A few weeks ago I was attending StonExpo in Las Vegas, and one attendee I met there was in the market for some router bits and admitted to me that he was confused by all the different types and brands out their. While every salesman will tell you why their tooling is the best, here are some tips which can help to narrow down your selection.
ASK A FABRICTOR
The No. 1 tip is to ask other fabricators if they have tried these bits. But just asking if they’ve used them is not always good enough. You will need to probe and ask some specific questions.
Here is what I would ask:
• How long have you been using this bit?
• How many lineal feet do you get out of each bit?
• What type of granites do you mostly work with? (This point is extremely important because some granites — like Violeta — are very hard on bits and blades.)
TALK TO THE DISTRIBUTOR
If the distributor is willing to answer any questions you have about the bit, ask them if they have their tooling in inventory as well as which bits work best with the particular router you use in your shop. This is important because routers have different horsepowers and various speeds that play a role in how effective a bit will work and how long it will last.
DON'T JUST SHOP PRICE
Most see price as a primary consideration. I disagree for the following reason. Compare a $50 bit lasting 50 lineal feet with a $150 bit lasting 300 lineal fee: Which bit is the better value? It’s a matter of monitoring how many lineal feet you get out of the bit. In this case, the more expensive bit is really the cheaper bit. So don’t just shop price.
So what else do you need to consider? There are also several bonding types that you will need to think about.
Segmented bits have similar diamond segments that many blades have and are generally used for aggressive removal of material. You need to be careful with these bits because they can cause chipping on some granites. I like using these bits when I need to hog off a lot of material fast.
Brazed bits generally provide a more smooth cut, but many of them are slower to cut with.
Many times your router bit will wear out because of improper use. There are techniques to make your bit last longer.
Use plenty of water with the bit. Make sure the jets on the router are pointing onto the bit. Many times these jets will move and you will have plenty of water but not pointing directly on the bit. Check it before and during operation.