Window Sash router bits?


I need to make a couple of custom sized exterior windows with divided lites. Have seen prices for reversible window sash router bits ranging in price from about $50 to well over $100. A number of brands out there...Amana, CMT, Whiteside, Freud, Rockler and more.
This is a one-time expense as I don't anticipate ever needing to make windows again, but I have learned not to skimp on quality and take the cheap route. Any recommendations? The Whiteside appears to be a quality bit for about $82.
TIA
Joe T
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Joe T wrote:

I made some sash windows last year and got an education in the process. FWIW, I ended up with the Whiteside bit after struggling with a Taiwanese set. I suppose you've already figured out that there are three broad categories of sash bits: 1) two separate bits, 2) one reversible bit, and 3) one bit in which you interchange the rabbeting cutter for a spacer for the two separate cuts. (The Whiteside bit is the only one I know of in the #3 category). #1 is cheapest, #2 most expensive.
I purchased a cheap Asian set off of ebay at first, but could not for the life of me figure out how to make the cuts work. The bits themselves were acceptable and cut well, but the Whiteside I subsequently purchased was in a class by itself. Worked like a charm and was admirably well thought out. It's beefy cutting edges are probably worth being sent out for re-sharpening when needed, and you can tell by comparing their quality that they will need that resharpening less often. The Asians wouldn't be worth the resharpening. I did figure out how to use them finally, but I suspect they're only good for a few projects then you'd want to toss them.
The profiles also matter, since they all differ slightly. You may have to buy a set based on the profile if you're picky about that.
Sash windows are one of those instances where, if you were doing a lot of them, a shaper makes more sense than a router.
2 H
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Thanks...good info. I was leaning toward the Whiteside bit but not because it fit into your #3 category. But based on your description, I will definitely go with the Whiteside.
The profile is not a major issue as the majority of these windows were hand-made in the early 1830s and I never expected to match them other than have a similar appearance with divided panes.
Any tips on installing the mullions/muntins to the sash? Are they cut for a tight fit simply glued in or should they also be pinned with small brads?
Joe T
Joe T wrote:

I made some sash windows last year and got an education in the process. FWIW, I ended up with the Whiteside bit after struggling with a Taiwanese set. I suppose you've already figured out that there are three broad categories of sash bits: 1) two separate bits, 2) one reversible bit, and 3) one bit in which you interchange the rabbeting cutter for a spacer for the two separate cuts. (The Whiteside bit is the only one I know of in the #3 category). #1 is cheapest, #2 most expensive.
I purchased a cheap Asian set off of ebay at first, but could not for the life of me figure out how to make the cuts work. The bits themselves were acceptable and cut well, but the Whiteside I subsequently purchased was in a class by itself. Worked like a charm and was admirably well thought out. It's beefy cutting edges are probably worth being sent out for re-sharpening when needed, and you can tell by comparing their quality that they will need that resharpening less often. The Asians wouldn't be worth the resharpening. I did figure out how to use them finally, but I suspect they're only good for a few projects then you'd want to toss them.
The profiles also matter, since they all differ slightly. You may have to buy a set based on the profile if you're picky about that.
Sash windows are one of those instances where, if you were doing a lot of them, a shaper makes more sense than a router.
2 H
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Joe T wrote:

<snip>
On the frames I made I tried to get the joints to fit very accurately. This means using jigs, featherboards etc. to make tight cuts on a table. Then I used epoxy to glue them up--partly for its gap filling ability, partly for waterproofing (they were installed in a bathroom), and partly for overkill. I also put two dowels through each stile into the rails (mine were pretty beefy 3" rails).
In retrospect--and I'd forgotten about this until now--I remember thinking that I wish I had gone with one of the CMT sets that allows for making a tenon in the rails. BUT that would make the joinery a bit more complicated, and my dowels and epoxy worked just fine. The muntins and sash bars were very firm with just epoxy.
Good luck, H
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