Choosing Forstner Bits....

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Forum topic by ondablade posted 09-11-2009 10:28 PM 9000 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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105 posts in 3166 days

09-11-2009 10:28 PM

Hi guys. I’ve been messing around with cheapish Eastern made Forstner bits, with very mixed results. The odd one cuts well, some moderately but with a lot of heating, and few hardly at at all with rapid overheating at low rpms.

Having decided to bite the bullet on buying a set of good ones i don’t want to get it wrong.

The Colt Maxicuts from Germany seem to be the latest and greatest, and judging by the marketing and test videos work really well. But at around $25 a piece they quickly run into big money for a decent set.

On the other hand the likes of Rockler offer HSS bits at around half that, or carbon steel items at even less.

Where do you guys feel these possibilities lie in the great scheme of things? At what point does one start getting professional quality results from a new bit? At what point does one get not just this but also decent life as well? Are there big differences between makes? Are there other considerations in choosing bits?

Thanks yet again


-- Late awakener....

7 replies so far

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3381 days

#1 posted 09-12-2009 12:31 AM

I just got (today) fine woodworking’s 2010 Tool guide. They tested 8 fordtner bits and listed Famag as the best overall and Grizzly the best value.

I hope this helps

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View MichaelH's profile


11 posts in 3167 days

#2 posted 09-12-2009 10:47 PM

I purchased the Grizzly forstner set based on the FWW Tool Guide. So far they have been a great buy. They cut clean, flat holes in everything I’ve thrown at them (MDF, oak, maple, birch, mahogany). Haven’t used all of them all that much, so time will tell if they will hold their edge. But for the price, $26.95 for a set of 16 bits, you can’t beat them.

View ondablade's profile


105 posts in 3166 days

#3 posted 09-13-2009 12:10 AM

Thank you guys. That FWW review sounds like the pay dirt.

I went off and did some digging based on that and found that as usual there’s more to Forster bits than the claims of the volume sellers. (‘ours’ is always the best – no matter what the price)

The Famag application chart here (there is a full catalogue for all their stuff elsewhere on the site) suggests that they do at least 4 levels of Forstner bit: (1) a Super “Classic’ model they suggest is best for softwood only, (2) a Super ‘Profi’ model for softwood and some hardwood use, (3) a Bormax ‘Premium’ model for soft and hardwoods, and (4) a carbide tipped Bormax Premium for use on abrasive materials in production applications.

FWW list Woodcraft as a Famag supplier, but interestingly enough they sell the Bormax type as well as what are probably the Super Classic i.e down a quality/cost level or two

I can’t quite confirm which quality of Famag Forstner was tested by FWW, but it looks like it was the basic Classic judging by the price they quote. Which begs a few questions, because if you take on board Famag’s recommendation and are working hardwood it seems you do need the Bormax at around $25 a pop, vs the Supers at more like $12 each.

If my experience is anything to go by theres layers below even this in the form of eastern stuff that much of the time is so poorly made it hardly works.

I guess as usual it’s a pays your money deal, but it opens up yet again the issue of failure to communicate tool quality and fitness for application about the stuff sold to us hobbyists and smaller end professionals.

There’s stuff that’s almost unusable, there’s stuff that’s OK for hobby/not too demanding professional use, there’s professional stuff and then high end professional/special application (e.g. production applications). The high end stuff often doesn’t come up in the mags at all, but the rest seems to be very rarely categorised by testers and reviewers. Which is a pain in the a** – it takes so much digging to figure out that when they say ‘it’s good’ the words ‘for the price’ always seem to be in brackets afterwards but not mentioned, with no clarity on the level of quality the reviewer has in mind…

-- Late awakener....

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3545 days

#4 posted 09-13-2009 01:53 AM

Grizzlies work for me

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View hairy's profile


2658 posts in 3500 days

#5 posted 09-13-2009 02:49 AM

I also have grizzly forstner bits, They have worked well for me.

-- My reality check bounced...

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3853 days

#6 posted 09-13-2009 05:36 AM

My Rockler set works great for me.
I have this set and bought same for my son. Watch for them on sale I didn’t pay near the current price.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View ondablade's profile


105 posts in 3166 days

#7 posted 09-13-2009 04:25 PM

Thanks again guys, that sounds like real world approval of both the Grizzly and Rockler items. It’d be hard to pay $25 a piece for something else at that rate. The grizzly set got a good review in FWW too, although for some reason they didn’t test the Rocklers…

-- Late awakener....

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