View Full Version : Router Cutters

11-09-2010, 08:02 AM
Can anyone help?

Having recenlty invested in a home CNC and got it talking to Mach3. I require some router bits to test cut and start working I guess.

Whats the difference with HSS and Carbide?

The collet in my router is 1/4inch and I have sourced some 12mm MDF and 3mm mirrored di-bond for test cutting. At this point I have no cutters and would like to order some for delivery.

Any advise would be appreciated.

Also, it is wise to invest in a collet reducer thus allowing the purchase on 1/8inch bits also for detailing work?

Finally, I have a 4th axis, not turning yet but does anyone know of a good supplier for a tail stock? Oh, whilst I remember is a t-slot table for clamping easy enough to build?

So many question. Thanking you all in advance for you wealth of experience, hopefully I will return the favour with some design/cad/modelling knowledge.

John S
11-09-2010, 11:06 AM
Without being derogatory you are going to make mistakes and break tools, just part of the learning curve. So start off cheap so you can afford mistakes, really pi$$'s you off when you snap a 12 tool right into the work because you have got the wrong tool offset [ don't ask !! ]

Do a Google for Toolstation, bit like Screwfix but good bit is it's post free over 10, they do some Silverline router cutters, the 1/8"ones are 1.00 each and they last quite well and lets face it a pound a cutter is a consumable.

I cut a fair bit of Tufnol sheet and it's very abrasive, I have been using Trend cutters off Ebay and to be honest these 1.00 cutters are lasting the same amount of time.

The Silverline cutters have a good range of sizes but still retail the 1/4" shank.

Need a decent picture of the tailstock and centre hight to help here but it could be your first job.


Two bits of MDF for the uprights, counterbored to take two nuts thwacked in, base, upright spacer and a sharpened length of all thread for the spindle.
Alter recipe to suit ingredients.

Tee slot table isn't a start up job, take a bit of work, my Techno - Isel router has a teel slot table from new but i keep a piece of 18mm MDF bolted to it and secure everything to this with panel pins.

Advantages are you always have a 'slot' to secure to <g>, disposable, and no worries when you set your cutter 1mm deeper to clear thru a component.
My nephew has a Kitchen and bathroom business and he cuts all his offcuts of MDF up to fit my bed on his CNC saw every so often when he has a sort out but even without a connection like that it's easy to get offcuts to do the same job.

11-09-2010, 11:57 AM
On the subject of clamping and t-slots. A cheaper and easier to replace solution is a sheet of 12mm MDF, drilled out with 5mm or 6mm holes in a grid (easy job for the CNC machine!), then hammer in some matching size t-nuts (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/M6-T-NUTS-4-Prong-BZP-Pack-10-/400152481179) from the reverse. They're cheap and when you've accidentally ploughed the baseboard you simply hammer them out and replace the board...

11-09-2010, 12:43 PM
Thanks for the cutter info John, unfortunately I spent much more than just the cutters.
Oh well!

It's only money!


12-09-2010, 07:37 AM

Forgive my ignorance but the cutters you have suggested are completely different to those i've seen and used before.

I have had access to an AXYZ router that used end mills and ball mills etc that looked more like drill bits (cutweltools.co.uk do good examples for around 5.00) and I would be greatfull if you could educate me as to the difference.

These milling cutters are twin, 3 and multi flutes. Therefore I am now confused.

13-09-2010, 12:12 PM
Milling cutters are for Aluminium,Brass,Perspex,ect,ect....if you're cutting MDF then a Straight flute wood router bit is what you need.

13-09-2010, 09:20 PM
been using carbide mill ends and ball nose cutters to cut soft woods ,hardwoods and mdf , with better results than straight flute router bits the spiral flutes clear the cut as they go
spiral cut router bits are also very good, they are to all effects a mill end

14-09-2010, 07:15 PM

Do you know any good suppliers of carbide end mills in the UK? They need to be 1/8" shank and have a ring collar. I have been using Drill Bit City http://drillcity.stores.yahoo.net/endmills1.html in the US, these have been great cutters, and these guys have a great selection, but the postage is so expensive.

Would like to find a recommended supplier in the UK.


24-09-2010, 04:30 PM
hi all
HSS is not as hard as carbide so can get a sharper edge which will give an inproved finish on plastics and softwoods - but there is always a cost. HSS does not give the same long life as carbide tools (http://www.diyheroes.com).


24-09-2010, 04:49 PM


24-09-2010, 05:23 PM
the rdg tools are all hss cutters, better to go a few quid more for carbide. better cut , last longer

24-09-2010, 05:57 PM
The thing is....carbide is for hardened steel and HSS should last pretty well for plastics and wood so whats the use in buying a more expensive endmill if thats all its cutting? providing the cut is in stages and not too deep each pass they should be up to the job.

Its the same with normal wood router bits,the more passes you use the less chance of the bit burning out in a short time.

24-09-2010, 07:32 PM
Root thru this chaps offerings for small carbide router bits, very easy to deal with and cheap postage from the US. His stock changes all the time.


For full sized cutters, I use this chap all the time. Postage for an order usually comes to around a tenner (depends on weight), delivered within about 10 days, and always sends them as a gift. Never had to pay duty yet.



John S
24-09-2010, 07:44 PM
The thing is....carbide is for hardened steel and HSS should last pretty well for plastics and wood so whats the use in buying a more expensive endmill if thats all its cutting? providing the cut is in stages and not too deep each pass they should be up to the job.

Its the same with normal wood router bits,the more passes you use the less chance of the bit burning out in a short time.

Not quite true George, although they are softer than steel, some materials are very abrasive and will eat HSS is short order, Tufnol is a plastic but believe me a carbide cutter will outlast 7 or 8 HSS ones.

Printed circuit board is another, on a decent sized board you will be lucky if one HSS isn't burnt out at the end and it not all about deep or aggressive cuts.

When cutting softer materials the trick is to get the chips away to stop secondary cutting and clogging, this is where single flute cutters score as they have the most clearance of any cutter and most single flute cutters these days are carbide.

25-09-2010, 12:07 AM
majority of normal router bits are carbide . you say hss bits " should be up to the job" do you have a cnc router up and running to try out hss v's carbide
or are you just guessing . cutting wood carbide will outlast hss , hence its cheaper in the long run

25-09-2010, 12:19 AM
The thing is....carbide is for hardened steel

You'll find in industry that carbide tools are used in various grades, geometries, coatings etc. for cutting just about any material you can think of, not just hardened steel.

13-11-2010, 07:47 PM
i machine semi profesionally.
i use all types of cutters depending on the job
high speed steel is great when cutting softwoods as you can get a sharper edge to the blade. cutting speed/chip load being correct or the blade will dull very quickly.absolutely useless on mdf , laminates and some hardwoods, they are so abrasive the cutter will be blunt in no time.
carbide tipped. great for general work on softwoods, hardwoods, mdf etc. the cheapies are ok and are considered disposable, however if you get some cheap diamond card files (about 2 off ebay) you can redress the edge a few times. (ive had more trouble with shanks snapping than blades blunting)
Solid carbide. the same sort of finish but seem a lot more durable. i have 3 roughing spirals i use daily which give a very nice finish and will cut through anything!
pcd. (diamond) cost a fortune to buy but will outlast anything as long as you dont drop them etc! ive had one 45degree chamfer cutter on my big router for 3 years cutting edges every day on laminates, hardwoods.
the worst thing for any cutter is running it at the wrong feed speed (too slow) this causes a heat build up and can kill any of them quickly. a lot of my tooling requires feed speeds of 5 to 8 metres per minute!
this is an example of correct cutting speed with a 12mm spiral in oak.
obviously a lot of hobby machines wont run this fast and require smaller tooling. (this is my hobby machine just been converted to mach 3 ) when you find your not breaking tools any more and you want some extremely sharp top quality cutters have a look at itc tooling. search google
they are not cheap (approx 20 for a 2mm cutter but the quality is superb)

01-08-2011, 03:56 PM
Recommendations please for UK sources of V-point router bits (with a real sharp point - I've got plenty with a 'flat' point) suitable for engraving oak. Many thanks.

I think I'm looking for something like this: http://www.amazon.com/CMT-858-001-11-Cutting-Diameter-16-Inch/dp/B000P4NSYG.

01-08-2011, 04:01 PM
titman or itc are the best. both very sharp and last ages

01-08-2011, 07:15 PM
I've never had a problem with trend router bits, only used wood cutting blades. I know they are not cheap but you do get what you pay for


26-08-2011, 09:23 PM
The spiral cutters are good for solid woods, they can come in both down cut good for deep work shaping or up cut (watch jigs and depending on depth you may need clamps), they can also come in roughing and finishing form also. I like to go for thicker shafts as possible on my cutters for heat dispersion and stopping the fracturing.

As for jigs I make for nesting etc I use Birch ply and more often than not 25mm thick. MDF lets vacumn straight through and you loose some suction-try a sheet of paper on mdf to see it in action, to prevent it you must coat your mdf with glue/paint etc. The ply does not need any coatings and the jigs last longer, ply has cross banding grains between the layers, the edges do not leak either accordingly.

As for cutters I purchase replacement tip types as these keep up the quality in moulding and work performence, they work out cheaper in my industrial setting anyway but are of course more expensive to purchase new, I usually buy two bits where I used to buy three of each size in single/double flutes to keep up production and always have one on the machine. Tips cuts this out as they are always available and the second bit is if I have a mishap and I need production to remain uneffected.

I stopped grinding my own cutters and heads some years back. I find now that repalcement tips on my heads is more efficient and gives me better quality of mould. I replaced my Weinig Unimat with a powermat with CNC auto heads/tool/mould auto recognition and quick change facility, the tips was the way to go for me as the Powermat needs a grinder to do profiles greater expense, replacement tips like I have now was the way to go for me. The quality and setup times have given me greater efficiency between quick changes.