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post #1 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Beginner router bit set

Hey all,

I plan on purchasing a Porter-Cable router very soon and I'm just curious what a good beginner set of router bits would be. The router will just be used occasionally on home projects, so I'm looking for the more common bits used. The router accepts both 1/2" and 1/4" shanks, but I've heard I should stick mostly to 1/2" if possible. Is that true in most situations?

It was suggested to me to go to amazon and they seem to have a pretty good selection of sets for around $50. Or is it better to buy specific bits individually?

Thanks.

- Kleptican
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 10:31 PM
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When you buy a set, the price per each drops dramatically.
You may not use every bit right away, but they'll be in a nice case when you do need them.

http://www.woodcraft.com/product/200...-12-shank.aspx

Learning more about tools everyday
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 10:36 PM
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I was in the same situation a few months ago......http://www.amazon.com/MLCS-8377-15-Piece-Router-Carbide-Tipped/dp/B000FJRN8S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359686049&sr=8-1&keywords=mlcs+router+bit+set This set is a good value, and a decent quality.

I ended up just buying them as I've needed them....i've been buying a bit higher quality, it will cost more, but in the long run I decided i'd rather have the few I need, in top quality bits.
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 11:19 PM
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My first set was a Harbor Freight set that I received as a gift. I still use it to this day. I replaced a couple of frequently used bits with Individual bits. Usually Bosch from Lowes or MLCS bits from their site.

Pops ~ In So Cal...
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post #5 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kleptican View Post
Hey all,

I plan on purchasing a Porter-Cable router very soon and I'm just curious what a good beginner set of router bits would be. The router will just be used occasionally on home projects, so I'm looking for the more common bits used. The router accepts both 1/2" and 1/4" shanks, but I've heard I should stick mostly to 1/2" if possible. Is that true in most situations?

It was suggested to me to go to amazon and they seem to have a pretty good selection of sets for around $50. Or is it better to buy specific bits individually?

Thanks.
Buying bits individually as you need them makes a lot of sense, if, you are familiar enough with routing to know what bits you need. Most newbies really don't. I recommend picking up a small set, 15 to 30 bits for starters. These will give you the basics; a couple of roundovers, a cove, a couple of straight bits, maybe a dove tail, and a few varied profile bits. That way you have the basics and a few to experiment with. Once you get familiar with how to read profiles, there will be no problem determining which bit would be needed for a specific job. Woodcraft, MLCS, Rockler and Peachtree all have starter bits in sets and there are virtually dozens of "suggested" lists posted on various forums and published by woodworking magazines.

John

If I strive for perfection, I can generally achieve good'nuff, If I strive for good'nuff, I generally achieve firewood
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post #6 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 01:03 AM
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I'll tell you what I did and you can make the decision based upon avoiding my stupidity.

About 10 years ago, I bought a set of 8 Ogee bits, very high quality for about $160. On projects, I've used two of those bits. That works out to about $80 per useful bit.

Today you can purchase a Freud Quadra bit for about $35 to $40. As a set goes, my set was a bargain for the set but was not a bargain in the shop.

Sets that you should consider are:
Round over, 1/16 to about 3/8. You'll rarely go over 3/8" for a round over.
Chamfer 45, 30 and 15 in the order of decreasing need.
Straight bits, 1/4 to 3/4. Avoid "Plywood" bit sets if you can. You will be better off using a dado blade in the table saw. Plywood is so inconsistent that the special size bits will be just as sloppy as the ordinary straight bits.

A rabbet bit with a bearing set
Dove tail bits but wait until you buy the jig. Some jigs require very specific bits.
Pattern or template and flush trim bits are very frequently used and they are cheap so a couple of each. When you wear out or burn one up, you'll have a spare. Avoid the top and bottom bearing bits as they rarely do what you think they are going to do.
There are some fancy bits for edge treatment. You can buy beading bits but with a different size bearing they are just a round over.
It's always nice to have an ogee bit.

Get in the habit of buying bits when they go on sale. A lot of times you'll get bits that you'll actually use at very reasonable prices.

Now the bad news...

You're going to spend about $130 on your router. Over the next few years you will spend about $2500 on router bits. It's just a fact of life in a woodworking shop. And for all of you that are jumping up and down about the $2500, tell me about it in 3 or 4 years.

Use the right tool for the job.

Rich (Tilting right)
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Remember that when we have the "BIG ONE" everything east of the Rockies falls into the ocean.
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post #7 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 09:09 AM
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I've never bought a router bit set. I've always bought them individually but I can see the benifits of purchasing a cheap set. You could get an idea from the set which bits you like and replace them with better quality bits later. There are some 80pc sets on ebay for less than 90 bucks. The biggest difference between 1/4" shank bit and a 1/2" bit is you would be more likely to bend the shaft on a 1/4" bit if you had a blow out. In 40 years I think I've done that 2 or 3 times so its pretty rare. It's when you get into the larger bits the 1/2" shank is important because you are making bigger cuts and the machine is just turning more steel.
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post #8 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 09:21 AM
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I'll chime in here. Buying a set of router bits is a good way to go in the initial setup. Unless the set is actually good quality, most places use less than stellar bearings, and carbide.
I know going out and buying a bunch if Whiteside or Quadra Cuts is unholy expensive, but like the gentleman above me stated, it's not too terribly bad when your'e buying the bits as you need them.

One thing to remember when buying router bits that have bearings.
Check those bearings! I have found bits where the screw holding the bearing on is barely tight. I always take off that screw, clean it and use blue loctite.
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post #9 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I've never bought a router bit set. I've always bought them individually
+1

I've also never bought a set, but I would never suggest for someone to do the same. When I started, I just went ahead and bought individual bits as needed, and I was okay paying the little extra for the quality. Now that I have a nice collection of bits, its not worth it to get a set anymore. Looking back, maybe it would have been more cost effective to have waited and purchased one big set, but when I was under the gun to finish a customers order, I didn't really have the luxury.
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post #10 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 10:39 AM
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I bought a set of round over bits, as set ofstraight bits since I knew that is what is used most frequently and I have used them all so far. Every other bit I buy is "as needed".
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post #11 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Kleptican View Post
Hey all,

I plan on purchasing a Porter-Cable router very soon
Thanks.
Hi - Just picked up on this from your OP. Just wondering if there was any particular reason you decided on a PC?
Personally, I prefer the plunge system on the Bosch and Hitachi over the Porter Cable, Freud, Milwaukee or deWalt. The reason is the plunge lock on the PC requires the plunge be locked down manually. With my arthritic thumbs, I have trouble getting them locked down tightly enough and have had the router pop up on me in the middle of a cut. The Bosch and Hitachi system is spring loaded to lock when the lever is released which has been a much more reliable system for me.
I strongly recommend that when choosing a router, or any power tool for that matter, you try to examine and handle it if at all possible. Look for weight, balance, ease of access for the controls and ease of use of all the controls. Also, just in general, how does it fit your hands.
Just a suggestion.

John

If I strive for perfection, I can generally achieve good'nuff, If I strive for good'nuff, I generally achieve firewood
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post #12 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 01:46 PM
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I did like Ryan and got an MLCS set but a bigger one. I don't use all of the bits but use enough that buying the set was financially sound.

Bill
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post #13 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jschaben View Post
Hi - Just picked up on this from your OP. Just wondering if there was any particular reason you decided on a PC?
I'm completely new to this, so I made my choice based on scouring the interwebs to find a good brand with a reasonable price. From what I've read, it sounded like PC was a great router and it was fairly well priced. This is going to be a hobby for me, so I couldn't really justify the price of say, Bosch. Who knows, maybe if this hobby turns into something then that may change. I was also planning on getting the fixed base router than a plunge, so I appreciate your insight on the plunge system of the various brands, but I wasn't concerned about that. Unless there's an argument for me to look at a plunge router

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan50hrl View Post
I was in the same situation a few months ago......Amazon.com: MLCS 8377 15-Piece Router Bit Set with Carbide-Tipped 1/2-Inch Shanks: Home Improvement This set is a good value, and a decent quality.
Thanks, I was actually looking at that the other day because it seemed like a good deal.

rrich - Thanks for the list of suggested bits I should look for.


Thanks everyone for your input. It was very helpful!

- Kleptican
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post #14 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Kleptican View Post
I'm completely new to this, so I made my choice based on scouring the interwebs to find a good brand with a reasonable price. From what I've read, it sounded like PC was a great router and it was fairly well priced. This is going to be a hobby for me, so I couldn't really justify the price of say, Bosch. Who knows, maybe if this hobby turns into something then that may change. I was also planning on getting the fixed base router than a plunge, so I appreciate your insight on the plunge system of the various brands, but I wasn't concerned about that. Unless there's an argument for me to look at a plunge router



Thanks, I was actually looking at that the other day because it seemed like a good deal.

rrich - Thanks for the list of suggested bits I should look for.


Thanks everyone for your input. It was very helpful!
Hi - for the discussion of plunge vs fixed base, my observation is that the plunge will do everything the fixed base will do plus make sign making, stopped grooves, inlays and innumerable other operations that would be problematic for fixed base units. Another feature that is highly recommended is variable speed. You may want to investigate the reconditioned market to save a few shekels also. Don't overlook the Craftsman offerings either. I'm not a particularly big fan of Sears, but their latest crop of routers, selling in the $100 to $130 range are pretty good values. If you let us know what kind of budget you are looking at, we may be able to steer you to some good deals.
Incidentally, I have quite a few of the MLCS bits and find them to be a good value.

John

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post #15 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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I'd like to stay around $160 - $180. I have gift cards to Home Depot so that's why I've been sticking to their site :) I wasn't sure if I could get a decent plunge/variable speed router around that price so I stuck to the fixed base.

- Kleptican
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post #16 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 08:54 PM
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John,
There is nothing wrong with your preferences for brands of routers. Almost all brands of routers are as good as any other brand.
The big deal with a Porter Cable router is that if an accessory for a router is available, there is an overwhelming probability that the accessory will fit a PC router.

It's just like fuel for a car. When you run out of fuel over yonder, the likelihood that you'll find gasoline is much greater than that of finding diesel, CNG or Hydrogen. It's just the way that the world works.

Use the right tool for the job.

Rich (Tilting right)
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post #17 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 09:09 PM
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John,
There is nothing wrong with your preferences for brands of routers. Almost all brands of routers are as good as any other brand.
The big deal with a Porter Cable router is that if an accessory for a router is available, there is an overwhelming probability that the accessory will fit a PC router.

It's just like fuel for a car. When you run out of fuel over yonder, the likelihood that you'll find gasoline is much greater than that of finding diesel, CNG or Hydrogen. It's just the way that the world works.
Hi - I'm just a little suspicious of the Porter Cable brand since Stanley-Black and Decker took over the brand name and are busy "repositioning" it in the market, ie, making them and selling them cheaper. DeWalt is historically the Black and Decker flagship and is remaining their contractor grade tool. The Black and Decker name is their entry level and Porter Cable is being repositioned into the DIY market, whatever that means in terms of quality/longevity. Porter Cable has had a fine reputation for many years but I think there is a new ballgame going on here. Incidentally, all the brands I mentioned, except the Bosch, will accept the Porter Cable style guide bushings which have become a defacto standard. The Bosch will also accept them with an optional adapter. None, however, will accept Lee Valley style guide bushings which require a larger through and counterbore.

John

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post #18 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Kleptican View Post
I'd like to stay around $160 - $180. I have gift cards to Home Depot so that's why I've been sticking to their site :) I wasn't sure if I could get a decent plunge/variable speed router around that price so I stuck to the fixed base.
This is the Sears router I had in mind
http://www.sears.com/craftsman-12-am...3&blockType=G3

Won't work with a Home Depot card though.

John

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