Wise Buys: Forstner Bit Sets
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Wood Magazine

Wise Buys: Forstner Bit Sets

Why buy? A workshop needs several types of drill bits: Standard twist, brad-point, and Forstner bits. The first two drill holes primarily 1/2" or less in diameter. But Forstner bits create holes from 1/4" to greater than 4". These bits not only bore clean, precise holes, but they also excel at angled holes and counterbores, and leave flat bottoms ideal for inserting European-style cup hinges, chair stretchers and spindles, or commemorative coins. Although you can use them in a handheld drill, for safety and best results we suggest using 1" or larger bits in a slow-running drill press, with your workpiece clamped to the table. After testing eight boxed sets of Forstners, we recommend these three, which all feature printed or imbedded diameter markings on the shaft--our preference--because markings near the ends tend to wear over time due to slippage in the chuck.

Freud #PB-100

Freud #PB-100

16 bits: 1/4" to 2-1/8" in 1/8" increments

Editor test-drive:
Before testing this set, I used a generic, inexpensive set of Forstner bits in my shop, and got along fine. But what a difference when I began using Freud's Italian-made bits! It's amazing how my ordinary, cheap bits lulled me into accepting a little tear-out here or a little burning there. With a unique wavy-edge rim design, these bits never tore out any of the woods that I used for testing, including pesky veneered plywood and MDF. The wavy edges cut so smoothly and cleanly and required so little effort that it surprised me. They also cut flawlessly on angled-entry holes.

--Tested by Chuck Hedlund

To learn more:
800-334-4107; freudtools.com


 

Lee Valley #06J80.13

Lee Valley #06J80.13

13 bits: 1/4" to 1" in 1/16" increments

Editor test-drive:
Except for the 1-3/8" bit I use for cup hinges, I rarely use Forstner bits larger than 1". So this set of small bits, made in China, suits me just fine, even though I can get more bits for less money elsewhere. These high-speed-steel, smooth-rimmed bits proved sharp and accurate as they bored crisp, tear-out-free holes in oak, walnut, fir, birch plywood, and MDF. They make perfect flat-bottom holes, with only a 1/8"-deep divot from the center spur. I also tested Lee Valley's 16-piece set of sawtooth bits (1-1/8" to 3" by 1/8" increments) and they performed equally well.

--Tested by Kevin Boyle, Senior Design Editor

To learn more:
800-871-8158; leevalley.com


 

Woodline USA #WL-FR2000

Woodline USA #WL-FR2000

20 bits: 1/4" to 1" in 1/16" increments; 1-1/8" to 2" in 1/8" increments

Editor test-drive:
In the past, I've bought Forstner bits like router bits: One at a time, as needed. But for the price of a half-dozen individual bits, I got Woodline's China-made 20-piece set. The 12 bits smaller than 1" feature smooth cutting rims, while the larger ones have a sawtooth design. Both types cut cleanly with no tear-out as I bored holes in pine, birch plywood, white oak, and even tough-as-nails hickory. As a bonus, the titanium-nitride coating helps reduce dulling from heat buildup. They also have hex-tipped shanks for a no-slip grip in the chuck, with the recommended speed printed on the shank.

--Tested by Bob Wilson, Techniques Editor

To learn more:
800-472-6950; woodline.com


 

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