router bit selection?

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router bit selection?

Postby Katie&Craig » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:37 pm

We are considering purchasing a router for the project. We have the Steve Frederick CD and like the way it is done. It makes it look like this whole project just might be possible for us to accomplish!

I am hoping to get away with a mid-priced router from Sears or Harbor Freight (Okay - waiting for the backlash - I know the inexpensive HF ones are probably not that great, but hoping they will work for just this project).

Anyway, my question is which bits to buy. The SF CD talks about top bearing or bottom bearing pattern bits. Is this the same as flush trim laminate bits? I have looked on the product websites and there are gazillions of bits to choose from. Can anyone help narrow this down to 2 or 3 bits needed for this project, especially if you built things following the SF CD?

If it helps, we are building sandwich walls - 1/4" outer, 1X2's, 1/8" inner and will probably not be doing any fancy cabinetry work.

Craig will be practicing with the jigsaw and sander in case the router idea becomes too pricey or not advisable for beginners. (I don't have the hand strength or coordination for most tools, so I get to be the cheering squad).

Any advice is welcome. We finally found our materials for the walls and I would really like to start building soon!
Thanks,
Katie
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Postby Miriam C. » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:56 pm

Hi Katie,
My Sears has a real knowledgable staff who are also helpful. Perhaps if you went and asked they could show you the bits Steve listed and explain them to you. I find it helps if I see things. :thumbsup:

I understand about the tools. I have an older circular saw because the deadman switch on the new saws don't allow me to pull the trigger. Of no use to me. I traded a friend for a real good old one.

The jig saw is different and I think you should try. You may surprise yourself.
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Postby Leon » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:56 pm

A laminate trim bit usually has a small cutter, designed to trim the thin laminate. A top or bottom bearing would depend on where you plan on putting the pattern. Pattern bits can be quite long, I have a bottom bearing that has a 2" long cutting surface. If you use something like that, take small cuts.
I would also suggest you invest a couple bucks on a good router. Get one with enough power, variable speed helps with big cutters, soft start prevents kick on start-up. I have one cheaper router and the collet has trouble holding the bits without them moving out. A better router will have 1/4" and 1/2" collets. The 1/2" is good for bigger bits. Once you use a router for a project like this you'll be glad if you got a good one. It (they- I have 3) is one of the most used tools in my woodshop.
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Postby asianflava » Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:35 am

Spend the extra money now and you won't regret it later. I never used a router (except to trim laminate) before this project, I didn't even own one. Now I have 2, a cheapy Ryobi and a Bosch. There is a world of difference between the 2.

To me, the most important feature is the variable speed. Not having too much experience with routers, it allows me to slow down and take my time. The router isn't running wide open all the time.

As far as the bits go, yes the ones you most likely are looking for are called pattern bits. I have both a top and bottom bearing bit. I think I got them at Home Depot.
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Postby Juneaudave » Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:49 am

Oh my...Katie...we just had a similar discussion on the board on jigsaws...the thread on jigsaws kind of ended up with "OMG...I can't believe the difference between my 20 year old Black and Decker and this new jigsaw!!!"

IMHO...a router is the same deal. You will probably own it for...well ever. Spend the extra bucks to get one with a soft start, variable speed, and both 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch collets. It is not that much more. For template work, the standard base plate is for the routers made by Porter Cable. I personnaly have two Bosch routers (which I think are the cats meow), one mounted in a table and one on a plunge base. They take an adapter to fit Porter Cable template guides. For template work, I suggest a plunge base...and that in and of itself may take you to a higher end router...

BTW...my old Sears router had collet and height adjustment feature that slipped and just did not work well. It's a heck of a deal to be halfway in a cut and see the bit slip. It's even worse to see a $20 piece of wood ruined. Granted, my Sears was twenty years old.

BTW again...I really like MLCS for ordering router bits. Even in Juneau, I can order a bit at a favorable price and have it via priority mail in a day or four.. They have a great selection.
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Postby asianflava » Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:02 am

Juneaudave wrote:Oh my...Katie...we just had a similar discussion on the board on jigsaws...the thread on jigsaws kind of ended up with "OMG...I can't believe the difference between my 20 year old Black and Decker and this new jigsaw!!!"


I thought it sounded familiar when I was typing. :?

I have this set, the fixed base is mounted to the router table and I use the plunge base for freehand work.
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Postby madjack » Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:54 am

we bought a couple of these Porter Cables for the shop and luv 'em http://www.tylertool.com/por69fixandp.html
.....there are 4 Craftsmans that are now just sitting inna drawer...they can usually be found on sale at the box stores for around 200 bucks...sometimes witha "d" handle attachment included along with the fixed and plunge base..

...as to bits, we use bottom and top bearing bits, up and down spiral cut bits and of course a bushing set for the router base which allows you to use straight bits...a little research will help flatten the learning curve...oh yeah, we also have a HF plunge router that is now being used as a boat anchor...
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Postby Leon » Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:14 am

The one I have is the Porter Cable 8529. If anyone tried to take mine away they would have one heck of a fight! They're going for a little over $200 on several sites and worth every penny.
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Postby Sonetpro » Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:00 am

I used Steve's CD. The most used were the flush cutter's and straight bit's. The slot cutter was used alot in the cabinet's I wouldn't reccomend a slot cutter though unless you have a router table.
The main Router is a Porter Cable. For table work I bought a Ryobi it was cheap I spent $100 for it with the table included. Not nearly the quality of the Porter Cable but it never comes out of the table.
Most bit's are special purpose Buy them as you need them They can be pricey. a good quality bit like Bosch or Freud will outlast a cheap Skil or HF 10 to 1. Have fun, With a router you can mill just about anything.
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Postby Leon » Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:17 am

Sonetpro wrote: I wouldn't reccomend a slot cutter though unless you have a router table.

I dadoed all the major joints in my TD and since 10' plywood was too big to muscle through a router table, I used a straight piece of steel tubing as a router fence. I covered it with masking tape to make sure I kept the wood clean and was able to make long , straight cuts.
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Postby BILLYL » Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:05 am

My Sears Router I had for over 25 years and I was doing the last cut on the TD and it gave up the ghost. Seems the armature came apart. It served me well and since it was a gift from my father it was hard to part with.........

So back to Sears to see what I can replace it with.

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Postby Steve Frederick » Tue Jun 27, 2006 6:16 am

I have a Porter-Cable, and a Sears..The Porter-Cable is my favorite.
As for bits, I use a top-bearing (pattern) bit, and a bottom-bearing bit the most. For inlay work, get a 1/8" bit and the bushing set shown in the CD.
This Set (#8810) would serve well, and should cover everything, except for inlay work. If you end up with a 1/4" collet on the router, just get the 1/4" shank bits. The 1/2" bits run a lot smoother though. (less vibration)
!/4" bits and a home-shop-duty router should serve well for a one-off project though.
Oh! If you're doing a totally wood T/D, get a round-over bit for the roof/wall joint. The 'glass will follow the curve well. Not so around a sharp corner.
There's a list of tool/parts/material suppliers included in the CD, lots of good info!
BTW, Katie, everyone, Thanks for the support! :thumbsup:
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:11 am

I have about 10 Porter Cable routers and would use nothing less. My 3 horse power varible speed allows me to trim the aluminum on the slowest speed with a 1/2" flush trim bit. This is a good place to get your router bits, not expensive and of good quality. Dannyhttp://www.grizzly.com/
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Postby GregB » Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:42 am

I'm with Dave, Danny and Rocky, but I only have 4 routers: an old Sears, a Porter Cable 8529, a big, new 3hp DeWalt (Elu, actually), and a 2.5hp Festool. The difference between the (free) Sears and the ($395+) Festool is not just night and day, it is amazing. That being said, I used to sell high-end audio gear and photo gear and that last 10-15% of quality in most products will typically cost you 2-4 times the price. The law of diminishing returns is in full effect, here. Regarding bits, a recent woodworking mag did a cost/quality analysis on router bits and CMT came out very favorably.

A lot of the people here on the forum could probably make beautiful furniture with a hatchet and some sandpaper. Me, I'm a butcher, and I need all the help that better tools will give me.

Just my $.02 that is worth what you paid for it.

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Postby sauljordan » Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:29 pm

I too didn't have a router before. I bought a Skil with interchangeable bases from Lowes to cut slots for biscuits to join two different types of wood flooring. I figured I could use it on the tear as well. I have found more things that I can do with it than any other tool. Get a good one as you will find many uses for it. On the other hand I got a cheap set of bits from Harbor Freigt thinking I would replace those I used up with good ones after I found out which ones I used.
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