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  Clean Cuts

Sharpening tips for your woodworking tools

Router Bits


Power woodworking routers will only work as well as the cutting tools that fit into them. If you're not using the right bit for the job...or your Bit is dull, you're not going to achieve the quality of results you seek. It's just that simple.

Maybe you just purchased the Shopsmith Router Package or one of our great new Pro Fence System Router Tables for use with your hand-held router motor and you're ready to go to work. Well, hold it for just a minute. Don't forget that even the best, most powerful router will fail to produce great results with a lousy bit.

Not to worry, though. Most of the bits you can purchase are good when you first get them. This is certainly true of all the bits offered in Shopsmith's Catalog. The problems start after you've used them for a while...a fact that's especially true for high-speed steel bits.

Look at it this way...a good circular saw blade is a cutter, too...except that it has 24, 36, or 50 cutting edges...even more on a plywood blade. With proper care, it will stay sharp for a long, long time. On the other hand, most router bits have just two cutting edges. That means that each edge of a router bit does far more work than any individual saw tooth...FAR more!

Any way you cut it, router bits are bound to lose their keen edges more quickly than a tool that carries more teeth. If you're routing plywood or particleboard, you can count on the rock-hard glues used in them to dull high-speed steel bits very quickly. And if you hit a concealed nail or screw with a router bit, you can kiss it goodbye! Used with care, however (and barring any deep nicks), dull bits can be brought back to life time-after-time.

The two basic types of router bits
Router bits come in two basic types...those made of high-speed steel - and those made of solid carbide or with fused-on carbide cutting tips.

Carbide Bits - the Rolls-Royce of router bits
Solid carbide and carbide-tipped bits were first used by industry when this extremely hard (80 on the Rockwell “C-Scale” of hardness) alloy was first developed in the late 50's. Solid carbide bits are most widely available in “straight” configurations, including small veining bits, some laminate trimmers and small diameter core box profiles. Most other bit profiles are generally only available in carbide-tipped styles, although there are some exceptions.

Widely available and extremely popular today with even the “average consumer”, carbide tipped bits are made by brazing extremely hard carbide cutting tips onto a face of high-speed steel. They may cost a bit more, but they'll last a LOT longer!

Their ability to take harder-than-average use makes them an excellent investment. However, you should know that carbide-tipped bits...even when brand new...are marginally less sharp than their high-speed steel counterparts, a fact that doesn't affect their overall performance. Carbide bits still outperform high speed steel bits in the long run.


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