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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone -

I am new to this forum and pretty new to woodworking.

I have a question: how do you know if your technique is bad or that your tools (router bits specifically) are dull? I get so much tear out when routing and have attempted to use backing boards to limit but still get tear out.

Am I attempting to feed too fast? Most of my tools are old but I've attempted to use new bits and blades, but even though they are new, are they sharp? How can you tell?

Thanks for your help.

fireflyva
 

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Sometimes it helps to read the grain of the wood and then cut with the grain instead of against it. Just a thought as almost any cutter will give you tear out if you cut against the grain. Also many types of wood are particularly prone to tearing, maple being just one.
 

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Take less wood off with each pass. Reserve the last pass for maybe 1/32" to be removed.

Do your best to read the grain but sometimes you must route against the grain on a piece. Backrouting can help but if it can be dangerous to you and to your workpiece. Be very, very careful and only do it as a last resort.

Besides being sharp, a clean bit cuts better. Visual inspection for pitch and burns on the carbide. Clean with 409 or similar household cleaner and a stiff nylon bristle brush.

As to sharp, if you see the carbide is chipped, it isn't sharp. If you can see a flat edge where it should really be a crisp line, it isn't sharp.

And finally, I mention carbide, I assume you are using carbide tipped cutters? You can hone them lightly with a diamond hone. If you are trying to use HSS cutters, don't. They dull too quickly and are more trouble than they are worth unless you have no other choice.
 

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Welcome Mike to the Router community.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've used some high speed steel router bits and a few carbide tips. I don't necessarily have the experience to differentiate the performance of the bits yet.

However, from the post of RWYoung I can see that carbide tips are preferred. I usually route with the grain whenever possible.

I think, also, I may be attempting to take too much off with a single pass. I can see how taking off a little each pass would be better, but what if you are attempting to route a dovetail?

If you route say, 1/16 of an inch, and then raise the bit the same with each pass, then you'll end up with a some shape other than a dovetail.

What do you do then? I've attempted to cut dovetails in some 1/4" plywood and they did not do anything but splinter even though I tried again with a backer board.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks to all of you who have replied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Peter - No, I haven't been using a straight bit to clean out as much as possible. I never thought about that - good idea! Does that work on pretty much everything you cut with a router?
 

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Hi Mike

I don't know about everything, but certainly for dovetail, T-cutter and ball cutter bits taking out what you can first with a straight cutter has several benefits.

You can drop them in gradually, as per normal practice for dadoing, according to the diameter of the cutter.
Straight bits are cheap and you are better wearing those out than a more expensive shaped cutter.
Prior removal of as much as possible will put less strain on bit and router, since, as you have realised, shaped cutters can only go in full depth.

If you ever buy sets of dovetail cutters,they normally include the relevant straight bits.

HTH

Peter
 

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I've used some high speed steel router bits and a few carbide tips. I don't necessarily have the experience to differentiate the performance of the bits yet.

However, from the post of RWYoung I can see that carbide tips are preferred. I usually route with the grain whenever possible.

I think, also, I may be attempting to take too much off with a single pass. I can see how taking off a little each pass would be better, but what if you are attempting to route a dovetail?

If you route say, 1/16 of an inch, and then raise the bit the same with each pass, then you'll end up with a some shape other than a dovetail.

What do you do then? I've attempted to cut dovetails in some 1/4" plywood and they did not do anything but splinter even though I tried again with a backer board.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks to all of you who have replied.

re: dovetail slot - use a straight bit that is the same or just smaller diameter than the narrowest part of the dovetail slot. Use that bit to take out most of the waste, then use the dovetail bit to shape the sides and flatten the bottom of the slot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks to all of you for your advice. I will try all of these ideas. I do have another question but will post it in another post.
 

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Mike
You stated in one of the responses that you are cutting dove tails in plywood and in another that you were cutting with the grain. The issue of tear out is also related to the fact that the layers of the plywood are laid in alternating directions so that while it looks like you are cuttiung with the grain while looking at the top, the very next layer you may be cutting across the grain. I have never had much success in cutting nice dove tails in ply.

I would also point out that if you are cutting ply, the bits will foul much sooner becuase of the glues used to laminate the ply. This will mean that you will need to clean the cutters much more often - even between cuts depending on the ply used. I suggest a cleaner that is specially formulated to remove ptch they are hard on the nose so use them in a well ventilated area and away from sparks/open flames and do not light up around them!

Good luck and welcome to the forum

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