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The Infinity router bits are impressive to look at, and use.
Click image to enlarge

Infinity Cutting Tools

The new kid on the router bit block

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

NOTE: Since this review was posted, Infinity was purchased by David Venditto, who has since greatly expanded the line of products they offer.


   Open virtually any woodworking-related magazine and you are not far from router bit advertising. For those who shop router bits primarily by (low) price, there are many options. Woodworkers seeking router bits which embody quality materials and design, can count potential suppliers on one hand. That hand has a new finger in the form of Infinity Cutting Tools.

   Founder and President of Infinity Cutting Tools, Corey Spann, decided early on to avoid the price-point market to focus on developing a line of reasonably priced router bits based on high-tech design and top-quality materials formed using ultra-precise modern machining techniques.

Growing Profile Selection

   Currently, Infinity Cutting Tools router bit line includes 53 of the most popular profiles with approximately 100 additional profiles in development. Most of the Infinity line features stout ½"-shanks, but many of the more popular profiles are also available with ¼"-diameter shanks.

   Part of Infinity Cutting Tools philosophy is to take one measured step at a time. Resisting the rush-to-market strategy prevalent in today's business world is an admirable and uncommon trait indicative of Infinity's dedication to product quality and user satisfaction.

Features

This photo was taken after three days in the shop making rails and stiles on most of my scrap! The Infinity bits kept right on cutting and staying remarkably clean.
Click image to enlarge

   Each Infinity Cutting Tools bit body is machined from solid bars of FatigueProof® steel. Whenever possible, Anti-Kickback features are designed into the bit to increase safety. C-2 Micrograin Carbide cutting edges, used on all Infinity router bits, are secured to bit bodies using an ultra-strong Tri-Metal brazing process. C-2 carbide is an extremely tough material that was chosen specifically because its hardness is slightly below the level that tends to shatter if the bit is dropped or otherwise strikes a hard object during handling.

   Infinity Cutting Tools cutting edges are ground on sophisticated five-axis CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machinery capable of maintaining extremely close tolerances. There are cheaper machining processes available but they do not produce the quality edges Infinity requires for their products.

   The most visible feature of Infinity Cutting Tools router bits is their distinctive silver color. While identifiable coloring is fashionable in the router bit industry, Infinity's silver hue comes from a high-tech PTFE coating that greatly enhances bit performance.

   Infinity Cutting Tools applies a baked-on coating of PTFE that helps prevent the build-up of pitch and other contaminants commonly generated when cutting wood at high speeds. If allowed to accumulate, these contaminants increase friction, which generates heat. That same build-up insulates the bit body, reducing its ability to dissipate heat, which further elevates the operating temperature of the bit.

   This combination of features means Infinity Cutting Tools bits will perform very well, and can be expected to do so for an extended period. Infinity Cutting Tools is sufficiently confident in their router bits to provide a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

In The Shop

   Infinity Cutting Tools router bits look great, and their features are impressive, but how they cut wood in the average home woodworking shop is what is most important. Loads of trick features mean nothing if the cut a bit produces appears to have been made by an amateur with a hatchet. Infinity Cutting Tools router bits suffer no such problems.

   In accordance with the instructions accompanying the Infinity Cutting Tools bits, the following trials were done with the bits mounted in my router table with the fence aligned with the bearing. The only exception was when rabbeting with a hand-held router.

Ogee Rail and Stile Set - (#91-501 - ½" shank)

The rail and stile bits cut very smoothly, adjust easily and are easy to set so the front face comes out dead flush.
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   I started with the stile bit, eyeballing the height for the first test cut. I dialed the router down to about 10,000 rpm and made the first cut. I had to make one height adjustment to get the balance of reveal at the ogee and thickness behind the panel groove I wanted.

   The same process followed with the rail bit and again, one height adjustment was all that was needed to match the pieces properly.

   Each bit in the Infinity Cutting Tools Rail and Stile set is adjustable, allowing the end user to perfect the joint fit. Adjustment is accomplished by adding or subtracting shim washers (installed at the factory) that control the distance between the two cutters on each bit.

   The first joints I made showed a little extra space at the ogee curve. After moving two thin shims from under the retaining nut to between the stile bit cutters, the joint snugged up perfectly. I cut three other rail and stile joints to check the fit and found the joints were all snug and gap-free.

   Both the rail and stile cutters are designed to be used with the top face of the stock against the router table surface. This is a handy feature for woodworkers who do not have a thickness planer available. As will often be the case in your shop, I discovered approximately 1/16" difference in the thickness of the pieces of wood being used for the test. With both pieces machined face down, the difference in thickness shows on the back side of the joint where sanding it smooth will have no effect on appearance.

Ogee Raised Panel Bit - (#90-501 - ½" shank)

The panel raising bit leaves super-smooth surfaces and a crisp line at the corners. Very little sanding would be needed for finishing, even on the cross-grain cut. (No sanding was done on this piece!)
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   Panel raising bits produce dramatic contours, but are usually very easy to use. The Infinity Cutting Tools bit falls into this category. I installed it in the router table, aligned the fence even with the bearing, left the speed at 10,000 rpm and cranked the depth of cut down to a little less than 1/8" for the initial cuts.

   I made three passes, end grain first, on pine, oak and poplar blanks, increasing the bit height between 1/16th and 1/8th" between passes. All of the machined surfaces came out very smooth, including where the bit was cutting across the end grain. The transitions from curved to flat across the cut are very smooth and show no signs of chatter, tearing or skip.

   The shape of the cutting edges allows reducing ¾"-thick material sufficiently to fit into the rail and stile grooves with no back cutting if you so desire. The profile also presents a cleanly raised panel at lesser depths for when back cutting is necessary.

   Assembling the rail and stile joint produced by the Infinity bit set requires little glue or clamp pressure to form a very strong union.

Rabbeting Bit (1 3/8"-diameter - #35-850 - ½" shank)
Rabbet Bearing Conversion Kit - (#RB-155)

Infinity's rabbeting bit and bearing kit cut flawlessly. Notice the clean edge on the veneer oak plywood even though I cut across the grain.
Click image to enlarge

   I also "test drove" one of Infinity Cutting Tools rabbeting bits. As it comes from the factory, this bearing-tipped bit has a ½" vertical and ½" horizontal range. The twin cutting blades are angled so they stay in a slicing mode rather than a shear mode. This greatly enhances the quality of the cut when end grain is encountered.

   In the shop, the rabbeting bit performed flawlessly. The cuts were very sharp, clean and virtually splinter-free, even in veneer plywood.

   I also cut rabbets in several feet of oak, with the bit mounted in a hand-held router and using a fence to control the width. Again, the bit cut perfectly with no tendency to wander or fight control of the router.

   To extend the usefulness of the base rabbeting bit, a Bearing Conversion Kit is available that provides six different horizontal cutting depths, plus a large bearing which converts the rabbeting bit into a flush trim model. Necessary screws and an Allen wrench are included with the bearings.

   Note: See our in-depth story on rabbeting, using the Infinity Cutting Tools bit and bearing set. In the course of this test, I used several of the bearings and found the resulting rabbets were exactly the indicated width and equally smooth to the previous test cuts done on the router table.

Sharpening

   Re-sharpening modern router bits can be a treacherous undertaking. The precision with which high-quality bits are made, combined with the speeds at which they operate make restoring a dull edge a costly and potentially dangerous affair.

The finish generated by the Infinity bits is as good as anything I have seen. No scorching, tear out or rolled grain. The fit between rail and stile is exceptional.
Click image to enlarge

   Manufacturers use highly sophisticated equipment to create the original sharp cutting edge that resists dulling. That means that if the cutting edge should need to be restored, you are going to need more than someone who is handy with a wet-stone. The skill and equipment necessary to safely re-sharpen a router bit without throwing it out of balance or otherwise compromising its safety means this can be an expensive proposition. Add shipping to and from a qualified sharpener and buying a new bit often makes more sense.

   Another point to consider is that re-sharpening a router bit is often viewed by the manufacturer (Infinity Cutting Tools included) as an unauthorized modification that voids the warranty. This is not a marketing ploy but rather an understanding of how easily the safety of a router bit can be compromised if inappropriate tooling or techniques are employed during the re-sharpening process.

   I have found that buying high quality router bits saves money over the long run. They hold their edge much longer (I'll tell you how long when one finally goes dull), and work better throughout their life. Add to this the price-competitive atmosphere in the woodworking marketplace, and re-sharpening loses its appeal.

   If you know of someone with a precision multi-axis grinder, who is skilled in it's use and is willing to use it for next to nothing, let us all know. Until then, take care of your router bits and they will last a long time. Keep the speeds down, the cutting depth reasonable, clean them when they get dirty and store them so they are not banging into each other. Proper care is not difficult.

Impressions

   Infinity Cutting Tools router bits are very impressive in their manufacture. All machining and construction is first class and shows no sign of cost-cutting compromise.

   The cutting edges are finely ground with very consistent edges throughout their profile. Square corners on cutting edges are sharp and true while curves are clean and consistent. Even under magnification, the final grinding within curved areas of cutting edges is extremely smooth and consistent.

   All of the Infinity Cutting Tools router bits I tried produced excellent surfaces with no unusual loading of the router motor. Even with intentionally slow feed rates, I saw no evidence of burning. Cross-grain cuts with all of the bits tested were remarkably smooth and show no tearing or "rolling" of the wood fibers.

   The balancing of the Infinity Cutting Tools bits appears to be exceptional. With a ½"-shanked straight bit (which generates virtually no vibration) in the collet, I ran the router up to the maximum allowable rpm for the Infinity Cutting Tools bits and noted the vibration felt at the table. Then, each Infinity bit tested for this story was installed and run up to its maximum recommended rpm in the same router and router table. There was no discernable increase in vibration over the baseline straight bit noted.

   The precision of Infinity Cutting Tools balancing may explain an unusual characteristic I noticed while using these bits. They appear to be noticeably quieter than other high quality bits I have used in my shop. I even installed similar bits from another manufacturer for comparison and noted a definite increase in sound level when cutting at the same rpm. As far as I can tell both bits are sharp and balanced, but they sound different.

   The PTFE coating appears to work very well. I had a five-foot-long piece of pine that I have refrained from using because its high resin content had been loading up my table saw blades. I made several passes on this piece of wood with the Infinity bits and aside from the cutter face itself, there was no buildup noted. Other bits I have used showed resin on the bodies almost immediately. The resin that did stay on the face of the cutting edges wiped off with a dry cloth.

Conclusions

  Infinity Cutting Tools router bits appear to be a very good value for the home woodworker. Their initial price is moderate, but the quality strictly top shelf. With reasonable care, these bits will last a very long time, offsetting the purchase price even more.

   Most importantly, the performance of the Infinity Cutting Tools router bits will make them a welcome addition to any home woodworker's shop. Clean, true cutting is something that makes our projects, and us, look good.

   Infinity Cutting Tools may be the new kid on the router bit block at the moment, but is destined to become one of the major players in the industry.

Visit the Infinity Cutting Tool web site - GO!

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