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What are the Different Types of Router Bits?

Ron Marr
Ron Marr

One of the most valuable tools in the woodworker’s shop is a router. No matter if it is of the plunge, table, or fixed-base variety, this device greatly simplifies the cutting of grooves and slots for joints. It is also invaluable when dressing the edges of stock and creating beautiful molding. For the beginner though, since there are hundreds of different types of router bits, selecting the right one can become confusing. It is important to keep in mind that all router bits are simply variations of a few basic types.

The straight router bit probably receives the most use. It can be used to make a straight, vertical cut - often a groove for a dado joint – but is also handy for hollowing out a piece of wood for an inlay. Material can be removed in tiny amounts with a straight router bit, especially when attached to a plunge router. These router bits come in a wide variety of sizes, and are an indispensable item in every wood shop.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

The rabbeting router bit makes both a vertical and horizontal cut, resulting in the notch known as a rabbet joint. Rabbet joints are “piloted,” meaning that they include a revolving bearing that guides the bit along the end of the material to be cut. These bits also can be purchased in a variety of diameters. Better yet, bearings are available in different sizes and can usually be used on the same bit, which allows for either a deeper or more shallow cut.

Another bit with a piloted bearing is the flush trim router bit. The bearing, which is the same diameter as the bit, trims the edges of two pieces of joined wood so they are flush. All excess or overlapping material is removed, which is particularly handy when dealing with veneers. When a flush trim router bit is used, and then followed by a thorough sanding, the seam where the wood joins will be almost invisible.

When a bevel cut is required, chamfer router bits will remove wood at the desired angle. Edge forming router bits live up to their name, forming decorative edges. The edge forming bit goes by a number of different names, such as roundover bit, ogee bit, edge beading bit, and cove bit. The roundover rounds a sharp edge, while the ogee often cuts in an “S” pattern. The edge beading bit cuts a thin bead into wood in a half circle design, and the cove bit slices a concave quarter circle into the material.

To create decorative molding for a home, molding router bits are available in a nearly unbelievable array of diameters, styles, and sizes. Another popular bit is the stile and rail router bit. The stile and rail bits are most frequently used when creating or decorating cabinets, framework, or doors.

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