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Buying the Best Router Bits You can Afford
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It's tempting to save a little money buying bargain router bits, but it can lead to regrets and spending more in the long run.  Below, Woodworker's Journal editor Rob Johnstone offers a useful rule of thumb in his response to a Woodworker's Journal eZine reader.

 Q: I see a lot of router bits made in China -- none branded -- which appear to be bargains when it comes to price and appear to be well made. Are they a good buy or should I pass them by?

A: Rob Johnstone: My father used to tell me, “Buy the best you can afford and you will only cry once.” There is indeed a difference in the quality of steel, carbide and machining as you move from bit maker to bit maker. As with most things, the old saw: “you get what you pay for,” is true for router bits. The quality of steel, carbide and machining, along with the geometry of a router bit's design, are all things that are hard for average Joe's like you and me to evaluate. So the way that I make my first quality assessment is by looking at price. Then, when I use a bit, I do my second evaluation.

One question I ask myself with any tool purchase is: Am I going to be using this tool a lot, or just once or twice? If the answer is the former ... I opt to spend more money on the tool; the latter, and I look for a bargain.

From the Woodworker's Journal eZine 2004 archives

Router bits made by manufacturers like Amana and Freud - and our own Rockler Bits - haven't earned their reputation of top quality through sheer luck. The quality of the casting, the tool steel, the pilot bearings and above all, the carbide really do make a difference in the quality of the cut and the longevity of the bit.  Rockler router bits are made using K10 and K20 grade carbide and finish-sharpened with 600-800 grit diamond wheels for an ultra-smooth cut.  But if you prefer to judge the quality yourself, you can make one of the post-purchase router bit evaluations mentioned above risk-free. Rockler router bits are unconditionally guaranteed - if you don't like a Rockler router bit, send it back for a full refund.

posted on August 29, 2006 by Rockler
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2 thoughts on “Buying the Best Router Bits You can Afford”

  • Seth Burgin

    I learned this adage "you get what you pay for" with files. I had bought a really cheap set of riflers, and one use on brass and one of the files was junk. Before I started it was just a hair above junk, as it chattered, and was just miserable to work with. I now use real Swiss made Swiss pattern files with Swiss, or the extended German cut grades. They remove material wonderfully well, and clean up and are ready to go again after removing more stock that the file itself is made from in some cases, and I use these on stainless steel, among other materials. Router bits have special grain in the tungsten and special cutting angles, surfaces, coatings, etc, etc. Some stuff is overpriced, but in the case of tools like these, usually you are best off with the best. Lately some cheaper import items are becoming surprisingly well made, but this is more in the case of Chinese rasps, and a few select items. Once word gets out the prices go sky high. Sine China has no problem flooding the market with crap, yet when they do make a great product (usually by accident) they raise the price 10000% I am just sticking with Old World European stuff for those prices.

  • Joe Fenwick

    I have a number rockler router bits that have the old catalog number on them. Is there a list of those numbers I can use to determine the specs of those bits?

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