With literally hundreds of different types of router blades to choose from, it can be hard to know which type is right for a specific job. It is particularly difficult when the job is something like finishing a countertop that has just been laminated since the typical laminating materials are so thin and require precise, accurate cutting. To choose the right type of bit for the job, follow the steps listed below. Make sure to keep the router's manual on hand since it may be necessary for deciding the type of bit.
Step 1 – Determine What Material the Bit Should Be Made From
Router bits are usually made of either steel or carbide. Carbide is a tougher material that will need to be sharpened less often than a steel bit; however, the price of a carbide bit is usually higher.
Step 2 – Determine the Type of Router Bit Desired
The two most common types of router bits used for finishing laminate countertops are flush trim bits and beveled blade/chamfer bits.
Flush trim bits are part of a family of router bits known as piloted bits. Piloted bits have a bearing attached to them that guides the cutting edges along the side of the material that is being cut. This makes delicate trims, such as those needed for trimming thin bits of laminate from the edge of a countertop, which makes the task both easier and more precise. Flush bits are unique because they have pilot bearings that are the same diameter as the cutting surface and may be at the top, bottom or even at both ends of the bit.
Beveled blade bits, more commonly known as chamfer bits, are cone shaped bits that resemble a top. They produce a rounded edge that is most often used when finishing plastic laminate. Beveled cut produced by chamfer bits will keep plastic laminates from chipping along the edge that is being cut.
Step 3 – Determine the Size of the Shank
Bits for routers come in a few different shank sizes; the most common sizes are a quarter of an inch and a half of an inch. When possible, you should always choose the largest bit. While a bit that is a quarter of an inch will work, a larger bit will kick and jump less because it is more rigid. This, in turn, means a smoother cut. Check the router or its manual to determine if it will accept a half inch bit (some laminate cutters, which are basically mini routers won’t) before purchasing.
Step 4 – Determine the Speed of the Bit
Most routers will allow the user to adjust the speed of the bit's rotation. Consult the router's manual to see what speed is suggested for the type of laminate material that is being cut. Also, check the packaging on the router bit to determine what the maximum speed is that the bit may be used at. In general, the faster a bit is spinning, the better cut it will produce. The reason for this is a faster rotation means more cuts per distance traveled. Remember, using a bit at a faster rotation than is recommended can be very dangerous.