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Need advice on forstner bits

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  • Need advice on forstner bits

    I am in the market for a high quality set of forstner bits and I'm looking for imput from folks who have and use them. Thanks John

  • #2

    I have a set from Lee Valley. They ran me @ $70. You won't get any complaints about them from me. I've had them over a year now. Buy them and you'll be happy. I'm sure others will chip in with some suggestions also.
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    • #3
      There are clearly two options---there are high quality sets (with relatively high prices) and there are the cheapo Chinese sets. Depends on number of bits---I got a set of 12 bits for about $80---there are other bits that cost that much for one large bit. For me, the deciding factor was sharpening---didn't look like something I would want to learn and where could you get reasonably priced/good sharpening service.

      If you keep the speed down and are careful---do a little hand honing/touch-up and keep the bits clean---a cheap set can be a good value.


      • #4
        Actually I have a question about forstner bits so I thought I'd add it here. I bought a 7 piece CMT set but I can't get them to cut like Norm does. I don't have a drill press so am using my handheld. I have tried slow speed and a faster speed but still no success (working with pine). Are these bits made to use primarily in a drill press?
        Thanks for your input.


        • #5
          Terri---using forstner bits, handheld, is hard to do right and can be unsafe, on larger diameters. Since they are cutting a flat bottom, keeping them consistantly straight is part one of the secret--Part two is speed, as you noted--again, not easy to do in a handheld drill and Part three is slow feed rate---slower the larger the bit. Not impossible to do with a hand held drill--just takes practice---just stay away from too large a diameter.


          • #6
            Thanks for your helpful input; I'm glad to know that the problem is in the technique rather than the CMT bits.


            • #7
              If you're not in the market for a drill press (some of the benchtop models look pretty solid and can be had for $100 or less) you may want to consider one of those press jigs that you mount your handheld to. I think you're just asking for a world of frustration, and some possible danger, by using your handheld freehand.
              These bits need to be flat to the surface to be cut to ensure a straight, flat bottomed hole. You'll get the best, and safest, results when you can control the feed rate and speed of the bit.

              If you're wanting to cut a hole at an angle to the plane of the wood, you can, however you would need to mount a piece of scrap to your piece that creates a flat surface for the bit to enter. You would then remove the "sacraficial" scrap, and voila, you have your angled hole. Again, I would not recommend this freehand...use a press or a jig.

              A safe rule of thumb is, the bigger the bit, the slower the speed and feed rate you'll want to use. When cutting 2 5/8" holes for clock inserts with a circle cutter, I gear my drill press down to 390 RPM. For larger circles I would probably gear down even further.

              I have a set of Freud bits that have worked very well for me. I bought them a couple at a time, so I didn't get any deal on buying a set all at once.

              \"Last year we couldn\'t win at home.<BR>This year we can\'t win on the road.<BR>My failure as a coach is that I <BR>can\'t think of anyplace else to play.\"<BR> - Coach Harry Neale, Canucks


              • #8
                you cant buy a finer set for the same money than the CMT, however in my opinion the freud bits are a close second for less money. freud bits were the first ones i bought and i still have them with no complaints, but i bought them before i discovered CMT. i am a loyal CMT customer, use their router bits and saw blades. going to be buying a set soon and will be buying CMT


                • #9
                  I purchased a large set of Forstners from Harbor Freight and they work fine, also got a set of carbide tipped spur bits which are excellent.


                  • #10
                    I personally steer clear of harbor freight. with few exceptions. sometimes they have brand name tools for sale on "closeout" so you can pick up a Dewalt, Milwaukee, etc at a good price. As far as their "house brand" wont even touch it! I am not knocking your choice in bits, if those bits do what you need them to do, thats cool. But i hate buying things twice. I stick with the higher end tools and although i pay a little more, i get a product tht will last which allows me to buy tools once and pass them along to my kids and God willing grand kids, getting the most for my money
                    \"A SHIP OF WAR IS THE BEST AMBASSADOR\"<br /><br />OLIVER CROMWELL


                    • #11
                      Those "closeout" tools are "reconditioned" tools originally purchased by someone who thought they would last a lifetime plus.


                      • #12
                        Here's the thing about the re-cons...even though I don't own one, I would consider it cause they are individually tested after the re-con is done for warranty testing. They must pass all tests.

                        The factory units are batch tested, meaning that each one is NOT tested...only a few at random are.

                        I know several folks who have re-cons and with the same factory warranty as new, I don't see the problem.

                        I had a set of forstners and they worked fine ($60) from Woodcraft. I didn't know about the high speed being a no-no and burned one pretty badly. Other than that they worked very well.
                        Kelly C. Hanna<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\">Hanna Woodworks</a>


                        • #13
                          recons may have been able to last a lifetime. in most cases they are taken in on trade because someone upgrades or is unhappy with the tool. So the factory reworks them and sells them as recons with a new tool warranty. no problem there. as long as the company is reputible and willing to stand behind their warranty!
                          \"A SHIP OF WAR IS THE BEST AMBASSADOR\"<br /><br />OLIVER CROMWELL


                          • #14
                            the last few posts have gotten off the subject. We were talking about forstner bits? Money=Quality! Harbor Freight, when it comes to bits, blades, etc, sells the worst pieces of **** on the planet. most made in china and "coated" vice made of a particular product. they may be worth it when it comes to a wood worker who uses his forstner bits once in a blue moon, but for someone who plans to get any use out of a set of bits buy quality (CMT, Freud, etc).

                            the problem with cheap bits (forstner or otherwise) is that they dull quickly. especially if working with hard wood.

                            I have often wondered why people purchase a quality tool for a few hundred dollars, but skimp on the blade, bit, etc.

                            one of my other hobbies is photography and it is a common opinion that the camera doesnt matter as much as the lens thats on the front of it. (and of course the person behind it).

                            when it comes to tools, i only buy the best for my needs. and i put the best bit, blade, etc possible on it.

                            but in all honesty you could buy a tool of less quality, but a great accessory on it and turn out a quality product.

                            in addition you can be so good that you can have a poor quality tool, a dull bit/blade/etc and having used it for quite some time know how to compensate and make it work for you.

                            case and point i have a carpenter friend of mine that needed some help on a few decks he was building last summer. i watched him cut, bevel, and miter boards perfectly by hand with an old Skil Mag77 worm gear saw and what appeared to be the original blade. when we finished decking and such we spent two days in his "shop" custom building the deck rails. I watched this man rip boards to use as pickets on the rails on an old "Master Mechanic" bench top table saw that had to be close to 20 yrs old. he did not use a fence and each piece was as perfectly cut as the last. i was in awe

                            i guess the moral of my rambling is that if harbor freight bits will do what you need them to do, get them. you will just have to learn how to compensate as they begin to dull (which wont take long)

                            \"A SHIP OF WAR IS THE BEST AMBASSADOR\"<br /><br />OLIVER CROMWELL