Best Router Bits – (A Helpful Illustrative Guide For Beginners)

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best rotuer bits

Choosing the best router bits or bit sets can be a tricky job for a beginner.

There's too many variables to consider. 

But, it's safe to say a basic router bit set will give you a head start.

We have gone through seventeen basic router bit sets and picked Freud 91-100 as the most suitable bit set for a beginner. 

Why?

Because it got all of the must-have bits with a decent pricing and Freud is one of the top rated brands that provides the top-notch quality bits.

Below is our recommended top three router bit sets for beginners.

SOLVING THE ROUTER BIT PUZZLE

The 5 MUST have router bits for beginners:

straight router bits

1. Straight Bit

As the name suggests this bit cuts straight into the wood.

It a workhorse for the woodworker and comes in various sizes mainly - ¼ inch, ½ inch and ¾ inch.

Can be used as a flush trim bit too.

straght router bit

Used for-

Recommended straight router bit:  Freud 91-102 6-Piece Double-Flute

2. Roman Ogee Bit

roman ogee bit

The Roman ogee bit will provide you with a distinctive decorative edge, and it’s very popular.

It has a bearing at the end of the bit to guide the depth of the cut.

profile roman ogee router bit

Used for-

  • Cutting decorative ogee-shaped edges and mouldings.

Recommended Ogee router bit: Freud 1-3/8″ Classical Roman Ogee Bit

3. Round Over Bits

rounding over bits

You can use these bits to round over sharp edges.It also has a bearing that guides the depth of cut.

rouover router bit

Used for-

  • Rounding over the sharp edges..

Recommended round over router bit: MLCS 6084 Round Over-Beading Router Bit

4. Rabbeting Bits

rabbeting router bit

Rabbeting bits are used to cut a rabbet (L-shaped cut along the edge of boards) and have a spinning bearing at the tip to guide the cutting.  

rabbeting rotuer bit

Used for-

  • Mainly for joining two wood boards, such as in cabinet making, Photo frames, etc.

Recommended rabbeting router bit:  Freud Rabbeting Bit with Bearings

5. Chamfer Bit

Chamfer router bit

These bits cut at an angle on the edge of a wood board. It comes in different sizes and angles.

profile chamfer bit

Used for-

Recommended chamfer router bit: Freud 1-5/8″ (Dia.) Chamfer Bit 

Here you can find the ten must have router bit profiles for a woodworker with type chart.

Router bits V/S bit set: which one to pick? 

Different woodworkers have different theories about this. It’s a question as old as router bits themselves.

My theory is that, unless you’re a professional joiner and you’re working on all sorts of stuff, most hobbyists only use a limited number of bits.

If you buy a big set, there’ll be bits in there that you never use.

Spend bigger and keep less bits:

It’s much better to get good quality long-lasting router bits for the jobs that you actually do a lot.

Spend a hundred dollars on a six or four-bit set you’ll use - rather than on a massive set of 30 bits, of lower quality.

Building your starter router bit collection 

As we looked at in the last section:

As an amateur woodworker, you need a limited amount of bits.

Sets are generally better value for money than buying individual bits. 

So, look for a set that includes the six basic bits you’ll need in your everyday work. 

Sometimes, more isn’t less:

You’ll find that it’s often more economical to buy a set with a few bits you might not use a lot - so don’t worry too much.

And sometimes that’s how we get started using unfamiliar tools anyway.

Don’t be afraid to try:

Router bits are all about experimentation at the beginning.

You’ll get better as you try them out - and using them is the best way to figure out what they do.

Back to basics:

Look for a set that’s not too expensive and contains the following bits.

This really is all you need to get going and for most jobs you’ll ever do in the home shop.

  • Round over bit (⅛ inch with bearing)
  • Round over bit (¼ inch with bearing)
  • Flush trim bit
  • Chamfer bit (45 degree)
  • Straight cutting bit (½ inch )
  • Rabbeting bit kit - with different rollers for different cuts.

Things you need to know before buying router bits

Router bits cutting edge material:

Router bit's tip is used to cut out the wood.

It’s usually made of either Carbide or HSS.

Though Carbide bit prices are higher than HSS, I prefer to use Carbide tipped router bits for the following reasons -

  1. Carbide bits last longer, 15-20 times longer compared to HSS bits. That means you will end up spending more with HSS bits, as you have to buy them more frequently.
  1. Carbide doesn’t get blunt quickly. HSS tips get dull in a very short time and then they tend to burn the wood instead of cutting it. On the contrary, carbide bits provide a smooth cut. Sure, you want an elegant cut and smooth finish, don’t you?
  1. An HSS tip gets blunt very quickly. You need to replace them frequently. I find it very irritating and time wasting.
  1. The only minute drawback one can consider is this the Carbide bits are brittle. However, I don’t worry about it, as we are all well grown up to handle them carefully, aren’t you?

Say “YES” to Carbide tipped router bits they're worth the price.

Shank of router bits:

Besides the router bit material, you need to know that there are two typical sizes of a router bit shank ½ inch and ¼ inch.

Router shanks are used to join the router bits to Router.

Many routers come with collets that accept both size shanks but some accept only ¼ inch.

Whenever possible try to use ½-inch shank as it gives you-

  1. Less vibration and
  2. Smooth cut.

Use ¼-inch shanks only for finer cuts, polishing and laminating.

Router bits diameter and Speeds:

Router bit speed depends on the diameter of the bit. To stay safe and get an accurate-smooth cut you should use-

  • Smaller diameter router bits on higher router speed and
  • Bigger diameter router bits on lower router speed.

You should check your router speed before choosing any router bits.

If you own variable speed router you can easily adjust the router speed.

Router Bit Speed Guideline

Bit diameter

Maximum speed

Up to 1″

22,000-24,000 rpm

1″ to 2″

18,000-22,000 rpm

2″ to 2-1/2″

12,000-16,000 rpm

2-1/2″ to 3-1/2″

8,000-12,000 rpm

(Note: You should always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using)


Working on Router Table:

It’s safer to use long router bits if you are planning to mount your router on a router table.

Specific Projects:

If you have a particular woodworking project in mind, or you are trying to build a starter set, choose the bits that best suit your need.

The things you should do after getting router bits 

Maintaining Router Bits:

As with most tools and blades, router bits are cutters and the best way to keep them sharp for longer is to keep them clean.

The resins in wood - especially some of the softer woods, can quickly dull your bits if it’s left on them after each cut - keep them clean with a decent blade cleaning spray and a cloth.

How to sharpen router bits:

We’re talking about small cutting edges here.

We’re not sharpening two inch plane irons so less is more when sharpening router bits - and don’t overdo it!

The way we sharpen router bits is with small, hand-held diamond stones.

Count as you go:

Only remove on the flat edge and make sure you do the same to one side (on tools with a cutting edge each side) as you do to the other - to keep the bit balanced.

Count your strokes with the diamond stone.

How to use router bits properly:

Follow the manufacturer guidelines for a start.

Some bits aren’t designed for hand-held use so watch out for that.

And also approach your work from the right direction. 

Router bits are designed to cut cleanly with the rotation of the bit - so always cut as the maker recommends.

Speed and feel:

Speed of rotation, and of cut,  should be matched to the type of wood and the depth or size of the cut.

Good guidelines will help here, but trial and error is often best - feel your way with your own particular router and tool combo.

How to clean router bits:

Keeping router bits clean is just that.

Give them a wipe with a cloth and some blade cleaner after each use.

Remember that the blade will stay very hot for a while after you’ve used it, though!

What to look for to get the best router bit set?

Average price per individual router bit:

I look at the price of bit set and number of bits I’m getting.

Then, quickly calculate how many bits need to be used to breakeven the price considering the price of high quality bits.

Does it include basic individual router bits?

Every woodworker should own some basic bits such as straight router bits, chamfer bits, etc no matter what project they will work on.

Having those basic bits in the sets, will ensure that you will get to know what size and diameter you will need and be comfortable.

Therefore, you won’t be confused when choosing high quality bits and be cost effective.

Price & Quality of the bits:

You may be tempted to go for cheap bits, as eventually you will replace them with good quality bits.

If you are thinking like that, you will lose few good bucks.

I did so, cheap bits won’t last enough time to give you chance to learn the bits and some of them aren’t even round can you imagine!

From then on, I usually go for mid-price router bit set. Most of them last good enough to serve the purpose.

In addition, you will be amazed to know that a good number of them last close to high quality router bits.

Future projects:

When I was starting out, I use to wander around woodworking sites like Popular Woodworking and YouTube channels (woodworking TV) to get ideas about new projects and list the tools they are using.

I usually pick the bit set that have some of the bits on that list, to make sure that I practice and learn the bits on which I’ll work in future.

Best router bit brands 

Freud

Freud is an Italy-based manufacturer known for producing quality products, which perform just as you might expect for descent industrial-grade tooling. 

Whisteside

I like this set, and I’d even say I’d love it if I hadn’t already met my match in Whiteside.

American manufacturer Whiteside is hands-down the winner among these brands in terms of performance and durability.

If woodworking is your regular thing, Whiteside is what you want to upgrade to when you’re ready to get serious.

Whiteside may be more expensive on a per piece basis, but for professionals and avid hobbyists, the price is well worth it.

CMT

CMT is another Italy-based company producing high-performing tools with prices roughly similar to what you can expect with Freud.

Its products are also of comparable quality, 7001 Price Cutter Router​​​​though its bits are noticeably thinner than those of the other brands.

This doesn’t affect the cut, but it does limit resharpenings, so personally I don’t see any advantage with CMT unless you stumble across a great deal.

Eagle America

Eagle America is debatably the only brand that can compete with Whiteside.

It produces some top-notch stuff. Its 70-piece P-19 7001 Price Cutter Router bit set covers every profile under the moon.

You’ll want to know what you’re doing before you lay down a fat sum on this set, but its is an absolute treasure trove for those looking for variety without compromising on quality.

MLCS

MLCS is known for value.

If you’re looking for a balanced middle ground between price and quality, MLCS is for you.

Brand durability isn’t the best, but MLCS is still perfectly acceptable for the occasional hobbyist.

It’s 8369 30-piece bit set will get the job done and offers good variety for those keen on experimenting.

Related:

Best router bit and router for sign making​​​

5 BEST ROUTER BIT SET - REVIEWS

1. Freud 91-100 - Best for beginners

Freud’s 91-100 set reminds us why Freud has become synonymous with quality. Say goodbye to chipping and vibration.

This 13-piece set contains superior quality hi-density carbide bits that make great cuts even after months of heavy use.

The price is a bit steep and fewer pieces are included than in some of the cheaper sets, but you can rest assured you won’t need to replace these bits any time soon.

The only thing we don’t like about this set is the packaging.

The wooden storage box that comes with the set is rubbish quality, and mine was broken upon delivery.

Also note it’s extremely difficult to remove the bits from their original packaging.

Once you get past this, it’s smooth sailing.

  • 13 pieces 1/2 inch shank router bits.
  • Cuts any kind of woods.
  • Superior durability.
  • No vibration, chipping & burning.
  • Expensive.
  • Difficult to remove bits from original packaging.

2. Whitside 401 Basic - Best for professionals

3. MLCS 8377 - Best for the money

The versatile 15-piece MLCS 8377 bit set contains all the essentials along with some of the more nice bits that a beginner may rarely use.

These bits hold fairly well even against hardwoods like maple and walnut.

Durability and edge retention are decent for what you pay, though certainly not best in class.

Personally, a few pieces of my set broke after months of repeated use, but overall, I find this set strikes a good balance between price and quality.

This set is another budget-friendly value option.

Check out in-depth review of mlcs router bits.

  • 15 pieces 1/2 inch shank router bits
  • A great looking wooden box.
  • Good quality bits compared to price.
  • No vibration, chipping & burning.
  • Short lifespan
  • Doesn't work on hardwood.

4. Neiko 10115A - Best for hobbyist

With the Neiko 10115A , you’ll have an assorted selection of 80 bits right at your fingertips and at a price lower than just one bit sold separately.

It doesn’t get cheaper than this, folks. But don’t expect to be dazzled by the quality.

This is your “just-getting-started” set because you can expect these bits to wear away in short time.

Even so, this versatile set will give you the chance to explore a wide range of cuts with minimal investment. This set works well if you’re just looking to experiment with a new hobby.

  • Greatest variety.
  • Cheapest by price per piece.
  • Short lifespan
  • Average performance

The Competitions


1. Yonico 17702 can be a cheap alternative router bit set for a beginner. You can learn a great deal, as it’s giving you 70 bits to play with.

These bits are most commonly used so you won’t need to look for other bit set at starting.All the bits are carbide tipped and heat resistant that make them last longer.

Yonico provides a nice wooden bit storage box that is fully encased by foam and gives the bits more protection from shipping damage.

In addition, to help you learn more easily, the back of the box shows each bit and its cut profile.

Overall, it’s the best bit set if you are looking to learn and build your collection of bits on a tight budget.

Check out in-depth review of yonico router bits.

2. Freud 91-108 offers you a 9-piece of high quality basic router bit set that every DIY woodworker needs to own.

These bits are the cornerstone for any successful woodworking project.

3. Bosch RBS010 This high-quality 10-piece set contains all the essential bit profiles for the most common furniture and woodworking projects.

Edge-retention for these high-grade carbide bits is right on point.

With this set, you’ll enjoy full stability and consistently find your routed surface smooth almost to a shine.

These bits are made from quality material and perform quite well even after long periods of heavy use.

Vibration and kickback are minimal, which makes routing less aggravating.

This set may not be cheap, but if you expect you’ll be routing often, you may find this set pays for itself since you won’t need to replace the bits any time soon

4. With the Stalwart ¼” Shank Router Bit Set, you get what you paid for, which is not much.

This versatile 24-piece set comes at an unbeatable price, but the bits are more prone to breakage and may occasionally snap off.

This set may be suitable for you if you’re a beginner looking to test the waters before shelling out a fortune on the more expensive sets.

If you don’t know if you even like woodworking or will have the time for it, you’ll find a rock-bottom deal in Stalwart.

Demystifying router bits choice

You have three factors to consider to get the best router bits or set : price, quality, and variety.

If you’re a newbie, wary of making any substantial investment, you’ll find a rock-bottom budget option, in the Stalwart ¼” Shank Bit Set , or the Neiko 10115A if variety is also important to you.

If you’re looking for a good balance between price and quality, you can find it in the Whiteside 401 Basic.

But our personal favorite is the Freud’s 91-100, which we find is the best router bit set around in terms of quality and durability and an overall joy to work with.

Now we’ve already done all the heavy-lifting for you, so stop procrastinating.

What are you waiting for?


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