"Big" bits in a router table

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by KnickKnack posted 03-30-2011 06:20 PM 5766 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View KnickKnack's profile


1094 posts in 3765 days

03-30-2011 06:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: router table panel-raising router bit

Over the years I’ve looked at many a router bit catalogue, both in real life and on-line. There are always bits there that say “only for use in a router table”, or some variant of such – usually these are big bits like panel-raising bits.

Now, I’ve made a router table, of sorts – it’s really just a hole in a bit of plywood, but it works just fine. I’ve put my “el fairly cheapo” router in it – it’s 1200W (I guess that’s about a horse and a half).

My question is… for these “big” bits do they really just mean that you mustn’t be using the bits with your router hand-held, or is there an unwritten sub-text about the kind of router you might “usually” find in a router table, including such things as the power of the beast, and perhaps other things I don’t know enough to even think of?

Thanks in advance.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

16 replies so far

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

118 posts in 3113 days

#1 posted 03-30-2011 06:34 PM

big bits typically make big cuts which need a big router… unless you are patient and make the cuts in multiple passes..

Best of luck.

-- Steven Davis - see me at

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2867 days

#2 posted 03-30-2011 06:54 PM

Those “big” bits are not intended to run in hand held router, it would be dangerous, to do that.
And ,do not, run them in a single speed router,they need to run at slower speed ,because of there mass
It Is a written rule
But you don’t need a fancy table, just a stable table, Able!

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3159 days

#3 posted 03-30-2011 07:04 PM

am i the only one who misread “Big T*”?? :p

i do think the minimum for those bits would be a 1400 W engine, better yet 2000W especially since it’s probably gonna be turning at low speed.

if your router was supplied with a standard 8mm and a large 12mm shank then it was probably designed for such bits

View pete79's profile


154 posts in 3339 days

#4 posted 03-30-2011 07:12 PM

Good question. I have a 3/4” 45-degree chamfer bit that I can’t use in my handheld Porter Cable router because the hole in the baseplate isn’t big enough for it to fit through. Would it have anything to do with that sort of thing?

-- Life is a one lap race.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3776 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 07:14 PM

I tell my students that any router bit that is over 1 1/4” or any bit that you question it’s safe use in a hand held router should be used in a router table . This is some what variable depending on the type of router your using and your experience in using routers.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3663 days

#6 posted 03-30-2011 07:14 PM

Woodline puts out a handy little chart with their bits. It brackets bit diameter against router speed. Bigger the bit the slower the speed. As the diameter of the bit increases the speed of the outside edge increases as a multiple of the diameter increase. The mass of the bit is also hard to control. If you try a deep cut with a poorly mounted router you could have it break away and be running like a large powerful very upset Piranha on the loose.
If the router is under powered you need to do very shallow cuts and work your way to the finished product. The cuts will be much cleaner and less apt to burn too.
Best of luck, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4417 days

#7 posted 03-30-2011 07:17 PM

Of course a bigger router is better able to spin big bits, but I don’t think that is what they are talking about when they tell you to only use it with a table mounted router.

IMO, the key safety issue is keeping the bit and the workpiece at a constant angle to each other. Freehand, there is always a chance of tipping the router slightly and causing the bit to dig in and kick back. The larger the diameter of the bit, the smaller the degree of tilting necessary to cause this to occur.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2867 days

#8 posted 03-30-2011 08:59 PM

He is talking about panel raising bits like 3in
A three quarter inch bit would not be considered a big bit
Great advice from ,a1Jim

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3197 days

#9 posted 03-30-2011 10:43 PM

There are several factors.

A bigger bit will need to go slower. If it cannot clear the chips out as fast as it is cutting them off, something has to give. Many will also have a maximum rpm rating. The larger the diameter, it has to travel further in the same amount of time (1 RPM) The bits are designed for a certain cutting speed. They are also designed for the impact forces as they contact the wood. Get the bit going fast enough, you will get forces stronger than the brazing that holds the carbide in place. It is called shrapnel.

The other part is that the design of the cutters can allow you to get a piece of wood bigger than it can chop off in front of the cutter. The bit stops and remember that guy, Newton? You know, for every force there is an equal and opposite reaction. That bit stops and that energy has to go somewhere. Into the workpiece or maybe into the worker. You know, those bad places where you don’t want it to go. It is less with the anti-kickback bits but it still can mean a whole lot of hurt.

Putting them in a table does not stop all these problems but you can have a lot better chance at controlling the way you feed the wood into the cutter. You need to also do your part and feed in the stock in increments that don’t overpower the cutter. Clamps, featherboards, and fixtures are your friend. Leave your macho at home and remember that these can drive a stake that would eliminate vampire problems.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5123 posts in 4159 days

#10 posted 03-31-2011 05:10 PM

Better read the posts carefully. If you were to measure the speed at the tips of the router bits when running at full speed, you would see the rational behind slowing down the router motor.
Can you spell hand grenade?


View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2867 days

#11 posted 04-03-2011 06:06 AM

Can you spell hand grenade?
I love it

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2878 days

#12 posted 04-03-2011 02:41 PM

I’m guessing you want to use the big bit in your hand held router to avoid building or buying a router table. If thats the case…get another piece of plywood and drill a 3” or what ever size hole you need and make another temp router top like you have already have. On my outfeed table on my tablesaw I have 2 holes I made to attach 2 routers for my style and rail bits and I keep my main router table set up with the 3” panel bit.

-- New Auburn,WI

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3936 days

#13 posted 04-04-2011 04:29 AM

I did these raised panels about 10 years ago using an Elu hand held router. One must be very careful and use outside support to keep the router from tipping and gouging the surface. Some of this was done climb cutting. However, I do not recommend this for everyone. I have been using routers since the late sixties.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4324 days

#14 posted 04-04-2011 05:42 PM

I believe that the concern is about the control of the router vs control of the stock you’re cutting.

On a router table, it’s easy to put a fence and fingerboards in place to control the stock, and if you lose control of the stock, easy enough to drop the push sticks/blocks and get your hands out of the way.

With a handheld router, that sucker can get away from you and rather than drop it, you’re going to try to control it, which means that you’ve got a wildly swinging device with a dangerous end using your arms as its limit of motion.

I’ve done a stupid thing on the router table, and it threw my stock hard against the wall, but that was it. I’ve done stupid things with the router and the next thing ya know I’m trying to wrestle a however heavy beast back to submission, leaving large swaths of aluminum and wood and whatever else happened to be in its path shavings around my workspace.

So, yeah, if you take small bites, your small table mounted router should be just fine. Just, as others have recommended, remember to turn down the speed for the big diameter bits.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Pop's profile


428 posts in 4145 days

#15 posted 04-04-2011 07:19 PM

Spelling hand grenades is good, but BTKS’s “Large powerful very upset piranha on the loose” is one of the best descriptions of a uncontrolled router I’ve ever seen.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics