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Router and Cutters


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What router and cutters do you recommend for a first timer?  I don't want to spend too much but want something that will do a good job.  Re the cutters, it looks like there are some good value sets available online but are there any that are worth buying with all the bits that we need for guitar building or do we have to buy separates?  It looks quite expensive to buy them all from Mark's shop and they aren't all in stock.  Also, the sizes he gives on the Essential Tools list don't seem to match exactly what is in the shop anyway... some of the sizes are slightly different... Not sure what to buy

@riccardo My opinion on routers and bits are.... I'd use what you can get. For the router I'd first see if a friend or family has a plunge router. If someone asked me that question this time last year (before I attempted to build a guitar) I would have said.. yeah. I have an old plunge router in my shed that hasn't been used in close to 20 years. If no one has one then I'd just see what you can afford and get that one. As for the router bits.... I buy my tools on a "task" basis (that way it doesn't seem as expensive as it is and the wife doesn't know. 🙂 ). If I know I'm going to route a pickup cavity then I'd go get a flush trim/copy router bit from a big box store or wherever that would suit. Just a note... that same bit is also used for thicknessing the headstock. As for what size bit, as long as it fits in the hole it will work. I have just three bits in my shop that I use, a copy router bit with the bearing on the top, one with the bearing on the bottom to give an option to flip it over, and one to cut my truss rod. ... again... not an experienced builder yet... I personally don't like the "value pack" of bits. I bought one a while back and only got a couple cuts out of them and they were dull. I guess it makes sense... if you buy a pack of say.... 10 bits for $20.00 then really those are $2.00 a bit and you get what you pay for. I have learned to go buy a bit for $25.00 or so it is a much better quality tool.

Thanks for the reply, that's really helpful. I'll get 3 good quality cutters rather than a box of cheap ones... Do you also have a router table?

@riccardo I do not have a router table.

2 Answers

Routers are made either a 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch collet chucks in which 2 types of router bit shanks are made for these. Get the router with 1/4 inch collet. You also would like to get the router with a plunge base capability as opposed to a fixed base. The smaller the router the easier it is to work with. My favorite is the Makita RTO701 compact router with the plunge base attachment sold seperately or can be bought as a kit for a much better value. It is the best bang for the buck. Whatever you can afford is ok but after using it, you are going to wish you would have invested in a decent router for it is the primary key tool for guitar making. Every other power tool really is secondary or could go without. The router’s purpose however is irreplaceable. 

Router bits-Provided that you go with 1/4 inch collet routers, get 1/4 shank flush trim router bits. You need two. A top bearing and a bottom bearing flush trim router bits. 1/2 inch diameter cutter size and both at 1/2 inch cutting height as well. A third top bearing cutter will come in handy still at 1/2 inch diameter and 1 inch cutting height. A slightly taller one to get into deeper routing when needed.


Wishing you all the best in your future builds and will be glad to help or guide you along the way.


@clinton Thanks so much for your help. I'll get something ordered.


Oh forgot to mention, a cutter for the truss rod slot at the same thickness of your truss rod. There are normally two sizes. One for the length of the rod and another for the head of the rod where you adjust it with an allen wrench or so. This area however can be done with a chisel.