Learning about a new hobby or career is daunting, especially when there are numerous tools you will be using. When you start woodworking, you may be required to use routers and the relevant bits to help shape materials – but with so many options, where do you begin?

We’ve put together a guide on the basic router bits you may use while you work.

Router Machine

If you’ve never heard of a router they are essentially hand or power tools that are used to rout or hollow out an area in relatively hard materials like wood or plastic. They are typically handheld or fastened cutting-end up in a router table.

Bearing Guide

Bearing guides are a machine component, handy for following irregular shaped templates or ensuring a straight edge is followed precisely, or routers that help reduce friction between moving parts and they restrict unwanted motion so cuts are clean and efficient.

Straight Bits 

Straight bits can be used for all general-purpose routing, including grooving, trenching, rebating, morticing or milling materials to a required thickness. They cut ‘straight’ into the material and are available in a variety of lengths and diameters.

Flush Trim Bits 

If you need to trim a veneer or laminate flush with the substrate, or create a template or pattern, flush trim bits are what you need. They are used for fast, smooth and accurate edge trimming as bearing guides are the same diameter as the cutter so they cut ‘flush’. The bearings can also be mounted on the shank end, cutter end or both, and they come in straight flute, down-shear angle, and upcut and downcut solid carbide spiral flutes.

Additionally, if you’re working with soft materials, a double bearing series is also available to increase surface area contact to avoid any indentations in the material.

Chamfering Bits

When you’re working on a piece requiring blunt edges, you will need a chamfering bit to remove sharp corners. Chamfering bits are versatile, and can be used on everything from building support posts to table and benchtop edges, and even multisided box construction. While 45 degree chamfers are the most popular, they are also available as standard in 5, 10, 22.5, 30, 65 and 80 degrees from the vertical axis.

Rebating Bits

Rebating bits are used to cut a rebate on the edge of a material, such as the recess on the back of a picture frame in which the glass and artwork-mounting board are inserted. You can use the bearing to determine the depth of the rebate, which can be adjusted by changing the bearing size or using shielded bearings. The height of the rebate can be altered via height adjustment on the routing machine.

Edge Forming Bits

While cutting decorative forms on a workpiece edge, you will most likely be using an edge forming bit to get the exact style you need: Rounding Over, Beading, Cove, Ogee, Roman Ogee, Classical, Traditional Classical, Provincial, Bullnose, Chamfering and more!

Most edge forming bits have a pilot bearing which can be used as a guide to run either directly on a finished edge or on a fence or guide fixed to the workpiece.

Edge and Face Forming Bits

Edge and face forming bits have no bearing guide, enabling the shaped form to extend across the bottom of the cutter and cutting directly into the face of the material. If you haven’t got a steady hand, templates can be followed to guide the tool path. Alternately, they can be used for edge forming by using the routing machine guide or in a router table using a fence as a guide.

Specialised Bits

There are a range of specialised router bits for your project. Amongst these are joining cutters, which include:

  • Tongue and Groove
  • Finger Joint
  • Drawer Joint
  • Mitre Lock
  • Panel Door
  • Window Sash and Rail
  • Dovetail Bits.

Other specialised bits include:

  • Solid surface bits
  • Face moulding bits (for skirting boards and architraves)
  • Raised panel bits
  • Slotting cutters
  • Combination bits
  • Stair handrail bits
  • Dishcut bits
  • Hook slot bits
  • T slot bits
  • Edge band trim bits
  • Drawer pull bits.