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Tooling: a primer

3. August 2018 08:33

By Leland Thomasset, Taghkanic Woodworking

As you get more comfortable with your nested-based CNC router, then you will want to take your tooling to the next level. There are two main types of tooling: solid carbide stock router bits and braze on and stock router bits. Allow to me explain the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Solid Carbide Stock Router Bits

Down Cut Router Bits

The geometry of these bits will give clean cuts to the top side of a piece of wood. Down cut bits are good for shallow pockets, and very thin, small parts will not move because of the downward pressure caused by this bit. They are not good for deep cuts as the material that is being cut gets pushed down into the tool path.
 

Up Cut Router Bits

The geometry of these bits allows for clean cuts on the bottom of a part. The tool will remove material from the tool path into the dust collection stream very easily. They work well when you have to take several passes to cut thru a thick piece of material, and they also work great for a deep mortise or pocket. However, they will pull the piece that you are cutting off the spoil board if it is too small or if you are taking too much stock out in one pass.
 

Compression Router Bits

The geometry of these bits are both up cut and down cut some bits have shorter up cut shapes to allow for shallow grooves or mortises. They are great for cutting composites and plywood with veneers on both sides, and they can come with staggered chip breakers which work well with solid materials. They cut very quickly with no tear out at all and are a great tool for nested-based panel cutting operations.
 

Ball Nose Router Bit

These are the bits that we use to cut 3-D parts, parts with compound contours, and curve molding profiles.
 

Braze On and Stock Router Bits

Brazed tooling, which you should be familiar with, is the tooling that used with hand routers to create counter edges, flush trimming bits for laminate and joinery bits for dovetails, box joints, etc.
 
Brazed bits require a lower rpm and feed rate, so if you have a one off item this can be a perfect affordable solution. If you are making many repeat items then it may be worth the money to invest in a custom insert tool.
 
You may find that your cut quality may vary due to tool balance, sharpness, and design of tool. Also, you run into the situation where you choose a profile, get the job all set up, and then you find out this is a discontinued profile.
 
To learn more about how tooling selection can impact your machining, register to attend “Boundary-pushing with your Nested-Based Router” during IWF.

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