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Why Do I Keep Breaking 1/4" Router Bits?


bluesy
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Feeling a bit frustrated right now. I am trying to cut a channel for a truss rod, and it needs to be 6.4mm wide and about 9.6mm deep. I am trying to take it slowly, and only a few mm each cut, but no matter how gentle I try to be, the little flat cut router bits snap off where the cutters meet the shank.

I have made a simple router table and I am sliding the neck blank slowly along a fence, just a few centimetres at a time then backing off and going again, just using fingertip pressure, because I was wondering if I was just overheating the bit. But still I just broke another one. That's three so far.

Luckily they are only $10 bits, but is that maybe the problem? I thought cheap bits would just wear out (get blunt) faster, but are they also weaker? Would a $30 router bit break as easily, or would it be much stronger as well as stay sharp longer.

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Usually the better investment will get you stronger, safer, and more long lasting bits. $10 is a pretty cheap router bit, $30 seems much more likely.

mike

Ah yes. Since I first posted, I have been down to the store and purchased the $30 bit. Immediately, I noticed that it was shorter. Obviously the toolmakers have decided that there is a limit to how long a thin router bit like this should be. Being shorter, it's bound to be less easy to break. Also, it's much better made. The cheap ones were only machined on the shaft and the cutting faces, with the rest painted, but still rough. This $30 one is machined all over, and the cutters on the end have a different angle. A much better device.

...and, I finished my truss rod channel without it breaking. I was very careful, of course, but I was being careful with the cheap ones too. Looks like the money is well spent. Hopefully it'll do many truss rods for me!

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Glad you picked up a better one. There are some tools I don't mind buying cheap and there are tools that I only try to buy top of the line. Router bits I prefer to be high quality, anytime you have a very sharp hunk of metal possibly spinning as fast as 25,000-30,000rmp that very last thing you want is that thing breaking or otherwise causing any other problems. Say that cheapo company didn't quite get the shaft right and it slid out of the machine, I've heard of some nasty router injuries and never want to experience any such thing. Its well worth buying some decent bits. On that note many people prefer Whiteside bits I believe and the site called routerbits.com actually sells a lot of these and a reasonable price. Might be worth checking out, you should be able to save a few bucks that way instead of having to buy them all from your store. Just an idea. $30 sounds quite a bit expensive to me, MCLS or Routerbits.com should have the same bits for cheaper and will work nicely. I'm sure your new one will cut many, many truss routes, I expect my bits to last quite a while before needing sharpening or replacing. J

Edit-I just checked a 1/4"bit double flute, carbide tipped will run you $11-$13 depending on what length you want, you don't need much for truss rods, so just over $11 for such a bit. When I bought mine I was shocked by the prices at those sites and ended up with an upcut spiral bit because the prices were so much cheaper than I expected, lol. Still only cost me probably $15 or so I think at MCLS a while back.

Edited by jmrentis
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As with most tools, going cheap won't do justice to your workpieces and are more likely to cause problems. That and writing off an expensive workpiece due to a tool breaking isn't justifiable! I learnt this before I started buying CMT router bits, and cleaning them after use.

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I use all CMT bits and keep them up (clean them after cutting oily woods, ie rosewood) and it makes all the difference in the quality of the cut. I had never broken a bit, but I used to get tearout problems with the cheap ones. But after switching to CMT I haven't had any tearout since.

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I have made a simple router table and I am sliding the neck blank slowly along a fence, just a few centimetres at a time then backing off and going again, just using fingertip pressure,

I hope you mean MILLIMETERS. A few CENTIMETERS is an INCH!

Your cuts should be no more than 1/8 inch deep at a time for a 1/4 inch bit. :D

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I have made a simple router table and I am sliding the neck blank slowly along a fence, just a few centimetres at a time then backing off and going again, just using fingertip pressure,

I hope you mean MILLIMETERS. A few CENTIMETERS is an INCH!

Your cuts should be no more than 1/8 inch deep at a time for a 1/4 inch bit. :D

Yes my cuts are shallow (I am trying to keep it at 2 mm each pass). Thanks for verifyin that that is about the correct amount. When I mentioned centimetres, I was only referring to the amount I would move the neck sideways on the table before backing off on the pressure.

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As with most tools, going cheap won't do justice to your workpieces and are more likely to cause problems. That and writing off an expensive workpiece due to a tool breaking isn't justifiable! I learnt this before I started buying CMT router bits, and cleaning them after use.

CMT are good? I thought they would be, as a specialist woodworking store here sells them as their premium brand. They are about $30 for the 6mm size.

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Edit-I just checked a 1/4"bit double flute, carbide tipped will run you $11-$13 depending on what length you want, you don't need much for truss rods, so just over $11 for such a bit. When I bought mine I was shocked by the prices at those sites and ended up with an upcut spiral bit because the prices were so much cheaper than I expected, lol. Still only cost me probably $15 or so I think at MCLS a while back.

I just checked MCLS and they have some on sale for about $8 !! The trouble is, they charge $17 to send it to me, meaning it will end up costing $25. It will be worth doing if I have a few to buy, so thanks for the tip.

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It's a good idea to invest in some bit cleaning oil - also i'd recommend taking an inch thick piece of wood and drill a load of 1/4" (7mm in my case) holes in it as a stand to store your bits when not in use.

Good tip. I have a case that a cheap set of router bits came in, but it probably won't last. I will make a wooden stand for them as you suggest.

Also, I read somewhere that WD40 actually will clean bits. Haven't tried it yet, but I have a 1/2" bit that is gummed up from routing pine that I will try it on.

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It's a good idea to invest in some bit cleaning oil - also i'd recommend taking an inch thick piece of wood and drill a load of 1/4" (7mm in my case) holes in it as a stand to store your bits when not in use.

Good tip. I have a case that a cheap set of router bits came in, but it probably won't last. I will make a wooden stand for them as you suggest.

Also, I read somewhere that WD40 actually will clean bits. Haven't tried it yet, but I have a 1/2" bit that is gummed up from routing pine that I will try it on.

Just use "Easy Off" oven cleaner, it will clean your bits, saw blades and whatever. just flush with some water after a brush off and blow dry. It will cut the worst of the worst pitch and gunk build up. If dried quickly, no rust. Just let it sit for the specified time, 10 minutes or so and WHOOOOOPPEEE, CLEAN AND SHINY :D

MK

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