Your workshop is filled with plenty of tools to make working on projects easier. One of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own, especially if you do a lot of wood working, would be a router. Having a router and a few of the more common router bit types makes it a breeze to cut intricate curves and circles, plane wood, create smooth edges, or make many copies of the same shape from a simple pattern.
Top of the line routers are fine, but that high-quality router comes out to nothing if you do not have some common router bit types that are good enough to create a nice, clean cut. The router is the mechanical means to an end, the engine and gears that turn the bit.
Your technique may be flawless and you may have been woodworking since you were able to see over the top of your fathers workbench, but with a cheap router bit, even a master artisan will have a tough time doing a good job.
Router bits are made from two types of material; one is carbide and the other is high speed steel, or HSS. Carbide is a type of material that is as tough as a diamond and very durable for cutting surfaces. The only problem with carbide is that it tends to be brittle and chips if you are not careful.
On the plus side, these common router bit types retain their sharp edge longer than steel bits and are highly heat resistant. Carbide bits definitely do cost more, but they last longer.
Before the development of carbide router bits, the most common router bit types available were high speed steel router bits. HSS bits are less expensive than their carbide counterparts, and you can get them from practically any hardware store or woodworking catalog. Unlike carbide bits, HSS bits require more maintenance, and you might want to consider using them for only small projects or special jobs.
HSS bits dull quickly and if not kept sharp, the friction between steel and wood builds up, burning the wood. There are some HSS bits coated with titanium nitride, which helps the bits to maintain their sharpness, but when the coating wears off, you are back to square one.
When you think about it, the carbide bit is more economical in the long run. For every twenty HSS bits you go through, you will have used only one carbide bit and in the end, the carbide bit will pay for itself. However, if you are a weekend warrior in the woodshop, then you can probably make due with the HSS common router bit types.
Do You Need a Pilot?
To break down the common router bit types even further, there are bits that keep a fixed distance between the wood and the bit and others that do not. The bit fitted with a small ball bearing at the end is called a pilot bit. The ball bearing acts as a guide and is good to use when youâ are not using any kind of jig to cut the edge of your wood. If you are using a jig to control the depth of your cut, then you need to use a non-pilot bit.
Shapes and Designs
As for the actual shape and design possibilities of common router bit types, one is no different than the next. The shape you choose depends on the project you are working on and what kind of look you want. Take a look at some of the pattern outlines on the package of common router bits and see if that is a cut that you think you will like for your woodworking project.