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Best router bit for cutting letters

My take on the best router bits for cutting letters and sign making

Reading time: 14min 15 sec

Introduction

After our well-received for choosing a good router bit, stile and rail, and raised panel router bits, today I am going to review another specialized and interesting use for router bits. The topic on hand is that of router bits used for lettering. Some call it lettering, others call it engraving and the last name is sign making router bits. Anyway, it is time to find out the best router bit for cutting letters.

Two methods to make lettering

Lettering is a specialized craft. To do it one needs to have good skills and experience. The best way to practice is by making very large letters at first. Smaller letters need an experienced hand for those who are using hands-free methods like me. If you do not want to use manual methods there is an automated method. The method is CNC (Computer Numerical Control router). CNC routing uses technology borrowed from mechanical engineering. There are special router bits for automated lettering. This article will focus on two types of router bits. This first type is router bits for manual lettering. The second type is router bits that are compatible with both manual and CNC routing.

What to look for in router bits for lettering?

Things to look for are the same as all other router bits the key is to make sure that they are carbide tipped. Carbide tipped router bits are thick enough to allow many re-grindings. This will save you money in the long run. Anti-kickback design is an important factor to consider when buying router bits. Router bits with this design have more body mass and enlarged bodies. This design prevents the bits from biting too deep and attaching to the material. Greater body mass also dissipates heat and keep the bits sharp for longer.

For a skillful craftsman, a single v-groove router bit can be all you need to start carving and cutting letters. Experience has shown that you need a set with at least two router bits for good quality work. If you want to use two router bits I recommend a set of V-Groove and Carving liner router bit (tapered ball tip). V-groove router bit is for producing square corners on letters in various fonts and sizes. The Carving liner bit is razor shape. It is for making small characters and fine detail or to add a signature to your work.

If you want more arsenal to your lettering router-bit sets there is also a three-piece router bit sets. The three-bit set has an additional round nose bit to the v-groove and carving liner router bit. Round Nose Bit is for fluting and making decorative veining. If you want to make elaborate letters an 8-piece router bit set will be the best for you. In an eight-piece lettering router bit set, there will be 5 more bits. A spiral bit is the fourth router bit in the set. The other four extra bits are a v-groove bit of another size. The second extra is a carving liner bit of another size. The third extra round nose bit of another size. The fourth extra is a spiral bit of another size. A special point to note is that the combinations above are not exhaustive.

Now let us go to the market to see some lettering router bit sets. Lettering or cutting letters is a specialized niche and there are not a lot of “complete sets ” sold. I am going to use my knowledge to construct some sets from a combination of router bits.

Here are my top picks router bit for cutting letters and sign making

1. Best Freud Router Bits for Cutting Letters

Description

Freud is an established brand in router bits. Freud invests extensively in research and development. Freud makes outstanding router bits for cutting letters some of which I am going to review.

Product specification

V-grooving router bits

i. Freud 20-100 ¼” V Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter ¼”.
    • Overall Length 1-1/2″.
    • Shank Diameter ¼”.
    • Carbide height ¼”.

ii. Freud 20-102 3/8″ V Grooving Bit

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 3/8″.
    • Overall Length 1-3/4″.
    • Shank diameter ¼”.
    • Carbide height 5/16″.

iii. Freud 20-104 1/2″ V-grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 1/2″.
    • Overall Length 1-3/4″.
    • Shank diameter ¼”.
    • Carbide height 7/16″.

iv. Freud 20-106 5/8″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 5/8″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/4″.
    • Shank diameter ¼”.
    • Carbide Height 1/2″.

v. Freud 20-107 3/8″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 3/8″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/4″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide height 1/2″.
    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 1/2″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/4″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide height 1/2″.

vii. Freud 20-110 7/8″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 7/8″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/4″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide Height 5/8″.

viii. Freud 20-112 1″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 1″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/2″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide Height 5/8″.

ix. Freud 20-112 1″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 1″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/2″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide Height 5/8″.

x. Freud 20-112 1″ v-Grooving Bit.Angle 90 degrees.

    • Overall Diameter 1″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/2″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide Height 5/8″.

xi. Freud 20-116 1-1/2″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 1″.
    • Overall Length 3″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide height 1″.

xii. Freud 20-120 2″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 2″.
    • Overall Length 2-7/8″.
    • Shank diameter 1/2″.
    • Carbide height 1-1/4″.

xiii. Freud 20-502 2″ v-Grooving Bit.

    • Angle 90 degrees.
    • Overall Diameter 2″.
    • Overall Length 2-1/4″.
    • Shank diameter 1/4″.
    • Carbide height 7/16″.

3-set router bit set (Freud 3-Piece CNC lettering &Sign making set)

Description

The Freud 3-Piece router set has the essential combination of router bits for lettering. The bits can be used in both manual and CNC lettering. The following bits are included in this set

Freud (18-106) 3/16″ Radius round nose bit.

Radius round carving bit is designed for lettering and engraving. It is the “core bit” for lettering.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 3/8″.
  • Overall length 1-13/16″.
  • Shank Diameter ¼”.
  • Carbide Height 3/8″.
  • Radius 3/16″.
  • Freud (19-102) 1/8″ Radius dish carving bit.
  • Radius Dish Carving Bit is designed to remove large amounts of wood. Excellent for making trays, coasters, and raised-letter signs.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 7/16″.
  • Overall Length 2″.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.
  • Carbide Height 1/2″.
  • Radius 1/8″.
  • Freud (70-103) 7.5° x 3/16″ Engraving V-Groove.
  • Ideal for engraving and lettering applications in hard or softwood, or composite materials, plastics (hard & soft), and aluminum.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 3/16″.
  • Overall Length 1-11/16″.
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Carbide ½”.

Reasons it stands out.

The 3 Freud 3-Piece lettering and Sign making set can be used for 2D and 3D lettering. This gives one flexibility and room for creativity. Secondly, the set is suited for carving work in plastic or wood. This gives a craftsmen room to explore lettering with more than just wood.

8-set router bit set

Description

The Freud 8-Piece router set is the ultimate combination of router bits for lettering. The bits can be used in both manual and CNC lettering. The following bits are included in this set

Freud (20-108) 3/4″ V Grooving Bit.

“V” Grooving bits are the best choice for sign making and engraving.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 3/4″.
  • Overall length 2-1/4″.
  • Shank Diameter 1/2″.
  • Carbide Height 1/2″.
  • Freud (20-152) 1/2″ V Grooving Bit.

“V” Grooving bits are the best choice for sign making and engraving.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/2″.
  • Overall Length 2″.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.
  • Carbide Height 1/2″.
  • Freud (72-101) Up-Cut Spiral Ball Nose.

Spiral Ball Nose Bits is designed much like a drill bit, it makes plunge cuts easily.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/4″.
  • Overall Length 2-1/2″.
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Carbide ½”.
  • Radius 1/8″.
  • Freud (72-102) Up-Cut Spiral Ball Nose.
  • Spiral Ball Nose Bits is designed much like a drill bit, it makes plunge cuts easily.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/4″.
  • Overall Length 3″.
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Carbide 1-1/8″.
  • Radius 1/8″.
  • Freud (72-300) Tapered Ball Tip

Tapered Ball tip bit is designed for ultra-detailed cuts.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/32″.
  • Overall Length 3″.
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Carbide 1″.
  • Radius 1/64″.
  • Freud (72-400) Tapered Ball Tip

Tapered Ball tip bit is designed for ultra-detailed cuts.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/16″.
  • Overall Length 3″.
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Carbide 1″.
  • Radius 1/32″.
  • Freud (76-100) Down Spiral Bit
  • Ideal for grooves.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/4″.
  • Overall Length 2-1/2″.
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Carbide 1″.
  • Freud (75-102) Up Spiral Bit

Solid carbide up spiral bits combine effective chip removal with a cut quality that can’t be matched by standard straight bits

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/8″.
  • Overall Length 2″.
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Carbide 1/2″.

Pros of Freud lettering bit range

Freud is an established brand in the sign-making, lettering, and engraving niche. Professionals and hobbyists attest to the quality and performance of Freud router bits. Freud has invested significantly to the extent that Freud manufacturers its carbide. This is a feat most brands can’t claim.

Freud router bit range has the best router bits for cutting letters. Freud bits yield crisp text and engravings in a variety of materials. This is because of several design choices made by the manufacturer. Firstly, all the router bits in the range are made from Enhanced TiCO Super Density Carbide. Tico super density carbide gives Freud router bits twice the cutting life as compared to average router bits. The Freud lettering router bits’ carbide is so thick that it can be reground several times. I find this to be crucial because durable tools allow to steadily build their workshop without having to worry about replacements.

Freud’s lettering bits can be used on CNC, automatic routers, hand-held, and table-mounted portable routers. The ability to be used on multiple lettering tools gives a craftsmen flexibility. Advances in robotics mean that CNC machines are here to stay. I am in love with automating procedures as a businessman because this ensures a strong bottom line is something desire. Having a multi-bit set like this Freud general-purpose set will come in handy.

Most Freud lettering bits have a red coating which is the patented Freud Perma-Shield coating. This provides a nonstick surface as well as extending the life and performance of the router bits. Perma-Shield coating protects the router bits from corrosion. Corrosion causes parts to break down and tools to become less useful.

There Freud router bit range has bits with Quadra-Cut Cutter Design. This technology is what largely provides the ultra-clean cuts, even on more complex profiles. The two large cutter wings allow cut upwards for fast and smooth removal. The two smaller cutter wings cut downwards for a perfect finish. This feature is absolutely a stand out as it saves time in follow up sanding and extra passes with the router. Most importantly though it protects the workpiece which is key in quality woodworking.

Another reason why Freud stands out is the warranty on all the router bits solid. The warranty is a sign of Freud’s confidence in their router bits.

Freud’s lettering router bits are designed to optimize the outcome of your lettering projects, big or small. This makes Freud lettering router bits useful for both hobbyists and professionals.

Lastly, Freud has invested in developing router bits for the lettering niche.

Grey Areas.

Freud’s range of router bits for cutting letters requires one to be fully experienced to get the most from them. Another gray area is the packaging on some of the router bit sets. Freud router bits are more expensive than most router bits.

2. Rockler Range router bits for cutting letters.

Rockler has the second-best range for lettering router bits.

Product specification

V-grooving router bits

Description

Rockler sign making router bits come in several angles to cut grooves for varying depths. They are well suited for sign making because they provide excellent shadow and definition for letters and text. Rockler has two high-quality v-groove bits 60 degrees and 90 degrees.

Product specification

1. Rockler V-groover ¼” . 90869

  • Angle 90 degrees.
  • Overall Diameter 7/16″.
  • Shank Diameter ¼”.
  • height ¼”.

2. Rockler V-groove ½ ” 23823

  • Angle 60 degrees.
  • Overall Diameter 5/8″.
  • Shank diameter 1/2″.
  • height 1/4″.

Rockler 3 piece sign-making router bit set

Description

The Rockler 3 piece set is a purpose-built set for sign-making, lettering, and engraving. These router-bits are specially designed for sign making because they have a flatter bottom than normal router bits. The flatter bottom is meant to prevent peaks in routed letters. The set is recommended to be used with a plunge router ¼” shank. The set contains three router bits which are described below.

Rockler ½” dia x 5/8″ high carbide tipped 60 ° V groove bit

The 3/16″ lettering carbide router bit is

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/2″.
  • Overall length 1-13/16″.
  • Shank Diameter ¼”.
  • Carbide Height 3/8″.
  • Flutes 2
  • Rockler ½” dia 90° V-groove bit (#90869)

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 1/2″.
  • Overall Length 2″.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.
  • Carbide Height 3/8″.
  • Radius 1/8″.
  • Flutes 2
  • Rockler 3/8 dia. X 3/8″ high core box bit (#90913)

Specs

  • Overall Diameter ½”
  • Shank ¼”.
  • Flutes 2

Reasons it stands out.

The Rockler 3 piece sign-making router bit set is reasonably priced. For just under $60 one gets an entire set of good router bits for cutting letters. The set allows one to make a wide range of signs. I discovered that the bits can engrave cursive. To do this all one needs is to adjust the bit to the correct depth or the letters can become to.

Pros of Rockler lettering bit range

Rockler sign-making router bit range is comprised of a small number of highly effective lettering router bits. Rockler stands out in this niche because of the brand invested in a 3-piece purpose-built sign-making router bit set. In the hands of skilled craftsmen, the three router bits are all is needed to perform all the required lettering.

The Rockler sign making range is made from the ISO certified K10 and K20 carbide. If you ever get a chance to use Rockler router bits you will notice the high-quality material. The ISO grade carbide gives Rockler sign making router bits durability. I value durable tools because they allow one to grow their workshop without the need to constantly replace tools.

Another outstanding feature of the Rockler sign-making router bit range is that they are sharpened with a 600-800 grit diamond wheel. During use one realizes that the Freud sign-making router bits can chip away hardwood with ease due to the sharpness. Rockler router bits are precision balanced and geometrically designed for good quality chip ejection.

Other reasons why the Rockler range of sign making router bits stands out is the good price. For a reasonable amount, your workshop will be equipped with top-class lettering bits. This is an important factor to consider for upcoming craftsmen affordable good quality tools allow one to build a decent workshop at a reasonable cost.

Lastly, in the United States, the backup for Rockler is excellent. One is guaranteed a quick service when trying to source for backups or replacements. Rockler has wonderful customer service.

Grey areas

I have no issues with Rockler except for the fact that Rockler did not take the time to fully describe their router bits on the packaging. This is very inconvenient for someone new to sign-making.

3. Eagle America range router bits for cutting letters

Description

Eagle America is an established brand when it comes to router bits. Eagle America has been in business for 30 years

Eagle America 100-3212 Sign Making Router Bit Set (6 Piece).

Description

The 6 Piece Eagle America sign-making Bit set is suitable for most lettering needs of craftsmen.

¼ “Eagle America 90° V-groove bit.

Uses:

Specs

  • Overall Diameter ¼”.
  • Overall Length 1-11/16″.
  • Shank diameter 1/4″.

3/8″ Eagle America 90° V Groove bit.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter 3/8″.
  • Overall length 1-3/4″.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.

½” 60° Eagle America Eagle V Groove bit.

Specs

  • Overall Diameter ½”.
  • Overall length 2″.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.
  • ¼” Eagle America Round Nose bit.
  • Radius ¼”.
  • Overall Diameter ½”.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.
  • 3/8″ Eagle America Round Nose bit.

Specs

  • Radius 3/8″.
  • Overall Diameter ¾”.
  • Shank diameter ¼.
  • ½” Eagle America Round Nose bit.

Uses:

Specs

  • Radius ½”.
  • Overall Diameter 1″.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.

Eagle America 133-0402 sign-making Veining

Description and use

The sign-making router bit is specialized for tracing and routing out wood letters in signs and other intricate design work. This router bit is ideal for CNC routing.

Specs

  • Angle 45 ° and 15 °.
  • Overall length 2-1/2″.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.

Pros of Eagle America Router bits lettering bit range

The first thing that stands out for me when it comes to Eagle America’s lettering router bits is the lifetime warranty. Lifetime warranty shows that Eagle America is very confident of the quality of their sign-making router bit range. I can also testify to the quality of Eagle America’s lettering router bits. One of the reasons is the high-grade carbide used to make the router bits. Eagle America incorporated a very thick layer of carbide on their router bits. On the thickest segments, there will be a layer 1/8″ thick. More carbide means higher cutting life and multiple regrinding.

Eagle America also ensured that the sign making router bits are very sharp and smooth. The smoothness is attributed to the 600 grit sandpaper used by Eagle America to polish up the edges during the manufacturing process. 600 grit is the highest level of super fine sandpaper. The smoothness of Eagle America’s router bits ensures high quality finishing touches and smooth edges. This is very important for lettering, I have noticed the need for smooth edges when curving cursive or languages with special characters like Greek.

Another reason why Eagle America’s lettering stands out is that they are suitable for both hobbyists and professionals alike. Occasional sign makers and beginners will have the advantage of good quality and efficient router bits at decent prices. Professionals, on the other hand, can benefit from having cost-effective router bits that can consistently deliver commercial-grade lettering.

When it comes to fine detail lettering Eagle America’s 133-0402 delivers high-quality work. If you are skilled enough you can even curve pictures of trees and animals on the signs you make.

Grey Areas

My biggest area of concern with Eagle America I that their sign-making range is very limited. They need to increase their sign-making portfolio.

4. Amana Tool bits for cutting letters

Description

Amana is an American company that is a force to reckon with when it comes to making router bits.

Amana Tool -AMS -129 3-PC “Zero Pt.” Solid Carbide & Carbide Tipped 30 °, 90 °, 60°. The three-piece contains three router bits

Amana Tool 45701 Carbide Tipped “Zero Point” V-Groove 90 °.

  • Diameter 3/8″.
  • Angle 90°
  • Cutting Height ½.
  • Shank diameter ¼.

Amana Tool 45703 Carbide Tipped “Zero Point” V-Groove 60 °.

Diameter 1/2.”

  • Angle 60°.
  • Cutting Height 9/16.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.
  • Overall length 2-1/4″.

Amana Tool 45711 Carbide Tipped “Zero Point” V-Groove 30 °.

  • Diameter ¼”.
  • Angle 30 °.
  • Cutting Height ½”.

Amana Tool 45788 Carbide Tipped lettering 60 °

Uses

Designed for routing signs. The 60° cutting angle expels excess material quickly and eliminates chipping and splintering. For use in hardwood, softwood, plywood and composition material.

Specs

  • Diameter 1-1/8″.
  • Angle 60°.
  • Cutting Height 3/4.
  • Shank diameter ½.
  • Overall length 2-3/4″.

Amana Tool -AMS 45769 7-Piece Solid Carbide 60 °

Uses

For making finer details.

The Amana 45769 7-Piece is used for detailed carving and lettering.

Amana Tool 45701 Carbide Tipped “Zero Point” V-Groove 90 °.

  • Diameter 3/8″.
  • Angle 90°
  • Cutting Height ½.
  • Shank diameter ¼.

Amana Tool 45703 Carbide Tipped “Zero Point” V-Groove 60 °.

  • Diameter 1/2.”
  • Angle 60°.
  • Cutting Height 9/16.
  • Shank diameter ¼”.
  • Overall length 2-1/4″.

Amana Tool 45711 Carbide Tipped “Zero Point” V-Groove 30 °.

  • Diameter ¼”.
  • Angle 30 °.
  • Cutting Height ½”.

 Pros of Amana Tool Router bits for cutting letters.

Amana Tool has been specializing in industrial-grade carbide-tipped cutting tools for over 40 years. Amana Tool’s lettering router bits bear testimony to this track record of quality. The first outstanding feature to me is that Amana Tool produces their lettering router bits according to Holz-BG German standards for safety and quality. It is an undisputed fact that German is reputable when it comes to industrial tools.

Given that Amana Tool is a carbide specialist, the lettering router bits are made from high-quality European sub -micro-grain and micro-grain carbide. Amana Tool uses silver induction brazing for high carbide bonding strength. Above all the router bits have thick carbide which allows multiple regrinding. As a result, the Amana Tool lettering router bit range has highly durable router bits.

During use, Amana Tool lettering router bits deliver adequate performance. One can’t help but notice the high level of balance when using Amana Tool lettering router bits. The balance is attributed to the single clamping technique used during the manufacturing of the router bit’s body.

Lastly, Amana Tool router bits have reasonable prices.

Grey Areas

My biggest issue with Amana router bits is that the Amana tool is not a very popular brand. As a result, there isn’t much information out there from other users to give a full judgment on the quality of Amana tool router bits. I have used them for lettering and I found them to be adequate and

Conclusion

I have given insight into some of the best router bits for cutting letters, sign-making, and engraving. If you get hold of any of the recommended router bits in this review you will be adequately equipped for your lettering projects at both professional and novice levels.