10 Tips for Making Clean Cuts With Router Bits

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1. If possible, use router bits with 1/2″ shanks. Many routers come with interchangeable 1/4″ and 1/2″ collets, and many bits are available in both shank diameters. But you're likely to get better stability and less vibration with 1/2″ bits because of the increased shank mass - and that typically yields a smoother cut and longer cutter life.

2. Make sure that the bit is properly installed in the router. Insert it until it bottoms out, then back it out about 1/16″ to 1/8″ and tighten the collet. If you don't back it out, the collet might tighten at the rounded transition area between the cutter and the shank - meaning that it won't be in full contact with the rest of the shank. This increases the risk that the bit could come loose while the router is running - a very dangerous scenario.

3. Make sure that your bits are sharp, smooth and clean. Resin buildup and dull cutters lead to heat buildup, which will further dull the bit and produce a bad cut. Buildup can be removed with a product such as Rockler's Pitch & Resin Remover (Item #39146), and bits can be given a touch-up
sharpening with diamond-coated sharpeners (Item #24663, for example). Also check for nicks in the bits' cutting edges. It might be possible to remove small nicks with diamond sharpeners, but cutters with large nicks are best reground by a professional. For bits with guide bearings, make sure that the bearings can spin freely. If necessary, clean and lubricate with a product such as the PG2000 RouterBit Bearing Lube Pen (Item #31801).

4. Watch your bit speed. Not all router bits can be run at the same speed. Larger

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