MLCS bits -- how good?

I'm going to assume, from the near-constant stream, of catalogs that I, a non-customer, get from MLCS that they have some sort of loyal following ... or else Penn-State has very deep pockets.
As I am considering fleshing out my tiny collection of Ryobi and HF bits, can anyone comment, from experience, on the relative value of the MLCS brand?
I'm looking to begin doing small boxes and freehand work and not certain if I need to step up the quality of my bits or not. The R/HF stuff cuts wood. Will I really see a noticeable and usable difference in the cut surfaces in exchange for the higher bit price? Will I gain enough in wear to overcome the price differential? I'm looking to buy 'quality', not bragging rights.
Bill
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BillinDetroit wrote:
| As I am considering fleshing out my tiny collection of Ryobi and HF | bits, can anyone comment, from experience, on the relative value of | the MLCS brand?
I've been happy with the MLCS bits I bought. My only complaint has been that the shank on their 1/2" spiral upcut bit was too short.
I don't collect bits. I buy 'em as I need 'em (usually in quantities of 10). You can put a lot of money on the shelf by buying bit collections.
MLCS ships promptly and there isn't a (separate) shipping charge. I like both.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto /
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I've bought plenty of MLCS bits over the years which have mostlt served me well. The only exception is on a set of spiral solid carbide bits. They barely cut at all. But they refunded my money and shipping. I subsequently bought a spiral solid carbide bit from Infinity and that sliced right thru the wood. The difference was so astounding that the next time I buy a bit, I'll try infinity again. I believe that the bad MLCS was a fluke and I wouldn't hesitate to order from them again either.
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I've bought less than a dozen but none have given me any issues. They seem to hold an edge well and I never had the carbide separate. The bearings have held up well but I do lube my bearing after use - spin for a minute and wipe any excess. Sorry I can't cross compare much with you - the only other bits I have are Woodcraft and I'd say that they are both equal. YMMV, naturally.
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In my experience, MLCS bits do cut better than the few no-name Chinese bits I've used (probably equivalent to HF?). I think they're a good value, especially if you only need one bit and you'd be paying for shipping from another company. I have probably 25 of their bits (a 15- pc set plus several individuals), and have only had a problem with one: I broke a 1/4" straight bit, while trying to cut too deep (3/8" in one pass). MLCS promptly replaced it, even though it was arguably my fault. Overall, I think they're a very good value if you're not going to be using a single bit very frequently, and I've been very impressed with their customer service. However, I think that Infinity, Lee Valley, maybe Freud, (and of course Whiteside, Amana, CMT, etc.) represent another jump in quality past MLCS, and some of these can be had for reasonable prices. (Specifically, keep an eye on Infinity's closeouts). I usually pay the extra for one of these bits if I know I'm going to be using it a lot. I think the MLCS cut quality when new is almost equal to the more expensive bits, but they don't seem to last as long. (As you can tell, this is merely the opinion of a novice hobbyist woodworker, so take it for what it's worth...) Hope the comparisons and experiences are helpful, Andy
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BillinDetroit wrote:

Thanks gang ... I figured you'd come through and you've never let me down.
Yet. ;-)
I bought an 18 piece collection from Ryobi and a panel/rail/stile set and a slotting set from HF. The 3/8 round-over from Ryobi did a good job with two Jakes Chairs (with footstools) worth of CWP (cheap white pine) and the panel set worked well enough on a sample panel ... but I can foresee a fair amount of router work in my future (yet another addiction!) and want to make certain that when I move on, I am moving up.
Next on the list, lock miter.
Bill
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Bill, Fortunately, {or 'unfortunately', as the case may be} I live about 15 minutes away from them. And seen them grow, over the years. This allows me to wander through their shop & showroom from time to time. I've gotten a lot of stuff from them . . . mostly their 'sale' or 'tested' items. And I do mean a LOT !!
Are they 'perfect' or 'better then' the name-brand stuff ?? I really don't know. I've gotten some of the 'high quality, pretty color & packaging' cutters, etc. While they may look 'nicer', and be a little more 'colorful' and the bodies polished, the cutting edges look pretty much the same. In most cases they also have the same 'subtext' . . . 'Made in China'.
If my living depended on daily, constant use of the bits, I might research a bit more, i.e. the 'cost to buy' vs. 'the cost to use'. However, for my occasional and specialized usage, The least expensive, DECENT, Carbide, cutters are what I use . . . successfully.
As far as their other stuff, fortunately I'm able to actually look at the stuff and make judgments based on my observations. So far I've had pretty good luck. I've gotten any number of plastic items for dust collection hook-ups, templates, etc. 99 percent of the time 'On Sale', or 'Closeout'.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop
SNIP.

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wrote in message

there. They cost a little more than their other bits. I think they're made in Taiwan.
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Dave wrote:

I was wondering if there was some difference beyond the paint job and the bottom line.
Taiwan is a LOT closer than mainland ;-)
Bill
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Not to stir up anything here, but like any other bulk manufacturing not all of it is the same. I had an interesting talk with one of the engineers at Jointech (there manufacturing facility is about 5 miles from me) when I bought some bits from them. Apparently many of them are made in the same plants, and they are "graded" for appearance, grind, and assembly. That determines who gets what, and what they charge. This guy told me their minimum order was 10,000 bits, with the big breaks coming in after about 25,000 bits.
Jointech really understands the coefficients to determine how much router bit to buy. I bought a multibit and a small door set (similar to the Sommerfield) and the work great. Having only used them once to make a small box lid, they were a great buy. If I had spent 3X for a set of CMTs, I would have been pissed off at myself for letting the dough go on something I very rarely use.
I have bought no name bits at woodworking shows that work great. I have paid a lot of money for bits that aren't worth a crap. MLCS seems to strike a nice balance there. I use the MLCS bits, make sure they stay clean (the very best thing you can do for a bit) and when they get dull I toss them unless I think I can touch them up with a diamond file. But they are so cheap....
I think the key is to buy from a reputable dealer, one that will take care of you if you have any problems. I have never heard one bad thing about MLCS service, from me included when I needed them. A little chip of carbide came off the straight bit I was using for a dado, and when I sent them a pic via email, they sent me a new bit.
Robert
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