Storage Solutions for Router Bits

StorageI’m working on an upcoming article for Popular Woodworking Magazine that includes router-bit storage. There are scads of ways to store router bits; some are worthy of discussion and keep the bits out of harm’s way while other solutions are simply a jumbled mess.

But before we get into how bits are stored, I’d like to find out how many router bits our blog readers actually own. Do you have less than 10? More than 10? More than 20? Or do you walk into a woodworking store and as the staff yells your name, the cashier guides you to the wall-size, overly stuffed router bit case as your body begins to quiver? I fit somewhere between the last two categories. (I find that many of the bits I buy are for a particular project and are used only one or two times. I also have a select few router bits that I use a lot of the time; plus a couple that seem to make it into most of my project.) In the comment section below, let me know where you fit along this informal scale. And if you’re just beginning to enjoy the feel of a router in your hands or are looking at what can be done with routers, grab a copy of “Getting Started with Routers,” and “Router Joinery & Techniques.” These DVDs will have you in the woodworking store or searching the Internet before the day’s over.

IMG_1766Now on to storage. Years ago I found the holders shown in the opening photo – a quick Internet search tells me these are not available anymore, so I’m glad I inherited my Dad’s holders when we cleared his shop. I also have a select few bits stored in those fancy anti-theft plastic boxes that come with purchase. And yes, I have router bits stored in the low-budget, plastic pouches straight from the store. I also – and I’m weary to let this be known – have a box full of older bits sitting in a closet clanking together as their carbide edges dull (head down in shame).

What I find even more amazing are the dream-like storage solutions designed by my fellow woodworkers. Some folks store their bits in compartments that are way upscale – their router bits appear as mini works of art, showcased on elevated platforms for all the world to see. How do you store your router bits? You can give us an insight into your router-bit world along with your comment on the number of bits, or if you want to drop me a photo (send it to, I’ll gather and share images in a future post. (This is your chance to show off your storage ideas, or to simply purge your shame.)

— Glen D. Huey


29 thoughts on “Storage Solutions for Router Bits

  1. billhirtle

    I have had a number of shops over the years, from garage to 1000 sf professional. I am a nomad now and everything has to be portable. My router table is a 4 ft formica laminate from the big box store, which is flat and slippery. I put my effort into the fence which mounts with two clamps. Since I don’t mind fiddling with settings, it works fine. The collection of bits was a different matter. Since I like to make boxes, I purchased a block of foam from Rockler and fitted a box around it. Works like a champ and nothing rattles around. I packet of silica gel keeps the rust away here in Hawaii.

  2. Grampa

    I started building a portable router table a while back and had planned on including the two drawers (or, possibly 4 drawers 😉 for storing my router bits. However, I wound up upgrading my Shopsmith to a Mark 7, which has a motor capable of 10,000rpm and can have the motor above or below the table in one configuration, so I abandoned the portable router table project. Since I am also in the process of building a U-shaped workbench in an alcove in my shop and I had already purchased the router table top for the abandoned project, I am planning on incorporating that top into one section of the work bench and I will be also incorporating a set of drawers for the router bits very near the work bench router table. (I expect to be using the work bench table at least as much as the Shopsmith set up but the Shopsmith set up will allow me to work with larger boards than the workbench table will.)

    I currently have at least 25 router bits (including a set for making tambour doors that don’t require wires, cords, or any backing). I’ve gotten several of them as Christmas/Birthday/”Non-Birthday” presents as well as having inherited several from my dad’s shop when he moved to an independent living situation. I am looking forward to when I can actually _use_ some of them . . . right now, though, I am working through a LARGE “Honey Do List” that keeps interrupting my work bench project. 😉

  3. blidston

    In 1999 when I retired from full time work I made a router table very similar to Bill Hylton’s Floor Standing version. There are 2 drawers which have multiple angled bit holders – one for 1/4′ and the other 1/2 inch. These have been the perfect storage solution – compact, easy to access and no dinging of the carbide surfaces.

    1. Glen D. Huey Post author

      I have to agree with you. For a long time, the PWM shop used a cabinet setup for our router table. Having the drawers below made it handy to access the bits and other router accessories. We have since changed tables and relocated the router table. That’s what prompted the desire for a new place for bits storage.

  4. professorss

    I use this method of storing and recycling router bits.

    I took a couple of pieces of maple scrap. Took them to the drill press fitted with drill bit diameter same as bits. Drilled one hole, dropped a bit in and using the next bit profile spotted the next hole, etc, etc, etc. put bit filled boxes on shelf. Keep those bought for a special project in the original box. Sell these on eBay as near mint. Pulled out my Stanley 55 ( you can use the Sargent, Record, etc equivalent. Took the proper profile cutter, lapped the back mounted in the frame and proceeded to do the job.

    A Q&A like this belongs in Popular Mechanics, Woodsmith Shopnotes, or the new addition to the PW family, American Woodworker, not in a magazine for more advanced woodworker.

    Related to one of the comments: any reference to Norm Abrams should be excised from Popular Woodworking.

    1. Glen D. Huey Post author

      I appreciate your input and ideas. I am, however, sorry you feel the way you do about this topic and Mr. Abram. Popular Woodworking Magazine is a valuable resource for woodworkers of all abilities from the seasoned professional to the beginning woodworker who just purchased his first tool. And Norm Abram has introduced woodworking to so many people throughout his career that we should all be thankful. His efforts have made woodworking better for all of us. Of course, that’s my opinion.

  5. iamawoodworker

    Eons ago I built my own router table which included 3 drawers on one side and cupboard space below. Two of the drawers have trays made with 1/4″ bits in one, and 1/2″ bits in the other. I also put it on wheels to move around easily.

  6. amvolk

    When I first built my shop, I built the “deluxe” router table from the New Yankee Workshop. There are six pull out drawers with an array of holes for 1/4 and 1/2 shank bits. This has served me well for 10 years.

  7. ColonelEd

    If you live in a hot, humid area, DO NOT use rigid foam board to hold your router bits. While it does a great job of holding them, it also holds the moisture and rusts the shafts.

  8. sloprete

    I do not have more than maybe 15 at present, but my solution was to use one of the inexpensive nylon/neoprene cutting boards you can buy in a kitchen store (mine is about 9 X 12 or so) and drill 1/4 or 1/2″ holes spaced as I want, on my drill press. Put a bit in each hole, tape or glue the “profile” card from the original container, and store the board in a drawere of proper size.

  9. Bob Constant

    Have about 35 bits of 1/4 and 1/2 inch sizes. And a set of Sommerfield in the original box. All the others are stored in hard foam boards with holes drilled. Would like to cover them and somehow label with the profile at least. Also seems everyone has the same issue – do we just throw away dull bits or is there a place to have them sharpened? As I am severely patience challenged this article can’t come soon enough.

  10. EFuller

    I had to go and count 147 still in the packages they came in. Stored in a large wooden box. I have always been going to make some type of board with holes to hold the bit’s.

  11. Rick_G

    I built a cabinet to mount on the side of my router table. 24″ H x 19″ wide and 4.5″ deep. The door and the back each hold 5 shelves that have the top angled outwards. Shelves are offset so when I close the door the bits in the door do not hit the bits in the back. Hold’s all my 1/4″ bits in the door and 1/2″ bits in the back. Each shelf is drilled so it could hold 10 bits but most don’t as a larger bit could end up to close to the next one. I bought a couple mediocre bit sets on sale and as I wear one out I replace it with a good quality bit.

  12. pdboyes

    I cut up squares of MDF, drilled a hole in the middle and used an Avery label to show what bit it is and a profile. I place these in drawers on the side of my router table and group them by style of bit. I’ve probably got 30-40 now, but have been adding a new bit every month or so and have room for ~140. The Woodcraft/Whiteside router bit of the month has helped with getting a useful, high quality router bit at a discount!

  13. Cosmo

    I have 2 clear plastic cases about 10″x18″x6″ that I picked up at the big discount chain. In those I put a 1″ thick piece of black foam that I can push the shaft into. One case is for the larger bits and the other for smaller bits. Cost me all of $10. With 4 routers, 2 taking 1/4″, I have some duplication.
    All total I have 37 bits of which 20 are rarely used.

  14. J. Pierce

    I sold most of router bits when I sold my router, after I realized I hadn’t used it in years (both the amount and type of woodworking I do changed, and my living situation has precluded the use of such a dust-spewing-noise machine; someday things will change again and I’ll pick up a router set up I like again) But the maybe dozen or bits I owned and used for guitar making were all stored in a old, deep, cigar box, fitted with some upholstery foam with holes punched in it where needed to accept the shank of the bits and keep them rolling and clanking around. A couple of large bits (the giant Whiteside pattern bit that looked like a sword . . . ) that didn’t fit where kept in their plastic sleeves, wrapped in a rag with a bit of oil.

    The only thing I’ve got left is a bit for routing binding channels with a set of graduated bushings.

  15. Sawtooth

    I have around 45 router bits. I got a cheap set at the woodworking show when I first started using a router. It has a wooden case with labels showing the profile of each bit. They were all 1/4″ shank, which matched my router at the time. I have replaced a few of the bits, and have more and more with 1/2″ shanks. I like the way the sotrage box displays the bits and their profiles, but I’d like to have them all in one place. I’ve thought about making a new storage box, for both 1/2 and 1/4″ shanks, but haven’t done so yet. Organizing the shop and the tools is a never completed adventure.


    Several years ago, I went hog-wild on ebay and bought 2 sets of 80 1/4″ router bits and one set of 60 1/2″ bits . All were knock-off carbide sets in wooden presentation cases with glass doors. All the bits were individually slotted and had silhouettes of what that bit would cut along with the description (name) of the cut. With shipping and all, they cost me less than $1.00/bit. Separately, I have bought a rabbet bit set and a rail & stile bit set at about 10.00/bit. These are also kept in their original boxes. The cutting edges of all bits are separated and protected from each other by the boxes and I can pick up and move all 225 bits in a minute to any place I need them. I never have to worry about a dinged edge. I never cut more than an 1/8″ at a pass and I clean each bit with mineral spirits with a drop of oil on the bearing before I put it away for the day. If I ever need to replace a bit, I will spring for a higher-quality bit and put it in the same slot the original came from.

  17. Rustyone

    I have 81 separate bits and a 3 piece raised panel set. Some of the 81 are cheapies and a lot are good ones. I didn’t realize I had that many until this article. I went and counted and was pleasantly surprised.

  18. SawdustWylie

    Mine are stored on a shelf near the router table, in holes drilled in nice cutoffs from memorable projects. When I read your question, I took a mental inventory and figured I had about 30 bits. Boy was I surprised when I counted and realized I have just north of 50! In my defense, about 20 of them are brand new (duplicates) because I got tired of old worn, dull, chipped, and poor quality bits, so I splurged and bought about 20 matched roundover, straight, and common bits. My two most frequently used bits (1/4″ roundover and flush trim) are “stored” in their dedicated routers, small 1/2 horse models bought used for less than the cost of some bits….

  19. pmac

    I have less than 10 that let me do quite a lot of things and a few I use rarely. They are all stored in old prescription bottles of various sizes. I was going to put a label on with the size , type and a profile pic, but it’s not that many to search through and I never got around to it. The Cubs will probably win a World Series before I do get to it. ( Yes, I’m a Cub fan. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment; but I figure one day I’ll be right when I say, “Wait ’til next year.” So I’ve got that going for me.)

  20. DonPeregoy

    Went to the shop and did a count. To my amazement I have 33 ( Plus a few that should have been trashed). Would have guessed a dozen. Most are stored in the original packaging with a few in a plastic parts box.
    Thanks Don

  21. visualj

    Since I am dismantling my workshop for a move to a new house, with a new LARGER workshop, I have a couple of trays that I have set up in a toolbox for my router. When I get the new improved workshop built, I will use these trays in a dedicated router work table.
    Currently, I have about 30-35 bits, but some are duplicates.

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