So why are router bits so expensive? Are they worth it? The TL;DR version of the answer is YES.
This is a question that has been asked numerous times, especially by beginners who are just entering the woodworking realm.
The price for a single router bit can go up to hundreds of dollars, and it can definitely scare some people off. On the other hand, there are merchants selling router bits set on Amazon for around 1-2 dollars per router bit, but is it really a good deal? In this article, we are gonna analyze what determines a router bit’s price, and what price range of router bit you should go for!
Why are router bits so expensive?
The first thing would be the material it’s made of and the material’s quality, a big chunk of the price tag actually comes from the material itself. As we explained in another article, there are three main materials for router bits:
- High Speed Steel
- Carbide Tipped
- Solid Carbide.
High-Speed Steel (HSS) Router Bits are generally the least expensive and are fine for softwood and light plastics, but tend to dull much faster than carbide, some of them might even break apart after the first use. When bits become dull, HSS bits cost as low as $2 to $5.
Carbide Tipped Router Bits are usually more expensive than the HSS router bits, but they can keep sharpness longer and work better in hardwoods and other harder materials. They have durability at the tip but are also equipped with the lower cost of a steel base. Although they might be a tidbit more expensive than HSS, they may save you money in the long run. A decent carbide-tipped bit can cost around $15 to $30.
Solid Carbide Router Bits are the most expensive, but perform the best and are the most durable. They are typically meant for specific applications where other router bits may not perform as well. Compared to the other two types of bits, a solid carbide router bit can provide cleaner cuts, reduced wear and tear, increasing your shop’s overall efficiency.
The second thing would be the overall quality of the router bit. When you read some critical reviews on some of these cheap router bit sets on Amazon, you will find a lot of people complaining about the quality of these bits. Some of these router bits break in half during use, which can be a big safety hazard, some bits may not even be the right size that you purchased, always 1-2mm off the actual size.
Are expensive router bits worth it?
A lot of people on woodwork forums would suggest buying a cheap set for beginners, then switch it up to these better ones, but we don’t believe that’s helpful at all.
First of all, there’s really no reason to buy a set. Buy router bits as you need them. There are only so many bits you’d need for a project. If one of the bits that you need from the set stops working or starts to burn your wood, It would cost you even more to buy another router bit. You will find these individual bits prices from brands such as Amana, Freud, ZahyoX and Whiteside, actually aren’t really that expensive.
Secondly, a cheap router bit might ruin your work. Because of how fast cheap bits become dull, there’s a high risk of burns and tears happening to your work, compared to quality bits. Some merchants claim their router bits are carbide tipped, but in fact, only a very thin layer of carbide is applied at the blade, and the performance quality can vary. It can be really frustrating when these cheap bits ruin the profile you were trying to create in the first place. You’d have to sand it out and wait for a new bit to arrive for a few days, which can be a big turnoff.
Yes, expensive router bits are worth it. The price tag can fend some people off, but they are a good investment down the road and eliminate a lot of troubles that would come with cheap router bits.
Read further on how to choose your router bits here: Complete Beginner’s Router Bits Buying Guide
Further read & watch: