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I've been slowly progressing as a woodworker over the last few years, and have recently stepped up my router game. I started with an old pair of Craftsman 1 HP routers and a benchtop table that I inherited, and have since changed over to three Bosch routers, a Colt and a pair of 1617s, one of which is table mounted in a JessEm Rout-R-Lift II. Since I started with the Craftsman pair, almost all of my bits have 1/4" shanks, but I do have a decent collection of name brands. They work fairly well with most smaller jobs, but don't feel all that robust on heavier stuff. I'd like to do more intense jobs on the router table, like mitering, rabbeting, dadoes, and dovetails. My understanding is that I'll get less chatter and a smoother result if I use the 1/2" collet and meatier bits. Right now, the only 1/2" shank bits I have are 1/4" and 3/8" solid carbide spiral upcut bits for mortising, and a 1 1/16" chamfering bit, all Whiteside. I've looked at the sets of 9-13 bits that are pre-packaged by Whiteside, Amana, and Freud, but it always feels like a few are either redundant (because I can do roundovers and some other jobs just as well with the 1/4" bits) or unnecessary 90% of the time. I will also be making templates as well, and need bits for that.

Given what I already have, what 6-9 1/2" shank bits should I get to run on my table? I'm sure I'll still need things I don't have as I do more projects, but I'd like to get the basics squared away.

Thanks in advance for any help!!
 

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Welcome. I'm not much for kits, and the bits you buy should be for work you like or want to do, or do often. Instead of a direct answer, here are a couple of guides on the profiles different bits can cut. You can use the small 1.4 shank bits you have, but if you want a profile like one in the attached pictures, buy that kind of bit. I prefer Freud bits, many of which are available at HD, or by special order on Amazon or any of the major bit suppliers. I wouldn't just buy a bunch of bits without very carefully examining the guide for a profile you know you'll need.

You didn't mention whether you have a good table saw, but many joints can be cut easily on a TS, and faster than doing them on a router table.
Brown Textile Sleeve Font Line

Brown Textile Sleeve Font Line

As a general rule, the more wood you're trying to remove, the more you need half inch shanks. Also, the larger the bit, the slower speed. You probably already know about speed and taking off a little in multiple passes.

One bit I can't do without is a mortising bit. It cuts a nice flat bottom groove or dado. With a simple exact fit jig, you can make perfect dados every time. Here is a picture of the jig. and another of the bit I like.
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I only buy 1/2" shank bits if possible. There's less chance of breakage and chatter.
For me, a long 1/2" bit for edge jointing is a must. At least one of each Roundover, Ovlo and Ogee bits cover a majority of shaping needs. If you're into Dovetail joints at least 2 different dovetail bits are useful. I'm really into Raised Panel Doors and I have two different sizes. One is a Trend two piece - one combination for rails and stiles, the other for the raised panels. The other set is 3 separate pieces.
I have an Incra table with their Wonder Fence and lift, which allows me all of the accuracy and ease of adjustment I need. One thing you should consider, especially for end-grain routing, is a coping sled (or two).

Regards,
Alan
 

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The best thing would get a set of inexpensive bits. Then when you find the ones that you reach for all the time you can invest in better ones. I'm still using a set I bought at least 25 years ago, and they are still working fine. Look at places like MLCS and Ebay not the companies that sell the expensive brands, You will find that you need different sizes of the same shape. For example, a kit may have three different sizes of a round over bit. One size you will use often and the other two you will use once every few years. One other thing don't use the router for things that are best left to other tools. A dado if possible is best done on a table saw, same with miters and rabbeting. Mortising is best left to a drill press or mortising machine. And this will certainly lead to a fire storm but mortising in most cases should be left to serious antique reproduction work, There are quicker ways of accomplishing the same thing.
 

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I bought a half-decent kit with many bits but my most used bits are round-over, up-cut straight, flush trim, round nose (core box), cove, bowel & tray and dovetail. I still want to get a drawer lock bit. I have never or very seldom used the Ogees or other fancy profiles out of my 'kit'. Like mgmine said, get good ones for those that you use the most. Your good quality 1/4 shaft bits are the last that I'd replace with 1/2 shaft ones.
 

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If it's a serious hobby, buy as you go. Don't buy cheap kits full of bits you'll never use. I use to spend a lot of time on Ebay looking for reasonable priced name brand bits and saw blades. Now if I need it I buy only one brand unless it's a one time bit or its not offerd..
 

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I would not buy 'sets' of cutters. Guided by this list, buy what you need for a project as required..
Then buy quality bits.
 

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Friends -

I've been slowly progressing as a woodworker over the last few years, and have recently stepped up my router game. I started with an old pair of Craftsman 1 HP routers and a benchtop table that I inherited, and have since changed over to three Bosch routers, a Colt and a pair of 1617s, one of which is table mounted in a JessEm Rout-R-Lift II. Since I started with the Craftsman pair, almost all of my bits have 1/4" shanks, but I do have a decent collection of name brands. They work fairly well with most smaller jobs, but don't feel all that robust on heavier stuff. I'd like to do more intense jobs on the router table, like mitering, rabbeting, dadoes, and dovetails. My understanding is that I'll get less chatter and a smoother result if I use the 1/2" collet and meatier bits. Right now, the only 1/2" shank bits I have are 1/4" and 3/8" solid carbide spiral upcut bits for mortising, and a 1 1/16" chamfering bit, all Whiteside. I've looked at the sets of 9-13 bits that are pre-packaged by Whiteside, Amana, and Freud, but it always feels like a few are either redundant (because I can do roundovers and some other jobs just as well with the 1/4" bits) or unnecessary 90% of the time. I will also be making templates as well, and need bits for that.

Given what I already have, what 6-9 1/2" shank bits should I get to run on my table? I'm sure I'll still need things I don't have as I do more projects, but I'd like to get the basics squared away.

Thanks in advance for any help!!
BTW, welcome to the forum...
 

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Here is my problem with "buying what you need" How do you know what you need? When making a frame I may reach for 5 or 6 bits until I get the look I want. My router use is profiles most of the time. I try to reproduce moldings that I like the look of. What I don't want to do is have to drive 10 miles to the store and spend half an hour trying to decide then driving home and repeating every time I do a project. Or worse yet order online and wait a few days. You buy the cheap kit and you have everything that you probably need. For $60 or $70 dollars It's a pretty good investment.
 

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Here is my problem with "buying what you need" How do you know what you need? When making a frame I may reach for 5 or 6 bits until I get the look I want. My router use is profiles most of the time. I try to reproduce moldings that I like the look of. What I don't want to do is have to drive 10 miles to the store and spend half an hour trying to decide then driving home and repeating every time I do a project. Or worse yet order online and wait a few days. You buy the cheap kit and you have everything that you probably need. For $60 or $70 dollars It's a pretty good investment.
Most bit makers offer catalogs that show the bit and the profile it produces. Look for the profile you want, then you've identified the bit to buy. Not really that difficult. Freud puts a picture of the profile on the bit package. Keep you bit in the package and you'll know what it can do. Order catalogs from several companies, that should make selection easier.

The pictureI posted of the major bit types and profiles is a starting point. Unless you have a woodworking store, you will have to order most of the larger, more complex bits and bit sets. It is part of planning a project to work out the look of the project. I like shaker and even mission style for their simplicity and clean lines, so I don't own any ogee bits. I do have a few odd and rather expensive bits I purchased early on, and most have gone unused...That would be hundreds of dollars that would better be spent on materials.

I am unable to visualize the profile of loose bits, so I keep mine in packages that show the shape. But if I kept them in a drawer without packaging, I'd cut the profile out and glue it to the bit holder.
 

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The picture of the profiles is just that, a picture. I often only use part of the profile or raise or lower the bit to get a different profile. I also combine bits to make something that looks just right, I keep samples of the molding I make and write on it what was used to make it. This is where the cheap sets come in. I mix and match without out spending a fortune on bits that I will rarely use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
A quick reminder that the original poster (beautyfish) is not the same as the poster (mgmine). Hope we didn't turn beautyfish off with our differences.
Not at all, Tom. I'm finding lots to agree with here. A couple of years ago I bought an inexpensive set of 1/4" bits, and the ones that I've used the most I have gradually upgraded to Amanas or Whitesides. The reason I posted here is that it's only recently that my router table/lift setup is good enough to think about serious, precision work, and I'm not totally sure which jobs will make more sense on the table as opposed to hand held or even the table saw, and which of those would benefit most from a sturdier 1/2" bit. I'm interested in hearing what others are doing on their router tables, and which bits they go to the most. I don't have any aspirations to churn out quantity or monetize my hobby in any way. I'm just a retired musician who has gotten into woodworking, and last year I took a three month intensive course in fine furniture, which really made me understand how important it is to use quality tools in a precise, repeatable way. I appreciate everyone taking the time to share their thoughts.
 

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@beautyfish Very cool. I know for me everything changed when I got a serious table saw. Bought all my tools during peak earning years before retirement. It makes all the difference in the world. I did an entertainment wall 10 ft wide with bookshelves on each side. When I installed them the measure between was off by 1/16 inch top to bottom. Good tools are wonderful.
 

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I'll second that on the table saw. IMHO the most important tool in the shop is the table saw. I got my first saw in 1971, a Craftsman cast iron 10". I upgraded to a Unisaw and now have a Powermatic 66. I still have the old Craftsman and it comes in handy when doing "production" work. I am able to keep one saw set up and use the other for ripping. Same goes for the router. I keep two mounted to an identical plate. When doing rail and stile I set each router up and just swap them out on the table. I never lose the setting, so it saves a lot of time and aggravation.
 

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when I need to do a "one-off" router cut in a project, I sort through the box of bits for the one that I need for the job . . . . usually, it is the one that I DON'T have that I "need".
Don't try to get them all at once - get them as you "think" you might need them some day.
(sort of like collecting PVC plumbing fittings; I've driven 46 miles for a special fitting that only cost $1.75).
waiting for a week on a bit that you NEED is not good.
 

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In regard to my previous posts, one use of a set of cutters is to allow you to "play" with the router on scrap lumber to get some easy practice.
 

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Just musing here, but how about cutting the profile on a piece of wood, then drilling it to hold the bit that made the profile? Or if you used multiple bits, use a cutoff to record the combination of bits you used, and even color code directly on the sample cut, which bit was used for what portion of the profile. Color code by inking the name of the bit with it's corresponding color used on top of the sample.
 

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Here is my problem with "buying what you need" How do you know what you need? When making a frame I may reach for 5 or 6 bits until I get the look I want. My router use is profiles most of the time. I try to reproduce moldings that I like the look of. What I don't want to do is have to drive 10 miles to the store and spend half an hour trying to decide then driving home and repeating every time I do a project. Or worse yet order online and wait a few days. You buy the cheap kit and you have everything that you probably need. For $60 or $70 dollars It's a pretty good investment.
You should know what you need before you start a project..

A lot ofe woodworkers starting out buy and buy and years later wonder why they spent so much on things they never use..

Woodworkers want more and more and then one day they wish they has less..
 
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