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Freud #88-104, 4-Piece Introductory Bit Set
Getting started with quality
Text & Photos by Tom Hintz
Despite the popularity of ½"-shank routers and bits, there remain a substantial number of ¼"-only routers on the market that often find their way in the hands of beginning woodworkers. In addition, the recent growth in popularity of small palm-grip routers provides another venue for ¼"-shanked bits. The Freud #88-104 bit set includes four of their popular ¼"-shanked profiles, representing a good starting point for building a bit set for the home woodworking shop. Their relatively small diameters make them useable in both hand-held and table-mounted routers particularly if depth of cut setting is kept on the light side, a good practice regardless of the bit design.
The Freud #88-104 set features four bits, an Allen wrench and an extra bearing that changes the beading bit profile to a roundover. Included are a #42-104, ½" flush trim bit, a #38-100 1 1/16"-diameter Roman Ogee and a #36-114 1 ¼"-diameter beading bit. All have carbide cutters with the exception of the #04-108 ¼", double flute straight bit which is made from solid carbide.
The #88-104 kit includes a wooden storage box that holds the bits in a removable wooden insert.
The #42-104, ½" diameter flush trim bit is primarily used for trimming laminates flush with the substrate. In addition, its 1" cutter height means it can also function as a light-duty pattern bit. I would stress that whether used in a hand-held or table mounted router, the amount of material removed be limited to 1/8" or less per pass to minimize the stress on the ¼" shank. Reducing waste to 1/8" is a
good idea regardless of bit size and is not difficult to do with a bandsaw or jigsaw. Minimizing the waste also helps any bit produce a smoother finished surface and extends its life.
The #04-108, ¼"-diameter straight bit is good for cutting small grooves, slots, dados and rabbets, often to fit thin solid or plywood panels. While this bit can be used in a hand-held router equipped with a guide fence, making these types of cuts accurately is easier to do on a router table with a fence. For safety and performance, depth of cut should be limited to 1/8" to ¼" per pass.
The #38-100 Roman Ogee cutter is one of the most frequently used profiles in woodworking. Its classic shape produces an attractive treatment for inside and outside edges on a large range of projects.
The guide bearing makes it easy to use in a hand-held router but it is also happy in a router table. Making multiple light cuts is crucial with this type of cutter to preserve the bit itself and to insure the best quality of cut. Trying to cut the full profile in one pass is more apt to produce chipping or wavy surface. The depth of cut can be varied to produce partial profile cuts for a different look.
The #36-114, 3/8" beading bit is also extremely popular for edge treatment on its own. Freud includes an extra bearing (and wrench) that converts it to a roundover profile, also frequently used in virtually any woodworking shop.
In the Shop
All of the bits in the #88-104 kit live up to Freud's reputation for quality router bits. They are well made, finely sharpened and perform well in a variety of wood species.
Using common sense techniques, not the east of which is light cuts, the #88-104 set handled all of the cuts I tried very well. All of the profiles included produced very smooth finish cuts that require little sanding to get ready for finishing.
While I would prefer ½"-shanks because of their increased durability and stable performance, the reality is there remain a substantial number of ¼"-only routers in use. Often these bargain routers also lack the speed control function necessary for using larger diameter bits safely. The Freud #88-104 bit set can be used safely in most of these routers and will immediately enhance their capabilities. Should the woodworker move to one of the popular full-featured routers, nearly all of which include ¼" and ½" collets as standard equipment, the Freud #88-104 set will not become obsolete.
The selection of profiles is small but makes a good foundation on which the beginning woodworker can build their bit collection. With a street price of $95.99 (7-19-2005) the Freud #88-104 router bit set is a good value for new woodworkers wanting to start a quality bit collection.
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