A guide to buying your best router bits sets

My name is Jack I am a professional carpenter with 30 years’ experience. I grew up in a woodworking family. My father and his brothers owned and operated a commercial carpentry shop. I have encountered many tools in my 3 decades career but the one which stands out is the router bits set. This tool has become an indispensable part of the modern craftsmen’s arsenal and having the best router bits set is vital in your workshop.

A router or a router table is only as good as the router bit which is the business end of this tool. To those new to woodwork router bits are the part that is in contact with the wood. Router bits come in two distinct variations. These are edge forming bits and the non-edge bits. Edge forming bits have a bearing. This functions as a fence when routing. Whereas the non-edge bits need one to use a fence either attached to the work, table or router.

When choosing router bits there are three dimensions that matter. These include collet size, shank length and shank size. In terms, Collet size can be either 1/2inch or 1/4inch. Through experience, I recommend the 1/2 inch. They are stiffer, bigger, and stronger. Also, they are better to resist vibration, flexing and bending. Joe also would advise you to consider bits with the shortest size to do the work.

With the bit type and size established. Another very important aspect to consider is the material. On the market, they come in either High Speed Steel (HSS) or carbide. I recommend carbide bits. Carbide is carbon and metal powders fused together to form a very strong element. Carbide bits can hold a cutting edge for 15 to 20 times longer than HSS. Also if you need to work on synthetic materials like MDF or Plastic carbide bits are better. They have a longer lifespan provided they are stored well. Storage is so crucial that you should buy a set with a good case. The disadvantages of carbide are the high cost. Carbide comes in four forms from C1(monograde) to C4. Monograde is the highest quality and tends to be costly. Some manufactures can also temper with the ratio of carbide to steel. This results in a router bit with very little carbide and cheaper steal. Whereas HSS is affordable it can usually cost half the price of carbide. The other advantage is that the bits can be easily sharpened if blunt. Yet, they tend to go blunt quick.

Now that we have given you the brief background on router bits. It is worth noting that a workshop needs a set of router bits. You might have realized that router bits sets come in many sizes from 5 bits, 10, 15 and upwards of 70-80 router bits. This often becomes very confusing to beginners. Experience has shown me five router bits used the most in a workshop.

The essential five are Straight bit, Round over bit, Ogee bit, Rabbeting bit and Chamfer bit.

Straight bit is in the class of a field or surface cutting bit. This is because it has side and bottom cutting edge for cutting into the work surfaces and then be moved horizontally. The straight bit is used to make either functional or decorative cuts. The cuts include Rabbeting, mortises, inlays, dadoes, box joints and spine joints.

 

Whereas Round-over bit is an Edging-forming bit. This class of bits is for cutting decorative profiles along the edge of the work piece or cut one or both parts of an interlocking joint. The uses include tables, shelves, and stair threads.

 

Ogee-bit is also an Edge-forming bit. Its uses include decorative edges on furniture, shelving and molding.

Rabbeting-bit is another an Edge-forming bit used for cutting rabbets and lap joints.

The fifth essential bit is the Chamfer-bit this is also an Edge forming bit. It is used for making Beveled edges on boards and laminates.

With these five I promise you that you can do most of the work needed in the workshop. Buying a set with more specialized bits is still good if you want to be more creative.

 

Now that we have given you enough background knowledge on the subject of router bits. The second part of my article is a guide and product review of 8 router bits sets. These are router bits sets I have encountered and are found on the market these days.

The best router bits sets review

Freud 91-100 13-Piece Super Router Bit Set

The best router bits set on the market is undoubtedly the Freud 91-100 13-Piece Super Router Bit Set. This set retails for $203.00. Jack personally uses this in his warehouse.

My set consists of:

  • 3 double flute straight bits,
  • 1 mortising bit
  • 1 round nose bit
  • 1V-groove bit,
  • 1 dovetail bit,
  • 1cove bit,
  • 1rabbeting bit,
  • 1rounding over bit,
  • 1roman ogee bit,
  • 1chamfer bit,
  • 1 bearing flush trim bit

Things I liked

This range from Freud is made from tico high density carbide. Freud’s permaSheild coating resists dulling from intense heat. More so it has minimal pitch buildup. The computer-balanced bits offer vibration and chatter-free operation. This comes in handy when operating at high speeds. Making the work smooth. And each of the router bits come with a high shear angle to produce fewer tear outs and minimal chatter marks. These premium bits have high shear angles for fewer tear-outs and minimal chatter mark. All bits have 1/2″ Shank. Includes attractive wooden storage box. It has enough bits to handle composition materials, plywood, hardwood, softwood and MDF. Joe uses them on hand-held and table-mounted portable routers. Another encouraging thing is that they come with a limited lifetime warranty. This is a testament to the manufacture’s faith in this product.

Things I did not like

Even though I own this set. I have to point out a few grey areas. The biggest letdown is the storage case which is not durable. Many other users on are also complaining about this issue. I ended up making my own custom case to store the bits. Remember as I mentioned earlier carbide bits need good and careful storage to last. Another grey areas is that the set does not come with extra bearings.

 

Bosch RBS010 1/2inch and ¼ inch shank 10 piece professional set.

This set is owned by my co-worker Frank. It is ranked second best on the list, still an excellent set but there are a few things to note:

 

Things I liked

 

It has high quality Micrograin carbide tips that are precision ground. This provides superior wear resistance and sharp edges for the best finish. The other thing I like is that it has both types of shanks a 1/2 inch.-shank bits give greater stability and LEDs. The 1/2 inch also has reduced vibration during use. Whereas 1/4 inch shank bits are more ideal for the thin profiles.

 

Things I did not like.

This Bosch set is well engineered the biggest let down is that I wish it could come with more bits.

Third best is

CMT 800.505.11 13-Piece Router Bit Set, 1/2-Inch Shank.

This is my next buy if ever I need to replace my set. The set costs $187.93.

 

The set is made of:

  • 3 double flute straight bits
  • 1 mortising bit
  • 1 round nose bit
  • 1 V-groove bit
  • 1 dovetail bit
  • 1 cove bit
  • 1 rabbeting bit
  • 1 rounding over bit
  • 1 roman ogee bit
  • 1 chamfer bit
  • 1 bearing flush trim bit

Things I liked

This bit set comes with a hardwood case which is the best case on the market. So you sure that you can store them well.   The bits have 2 SinterHip Hi-Density Industrial Chrome Carbide cutting edges. These features are for long-lasting performance. Some bits features antikickback design for working in a safe way.

Things I did not like

CMT is a great brand and it is a high end set for those who established in the craft. It is not ideal for novices that is why it’s not number 1 and the price is hefty.

The Fifth on our list is:

Whiteside 401 Basic Router Bit Set, 1/2-Inch Shank, 7 Pieces.

This set is part of my collection. It comes with only 7 bits which some might find to be too few for $110 its quiet hefty. Yet it is one of the most popular sets across workshops globally

 

 

The set comprises of

  • 2 straight bits
  • 1 cove bit
  • 1 rabbet bit
  • 1 round over and beading bit
  • 1 chamfer bit
  • 1 flush trim bit

Things I liked

This set has carbide bits for long-lasting service. Secondly, they have precision grinding which ensures excellent balance at high speed. The set comes with a small and durable case for convenient storage. The bits also have a ½ inch shank for vibration free operation.

Things I did not like

There are too few bits for $110. The manufacturer did not label the bits with graphics of the cuts. More so they do not label the bit with dimensions.

 

Sixth best is the:

Neiko 10115A Premium Tungsten Carbide Router Bits | 80-Piece Set | Aluminum Storage Case.

I saw this set last week at a yard sale and was able to get on my hands on it. This set retails for $119.

 

The set includes

  • 10 – Three-blade Router Bits
  •  Which are 3 Straight
  •  3 Flush Trim
  • 4 Slot Cutter
  • 70 -Two-blade Bits:
  •  2 Trimming
  • 2 Flush Trim
  • 9 Corner round
  • 6 Cove
  • 5 Beading
  • 2 Roman Ogee
  • 1 Classical Cove: 1/2″
  • 2 Classical
  • 2 Ogee Flute
  • 2 Double Roman:
  • 1 Wave Edge
  • 1 Horse-Nose
  • 1 Rabbeting
  •  4 chamfer
  • 4 Cove Box
  • 5 V-Grooving: 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″
  • 3 Round Nose
  • 5 Dovetail
  • 1 Panel Pilot
  • 1 Keyhole
  •  1 Cleaning-Bottom
  • 6 Straight
  • 3 Bottom
  • 1 Classical Plunge
  • 1 Bowl Tray

Things I liked.

The reason it ranks so high is because of its affordable and great value for money. It’s good for entry level both entry level woodworkers and pros because it comes with 80 bits. The impressive quantity will give you a lot of nuanced control over your cuts and styles. The set has Precision Ground 1/2″ Shanks. The bits can withstand high-heat and Speeds up to 20, 000 RPM. Storage wise the aluminum carrying case is handy. Another thing I liked is the special dark blue color with gold powder coating.

Things I did not like

The downside is the low grade carbide used. I would recommend to replace individual bits with stronger bits as they wear out. I also noticed that the storage box was low quality as well. Yet, for the price, it is a very decent set.

 

MLCS 8377 15-Piece Router Bit Set with Carbide-Tipped 1/2-Inch Shanks.

 

I saw this advertised in a catalogue and I did research on them due to the surprisingly low price.

 

This economical set contains of

 

  • 4 straight bits
  • 1 round-over
  • 1 bit cove bit
  • 1 ogee bit
  • 1chamfer bit
  • 1flush trim bit
  • 1rabbeting bit
  • 1 dovetail bit
  • 1 v-groove bit
  • 1mortising bit
  • 1 panel pilot bit
  • 1 round nose bit
  • 1 bearing to convert the round-over bit to a beading bit.

Things I liked

For an all-purpose starter set for your woodworking hobby with $44, you get a decent set with 15 bits. Quality, carbide-tipped bits, wood storage box Included. The package also includes an allen wrench.

Things I did not like

The blades do not last sharp for long. Another grey area is that the bits are not durable you will have to replace them one by one as time goes. The set has only one bearing size.

 

Yonico 17702 70 Bits Professional Quality Router Bit Set Carbide.

Number 8 on our list, retailing at $145 per set of 70. This is a good professional set with many bits to choose from. I encountered this set while giving tutorials to a certain guy.

 

Included bits

 

  • 1 Bottom Cleaning
  • 8 Straight bits
  • 4 Flush Trim
  • 1 Panel Pilot
  • 1 Ovolo Plunge
  • 5 Dovetail
  • 3 Core Box
  • 3 Round Nose
  • 5 V Groove
  • 1 Plunge Bevel Cutter
  • 3 Mortising Bit
  • 1 Flush Bevel Trim
  • 6 Round Over Bits
  • 2 T-Track/Keyhole
  • 1 Bowl Cutter
  • 1 Plunge Round Over
  • 1 Classic Plunge Panel
  • 6 Cove Bits
  • 1 Triple Bead Bit
  • 2 Corner Bullnose
  • 1 Ogee Fillet
  • 1 French Borogue
  • 4 Chamfer Bits
  • 1 Double Round-Over
  • 1 Double Roman Ogee
  • 1 Cove & Bead Bit
  • 2 Roman Ogee
  • 3 Rabbeting Bits

Having 70 bits with different styles opens up a world of more creativity. The bits are made from micro grain carbide tips. During use, there are very low vibrations due to precession balancing. Moreover, the fully enclosed bearings provide smooth operation during use.

 

Things I did not like

 

 

I noticed that the quality of the bits is not very good. Many users have complained about blunt and chipped bits from the factory. Another complaint has been of the bearings burning out. I guess the manufacturers emphasized quantity over quality on this set.

 

Point Note: For the US market this set uses Metric units so have that in mind when purchasing them.

 

Parting Words from old Jack

 

In conclusion. For beginners, I recommend buying a set with many bits. This gives you a chance to explore many designs. So, for entry level woodworkers I recommend MLC 8377 the most affordable set with many bits for $44.

 

For professionals, I recommend the top 3 Freud 91-10 13 bit set or Bosch RBS010 or the CMT 800. Another parting word is that make sure you use a router with adjustable speed. This will increase the lifespan of the bits. I hope this guide will be help you in your quest to buy a router bits set. See you next time and enjoy the craft.