Top Router Bits

Noob here. Before I waste money on buying bits I don’t need I thought I would ask,“what are the top 3-5 bits that get used the most often”?

The community has notes on this at: and

Thanks. I did a search and couldn’t find anything before I posted the question. Thanks again.

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This may or May not be the answer you are looking for, but I like to see people start with using a 1/4" 3-Flute, ZrN Coated end mill. (1) It will cut ANYTHING (all woods, metal (brass, aluminum)) and (2) You can not BREAK it.

You WILL make mistakes…we all do… so I recommend that you spend a few weeks (50 hours) playing, practicing, finding out what is loose (I am sure something was missed) and what needs to be tightened a little more (usually belts).

THEN…feel free to use those expensive tiny, fragile cutters… (not bits).

The Voice of Experience…40+ years…


Thank for the advice Richard. I will definitely be doing a lot of learning and practicing before I start buying the big money cutters.

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My most frequently used endmills, in order are:

  1. 1/4 3 flute Flat
  2. 1/8 2 flute Flat
  3. 1/4 ball mill
  4. 1/4 30 degree V-bit

One thing i have learned, is don’t cheap out on the endmills, i bought a load of Chinese ones off eBay, and about 3/4 of them were useless… my advice would be to go with the Carbide3D endmills, they are well priced and high quality.

I also second what Rich said: put in a 1/4 flat endmill and use that for a while until you get the hang of it all, when you plow into your material too fast or hit a clamp, it will be much harder to break than anything else


Thanks! But why a 2 or 3 flute?

The number of flutes works with feed and speed rate to determine the chipload — fewer flutes increases chipload. Discussion at:


I personally think that 3 flutes is a good number for a general purpose endmill on the Shapeoko 3 (probably also why thats what they supply and sell for it), I see it as a compromise, I think that 2 flutes is ideal for aluminium, and 4 is ideal for timber, 3 is obviously right in the middle. and i like 2 flutes on the 1/8 because it leaves a bit more space to evacuate the chips when it’s cutting

Will has linked to some good documentation there, it takes a while to get your head around how it all works, but all you need to do is find some rough speeds and feeds to start with then play with it and see what works best for you :slight_smile:

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I will echo Richard Cournoyer’s excellent advice to buy a good quality coated endmill to practice with. A quarter inch flat mill is pretty versatile.

To the lists others have posted, I would add a surfacing bit like this one. []

to face supplementary spoil boards, and to clean up the faces of stock picked from the scrap pile.

Thanks John. I’ll check it out.

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