I recently asked the group for router bit brand recommendations, and
the consensus seemed to be Amana, CMT, Freud, Whiteside.
Lee Valley seems like a respected brand in general, and they have a
nice 13-piece bit set for $120 that seems to offer a more than boxed
sets from Freud (13 bits for $170) and Whiteside (7 for $130).
When I bought my first router, the advice I got from everybody was to
NOT buy a set because you'd never use most of the bits. Just buy bits
as you need/want them.
I ignored the advice and bought a Freud set (about a dozen bits). I've
never used about 2/3rd of them.
So, my advice to you is to NOT buy a set. Buy bits as you need/want
Don't think I can agree on that one..."sets" may give you bits you'll never
use but even if you don't I think you will save $$$...CMT round-over in 1/2"
shank with bearing cost me $35 a few weeks ago. Throw in a few straight
cutters at 3/8 and 1/2 and you are approaching the price for a set of bits
that you will most likely use a few of, albeit not all of. Think you will
still be ahead of the game.
To me the big advantage of sets is on Sat night at 10:00 and you need
a new bit that you have never used before and you have it in the set.
That has happened to me more times than I care to think about; that is
why I buy sets; this is ESPECIALLY true with drill bits. Can't think
of the times I have needed some screwball size like a 27/64 and had it
in a set. Am I the only one who has had this happen to them??
On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 02:22:09 GMT, "Tom Kohlman"
That is exactly why those 115 bit $29 to $49 drill bit sets are worth
having. I don't use wire size bits or numbered bits often enough to
have a good set sitting around, but when I need one of those sizes
(like the 5 times that I actually needed to drill holes appropriately
sized for my $29 tap & die set) I have it.
If I didn't know better I'd think my father wrote that... ;-) He has more
Harbor Freight and other El Cheapo sets of stuff laying around than I can
stand! I go the other way and buy a good "whatever" when I have a specific
need in mind--this on the grounds that if it's worth owning it's worth
having a decent one. I may have fewer bits, taps, odd-ball wrenches, etc.
but what I've got is good and I've probably used it. Dollars spent we're
probably about equal!
Hah, you're right in many ways. I do have reasonably good tools for
stuff I will use even semi-regularly, but I also have several cheap
things for those "just in case" instances. Unlike some folks I know
that have lots of these kinds of things which they never use (both
high quality/price and HF quality/price), I don't go overboard - I
just like it when I have the item I need when the need arises. Also,
when I get decent tools I usually try to keep some perspective. I am
not like all those "mechanics" who when they file for bankruptcy list
as their biggest payment, after the house, the Snap-on Truck. I can't
quite grasp the $10 an hour guy who owns $20,000 "worth" of Snap-on
which he has paid $30,000 for and still doesn't own them. I buy "good
enough" and that measurement is kinda personal I guess ;)
BTW that $29 tap & die set is about 20 years old and has been used
probably 30 or 40 times - all parts are there and still in good shape-
and that 115 piece drill bit set is about 8 years old -the 3 or 4 bits
that have broken (mostly wire sizes) have been replaced and it will
continue to serve my needs for probably the rest of my life - how much
better should I have bought?
I probably should have mentioned that my father also has a lot of very good
tool and die maker's tools... He served a full apprenticeship and worked as
a tool and die maker for about the first 10-12 years of his working career.
I've got a small selection of decent calipers, rules, etc., but given that
I'm only about 2.5 miles from his house, when I need good specialized
measuring tools, taps, dies, etc. I borrow them. ;-)
Lee Valley bits are probably middle of the range. Quite good for the
I would have to say the brands you mentioned above are a little better, but
the Lee Valley bits
offer good value for money in my opinion.
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I agree with what Dean says - the Lee Valley router bits are middle of the
I haven't bought many of them, but I've used a few - I usually buy CMT.
While the brazing job is generally good, the thickness of the carbide is
relatively thin. I wouldn't buy the Lee Valley bits if I planned on using
and sharpening them a lot - there's just not enough carbide.
I've got a few "good idea", "off-beat" bits from them that I'll use when the
situation arises, but I wouldn't buy for example, a 3/4 inch round-over bit
from them - I'll wear it out too quickly.
Having said that, I have had nothing but very positive experiences with Lee
Valley. You would certainly be dealing with a company that backs up their
I'm probably going to catch alot of flames for what I'm about to tell you
but here goes. I was recently having a discussion with a well know columnist
for a major woodworking magazine. He no longer works for the magazine now
but it has nothing to do with what I'm about to tell you, he's actually
involved in a company that produces aftermarket router accesories now. While
working for the magazine they did a test of router bits. They had all the
big names, and all the Chinese stuff from alot of different manufacturers.
They tore through wood for the better part of a day using various profiles
from each set. After all the test cuts were concluded they put the
workpieces in front of a panel of professional woodworkers to try and pick
the very best cuts. Curious now aren't you? Well it turned out they were all
so close it was hard to tell but the majority kept coming back to the same
bit over and over. The bits they came back to as being the best cutting and
smoothest after many cuts..................MLCS..........I thought this was
interesting myself as I use bits from various manufacturers and its rare I
ever go, "wow this bit cuts alot better!". Very rare that ever happens.
That seems very believable to me that all/most new bits perform nearly as
well. Did the test address durability at all?
I have no idea whether there would be a long-term difference, but I would
venture to say that "initial quality of cut" should not be the only criteria
for the assessing the overal quality of a router bit.
I was told that the cuts they made were long and repetitive. They didn't
just run a piece through and proclaim that bit was better. The way I
understood it was there were several people involved in this and they just
kept cutting over and over with bits from each set. Having owned and used
all types of bits the only ones I saw getting really dull prematurely were
those Viper bits from Home Depot. Amanas seem to hold their edge fairly well
as does the few Woodline bits I have. But you know what? For the money I
just don't get that much more mileage from the expensive bits to offset the
cost. Here's another interesting thing to ponder. Every year I budget myself
"X" amount of dollars for new tool purchases. I keep everything in
categories like machinery, blades and bits and so on. Four years ago I
budgeted myself enough to get some nice top dollar router bits. I went with
CMT mostly and a few Amanas. The following year I showed more router bit
replacement purchases than I've made in recent years. Two years ago I picked
up a set of MLCS bits. Other than buying specialty bits that I needed for a
particular job I have yet to make any replacement purchases. Interesting
don't you think? I'm a real prick about record keeping and I have every
purchase I make well documented so I know exactly what I replace and what I
don't. That way I can see what tools, bits and blades I get the most mileage
from. I use these reports to make new purchases. This is all of course
barring any accidental damages and such.
Food for thought.
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