Router Bit Rack Suggestions

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Router Bit Rack Suggestions

Postby bill z » Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:05 pm

My selection of router bits is not very large but I did buy extra bits for the ones that I frequently use. What I’m looking for, are suggestions for a router bit rack that is really user friendly but not museum display quality. Something that a working guy could use day in and out to be positioned near the CNC machine.

The router in my shark is just a Bosch, not fancy.

The bits I have to use are 60 degree V bits, ¼ end mill, 1/8 end mill, 1/16 end mill, ¼ ball nose, 1/8 ball nose. See, not many but I have a few of each.

Any suggestions?
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Re: Router Bit Rack Suggestions

Postby jeb2cav » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:43 am

I've tried a few things over the years - and in the end I keep the bits in their 'original' box - often this is in a plastic pouch - and have them on the pegboard. For those bits not in a pouch, I keep them in a small parts box so centrally located, but convenient to the table in a drawer. The handful of larger bits (1/2" shank, v60, v90, v120 - kept them in their box and lightly oiled paper - in the same drawer.

I have to deal with a shop that does not have conditioned air, so a range of temperatures and humidity. Keeping the bits lightly lubricated is important. Because I keep them in their original container, I know with authority the size and bit style.

When I first started, I tried a small cabinet like container with tilting shelves, as well as a simple board with holes to set them in. It worked, but to your point about 'museum quality' - wasn't as useful as what I do now.
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Re: Router Bit Rack Suggestions

Postby Rando » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:15 am


Can't say as I've seen this question come up before, so I'll go ahead and share how I store mine. I originally had a small piece of oak with holes drilled in it, then a larger one, and then I realized this was going to be a problem, and I needed something that could feasibly scale to handle what was clearly coming my way....MORE BITS! I moved to these cool plastic containers that have adjustable partitions. I got mine at The Container Store, as they had one close to where I was living then. Starting in the upper left, I'll give a textual runthrough:


One thing to note is that I don't really have any of those weld-on style bits. I used to, but they're useless for any kind of precision work, definitely useless in metal, and they wear a lot faster than people imagine. Sure, you can hone them, and that's fine for a router. CNCs require cutter compensation measurements when the bit cutting diameter changes with wear, and I'm not really wanting to get that much into it. More about the effects of bit wear on your bit stock toward the end.

Upper-left: This is the main carbide bit storage. From front to back they are (generally) 1/8", 3/16", and 1/4" normal endmills (aka, flat-bottomed or pure ball, radiused, extended-reach). The back row has spotting drills, tapered ball noses, chamfering, round-overs, etc. Shorter bits on the left. In those first three rows, each compartment has the stock for one bit. I tend to keep at least 5 of the smaller sizes on hand, because they are VERY fragile at high speeds.

Upper-right: This is an optional container, one I've kept to own my shame, and just 'cause some of the horrible things I've done look cool in a perverted kind of way :twisted: . Yes, it has the broken bits. Every single one of them that I've ever broken. Yeah, there was a time me and a friend were going about engraving in a completely wrong way ;-).

Lower-right, bottom: these are my taps. I work in metal, so threads in metal are feasible and excellent. I have two TapMatic tapping heads that go into the drillpress, allowing me precision tapping from #0 through 1/2", including NPT sizes up to 3/8". That means I have to keep a stock of taps on hand to work that magic. Again with the adjustable-partition plastic box.

Lower-right, middle: This container has my larger special-use bits, like a 3/4" HSS flat endmill I use when facing blocks of aluminum, a 60-degree, 6-flue dovetailing bit (a thing of beauty!), o-ring groove cutters, that kind of thing.

Lower-right, top-most: Those three bits, with their red markings, are a "thing". Because I keep a good half-dozen bits of each type on hand, I monitor their wear, and move to the next bit in line when one gets too dull. On many parts, I'll use a more-worn bit for the roughing, but then use a nice, sharp one of the same kind for the finishing pass. Well, you'll soon realize it is imperative that you know which of the bits is the one currently in-use, and even which one is "next". That "next" one is that still-sharp bit you use for finishing. By doing this, you can avoid having 4 out of 5 bits in partial states of dull, as you reach for that fifth and last sharp bit.... My solution to that problem it to keep a red sharpie handy, and always make sure that the currently in-use bit is clearly marked as such.

In addition, the used/dead bits must be positively disposed of in the dead-bit holder, in case I decide I need to more carefully inspect the pieces/wear; sometimes bit breakage is actually due to normal pressures, but a nick in the collet insert holding the bit, that scores the carbide shank, creating a brittle weak spot. Been there, had that. The package, the one with the red "in use" marking, either gets the label removed and disposed of (yes, I have a box somewhere tucked away where those get thrown, not really sure why ;) ). The point is, once you declare a bit done, it should be nearly impossible for that bit to make it back into a cut plan, but still be available for inspection, for at least a while. I just keep mine forever 'cause it's "fun". Okay, not really. When working in aluminum, there are a specific set of changes that occur to the bit when it's used incorrectly. Being able to recognize even the slightest bit of "built-up edge" as it starts to form as a haze of gray on the otherwise bright carbide, will help you not only in that one cut, but over the life of that bit. Nowadays, I truly have carbide bits that, when run purely in aluminum, they last for month or more of pretty continuous use, say 2h/day minimum. Yeah, they literally don't dull, so as long as I don't run them into things, they stay awesome without chips. With the Sharks, the secret is to use radiused end mills ;-). The sharp pointies break very easily, because the step-size on these motors is larger than is appropriate, and true high-speed machining is well, a compromise. But, I digress...back to bit storage, organization, and managing worn bits....

The cool thing is that sometimes, an expensive endmill (e.g., $87 for a 1/4"D, 2.25" long extended-reach, 0.010" reduced-diameter shank, 2fl with 0.020" radius) will get a tiny chip that will leave a mark on the part, but not impact the cut too badly. I can still use that for roughing out a part as long as the finished surfaces aren't cut by that bit. Right? Like a chip up the side of a bit isn't going to matter if what I'm cutting is a flat surface. No walls = no marks in that case. My point being that I mark that bit as being for a specific use if needed. The only wrong situation is to NOT mark them at all. :ugeek:

Lower-left, bottom: those are my High-Speed Steel bits in 1/8", 3/16" and 1/4". These are way cheaper than the carbide bits. One thing some don't know is that HSS bits sharpen much sharper than carbide bits, since they are pure metal, whereas carbide bits are actually silicon-carbide powder in a metal matrix. Sometimes you'll see a brand of carbide endmills claim "mega ultra super fine grain"; it's those silicon carbide grains they're talking about. A finer grain = potentially a sharper edge, but not necessarily a stronger edge. Marketing. Anyway....that box also holds the O-flute (aka 1-flute) HSS bits that I use when cutting acrylic. The slower speeds used by HSS mean less heat goes into the cut, the sharper edge means less heat goes into the cut, and so on....they help prevent melting when cutting plastic. I highly recommend them.

Lower-left, top: engraving bits! Well, SOME of them. Those are the spring-loaded variety, including a spring-load diamond drag-engraving bit.

Next picture: a drawer full of 10-bit boxes from Precise Bits (aka Think & Tinker) of PCB drill bits and end mills < 1/8". I think 1/32 (0.03125") is the smallest I have, but drill bits go down to 0.019". Those are just the right height for the top two drawers of an Ikea EyeHavaNoIdea small 4-drawer cabinet type thing. Comes with casters.


My (any maybe only my) working philosophy is never start any cut if I don't have, on hand right then, the next bit that would be used to finish it. And sometimes I'll wants two backups. Why? Because if I need to go get another bit, or order it, that means that piece of work is going to sit there, clamped in and precisely located, until the cut can be finished. Broken bits happen way too often when working in metals, and they wear way too quickly in wood to not make this a zero-tolerance requirement: always have the replacement, "next" bit on hand before starting the cut.

Speaking of bits wearing, cutting (profiling and v-carving) acrylic and other plastics is very sensitive to heat build up, especially in the bit. And, because plastic is actually quite abrasive to cutting bits, bits will often wear before a long carving cut is finished, making that bit overheat as it smooshes the plastic instead of cuts it (that's a technical smoosh ;) ).

If you don't already, get to know about Feeds and Speeds, get yourself a good F&S calculator. It's not so much that it will help your wood carving, because that has a lot of latitude. Rather, it's that once you've learned how to properly choose all those feedrate and spindle speed numbers, you can cut anything you want. See this custom aluminum heatsink? Yup, I made two of those on my Shark HD2+. And, because I have my F&S dialed in perfect, the bit showed zero signs of wear after both parts were made, and the part fit perfectly.


So, that's how I store my bits. The holes-in-wood thing lasted about two months, and then I moved to aluminum, and all manner of bits just started showing up. LONG and expensive ones :shock:


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Re: Router Bit Rack Suggestions

Postby bill z » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:14 am

Thanks a bunch for the input.

Right now, the bits I buy come in pouches. I have my pouches in a tool box tool tray. The tool tray does not have any dividers so the pouches are all over. With the small verity of bits that I have, seems like a waste of space to make a section for only one bit.

I try to be organized and to me it seems logical that the bits be organized.

Maybe someone else has another idea.
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Re: Router Bit Rack Suggestions

Postby mcsteve » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:30 pm

Like most here I have had the same problem you have stated. I went to bass pro shops and picked up some small plastic tackle boxes with the divider trays very similar to these . I also picked up the storage bag for them so I can keep the bag under the table and pull out the trays when needed. I initially thought the water tight boxes would keep the moisture out and protect the bits but they ended up keeping the moisture in and I had a few shanks that started to show the results. The cheaper clip lock boxes do just fine. My wife tells me they have them at the dollar store as well, but the dollar store doesn’t have all of the other fun stuff, if you are also into fishing as I am :D
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