Are there advantages to having a router with a 1/2″ chuck rather than a 1/4″ chuck? Are the 1/2″ bits that much better?
Rob Johnstone: The only advantage to a 1/2″ chuck is that you can use bits with 1/2″ shanks. The chief advantage to the larger shank size on a router bit is the amount of power you can deliver to the cutter. Also, a larger shank can support a larger cutter head. The other obvious advantage is a router that accepts a1/2″ collet will also accept a 1/4″ collet. The opposite is not always true.
Michael Dresdner: You can add a sleeve insert to make a 1/2″ chuck accept 1/4″ bits, giving you more versatility in the bits you can use or buy. I often get resharpened 1/2″ shaft bits at cheap prices. Once they are sharpened, the outside cut diameter is smaller by about .007″, which creates problems for users of multi-head CNC machines and pin routers. These folks often sell off these very useful but slightly undersized bits for a song. Also, the shaft of a 1/2″ bit is twice as thick and therefore stronger, which may result in more user confidence when you are pushing wood through one of those huge panel raising bits.
Rick White: As the others have mentioned, you get a lot of flexibility with a 1/2″ chuck because it can be adapted to use both kinds of router bits. The heavier shaft on 1/2″ bits will also reduce chatter when you’re cutting because you’ll be using a bigger bit. The larger bits also run cooler.