Can you use CNC bits in a router?

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CNC routers usually require bits that determine the speed at which you can move through materials, the resolution of the complete designs as well as the carving you can perform. They feature cutting edges that push down, pull up or sometimes do both, have a diameter that is slightly more than two inches for the regular CNC routing, and are made for accuracy or speed.

Therefore, can router bits work on a CNC? Yes, they can if the router bit can remove wood fast enough in a high-load situation. Additionally, CNCs do a much better job and a faster speed in comparison to an individual making use of a hand-held router.

There are numerous options available when it comes to CNC bits, which incorporate a design meant to cut through wood neatly at high speeds. Most CNC mills have high helix angles that are meant to cut through metal inside coolant-flooded CNC milling engines.

Related: Helpful CNC Routers for Small Woodshops

Deciding which CNC to use for your project can, however, be somewhat confusing. This is because you need to consider many variables before to determine what bit best suits your project. Here are some of the vital factors you need to take into consideration.

Application and material

The type of CNC bit you require usually depends on the material you intend to cut, which may either be aluminum, acrylic, plastic, or wood, as well as other materials. However, when selecting the proper CNC bit, one size does not fit all, so choosing the wrong size can damage the bit and in extreme scenarios, your equipment. Whereas you can use different CNC types, it is best you only make use of one type over another.

For example, CNC aluminum bit like ball nose bits, V bits, ‘O’ flutes, and upcut end mills usually clear chips, thus ensuring they never get fused to the bit at extremely high operating temperatures. Likewise, when cutting through plywood or melamine, it is recommended you use compression bits to prevent tearing the material or chipping.

If you prefer using multi-purpose CBC bits or still learning about CNC routing, you should go for the two-flute spiral bits. These bits are versatile and can be used on different materials such as plastics, wood, aluminum, and foam.


If your main objective is attaining a smooth quality cut, you should know that CNC machines deliver different cutting edges for added flexibility. The cutting edges on bits are known as flutes, and artisans usually choose from one, two, three to four-edged flutes for their CNC bits.

When you are looking to achieve a more refined finish, you should make use of the flute bits two and three. Moreover, the four-flute bits on the four cutting edges help you attain detailed work. The number of flutes found in the CNC bits is a crucial component when calculating the chip load.

If you are looking for a sign-making CNC bit, then you should go for the “V” bit, and if your design features complex components, use the ball nose pit. Additionally, if you want to manufacture a flat smooth finish, for instance, a tabletop, use the fly cutter bit or spoil board cutter.

Use the strongest bit possible

When searching for CNC bits, you need to remember that robust and stout bits typically deliver better cuts. In contrast, very long bits are vulnerable to bending as well as causing tool vibration. Consequently, both these scenarios result in the shortening of your machine’s lifespan as well as produce rough cuts. The best shank bits are the 1/2” and 3/8” since they operate more quietly as well as resist vibration and deflection better than the 1/4” bits. Consequently, your work is much smoother when you are not using the 1/4 “shank bits as you do not experience any loud noise.

Speeds and feeds settings

When you hear about feeds and speeds, this usually refers to two particular settings. Speeds refer to the RPM of the router or spindle, while feeds refer to the lateral speed of the machine while it cuts through your material. Manufactures will give you the ideal speeds and feeds for their CNC bits, while others prefer providing you with a target chip load, which is the chip’s physical size created by the bit when cutting.

With higher tool RPM, you produce smaller chips, whereas higher feed rates result in bigger chips. You thus should aim to balance between having chips that are too big and chips that are similar to fine powder, and the best way to do so is by starting with the recommended manufacturer settings.

Recommended: Need a CNC Router Suited for Carving Aluminum?

For some of the projects, the speed at which you complete the job might be of utmost importance. Nevertheless, the speed a CNC bit can attain depends on several factors and these are:

  • Your collet’s condition
  • Your spindle’s horsepower
  • If the panels are held down by vacuum or clamps
  • Your CNC machine stability

You should never straightaway start cutting at a high rate as this makes it hard to estimate the optimal speed. Instead, start your first cut by cutting the material at a slower rate and the increase the speed slowly.

What is the main direction of your cut?

You need to factor in your cut’s primary direction when choosing CNC bits. Down-cut bits usually push waste back in the which is ideal for aluminum but bad for causes plastics to melt whereas up-cut bits pull waste up and away from the material but chips melamine and plywood. Furthermore, compression bits typically cut in both directions, and despite being somewhat more expensive, they are ideal for routing plywood as well as for multi-purpose wood bits. However, your choice of the bit should depend mostly on the material you intend to process.


You now know it is possible to use CNC bits in a router as well as the several factors you must consider before deciding which bit to use. Therefore, you are in a much better position to make an informed decision as to which CNC bit best suits your needs while ensuring the quality is outstanding.

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