Router Bits: an Overview
As a craftsmen or carpenter, you have many types of specialty router bits available for specific applications. However, for custom jobs, you may need to have a custom router bit engineered to meet exacting specifications or to match existing designs.
The advantage of having a custom router bit designed is that instead of having to match the job to the tool, you can match the tool to the job. When unique design is spearheading the project, you can get the results you’re aiming for with a custom built bit, while if you mish-mash standard bits, error-prone guesswork may be necessary.
Companies that specialize in designing custom woodworking tools have the engineering expertise to build custom router bits that meet specifications with precision. With these high quality tools your concept and finish product will not be limited to standard router bit designs.
When to Consider Custom Router Bits
Some projects require starting with the end in mind, particularly when the goal is to create a distinctive product. Consider using custom router bits when:
The project calls for unique design. Perhaps you are working with an architect who created the perfect design to compliment the overall job and you have professionally drawn up specifications for the router bits. Or maybe in a moment of inspiration you sketched out a design that brings a totally new, ornate element to your work. Skilled engineers can take a precise draft or even a sketch and design the exact router bit you require.
You are matching design. In the world of custom finish work and restoring antiques, you may need a design that standard bits simply don’t match. In these cases, you can take a wood sample to a tool engineer and they can build a custom bit that is an exact match for the existing work. With just a single custom router bit, you can match mouldings on an addition, precisely complement finish work on an older home, or turn a single piece of antique furniture into an entire matched set.
Router Bit Design, Materials, and Quality
A custom made router bit is an investment in a quality tool, and the greatest levels of precision and tolerance should be observed in production.
Most professional woodworkers prefer router bits made of high-grade carbide steel because they hold their edge far longer than high speed steel (hss) bits. Not only do they have a superior, sharper cutting edge, they have thicker cutters that allow for numerous re-grindings.
High quality carbide tipped router bits should be dynamically balanced to minimize vibration and maintain good cutting geometry.
You will also want to consider the shank diameter of a custom router bit. Generally, router bits should be designed to work at a higher speed, which yields a smoother cut. A larger shank diameter (such as ½ inch) has a greater cross-sectional surface area, which will provide more rigidity and support to reduce chatter and make a precise cut.