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Notes from the Shopsmith Woodworking Academy
If you’re looking for one hand-held router to hopefully cover all of your woodworking requirements, the General Purpose model is probably going to be your best choice. If nothing else, it will certainly be the best to get started with. Some brands offer optional plunge bases for their general-purpose routers that you can purchase and use with your existing motor at a later date, should the need arise.
Router Bit Materials
High-speed steel bits…are the least expensive of all available bits…but tend to dull quickly after only minimal use. They’re not the best choice for use with laminates or for cutting particleboard, MDF or other composites containing bonding agents or polymers that can quickly dull cutting edges.
High-speed steel bits with carbide cutting edges…are normally priced at double or more the cost of high-speed steel bits. However, their carbide cutting edges will hold an edge up to 25 times as long…and…they’ll easily tackle composites such as those mentioned above without premature dulling. IMPORTANT NOTE: Look for high-quality bits from known manufacturers. Poorly made bits have bad welds adhering the tips to the shank. When these poor welds break loose, they send dangerous pieces of carbide flying through the air at tremendous speeds !
Solid carbide bits…are extremely expensive. However, they’re clearly the BEST choice for frequent, hard use without dulling. Like their carbide-tipped counterpoints, they’ll hold a sharp cutting edge far, far longer than high-speed steel. And, since they’re made from solid carbide, there’s no fear of a cutting tip coming loose.
Piloted or Non-Piloted Bits – Which Is Right For What?
Piloted router bits use a pilot below the cutting edge to guide themselves along a straight or curved edge of a workpiece…maintaining a constant sideways depth-of-cut as the cut progresses. They’re typically used for edge profiling where the entire edge of the workpiece is not removed, giving the pilot something to guide against.
Non-Piloted bits have no pilots to guide them through their cuts. The best examples of these are: Regular, straight router bits (1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”, etc.); core-box (or cove) bits; veining bits; dovetail bits; Ogee bits, etc.