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1/2" Shank Bits

1/2 Router Bits Buying Guide

Most router kits include two collets to accommodate either 1/4-inch and 1/2"-inch router bit shanks. You can buy most router bits with either size of shank, but which size is better, and why? In many applications, the choice of shank size makes little difference in performance, but 1/2-inch shanks are generally preferred for larger bits, high tool speed, and overall bit stiffness.

Features to Focus on

When looking at routers, the most important feature to look for is the horsepower rating of the motor. I wouldn't buy any router that is less than 2-HP, as you'll need that power to push some bigger bits through the stock.

Next, you'll want to spend a little extra to get one that has variable speed control. Single-speed routers are fine as long as you're using small bits, but keep in mind: the larger the bit, the slower the cutting speed needs to be. Otherwise, you're likely to burn the bit.

Third, look at the collet diameter. That is to say, routers can accommodate either 1/4-inch diameter shaft bits or 1/2-inch diameter bits. 1/2-inch bits are more expensive and not nearly as readily available, but are much more stable and will route with less chatter than 1/4-inch bits. (Keep in mind, 1/4-inch bits will adapt to fit into a 1/2-inch collet, but not the other way around.)

Fourth, the router you purchase should have ergonomic handles that feel comfortable in your hands. Some routers have one large, pistol-grip style handle that you hold with your dominant hand, while your second-hand wraps around the motor housing of the router to stabilize the unit. Other models offer two handles on opposite sides of the base. Choose whichever model feels comfortable in your hands. Not only will the comfort allow you to use the router longer, but it will help to minimize any stress or discomfort in your wrists and hands after long periods of use.