Bit recommendations for routers and drill press?

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by russmuller, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin'

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    Hrm... this advice seems to be consistent from both unknown persons online as well as experienced luthiers... I'd better do the opposite! :noplease:

    Just kidding. Methinks I should heed this advice. :agreed:
     
  2. DistinguishedPapyrus

    DistinguishedPapyrus SS.org Regular

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    We need to start a sticky thread for just general techniques and use of tools. Like a tutorials, how to's and teach the noobs type thread for woodworking methods specific to lutherie. Even for simple things like making a perfect glue joint.


    That being said; Every tool I have except for a fret slot saw and radius sanding beam can be bought at general Home Depot/Lowes type places. By far though, the best tool has been the router. I think I spent about $70 for a Ryobi, 1/4" shank, single speed, height adjustable, WITH LED LIGHTS ON THE BOTTOM! - best part about the thing. The drill press has also been a huge improvement in my overall build quality, I got mine from a guy on craigslist, just a nice bench top 5 speed drill with an adjustable table. I also throw in the use of a circular saw, cordless drill (or other sort of hand held drill), jig saw, hand saw, hand plane and chisels - both straight and curved tip - in different parts of the build.

    Its really helpful to have at least one good template bit for the router (the kind of bit where the bearing is mounted in the middle between the cutting head and the shank), I use a Bosche 3/4" and 1/2" for most stuff (Lowes). That bit alone has been my go to for a router/planer jig to plane the body, neck laminates, fretboard and headstock, to trim and taper the sides of the neck, to route the body shape and electronics/pups cavities, to cut binding slots in the sides of the neck, and even to do the scarf joint for the headstock. The router and bits are VERY versatile and useful in a build if you're creative with them. I also used my router/planing jig one day to level a bone nut. Also get a round over or chamfer bit if you plan to finish the edges of the body that way. You'll need a 1/4" straight cut bit for the truss rod slot too. Router bits are precise high speed instruments, I would not recommend just getting the cheapest ones or the big 90 piece sets on ebay that ship directly from China or anything like that. If you buy cheap stuff, you'll get cheap stuff, and it's better to have a few nice bits than many crappy ones. Bosche is not a crazy expensive brand, but they are nice entry level bits that have gotten me through alot of cuts and experience so far, never had a problem with that brand. Its good to keep your router bits stored safe, like in the case they come in or sorted out in a cabinet somewhere where they will not ding against other tools. Inspect them regularly, make sure the cutting flutes are free of debris and resin from the wood, that they are sharp, the bearings are oiled and turn smoothly without any chatter and that the locking screws for the locking rings and bearings are secure. It really bites when you are cutting a round over and the screw holding the bearing in place pops out (90 piece china bits from ebay). If that happens to you once, you'll never let it happen again, trust me. And for drill bits, a forsner bit is really helpful, also at least one of those really long 18" bits - 1/4" or 3/8" diameter - for drilling holes to run wires through from the pup cavity to electronics cavity. You'll need to have the drill at quite a shallow angle, so it helps to have a long bit to allow you to hold your drill out away from the body where the chuck wont scuff up the body as it gets close.

    Some other things to think about - poster board and drawing tools to draw out your schematic full size, and sand paper. Lots of it. As well as a hard flat surface to stick it to with mild spray adhesive. I use a flat long piece of marble that I got at home depot. They sell it in the flooring section for threshold material. Spray some glue on it to stick the sand paper to and you'll be able to sand wood flatter then you could've ever dreamed. When the sand paper wears out after a few days use, pull it off as much as you can then use gasoline to dissolve away the remaining adhesive to separate the paper. Wipe it down with a clean rag and a little more gasoline til its clean, let the fumes flash off and it'll be clean and ready to re-apply new sand paper. I use 80 and 120 grit for most of the build until you get into the finish stage, but thats a-whole-nother story.
     
  3. canuck brian

    canuck brian Bowes Guitars Contributor

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    Good call!

    Ha!! I have 3 of those exact routers now! One of them had the brushes go a little screwy but i got it fixed on the cheap. Great routers and if you're not using a table router but using top mounted templates, those LED's are a godsend.
     
  4. DistinguishedPapyrus

    DistinguishedPapyrus SS.org Regular

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    Very nice. I'm still working with just one, I could easily use a second (or third) though. That's something I need to do soon.
     
  5. Chemical-Pony

    Chemical-Pony SS.org Regular

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    I found a router is great for doing pickguards too if you keep the speed low. Just be careful you don't melt the plastic.

    And router table FTW. You try doing the horns on a hand-held. There's nothing to rest it on.

    Another thing is some of the smaller routers you can mount in a drill press. That's pretty useful too.
     
  6. TuffyKohler

    TuffyKohler sawdust generator

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    I'm not a fan of the router table at all. I prefer to hold the router...

    I made a large base out of clear acrylic for my laminate router, about 12"x8", it's stable on any surface.
     
  7. DistinguishedPapyrus

    DistinguishedPapyrus SS.org Regular

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    Yes yes... good things. Another modd for the router is to make a large acrylic base to screw to the bottom of it in place of the one that it comes with. Really helpful.

    Sounds really interesting, I've never seen that done but I'd love to learn more about it. Do you have any pics or examples of how its done and the applications for it?
     
  8. Kashmir

    Kashmir SS.org Regular

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    Ditto on making pickguards with a router.

    For routing around the horns what I do is take some offcuts from the body and double-sided tape them to the table I'm working on. That way when I pass around the horns the router base has something to rest on.

    We already have the "Building Tutorials and Links Thread" thread but a lot more can be done with it. If the SSO community were to revamp the concept of that thread I'd be happy to share what knowledge I have. Additionally, we should have a separate thread for raw materials such as wood, pickguard sheet, truss rods, winding tools, etc.

    Finally what I'd really like to see on this board is a member commission thread. It'd be a place where members list services they offer (custom guitars, body building, refinishing, pickguard making, pickup winding) and members can shop through the list of services when they need something special done and then contact the individual craftsman (or woman). This might be a bit tricky with assuring a deal but I think the mods can find a way to make it work, probably just letting the two members take the deal outside of SSO on paypal. It'd be a way to support fellow forum members, get items constructed specially to the extended range interest, and make a bit of money on the side.
     
  9. DistinguishedPapyrus

    DistinguishedPapyrus SS.org Regular

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    Now I do like that idea.
     
  10. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin'

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    That'd be pretty dope. Something along the lines of an amateur registry?

    I know I'd definitely be down to help out some of my SSO brothers and sisters with stuff like that. Djohns74 made me a killer 27" conversion neck a few years ago, and if I have the skills I think it'd be cool to practice on one-off projects like that.
     
  11. Kashmir

    Kashmir SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys, I will be moving forward with this idea. I will keep you posted!
     
  12. Chemical-Pony

    Chemical-Pony SS.org Regular

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    This kind of thing

    [​IMG]

    This is a Bosch (pic I found on the internet) but I don't know if they make this model anymore. I have a Trend T4 and have done the same thing, both can be detached from the base and have a 43mm collar to fit in a drill press. I have only used it fixed so like a router table but the router is above so spins in the other direction. Also makes it easier to see what you're doing. I guess you could raise and lower it like a milling machine too.
     
  13. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    They have their uses, just none that I can think of guitar-related.
     
  14. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    For guitar, you can likely get away with this, because the bits tend to be small. I still wouldn't want to route a truss-rod channel without a table and fence.

    If you wanted to use any of the bigger cabinetry bits for shaping the body (a big cove bit comes to mind or other panel shaping bit), there's no way you'd be able to handle that safely w/o a table.
     
  15. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin'

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    A family member gave me a gift card which went to a few carbide tipped Amana bits with ball bearings for routing templates. I was planning to buy a router this weekend, but I'll have to put that off because I'm going to spend the money on helluva deal I found on Craigslist today.

    A 14" bandsaw with minimal use in great condition for $250; clearing out an estate and the heir has no interest in woodworking. So I'ma grab that bad boy. I'm really excited to be able to resaw my own lumber at my convenience. It's about starting to get a little crowded in my shop, but I'll make do. ;)
     
  16. canuck brian

    canuck brian Bowes Guitars Contributor

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    My output jacks require a 1/2 inch hole - the spade bit does the best/most accurate and cleanest job out of every possible bit i have but that's really where it's usefulness ends.

    I'm with you on routing truss channels...I used to route the truss channel with a template, but the minute i realized how monumentally easier it was to do it on the table router, i haven't looked back....well i use the CNC now but that's beside the point. :cool:

    Russ - make sure you get a proper resawing blade and test a lot of other woods before resawing a nice piece. The blade might chatter and go slightly off center and having a 1/16th and 1/4 piece for a bookmatch makes everyone sad.
     
  17. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein SS.org Regular

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    For flush trimming, I'd really like to mention spiral cut bits are fantastic. I've used a Freud spiral cut bit on my overarm router and everything about those bits are superior to a normal straight cut bit. The directionality of the cut really gives a clean edge, zero burn, and the tendency to grab a workpiece is severely decreased.
     
  18. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin'

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    Good advice. Sadly though, the deal fell through. Guess I'll have to wait a while before I can resaw at home.
     

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