Router bit for inlays

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Forum topic by NoSpace posted 08-01-2015 03:48 AM 1291 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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120 posts in 1238 days

08-01-2015 03:48 AM

I bought a dewalt DWP611 router w/ plunge last year and it’s the first time I’d used a router. I’ve used it several times to route edges but have not used the plunge feature yet. I want to do inlays, and now I’ve finished the easy part of my first attempt, creating the actual inlay, and need to cut out the recess to put it in. Seems like the consensus is to do it with a plunge router and clean up with chisel. I have a bargain set of carbide bits that I’ve been happy with so far (not that I have anything to compare to) and there’s one that looks like it’s about 3/4 inch wide that I suppose should work well to remove the bulk of the material for the recess. There’s a 1/4 inch as well I can use. But in watching videos, looks like they use some pretty small bits to get close to the edge—the trace of the shape done with a razor knife.

I was about to buy the “1/8 inch single flute straight bit by freud” online but thought I’d run it by the experts here to make sure that’s the right size and style of bit for the task at hand.

8 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1439 days

#1 posted 08-01-2015 04:48 AM

The diameter really depends on the work you are doing. A larger bit will remove more material faster, but won’t get into the small spaces or corners. Vice versa for smaller bits.

For plunge cutting, you should really use a plunge bit—-with a cutting edge on the bottom of the bit as well as the side.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View pintodeluxe's profile


5658 posts in 2811 days

#2 posted 08-01-2015 04:58 AM

I recommend getting an inlay kit that comes with a brass bushing and matching 1/8” spiral carbide bit. The kit will allow you to make perfectly fitting inlays using only one pattern for both the inlay and the recess.
I use the Whiteside kit.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View jmartel's profile


7891 posts in 2148 days

#3 posted 08-01-2015 05:32 AM

I usually use a larger bit to hog out waste and then get in corners with a small bit and then chisels. I never use patterns, so a bushing kit wouldn’t help me at all.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View NoSpace's profile


120 posts in 1238 days

#4 posted 08-01-2015 03:35 PM

Jerry, yeah, that was actually my question, is that item a plunge bit? Seems like it would have to be but I wasn’t totally sure.

pint, since I already made the inlay, this would be good for future consideration, but what is the advantage of the spiral bit? I’m actually wondering if the one I was going to buy is not the correct bit because it’s not spiral. I have a roto-zip and all the bits I have for that are spiral so hmmm…

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1439 days

#5 posted 08-02-2015 07:05 PM

I can’t tell from the pic, but it’s certainly worth trying that bit. Remember that a bit that small is pretty fragile, so don’t push it hard.

Spiral bits are better than straight bits because they chatter less—-ideally they always have a section of the cutting edge in contact with the work, whereas a straight bit is always going thump thump thump as the cutter comes around.

Spirals can also pull fibers out of the cut (up-cut spirals) or push the fibers down away from the cut to minimize rough edges (down-cut)

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2688 days

#6 posted 08-03-2015 01:31 AM

I use the set Pinto referenced above and have been very pleased with it in my Porter Cable Trim Router with the plunge base.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4123 days

#7 posted 08-03-2015 02:27 AM

I thought I had to do fancy jigs for inlay, as in when we did the pips on a guitar neck (about mid-way down that page, and this locket uses a piece of an fretboard inlay that we scrapped), but then I was hanging out at Alembic (as one does) and someone said “Oh yeah, we just do the fancy stuff with a small bit in a plunge router”.

So I’ve tried a bit of that, with a 1/8” or 3/32” bit in my Festool OF1010, and some finer bits in a rotary cutter with a Dremel plunge base, though the finer bits often burn rather than cut.

This "No Soliciting Or Canvassing" was done by printing out the text on an inkjet, spray adhesiving it to the wood, and cutting the letters out by hand.

This was my first attempt at free-hand inlay, both for the brass butterfly (from a bead store) cut into the walnut, and the walnut into the maple. You can see that it isn’t perfect, and it helps a lot if you can get a good crisp knife cut outline around the piece you’re insetting, but if things are going to be sanded flush, you can use the cyanoacrylate and sanding trick to hide a multitude of sins.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Planeman40's profile


1176 posts in 2759 days

#8 posted 08-03-2015 02:44 AM

If you are looking for routers and bits for inlay work you need to be aware of Stewart-McDonald. Here is their router page: If you do small inlay and have a Dremel tool, you really need to get this router base for the Dremel!!! Not cheap, but the most used router in my shop and its outstanding. Also, use a straight 1/8” router bit like this one for a very clean cut. I also use carbide circuit board router bits. I buy them surplus and they are cheap and extremely sharp!. Get the larger ones. The smaller ones are tiny and break easily. Google ”micro carbide router bits circuit board” and look at the photos.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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