In a previous
article, I listed four must-have basic bits for any woodworker that uses
a router - you can view that list here
The list below shows some of my favorite speciality bits.
Since speciality bits are often expensive and designed with a dedicated purpose,
you may want to ask yourself a few questions before shelling out your hard-earned
cash on a brand new, razor sharp paper weight:
- Are there any alternatives methods (using tools that you already own) that will
do the same thing? Lets say you're looking at buying a tongue and groove
router bit set. If you already own a straight bit, you could make the same tongue
and groove joint using the bit you already have and your tablesaw.
- How often will you use the bit? Specialty bits really pay off when
you get some semi-regular out of them. Think realistically about how often you may
use the bit and decide if you still think it's a must-have.
- Is the bit hard to setup and use? Before you buy, do some research
into how difficult the bit is to setup and use. If the bit is time consuming
to setup, then you may be inclined to use it less. The 45° lock miter
bit is an example of a bit that is tedious to setup. If setup blocks are offered
for the bit your buying, get them!
- Will the bit improve the quality of your work? Speciality bits can
often open the door to operations that would not be as accurate or even possible
without that particular bit. For instance, if you're using iron-on edge banding
to conceal the exposed edges of plywood, you may consider an edge-banding bit set.
This set allows you to easily join a strip of hardwood along the edge of the plywood,
and (in my opinion) improves the quality of your work.
I created the following list of specialty bits from those that I have found useful
and feel may be worth your consideration.
Why buy it?
45° Lock Miter
The 45° lock miter bit produces a self-aligning, interlocking joint along the
edge of two boards to bring them together to form a 90° corner. The resulting
joint is superior in strength compared to simply gluing two mitered boards together.
The self-aligning aspect of the joint makes assembling the pieces easier and also
helps achieve a 90° angle.
You can make a four-sided hollow column using the lock miter bit. I have used this
approach to conceal the support posts in basement. I also constructed a massive
looking leg for my pool table using the lock miter bit. Check out Part 1 of the
Pool table video series to see how to setup
and use the 45 degree lock miter bit.
Edge Banding Bit set
If you work with sheet goods and want a decent way to conceal the edge, then an
edge banding bit set may be right for you. The edge band bit set that I have creates
a special groove in the edge of the plywood with one bit, and a mating tongue in
the hardwood piece. After you glue in the hardwood strip, you can use a jointer
to trim that edge down as close to the plywood as you'd like. You can even chamfer
the hardwood strip to further conceal the glue line between the two pieces.
Check out Part 2 of the Pool table video series
to see my edge band bit set in action. The resulting pieces (the vertical slats)
are almost indistinguishable from solid wood.
Tongue and Groove bit
The tongue and groove bit that I use is very similar to the one pictured here. Notice
the nut on the end of the bit - removing the nut will allow you configure the placement
of the cutters. Being able to configure the placement of the cutters makes for a
very versatile bit:
- Use one cutter to make a slot (spline joinery) or groove for a tongue
- Use both cutters spaced by the bearing to make a tongue
- Use both cutters stacked to create a dado bit
- Use one or two cutters stacked with the bearing as a rabitting bit
Check out Part 2 of the Oak Blanket Chest video
series where I use this bit to make a slot around the center panel of the
top. This slot is used to attached the outer frame with a spline.
Top & Bottom Bearing guided flush trim bit
I like pattern routing. It's nice to make a pattern once and easily get exact copies
by using pattern routing. This double bearing bit simplifies pattern routing by
easily solving the tearout problem.
Pattern routing is a technique that copies a pattern that is the exact size as your
final piece by using a flush cut bit to trim your workpiece flush with the pattern.
When you get to the point in the workpiece where the cutter is exiting the wood
and still cutting, you may experience tearout. With the double bearing bit, you
can flip the piece over, and switch to the other bearing (now the pattern is on
the bottom, riding along the bottom bearing). You are now going in the direction
such that the cutter is cutting on its way into the wood (thus eliminating tearout).
Check out this video that illustrates how the double bearing bit solves
the tearout problem.