Freud - Insert router bits (Rating: 5)

This is a review of Freud insert router bits but also a review of these bits in general as there seems to be some re-branding of the tools going on. I have bits from Freud, Amana, CMT and Dimar, some with identical bodies.

Regardless of manufacture, having one of these bits would be an important addition to any shop. You can achieve perfect glass smooth surfaces on any wood, even going completely against the grain. Fluffy, curly snowflakes of shavings will hang in the air while you work and you simply won't believe the quality of the cut.

Bits are available in straight styles, different angled bevels and even in simple profiles (eg. rounding over). The centre left bit gives 4 different angles simply by moving the insert and relocating the bearing.

The three pictured together are the workhorses of my day; I couldn't imagine doing without them.

The bottom bearing 3/4" inch bit is the least of the three in general but very important to me as we trim a lot of 1/8" solid edges on our furniture. I quickly get a dead smooth surface always and for daily use time really is money, perfect is a pleasure. This is also the premium bit for laminate or veneer trimming. The shorter length is preferred in a trimmer for run-out and vibration.

The top bearing tool is a mainstay for pattern or copy work, with the added advantage of its rebate or dado fabricating & cleaning properties. It will make short work of a perfect square depth on any work. These 1/2" inserts cut on all 4 surfaces.

The 3/4" bit with top and bottom bearings is star of the show. Use it to trim straight (with or without the bearing) , top reference copy, or bottom template. With its 1 1/8" (30 mm) height it will handle common thicknesses and by flipping the stock, double that (to around 2")

Freud and others sell this as a bottom bearing bit, but with the addition of a cheap 3/4" x 1/2" bearing and lock collar you more than double your versatility. When used with a router table, especially, you can follow a template on very difficult reversing grain and simply flip your template or stock, adjust the bit height and continue without disturbing your flow.

Though pricey, insert router bits have many advantages over standard bits.

1. They are always the same diameter. With normal bearing bits, heaven is only when you first use them. Wear them out though, send them for sharpening, and they get smaller. You no longer have an accurate copy or true registration off your straightedge or pattern. Because of the relief angles involved this must be true. In contrast, insert bits will always give you perfect alignment. You change the accurate cutter, not grind it.

2. They cut much much cleaner, even near the end of their service life. This has to do with an inbuilt chip-breaker machined into the body.

Conventional bits are in reality, flying wedges,, and depending on feed rates and material conditions you may experience massive tear-outs or have smooth sailing along the grain. Insert bits mitigate this behavior by causing the chip to curl immediately after shearing by virtue of the close set breaker. All modern jointers and planers have this feature and sometimes shapers.

Conventional router bits may have chip limiters, but this is not the same. This is more of a safety feature.(for you and your work)

3. They are cheaper, and far more convenient. The bit itself is expensive, that's true. Expect to pay $70 - 80 or more for the large one. But replacement inserts are modestly priced, especially in packs of 10. ($2-$3 each) The true savings is in sent out sharpening costs. Each insert is double sided, the small ones 4 sided, (both available in standard or super tough grade ( for plywood, mdf, pc). What price perfect cuts with no tear-out?

The convenience factor comes when:

You need a razor sharp bit for that important cut. Change the cutter in a couple of minutes and go.
You are not without your bit while it's being sharpened.

If I could give these bits 10 stars, I would.