I tease my wife about how many pairs of shoes and earrings she owns, but I really should put a lid on that sort of razzing. If she only knew how many router bits I own, I’d be eating crow.
Honestly, every project is just a convenient excuse for me to buy another bit or two. You can imagine the thought process at the woodworking store: “Thirty board feet of cherry: check. One quart of dewaxed shellac: check. Four full-extension slides: check. Spiral upcut bit: uh, hmm…okay, check.” Sometimes while standing there in front of the bit bonanza at my favorite woodworking haunt (it’s incredible how many bit options there are, don’t you think?!), I’m not even 100 percent sure I actually need a new XYZ bit. I buy it, just in case. Kind of like never leaving the grocery store without a gallon of milk if you have kids at home. Chances are, you probably need it.
Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.
Among all those bits upon bits, I do have a few favorites that regularly get used…and eventually replaced or duplicated in my rack. I love my 3/4″ flush trim bit with the shear angle cutters. That bit has never let me down when flush-trimming shelf edging or template routing. Doesn’t seem to matter how ornery the grain may be–that flush trimmer still slices things cleanly from any direction. I’ve also really grown fond of an 1/8″ roundover bit. It creates just the right hint of an eased edge without looking like I’ve gone hog-wild with a router. A chamfering bit set for a light cut also creates a clean little highlight that gives a sharp edge a nice detailed look.
My rabbeting bit certainly gets a workout for letting in back panels and picture frame glass. The sensible way to go here is to buy one that comes with a stack of bearing sizes. Sooner or later, you’ll use every one of them, believe it or not. My veining bit comes in handy when I need to find the exact center of a groove before cutting it, because it’s got a built-in pointer. A good raised-panel cutter is indispensable for cabinetry, and so, logically, is a cope and stick set. I’ve used both matched pairs and a single bit that functions for both cuts; I find them just as easy to use. I’m also partial to 1/8″ straight bits…very useful for cutting tiny hinge mortises, inlay recesses and freehand letter carving. A solid-carbide 1/8″ straight cutter is surprisingly tough!
There are so many others in the collection that are worthy of comment, but how about you? What are your favorite router bits? And, like me, do you have to sneak them in “under the wire” when shopping for other stuff?
Drop us a comment and tell us which bits you wouldn’t be without…even if sometimes you have to hide the receipt!
Catch you in the shop,
Chris Marshall, Field Editor