A router is a powered cutting tool that uses different bits to cut various grooves, angles, and shapes into wood. These handy tools are excellent for woodworking projects, including cabinet making, cutting molding, and furniture design.
However, a router is useless without a great set of router bits. You want to be sure that you have a variety of options for all the applications you plan to tackle, with the best router bits being made out of durable types of material, like tungsten carbide.
The router bits below are some of the best in their respective categories and would be excellent additions to any tool box.
Types of Router Bits
There are hundreds of different sizes and styles of router bits available to help you make all those cuts. But the vast number of choices can make it difficult to know which router bits to buy, especially if you’re new to routing. So we drew up a list of 10 carbide-tipped router bits that every do-it-yourselfer should own. Once your woodworking skills and confidence grow, you can add more bits. Happy routing!
As its name implies, this bit cuts straight, square-bottomed grooves. It’s available in various diameters, but the three most valuable sizes are 1/4-, 1/2-, and 3/4-inch diameter. Use this bit to cut rabbets, dadoes, and grooves for plywood cabinet backs and drawer bottoms. Many router bits have what’s called a pilot, which guides the bit and keeps it in place. But this is a nonpiloted bit, so be sure to guide the router along a straightedge to ensure straight, accurate cuts.
Use this edge-shaping bit on the edges of shelves, tabletops, chair arms, and other places where you’d like to round over a sharp edge. The bit is fitted with a ball-bearing pilot that controls the width of the cut. Adjust the router base to control the cutting depth. Rounding-over bits come in a wide range of sizes, designated by the radius of the cut. The two most useful bit sizes are 1/4- and 3/8-inch.
Roman Ogee Bit
Perhaps the most popular of all edge-shaping bits, Roman ogee router bits have a distinctive profile for cutting classical decorative detailing into the edges of tabletops, picture frames, vertical stiles, and horizontal rails. A ball-bearing pilot attached to the end of the bit controls the width of the cut. Roman ogee bits are commonly available in 5/32-, 1/4-, and 3/8-inch-radius sizes. The 1/4-inch size will serve most needs.
A cove bit is essentially the opposite of a rounding-over bit. Instead of simply rounding the edge, it cuts a concave radius out of the edge. The result is a simple, decorative edge that enhances furniture legs, cabinet doors, and bookshelves. Designated by the sizes of the radiuses they cut, cove bits range from 1/16- to 1-inch radius. Most DIYers can get by nicely with a 1/4- or 3/8-inch bit.
If you work with plastic laminate or wood veneer, then get yourself a flush-trim router bit. This straight-cutting bit has a ball-bearing pilot that permits you to trim overhanging surfaces perfectly flush with the substrate. Use this bit when building plastic-laminate counters, tabletops, cabinets, and cabinet doors and drawer faces. It’s also useful for flush-trimming wood veneer. There are many sizes available, but one that’s 1/2 inch in diameter with 1-inch-long cutting flutes will suffice for most work.
45-Degree Chamfer Bit
This edge-shaping router bit cuts a 45-degree angle, called a chamfer, into the edge of a board or panel. It’s commonly used to remove square, sharp corners from shelves, picture frames, countertops, and vertical posts. A chamfer bit is also used to create V-shaped grooves between boards (when two chamfers meet edge to edge they form a V-groove). Chamfer bits come in various sizes and a few different angles. We’d recommend one with a 1-1/4-inch diameter.
This specialty bit provides a quick, accurate way to cut narrow slots or grooves into the edges of cabinet door frames, floorboards, picture frames, and drawer parts. It’s ideal for cutting spline grooves for spline joints. The bit has two “wings,” each equipped with a sharp tungsten-carbide tooth. The width of the slot is determined by the thickness of the cutting teeth, which range from 1/16- to 1/4-inch thick.
The slot depth depends on the distance from the ball-bearing pilot to the cutting teeth. The most popular bits are 1/4-inch wide and 1/2-inch deep. Note that some slot-cutting bits have interchangeable pilots of different diameters, allowing you to alter the cutting depth by swapping out the ball-bearing pilot.
What to Consider When Buying Router Bits
Before investing in a new product, educate yourself on the essential features. The considerations below will help you decide what router bits are best for you.
In general, almost all router bits feature either high-speed steel (HSS) or carbide.
- HSS router bits are made from carbon steel and have a high heat resistance, which keeps them from breaking during extended use. These bits are more affordable and are an excellent option for infrequent router use or beginners that are likely to make mistakes. They can also withstand more impact damage than carbide router bits, without losing their edge, making them ideal for a cluttered workshop.
- Carbide router bits can be completely coated in carbide or only tipped in carbide, and they have a longer lifespan than HSS bits. The harder material allows the bits to last with frequent use and to keep their edge longer than an HSS bit, allowing you to spend less time sharpening or replacing the bits and more time using them. Keep in mind that carbide router bits are more expensive and more susceptible to impact damage. While this won’t interfere with their use in a router, dropping them or treating them poorly will dull, nick, or break the edge of a carbide router bit in a hurry.
The shank on a router bit is the cylindrical part of the bit that goes into the collet of the router. All router bits come with either a ¼-inch shank or a ½-inch shank, and most routers have interchangeable collets to accept both sizes, though some only accept ¼-inch shanks.
- ¼-inch shanks are commonly accepted by most routers and get the job done effectively, but their smaller diameter can cause them to jump around more than the ½-inch shank, leading to more inadequate control and precision. However, router bits with ¼-inch shanks are more affordable than bits with ½-inch shanks, making them ideal for beginners who are bound to break a few bits.
- ½-inch shanks are stiffer and stronger than ¼-inch shanks, meaning that there is less vibration while using them, giving you a better degree of control. Router bits with ½-inch shanks cost more, but provide significantly higher stability and longevity, making them well worth it. Just make sure that your router collet is sized for ½-inch shanks, otherwise, you won’t be able to use these bits.
The sharpness of a router bit dictates the ability of the bit to cut through the material easily. A dull bit will reduce your router’s effectiveness, cause burns in the material, and leave you with a poor finish that you’ll need to smooth with sandpaper or a file. A sharp router bit cuts through quickly, operating at optimum efficiency, without leaving scorch marks behind.
All new router bits should be factory-sharpened, but this can be difficult to see when purchasing a new set. However, you can research router bits to find ones you can repeatedly sharpen to maintain a thin cutting edge. This will give you the ability to either sharpen yourself or take them to a professional so that your bits are always sharp and ready for your next project.
Number of Pieces Included
Before selecting any product, make sure you know what you are getting. The router bit set should identify the number of bits in the kit, the size of the bits, and the bit types included.
Knowing this information allows you to select a reasonably-priced set for the number of bits that come in the collection. You will also know whether a 24-piece set comes with 20 straight bits and four rabbeting bits, or if it includes a proper variety of router bits so that you can tackle your next project with confidence.
Our Top Picks
The Hiltex Tungsten Carbide Router Bit Set is excellent for various projects, including edging, trimming, veining, and grooving, making it perfect for door panels and picture frames. The ¼” shank bits are made from precisely machine-cut tungsten carbide that you can sharpen to maintain edges.
The 24-piece router bit set comes in a wooden case that labels and shows an image of each bit. Styles included without ball bearings are a mortising bit, combination bevel, dovetail, 90-degree “V” groove, round nose, panel pilot, and a straight bit. The styles with ball bearings include trimming, flush-trim, radius round over bit, cove, 45-degree chamfer, Roman Ogee, slot cutter, and rebating.
Don’t you just hate it when you are trying to place a router bit and it just won’t get attached? If you are also facing this problem then you should buy this product. These router bits have very sharp edges that help in cutting through the wood when they are being attached.
This bit set has premium C3 micro-grain tungsten carbide blades that last longer. These router bits can cut both front and backward with the same measured bit. With these bits, you can cut rail and stiles of 3/8 inches depth and 7/8 inches length.
It is the perfect set of high-quality router bits specifically designed for woodcarving. The set has a total of 4 router bits including, Ball Nose Router Bit, Down-Cut Router Bit, Up-Cut Router Bit, and 90 Degree Chamfer Router Bit. Each of these bits is used for 3D woodwork, edging, cutting, and chamfering or beveling respectively.
The router bits in this set are made up of carbide, a very strong and durable material. That’s why you don’t need to worry about durability or reliability after buying this set.
Freud is a trusted manufacturer of saw blades and router bits. This 13-piece set includes a great selection of bits, so you can test the durability of Freud products for yourself.
These bits are intended for hand-held or table-mounted portable routers. They have also been tested for use at the highest speeds, exceeding the 22,000-RPMs delivered by most portable routers.
This 13-piece super router bit set from Freud may cost a little more than some other options. However, the bits are worth every penny. You get high-quality router bits that can withstand heavy-duty applications and regular use.
You also get a nice selection of bits of varying sizes and styles. The variety of bits makes this a top choice as a router bit set for beginners looking to get started in carpentry.
The 15 bits include the bits that you are most likely to need during your woodworking projects. You get four straight bits, along with a cove bit, rounding-over bit, V-groove bit, and a flush trim bit.
The set also includes a bearing to convert the round over bit into a beading bit. All the pieces fit perfectly in the provided wood storage box.
The MLCS 6077 woodworking router bit set is meant for beginners. The manufacturers even describe this set as the perfect all purpose starter set, which is an accurate description. They are not the lowest-quality bits, but they are not high-end bits either.
If you want professional-grade bits, you need to spend more. However, the low price provides a good entry point for anyone that is just learning how to use a router.
More experienced carpenters and woodworkers should probably consider a large router bit set like this 70-piece model from Yonico. It boasts an impressive bit variety to cover a wider range of projects where different styles and sizes are required. There are two main versions for this router bit set depending on the size of the shank. The standard 1/4” option works great for most purposes but you can also choose a version with longer shanks of 1/2”.
From round over, trim, and slotting bits to beading, keyhole, and profile edging options, there’s enough variety here to match the needs of complex woodworking applications. Each style in the set comes with plenty of sizes to choose from to work as accurately as possible.
Construction-wise, the router bits are engineered with micro-grain tungsten carbide blades while the silver induction brazing enhances durability to new heights.
If you need an affordable router bit set that doesn’t compromise too much on durability, check out this 24-piece kit from Stalwart. Each bit provided here is engineered with a tough carbide tip to increase the tool’s lifespan. The selection of router bits doesn’t leave a lot to be desired. You can safely make use of this set for a wide range of purposes whether we’re talking about grooving, edging, or trimming projects.
Woodworkers will probably appreciate the elegant case provided so you can keep all the router bits organized. Finding the right bit for the job shouldn’t take very long thanks to the proper labeling of each little tool. This multifunctional set is highly recommended for precision woodworking. Due to the standard shaft sizes used, the bits are compatible with most router tools on the market. While there’s decent durability you can expect for DIY projects, professional carpenters will most likely prefer costlier router bit sets for heavy-duty use.
Coming in with our second pick is the Bosch RBS010 1/2-Inch and 1/4-Inch Shank Carbide-Tipped All-Purpose Professional Router Bit Set. Looking at this set of router bits, you would find out that judging from its appearance, it looks no different than its competitors. Just as the name implies, the Bosch RBS010 1/2-Inch and 1/4-Inch Shank Carbide-Tipped All-Purpose Professional Router Bit Set are basically made to be all-purpose. This set includes both a ½” and ¼” shank which users can easily use on a collection of woodworking projects to produce a professional result.
The tips of the Bosch RBS010 1/2-Inch and 1/4-Inch Shank Carbide-Tipped All-Purpose Professional Router Bit Set are very thin and as a user, avoid making use of this bosch product if you want to work with router bits that have thicker styles. The tips, on the other hand, are coated with long-lasting and industrial-grade Micrograin carbide tips for more durability. Carrying around router bits can be risky sometimes because users can lose their materials every time, that’s why the company provided a box in which the Bosch RBS010 can be transported or carried around.
Known for great quality, unparalleled precision, and incredible cutting life, the Freud Router Bits are constructed with the highest quality materials. The Freud features a red Perma-SHIELD and Hi-Density Carbide coating. This tongue and groove set is adjustable so it can create tongue and groove joints that fit perfectly.
With an exclusive design, the Freud includes a tongue cutter that uses opposing shear angles to guarantee a finish that is flawless. The bits are adjustable in .002-inch increments to give you a stock thickness of 1/2 to 1-1/4-inch and 7/32 to 3/8-inch groove widths. of 7/32 to 3/8-inch.
As a woodworker, the market is packed with different types of router bits but only a few selected products have what it takes to satisfy the needs of a professional. One such product is the Neiko 10115A Premium Tungsten Carbide Router Bits which is a practical high-performance and reliable router bit. The Neiko company over the years is a highly reputable establishment that has established its name in the industry as a provider of woodworking products that can be used on a variety of woodworking projects both industrially and domestically.
During manufacturing, the company made use of hardened solid alloy steel in the making. This means that users can make use of the Neiko 10115A Premium Tungsten Carbide Router Bits for hours without worrying about wear and tear or the factor heat. The set comes with about 80 different bits. There might be a problem storing and organizing this amount of router bit that’s why the company provided its users with a casing to safely store this router bit.
Good, Better Or Best? Cost vs. Durability and Long Life
As you learned in the beginning of this article, quality router bits have cutting edges made from high-speed steel or carbide tips fused to the bit. Carbide bits are harder than steel and will hold an edge much longer. However, the higher cost of solid carbide spiral bits may be prohibitive for the beginner. Yes, there are added benefits to using carbide tips, but high-speed steel will suffice when finances dictate the lower cost item.