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For most cutting, carbide works best. The only time I use HSS anymore is with very fine DT bits (I have a Woodrat) because an edge can be put on HSS that simply cannot be put on carbide.

And spiral bits that are larger than the shank, i.e. 3/4" spiral bit.
 

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Carbide.....good carbide. It's not all created equal, and bits in general are not created equal...since they spin in excess of 20K rpms, buy the best quality you can and avoid the off-name super cheap stuff. Buy 1/2" shank whenever possible if your router accepts them. For the bits you'll use most, IMO it's better to buy a few good quality bits, than several dozen low quality bits. You can add specialty profiles as needed. MCLS, Woodline, and Grizzly are my bargain suggestions. Price Cutter and Katana are a step up for a little more money. Whiteside, Infinity, Eagle America, Freud, and Amana are top shelf...some offer small sets of the most commonly used profiles in the $100 range, which make them a little more affordable than buying all bits individually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
knotscott said:
Carbide.....good carbide. It's not all created equal, and bits in general are not created equal...since they spin in excess of 20K rpms, buy the best quality you can and avoid the off-name super cheap stuff. Buy 1/2" shank whenever possible if your router accepts them. For the bits you'll use most, IMO it's better to buy a few good quality bits, than several dozen low quality bits. You can add specialty profiles as needed. MCLS, Woodline, and Grizzly are my bargain suggestions. Price Cutter and Katana are a step up for a little more money. Whiteside, Infinity, Eagle America, Freud, and Amana are top shelf...some offer small sets of the most commonly used profiles in the $100 range, which make them a little more affordable than buying all bits individually.
Thank you for this detailed post. I guess I had no clue the intimacy these bits have with a project. How amazing. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed
 

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Overwhelmed is the feeling I had constantly at the beginning of my woodworking. I found the answer to be just diving in and learning as I went (still going). As for router bits, I started out with the $95 set of Skil router bits from Lowe's and I'm still using them 3 years later. They're decent for the money spent and I've had no problems so far. I've routed a lot of pine, some poplar, and done red oak once. No problems at all. As I understand it, these are cheap bits that aren't supposed to last forever. All I know is they're carbide.
 
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