Router Bit Speeds

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George Vondriska demonstrates why you need to change the speed of your router based on the diameter of the router bit you are using for your woodworking projects. A WoodWorkers Guild of America (WWGOA) original video.

Click here to download a router bit speed chart.

Discussion
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17 Responses to “Router Bit Speeds”
  1. Peter Clark

    Just watched George Vondriska’s video on router bit speed. Not having used a router in over thirty years and new to woodworking, do the newer routers all come with multi speed controls?

    Reply
    • Brad

      Many do, not all. One feature of most VSR routers (variable speed rotation) is the RPM control…there is usually electronics in there that will keep the router at a constant RPM under varying load conditions. This is a very nice feature even on a fixed rpm router.

      Reply
      • Peter Clark

        What router do you recommend for a Newbe to woodworking? Thanks for your reply Brad.

        Reply
        • Brad

          Hi Peter. It really depends on what you want to use it for. I know that’s not what a newbie wants to hear because there’s a good chance, you don’t yet know. You need to consider bit size you’ll be using…bigger bits take more power. Look at the bits you want to use, are they 1/4″ or 1/2″ shank? (1/2″ bits tend to be more stable but you can’t get really small bits in 1/2″ shank) Do you want to put it in a router table? Do you want to do plunge cuts? I have my favorites but what I do might not be what you do. I don’t want to give you competing links on George’s site but there are a number of articles and videos online that talk about applications for different type of routers. IMO, routers are so versatile, one router won’t do everything. My favorite workhorse router is my Porter Cable 690. It’ll do everything but plunge, has enough power, isn’t huge and unwieldy, is simple, reliable, affordable (shop around) takes both 1/4″ and 1/2″ bits, but I would hate to give up my Bosch PR10E palm router.

          Reply
          • Peter Clark

            Thanks again Brad I will use your information to shop.
            Pete

    • Steve Gronsky

      Peter – Brad’d comments are right on the money. I, personally, have the Porter Cable 895PK which is both the fixed and plunge bases using the same removable motor.

      Reply
      • Peter Clark

        Thank you Steve for a quick response. How long since you purchased your router and if I may ask, Will you forward what I can expect to pay for an 895 PK?

        Pete

        Reply
        • Steve Gronsky

          As of today Amazon has it for $244.46. I paid just a bit less about 1 1/2 years ago. Shop it a bit for the best price if that’s the machine you choose. Bosch has a similar “set” too.

          Reply
      • Brad

        Thanks Peter! Those are a great option. Many manufacturers are now offering multiple base options, even on compact routers. I have only the fixed base for my 690 but a plunge base is also available. I find the 690 is a great affordable workhorse but it’s not VSR. I think I paid about $125 at Amazon…I actually bought two. Since I got my Bosch PR10E, I haven’t used my other routers much at all, but it’s only 1/4″.

        Reply
  2. Irv

    I really appreciate videos like this. In addition to the instruction, you provide simple explanations and examples. The “why” helps me to retain the information. Thanks!

    Reply
  3. chris

    I knew to use slower sppeds with larger bits but didnt understand why. Its nice that wwgoa can explain things in a simple way thats easy to understand and makes sense

    Reply
    • Brad

      It doesn’t. Bigger shank means better bit stability, less chatter. Generally bigger diameter bits will have bigger shanks but that’s not about RPM, it’s just a bigger bit.

      Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      Hi, Joe! Router bit speed is all about bit diameter, not shank size. When you’re deciding what speed to use it won’t matter if it’s a 1-1/4” diameter bit on a ¼” shank or ½” shank.

      Reply
  4. Chris Pring

    I understand the maths but don’t get why it’s “more dangerous” for the larger bit to be spinning so fast. What is the effect of the faster speed on the work piece and me?? I have a fixed speed router so don’t know what to do!

    Reply
    • CST

      Hi Chris-At a given speed a larger diameter bit has a great rim speed. This is the speed at which the carbide tips are spinning. It’s very dangerous to exceed the “speed limit.” If you’re using large diameter bits you need a variable speed router.

      Reply
      • Michael

        I keep hearing that it’s “very dangerous” to exceed maximum bit tip speed. What exactly is the danger? That is, what is the consequence of running a large diameter bit too fast?

        Reply

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