I'm finally getting started in woodworking and need some advice on router bits. I've read Spielman's router book and he mainly pictures CMT bits. I want to find the best quality bits and those may not always be the most expensive. I have found a source for Freud bits but so far haven't found anyone who sells CMT. Appreciate any info on high quality bits and where to buy them.
Sommerfeld's Tools for Wood carries CMT bits. www.sommerfeldtools.com , or 1-888-2BUYCMT.
The CMT web site is www.cmtusa.com
That's a start.
You want to look for high quality carbide and they should be sharpened with AT LEAST 400 grit. Otherwise, they won't maintain sharpness too long. It's less expensive in the long run.
Have fun with your router!
There is much more than price to consider when purchasing router bits, and it would literally take a book to give you all the information you need.
Purchasing bits should fall into three catagories.
1. those used for joinery operations
2. those used for decorative purposes
3. those once in a blue moon operations.
Since you asked, some advise.
For joinery operation buy the best. CMT is good and not hard to find. Do a Google search and you'll find them all over. However, since you are just getting into woodworking, try Rockler's brand. I have used them and find them reasonably good quality and a good value. Joinery bits are the straights, spiral, pattern, trim, dovetail type bits.
For decorative purposes, wait until the project calls for it and then purchase it. If it is a common profile, i.e., round overs, chamfers, etc., buy a good quality bit.
The once in a blue moon thing. Really re-consider. Some of these bits can get pretty pricey and there is usually another way to achieve the same effect.
Other thoughts. Avoid 'sets'. There are bits in there that are less than useful, making the ones you use a lot, more expensive than needed. Avoid the all-in-one multi-purpose bits. Too hard to set up and very nearly impossible to repeat an exact set-up. If you want to rout aomething other than wood, you can, but you may want to purchase a bit just for this operation. I call those 'firewood' bits. If you blitz them, it is not a big deal.
For hobbyists, bits rarely get dull. They do get dirty and need to be cleaned to continue to cut sharp. Most often they are damaged by improper storage. Store them so they cannot touch each other or anything else.
with Carol the RouterLady. I have a drawer full of grey bits that were bargains at the time. I havent used them in 8 years. I found from experience that the most expensive bit is the one that doesnt work. The wood wasted, not to mention my time, made those "good buys" totally worthless. Now I am most exclusively CMT. They havent let me down.
John Lucas www.woodshopdemos.com
I dont know about anyone else , but i like that dry coating
spray on stuff, maybe uits in my head but i think it helps.
I hang a lot of doors and i use a 1/2 in. st. cut alot and i spray that on there and it seems to come to life
Years ago when we started our small stair and millwork shop we were moving quite a lot of material over our routers and vice versa. We were always waiting on a particular bit to be returned from sharpening and developed the 3 cutter system which was buy 3 of everything, one in use, one out to be sharpened and one on the shelf to replace the current. We bought mostly bosch bits at the time. Then the sharpening guy explained about carbide grades and how a c-2 carbide was a standard hardness and the industrial grade carbide was a c-4 we began to look for companies that used the harder grade of carbide in their tooling and the amout of money we saved in shapening alone more than paid for the slightly higher cost per bit. I may have those hardness numbers transposed but it has been years since i have bought a new bit. Because some genius bought 3 of everything and they're still here.
I think Carol's post just about says it all. For really good quality bits, I've yet to see the equal of the Whiteside router bits sold by Woodcraft -- they are really superb, and IMHO worth the pretty steep price. (oops - I'm prob'ly not s'posed to tout the competition, but that's life...)
Carol's answer was quite accurate and complete, but I'll add a few thoughts:
In my opinion, the two best brands available are Onsrud and Amana. Woodcraft carries some Onsrud bits, but they can be a little hard to find.
Amana are becoming far more widespread (www.amanatool.com)and they make their own carbide. It is among the finest in the world.
You should really take a close look at their NOVA series of insert tools. One steel shank, 23 different profiles that can be swapped in and out of the shank. The profile sets are about $23.00 Each, and the NOVA starter kit (shank and 5 profiles I believe)is $79.00
Since working with them in the CNC world, I've become a big proponent of insert tooling. The upfront cost is higher, but the overall cost is much less. (it is far cheaper and easier to keep a few inserts on hand than have the three tool rule mentioned above )