Router Bit Basics

A router bit is a tool for woodworking giving a quality finish to woodwork. It cuts wood providing a way to give a clean and even a decorative edge to woodwork. The following is some basic information about router bits to get you started in your woodworking efforts.

The Parts of a Router Bit

Here are the there main parts of a router bit:
1) The shank- the part of the router bit that is inserted the collet (the sleeve of the router).
2) The cutting edge – this part cuts and removes the wood. They are available in several sizes and shapes.
3) The pilot- the guide for the router in order to make a correct cut. It can be an extension of the shank or a ball bearing attachment.

The Different Kinds of Router Bits

While there are over 50 router bit profiles, here are the four basic types of router bits:
1) Grooving Bits – These bits make a groove in the piece of wood. This type of bit is commonly used for street address signs for homes. Different types of grooving bits include the V-Groove, the Round-Nose and the Straight Bits.
2) Bits – Router bits that help make several different types of joints. This type of router bit includes the Finger Joint, the Drawer Lock, the Rile and Stile, and Dovetail Bits.
3) Edge Bits – Bits used to create different-shaped in woodwork. Examples of these types of bits include the Beading, Flush, and Round-over bits.
4) Specialized Bits – These bits do not fit one of the above categories and have more specialized purposes including the Key Hole, Raised Panel, and T-Slot bits.

Carbide versus HSS bits

Most of the bits you will find available in hardware stores are carbide (short for tungsten carbide) tipped. These router bits are made of a very hard material that stays sharp longer than steel and is resistant to heat. However, this type of router bit can chip and is very expensive (this is why most of the bits are tipped and not made completely of carbide).

High Speed Steel (HSS) bits have been around longer but are not as readily available as the carbide bits. An HSS router bit is not as expensive but will dull fairly quickly. The HSS router bit is more suited for occasional work while a carbide router bit is meant for greater use, lasting 20 times longer than the HSS router bit.

How to Take of Router Bits

To keep your router bit set in good shape, you will want to do small amounts of cutting at a time. This not only keeps you away from overheating, but will also extend the life of the router bit. Always use the shortest and widest bit possible for your project. This will again prevent overheating and will also avoid chattering.

Always keep your router bits clean and free from pitch and in good condition to avoid dulling. Remove any pitch and tar from the router bit (if not removed, it will cause the bit to unevenly bounce on the surface). Commercial bit cleaner can be used to remove pitch and tar; however, a scrap piece of wood will usually do the trick. This will help keep your router bits in good working order.

The parts of a router bit, the types of bits, the difference between HSS bits and carbide bits, and the proper of router bits are all important concepts to understand when selecting your own router bit set. This basic knowledge will help you know what you need in a router bit set and how to use it properly.

Kaitlin Carruth is a client account specialist with – More Visitors. More Buyers. More Revenue. For more information about router bits, please visit

Here’s a good video overview about how to use a router.

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