by Chuck Bender
Every woodworking shop has a few vital tools that are absolute necessities. And whether you have a strict power-only tool policy or you take a blended approach, I would argue that a router is one of the tools essential to nearly any powered shop.
The problem many beginning (and some advanced) woodworkers have is that they don’t know which bits they need. This leads to buying too many, or not enough.
First, look at what you intend to make to determine the bits you really need. Cutting large mortises into heavy, hard material obviously requires different bits than making a delicate line-and-berry inlay.
That said, I have a core set of bits I’ve been recommending for years. These are the workhorses that get you through the vast majority of all the operations you’ll ever do.
I’ve broken down my core bits into four categories based on use and profile, and I suggest you buy multiple sizes of each. (You don’t need to buy them all at once, but having them all on hand gives you the most flexibility.)
The categories are: grooving, edging and plowing bits; moulding and profile bits; joinery bits; and trimming bits. There’s lots of crossover in each category, so don’t get hung up on why a bit that could be used for joinery happens to be in the grooving category. I divided the bits by the way I primarily use them.
Blog: Glen D. Huey shows some woodworkers’ solutions to bit storage.
Blog: Read about the difference between straight and spiral bits.
In Our Store: Get “The Woodworker’s Router Collection” for comprehensive instruction on using this tool.