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  • Router Bit durablity and brand

    How long can I expect a carbide router bit to last and is it possible to resharpen a bit or are they throwaways after a certain point?

    Also, does brand really matter? I picked up a 20-piece carbide Ryobi kit for $49. The guy at Home Depot said that there was basically no difference between Ryobi and Frued except for the color. The price difference is so great I'm having a hard time believing that. What do y'all think?

  • #2
    Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

    I would like to think the guy at HD doesn't have a clue what he is talking about because most of the bits I use in the shop are Freud. I could have saved a lot of money buying brand X bits. I carry a couple cases of low-end bits purchased at HD in my trailer in case I need something unanticipated on the job. They do OK but they burn out fast.

    I saw an old cabinet maker sharpen a router bit one day in his shop but he is dead now. I don't think sharpening the bit lead to his demise. I have never tried it. When a bit goes bad I buy another one.

    MLCS has a good reputation and the advertised prices are good. But I am hooked on Freud.

    -Tom

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    • #3
      Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

      Rule #1. Never believe what 99.9% of HD employees say. They have absolutely no product knowledge whatsoever.

      Rule #2. Always refer to Rule #1.

      As to how long a router bit will last, well, that depends. The type of wood being used will influence the life of any cutting tool. Obviously soft woods like pine will dull a bit much more slowly than a hardwood will.

      There is a huge difference in the quality of bits from one manufacturer to another. Premium brands like Whiteside, Freud, CMT and a few others will definitely stay sharp longer than the bargain basement no name variety. There are also some middle of the road router bit companies out there that are not all that bad when it comes to quality, such as Holbren, Woodcraft, and others.

      My preference is Whiteside for bits that will see a lot of usage. For special project bits that will only get used a time or three I prefer to save a little money and purchase from the middle of the road lines. I once did buy a set of no name router bits which turned out to be a total waste of money. I ended up throwing them away, they were that bad.
      Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

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      • #4
        Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

        Brand does matter! I was given a set of cheap carbide bits that were worthless right out of the box.

        Almost every bit in my cabinet is from MLCS. I've bought from them for a long time and have no complaints. The free shipping is also nice! I have a few bits from Pricecutter.com that work well, too.

        John

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        • #5
          Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

          Originally posted by mijohnst View Post
          How long can I expect a carbide router bit to last and is it possible to resharpen a bit or are they throwaways after a certain point?

          Also, does brand really matter? I picked up a 20-piece carbide Ryobi kit for $49. The guy at Home Depot said that there was basically no difference between Ryobi and Frued except for the color. The price difference is so great I'm having a hard time believing that. What do y'all think?
          I buy Whiteside (made in USA) from holbren.com. They are much more fun than the old craftsman HSS ones I borrowed from my dad. I don't yet have much on durability, but I've heard several hundred linear feet. Also, you can get them sharpened, but it will reduce the profile, so if you are using them for joinery that can be problematic.

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          • #6
            Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

            Again, thank you all for your input. I learn so much from you all. I'm glad I saved my receipt from HD because I'll be returning these bits I just bought. I'd never heard of Holbern or Whiteside before now. Any other good sites that I need to be checking? I've mostly just bought from Rockler.

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            • #7
              Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

              I've had good luck with Bosch router bits, which are available at Lowes, but they are pricey. In my case, the only local place to by router bits is Lowes, so the cost balanced against the otherwise 2 hour round trip to someplace else makes it economical. They also carry Skil brand, which are good in a pinch, but last no where as long nor cut as smooth out of the box.

              Just another option if you find you need one in the middle of a project.

              Go

              PS: There are many different grades and quality in the carbide used in cutters, so brand and cost does make a difference in carbide tipped tools.
              Practicing at practical wood working

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              • #8
                Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

                Cheap router bits have very little carbide on them so resharpening will be limited. Good ones have very big carbide tips so they are a good investment as they will take more resharpenings.

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                • #9
                  Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

                  Originally posted by mijohnst View Post
                  ...The guy at Home Depot said that there was basically no difference between Ryobi and Frued except for the color. ....
                  If he told me that, I would have laughed out loud and told him that his HD training certificate was the same as a PHD in engineering.

                  The Ryobi bits are of average import quality at best. The better bits like Infinity, Whiteside, Freud, Eagle America, and Amana use a better grade of steel that's machined to tighter tolerances, so they have better balance and spin truer. They have better quality bearings that have far less chance of seizing. The grade of carbide is much better, much thicker, sharpened to a finer grit, brazed with better materials and techniques, and are typically just a better cutter design. In practice, they'll perform better, cut cleaner, and will cut well longer. They're also worth resharpening when the time comes.

                  That's not to say that lesser bits don't have a place in my inventory, but they are lesser bits in just about every way. I think Ryobi has some good tools for the price, but I don't consider their blades or bits very competitive at their retail price with others of the same price range like Holbren, MLCS, Price Cutter, Woodcraft, Woodline, or Grizzly....these are good import bargain lines that I think all offer more than the Ryobi bits for the same or less money. The top shelf cutters are in a different league, and are typically proportionately more expensive.
                  Last edited by hewood; 12-02-2008, 07:26 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

                    I've got a full set (30 piece) of the Skil bits that Lowes sells, and am pretty unhappy with it. I also have a good selection of MLCS, and Freud bits. The MLCS are nice, cut real clean, and seem to be lasting very well, however the Freud bits I have (that funny 4 wing design) leave a GREAT finish, so I would suggest those to anyone that can afford them. They are pretty pricey though. I doubt it'll come through, but I did ask for the MLCS 66 piece set this year for Christmas.

                    One thing you can do to keep your bits around longer, just like your blades is to keep them clean. They make bit and blade cleaners that get the gunk off your bits, which keeps them cooler, and helps keep grit and gunk away from the cutter edges, this helps the carbide last a lot longer...

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                    • #11
                      Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

                      As previously stated, the "grade" of carbide is what determines the quality and longevity of the bits.

                      The cheap-o sets for 30 bucks likely have "C2" carbide, not much better than HSS. There is "C3", "C4" and last I heard "C4.5".

                      If you can get an honest answer from the dealer, buy the best grade you can afford, they will be worth it.

                      I have lots and lots of Paso Robles Carbide cutters. They are all hex drive and you can swap them on to different shafts to save a few bucks. I have them sharpened since that is about half the cost of buying a new one. They have plenty of carbide on them and can handle quite a bit of abuse without dulling down.
                      Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Router Bit durablity and brand

                        I have a set of the Ryobi 1/4-inch shank bits that my wife purchased as a Christmas present for me a couple of years ago. Not much experience at the time, though I have a tendency to read alot and relie somewhat on the experience of others.

                        Now, after three years I've found the Ryobi bits to be okay. I've only cut pine with them though and they appear to hold up fairly well.... BUT, I've had a surprise or two. First was that when we put in the laminate floor, the guy that was helping me (experienced) decided to use my little Ryobi router table to cut the stuff, because it table saw was broke and mine was at the other house.

                        So, using a Ryobi 1/4-inch straight bit, he managed to cut, and carve his way through several pieces to fit around the door casings, etc. We used 25 boxes of laminate and he ripped, cross-cut, and edge fitted everything in the kitchen and basement hallway. That's five door ways, the base cabinets, etc.; all using just one bit. (It was hard cutting near the end and the bit was well past garbage when he finished, but was still "bulling" it's way through a cut, and certainly well past the point where I would have changed it.)

                        Now, that should be "testimony" to the bits quality, except that "second surprise" happened a couple of weeks later when I grabbed a duplicate 1/4-inch bit to cut a simple rabbit on one edge of a pine board. Six inches into the cut the bit snapped! The bit showed no burn marks or, for that matter any kind of wear (obviously a weak point shank, as it snapped just below the cutter edge). I was's forcing the cut either.

                        So, you never know! But I've used several bits from the set with good success, though I only use them on pine (molding, edges, etc.)

                        For the most part though, I use 1/2-inch shank bits and have been very happy with a discounted set from www.Bladesnbits.com. I just checked their site though, and it states "We are Now Closed". Not sure if that means they are out of business or just closed for the holidays.

                        One final opinion, the "Whiteside" brand bits are reputed to be one of the top brands on the market. (USA made) and Holbren is the source that I most often see posted.

                        I hope this is helpful,

                        CWS
                        Last edited by CWSmith; 12-05-2008, 05:53 PM.

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