The Best Value Router Bits for Hobbyist CNCs

I’m working to find the most economical router bits to use for my small CNC router that runs a Makita 1/4″ router as the spindle. “Best” in my opinion won’t necessarily be the absolute best bits to run in a production business. This will be skewed more towards lower cost bits, or the “best value” bits. Many hobbyists like myself have a hard time spending tons of money on nice router bits for the occasional 1-2 jobs per month that we run.

Also, machines like mine are usually feed speed limited. In my case I can only run 100 inches/minute, so I can’t ever take full advantage of the chipload on bits over 1/8″. Sure, I can turn my spindle speed down on my router some, but this tends to heat up the motor if I try to run it at the slower speeds. I prefer to run the RPM faster and reduce the feed forces, knowing that I will be sacrificing tool life.

Right now I have a few bits I’m gravitating towards using, and each has a place.

  • 1/4″ Freud 2 Flute – My favorite “general” bit
  • 1/4″ CMT 2 Flute – Very similar to the Freud, but sometimes cheaper
  • HQ Master 1/8″ 2 Flute – I’m trying these out to see if they can become my new ‘general use’ bit. The price is right at about $2/bit, but these are 1/8″ bits instead of the 1/4″. More details on that later.
  • Binstak 1″ 2 flute carbide insert bit – This is going to become my general purpose surfacing bit. I’m really liking it. If I had a 1/2″ router on my CNC spindle I’d consider something larger in diameter for surfacing, but this 1″ seems to be fine for my needs. I love the cheap carbide inserts, and right now I have used this both in the CNC and in a router sled to flatten slabs. It’s a great cutter so far.
  • Amana Tool RC-45711 – 1 flute 90 degree carving bit. Pretty good, but not perfectly balanced. Nice general purpose workhorse for engraving, and this allows 4 fresh cutting edges per insert. Very economical.
  • Amana Tool RC-1024 3/4″ Insert – Not the greatest. It’s at the bottom of my list for a reason. Unbalanced, so you can only run it at slower speeds. It is nice and economical, but I worry that it will damage my router bearings more quickly than it should. Not nearly as nice as the Binstak.

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