I'm just starting to get into work with the router and was hoping to receive input from those of you who are more experienced with them on which brand(s) of bits I should buy to get started. I've heard people sing the praise of Whiteside, Jesada, Freud and even Viper, so it just gets more and more confusing. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
I have a nice set of Freud bits and they have never given me a poor cut. However, they are expensive so I am always looking for bits with the same quality for less money.
Whatever you buy, I would suggest that they are high quality carbide. You can make the investment "hurt" a bit less by only buying what you need instead of buying a set. Looking back, that is what I would do now.
Unfortunately I think it is like most things, you get what you pay for.
The brands you mentioned are all good ones---you could also add CMT and Amana as well.
We had a rather contensious thread on this not long ago and I'm not going to get into with those touting cheap bits, but as someone was saying--you get what you pay for---not only in the quality of cuts---but more importantly, the structural safety of the bit----these bits spin at extremely high speed--develop heat, etc.---you don't want to risk cheap bits.
Secondly, with cutter size, above 1/4", you should consider getting 1/2" shanks. This is a real trend and many router mfgs are making switchable 1/4 and 1/2" collets.
Agree with MarkR---about not buying sets, as you will soon find you'd never use them all---only excepting would be a set of straight cutters and set of roundover bits---pretty sure you'll find these used frequently.
BTW---for a great introduction to types and buying bits, check out "The New Router Handbook" by Pat Spielman---it was a big help to me.
Buying bits in sets can save you some money if you shop around. MLCS has a 66pc 1/2 or 1/4 inch shank (your choice) and the price per bit is 2.575 each. Even if you never used 1/2 the bits, it is a good deal. And MLCS is known for quality bits from what I've read. They also offer a router collet extension for 25 bucks, I bought 2.
You can buy other sets for around 100 bucks with 25 to 30 bits, just be careful of the brand name.
I bought a set at home depot, hickory brand, and though they perform OK, I have broke a few under loads better quality bits would have not broken.
I purchased some Grizzly bits, green colored ones, and was highly disapointed in them. It took more time to put the bit in the collet, and take the broken shaft out than I got to use them. And some of the larger bits are not balanced, causing alot of vibration and undue ware on the router itself. I have some Freud dovetail and straight bits and they are pretty tough bits. But they are more expensive to purchase. Have a few CMT bits as well, and they run a close 2nd to Freud, in quality and price.
I'm waiting to receive that MLCS set myself, and although there is a few bits in there that will see alot more dust than use, it's a heck of a deal. The kit was introduced for 225 bucks and is now reduced to 170 for year end special. You'll probably get every bit you'll ever need other than raised panel sets in this 66pc set. And MLCS has some good deals on raised panel sets as well.
It's worth checking out. www.mlcswoodworking.com