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Tip #172
All about Router Bits - Part 1
An Introduction

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Routers are one of the most versatile tools in the woodshop. Armed with a good quality stationary or hand-held router and the proper assortment of bits, you can perform a virtually unlimited variety of specialized woodworking operations, including (believe it or not):

  • Cutting workpieces to size or shape
  • Cutting out duplicate workpieces
  • Boring holes
  • Trimming
  • Grooving & Dadoing
  • Cutting decorative designs in workpiece surfaces
  • Cutting decorative designs on workpiece edges
  • Making raised panels
  • Forming a variety of joints

To perform these operations, you will need a variety of different shaped bits. More about these shapes later...but first, let's look at some "bit basics".

Router bits are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, each designed to perform a specific operation...but all sharing three basic components. These components are:

  • The SHANK - The part of the Bit that is gripped firmly in your router's collet (or chuck). For the most part, bits are available in 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" diameter shanks. Most hand-held routers use 1/4" shanks, although 3/8" and 1/2" collets (or chucks) are available for many Router Models. The larger the shank diameter, the more durable the bit will be and the "truer" it will run under stress.
  • The PILOT - The part of the bit that rides against the edge of a workpiece to guide it while you're making your cuts. More about Pilots in Part 2 of our series.
  • The FLUTES - The part of the bit that actually performs the cutting.

Don't miss Part 2: Piloted vs. Un-Piloted Bits

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