostly, I use roundover bits in several different sizes. A set of these with bearings would be a good option to consider. Others include several sizes and lengths of flush trim bits (top and bottom bearings are good).

A pattern bit can be really handy when you make a template and need to duplicate a part.

Whiteside, Freud and bits from MLCS have worked well for me. I also have a couple of others from Amana and Yonico I use in the CNC.

Another purchase I made was a rabbeting bit that came with a set of bearings. That is very handy. Just change the bearing and you are ready to cut a rabbet in another size. No need for a second bit. A quick search on Amazon turns up several brands to choose from. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=tools&field-keywords=rabbeting+bit Mine are Freud.

Also, since I have several routers that accept different size shanks, some of my bits are duplicates I have acquired from years past. That is because I started with a 1/4 inch shank Craftsman back in the 80's and now have the compact DeWAlt in 1/4 inch shank as well as Bosch and Triton routers that have collets for both sizes.

Good luck.
 

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Art loves his table, but in my opinion, waaay overstates the "danger'' of using a router freehand.
.
free hand was around long before the RT's were...
at one time you violated your warrenty if used your router mounted in a table the mfgrs staded they weren't intended for such use...
 
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I'm on the side of no big sets. A small set of roundover bits as suggested is a good basic item (picture below), as are changable bearing bits for rabbets. I have a lot of Freud bits that I really like--good brand. For door sets, my personal preference is Sommerfeld and I have a couple with different profiles. His sets are top quality, but for the ones used most he has a yellow star shaped jig that make setup pretty easy (picture below), and there are very detailed videos on how to get the most from them. The videos are online or you can buy a set. I have the DVDs for convenience. He also shows great router technique as a skilled cabinet maker was his first career.

The Sommerfeld bit sets for door making have matched shanks. Drop a small grommet into the collet, set the first bit and the rest of the set is set up as well. I know that Freud now makes matched bit sets that are probably very good.

Pattern bits with half inch shanks, mortising bits (picture below) for dados and mortises, and trim bits are also basic, but you can buy them one at a time, many at HD. Lowes has dropped Freud and has Irwin bits, which brand I don't much like. Sommerfeld also makes that star shaped easy set jig for Freud bits (picture below). The jig adjusts for thickness of the workpiece and makes easy work of setting up tricky and precision set bits. The easy set star shaped jig is about $30 and well worth using on certain Sommerfeld and Freud bits. The Freud jig is red, the other is yellow. Pictures below

Table vs freehand: Each has its own advantages and uses. There is no "one size fits all" answer on this. When starting, I found a used copy of Bill Hylton's book, "Woodworking With The Router." There's a newer Hylton book, but I don't like it as much as the older one. Lots of great information in there.

This string covers the matter of cutter hardness, which is the first time I recall seeing that information on the Forum. Thanks Stick for posting that. I found out the hard way that harder also means more fragile. Storing bits so they don't hit against each other is a good idea. Stick suggested using a foam filled case to do this, and others suggest drilling half and quarter inch holes in a board and seating the bits in that, and placing that in a drawer or some other protective cover. Sommerfeld's door making bit sets come in a very cool wooden box that was made on a router. This keeps them together because I don't use them often enough to recognize which bit goes with each set, and I don't risk mixing them up.
 

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Memory Lane

free hand was around long before the RT's were...
at one time you violated your warrenty if used your router mounted in a table the mfgrs staded they weren't intended for such use...
First time I used a router was in Gr10 woodworking...back in the very early '60's ...a Stanley if I remember correctly. Freehand, no 'soft start' and certainly no speed control.
HSS bits; had Carbide even been invented??? :nerd:
 

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I have to agree with the non-set folks. If you buy a set of 15 - 30 bits for about $50 to $100, you're paying about $3 to $4 per bit. With any profit built in, those bits are probably about $1 - $2 each - what kind of quality will you get for that small amount of money.
Disclaimer - I do have a "set" of 16 bits but they came along with a used PC690 router I bought (they were thrown in). I've probably used only 1/2 of them or less.

Here's a link to a presentation put on by Jim Heavey of Wood Magazine at a woodworking show - it's a bit lengthy but if you go to about the 20 minute mark, he discusses the basic bits one needs: cove, roundover, straight, chamfer, rabbetting, flush trim


Router table or hand-held?? I do most of my routing on a table, but..... there are some things you can't do on a table - grooves/dados in wide pieces just one example. So then it's hand-held with a jig. Is one more dangerous than the other. Not in my view - neither is more or less dangerous than the other - the danger is in your experience (or lack of) and your technique. I think both methods are safe, as long as you respect the equipment and use the right technique.
 

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I started out buying individual bits. Then about 15 years ago I bought a 12- 15 piece set (its at home and I’m not so don’t remember exactly). It’s roughly Sears quality. I paid $35 on sale, so $3 or less per bit. True as others have stated I haven’t used them all but I’ve used over half and true they don’t do as good a job as a Freud quad cut but they do an acceptable job and I still haven’t worn any of them out. It has a couple of cove sizes, a couple of round overs, a couple of straight bits, a rabbeting but, a dovetail , and an ogee I think. There might be a couple of others. At $3 a bit it won’t matter if you never use a couple but you’ll have them to try if you want. The entire set only cost what one good quality bit would cost and as already pointed out, if you do wear one out you can replace it with a good one.

Of the people who have said they wouldn’t buy a set I wonder if any of them ever did when they were starting out? The reason I ask that I’d that I have never seen anyone who did buy a set say they regretted it that I can recall.
 

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When I first got my router I bought a Bosch 1/4" shank 15 piece set from the UK, it comes in a green plastic case and sells on Amazon UK (I would post a link but I don't have enough posts for that) for around the 40 GBP mark so 2.66 GBP a bit, I have used those bits over and over, like Chuck said above the sets may not be the same quality of the top of the line bits but are better than the cheap Chinese sets IMO. It's a great starter set.

If you want to see it go to Amazon UK and search for: Bosch DIY 15tlg. Fräser-Set HM (1/4"-Schaft)

Here's a tip for later on, I now buy individual bits from China, not the no name ones from Ebay but Huhao ones from AliExpress, you have to wait a couple of weeks to get them but they are really well made and sharp as a razor, and I haven't worn one out yet, I am not saying that they are the same quality as Freud but if like me you are not a professional or using them every day they will out last you. They are better than the Bosch ones and cost around 1/4 of the price of a Freud bit. I just did a book case for my son and doing mortises and tenons for the shelves there were no little feathery fingers that you get with cheap bits on cross cuts, they cut like a hot knife through butter.
 

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Bosch DIY 15tlg. Fräser-Set HM (1/4"-Schaft)
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DIY sets (even Bosch) are NOT
Micrograin Carbide with Special Heat Treatment
Does NOT have Anti-Friction, Anti-rust coating usually BLUE/GREEN Teflon. NOT BLACK.
Are probably NOT Anti-kickback design for added safety
Usually only 2 welded cutting TCT edges ONLY.

I had a small set of economy set 12 bits "T-CUT" brand. Not too bad,.
BUT still my most used bit was the one that came with My Hitachi M12V. It is LONGER and cuts more accurately and more beautifully.
So since then I had bought MANY PRO GRADE Router bits BUT only one at a time depending on what I need.
 

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DIY sets (even Bosch) are NOT
Micrograin Carbide with Special Heat Treatment
Does NOT have Anti-Friction, Anti-rust coating usually BLUE/GREEN Teflon. NOT BLACK.
Are probably NOT Anti-kickback design for added safety
Usually only 2 welded cutting TCT edges ONLY.
It horses for courses when starting out though, the OP probably doesn't know how much he will be using each bit so as we have said a DIY starter or "taster" set is a good cheap option because these sets can be had for the cost of one top of the line bits, he can then decide which bits he can buy later on from the good brand name ones. It would be nice to own but a person doesn't need a Ferrari just to do the weekly grocery shop.

So since then I had bought MANY PRO GRADE Router bits BUT only one at a time depending on what I need.
That's the whole point though, the OP doesn't know what he needs.
 

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Agree it is horses for Courses

Google “taunton router bit matchup”

How some of the popular brands scored: Whiteside was 1st. Freud scored a respectable 4th, Amana was 5th, MLCS was 6th, CMT was 7th. Bosch was a rather poor 12th, and Rockler was a pitiful 16th and DNF (wore out before the test finished).
 

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Google “taunton router bit matchup”

How some of the popular brands scored: Whiteside was 1st. Freud scored a respectable 4th, Amana was 5th, MLCS was 6th, CMT was 7th. Bosch was a rather poor 12th, and Rockler was a pitiful 16th and DNF (wore out before the test finished).
The Bosch being 12th is where I would put them, like I said the Huhao from China have amazed me quality wise, super sharp and stay sharp, it's hard to complain about the Bosch set though when they cost only a few dollars per bit. And being a cheap old coot, I can't bring myself to pay over $50.00 for one bit. :wink:
 

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Years ago I thought the sets were the best thing going and over the years I wasted my money on several. I just got through "culling" my bits and was amazed at the number of bits I never used. Of course hind sight and all that. But if I were starting over I would buy quality bits as I needed them. By cleaning and properly caring for them they should last a very long time. I now know what bits I use the most, and went to Sommerfeld's and bought all new, in the profiles I use, and I know they will last for the rest of my life.
 
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