Router bits can do so many things in a woodworking shop, and they’re available in an assortment of general types. Straight bits are very common for cutting grooves, dadoes, rabbets and mortises. Flush trim bits have bearings and are used to copy shapes and flush surfaces to one another. Edge treatment bits usually have bearings, and add profiles to the edges of workpieces. Joinery bits create joints. Decorative bits embellish surfaces. Specialty bits do so many tasks. Most bits today have long-lasting carbide cutters, while HSS cutters are much less common. Different-sized bearings are sometimes interchangeable to expand the bit’s function or the profile it leaves. Smaller bits have a 1/4″ diameter shank, while larger or stronger bits have 1/2″ shanks. A few bits are available in 3/8″ or 8mm diameters for very specific purposes. Some router bits have cutters on their ends and sides so they can first plunge into the wood, then cut wood while being moved forward. Almost all bits can be re-sharpened. Purchasing a set of bits is often far more economical, though if you don’t think you will use many of the bits in a set, it’s likely better to buy bits individually as needed.
A dull bit will burn the wood, creating extra work for the user, and leaves a poor joint. Sharp bits are a joy to use.
Router bits aren’t made to hog off massive amounts of wood per pass. Multiple passes are safer, easier on the bit and leave a better surface.
Jigs will help you be more accurate and safer while routing. They will also open up the possibilities of what can be accomplished.
Large router bits are best used while secured in a router table, as their rim speeds are high and they’re heavier.