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Despite the "rumors", vertical panel raising bits, good ones anyway, work just fine.
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Infinity Tools Vertical Panel-Raising Bit

You've heard the rumors - Here's the truth!

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   I get them all the time. Emails and phone calls from woodworkers, usually relatively new, worried about not being able to make raised panels with their sub-3 HP router and/or router table. Some, thinking they had discovered an alternative to the large diameter horizontal bits had even been told, "Vertical panel raising bits don't work."
   Not true.

Limitations

   Like any tool, vertical panel raising bits have their limitations. If building raised panel doors is an every day job in your shop, high-horsepower routers and large diameter bits make sense; a heavy-duty shaper setup even more so.

   If you run an average home woodworking shop, building raised panels is an occasional feature of equally occasional projects. In this scenario vertical panel raising bits not only work, they make sense.

Speed and Horsepower

The design of this bit allows turning it with 2 1/4 HP routers, in a router table of course.
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   The design of vertical panel raising bits brings more of the total weight far closer to the centerline. That means they can operate safely at higher shaft speeds. A horizontal 3 1/8"-diameter panel raising bit has a maximum safe speed of about 12,000 RPM. The Infinity Tools vertical panel raising bit used in this story can operate at a maximum of 18,000 RPM. The additional RPM of the Infinity vertical panel raising bit produces much higher cut-per-inch numbers that reduces the load on the cutter and router.

   As the cutters project farther out from the bit centerline, the amount of power required to overcome the resistance of cutting wood increases substantially. Factor in the lower RPM that can be used with the large-diameter bits and the power necessary to maintain speed increases even more.

   Most modern routers have circuitry that monitors shaft speed and applies additional power to restore RPM. This feature combined with the higher RPM ratings of the vertical panel raising bits helps them be more efficient.

Technique

A reasonably tall fence and push blocks makes using this bit simple. Remember to keep the pressure on the workpiece above where the bit is removing material.
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   Some woodworkers insist on removing as much wood as possible with every pass. Some want their bits and routers to cut a finished raised panel profile with only one pass. If this is how you work, you need a bigger router, regardless of what is currently in your router table.

   All router bit manufacturers and router experts recommend making several light passes to minimize chip out, reduce loads on the router and get the best finish possible. This method of cutting panel profiles not only produces smoother surfaces, it drastically reduces the load on the router and bit.

Test Equipment

   We used an Infinity Cutting Tools (www.infinitytools.com) vertical panel raising bit, (#90-602) for all cuts made in this test. The bit has a ½"-diameter shank, as should all vertical panel raising bits. The maximum diameter is 1 ½", vertical cutter length is 1 ½" with an overall length of 3 1/8".

   The Infinity bit was powered by both a Porter Cable (PC) 890 series motor and a Bosch 1617 motor. Both routers carry a 2 ¼ HP rating, variable speed control and constant RPM circuitry. Bit speed was set at 18,000 RPM on both router motors for all test cuts.

   All of the test cuts were made with the vertical panel raising bit and router mounted in our NewWoodworker.com Router Table equipped with a Rockler FX lift.

The Tests

(Top) In addition to the hardwoods, we cut plain knotty pine, with the same smooth results.
(Bottom) The pine blank was purposely cut to present this tight knot in the cutter path. As you can see, no problem!
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   Two sets of equally-sized pieces of clear red oak and clear walnut were prepared for the tests, one set to be cut using the Porter Cable motor and the other the Bosch. One long edge of each piece was jointed to be sure it was straight and 90-degrees to the face being cut.

   The boards were cycled across the bit in the same sequence throughout the test. With the vertical panel raising bit set for a shallow initial cut, the boards were cut, the fence adjusted for the next cut and the next pass made on both pieces at that setting. That process was repeated through a total of 4 cuts to obtain the desired profile.

   The resulting cuts turned out fine on the oak and walnut. The profile is true to the cutter and the surface smooth and chip-free. When compared to a raised panel door made earlier with an Infinity horizontal panel raising bit with a nearly identical profile, the cuts were virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Conclusions

   It is obvious that vertical panel raising bits can be used successfully with 2 ¼ Hp router motors. Taking multiple light cuts, as should be done regardless of power or bit design, produces the same high-quality results expected from the horizontal bits.

   Neither router motor appeared to lose RPM during the cuts suggesting that somewhat lower powered router motors may also be able to handle the vertical panel raising bits. It is important to note that even the vertical bits must be run at reduced RPM. Infinity recommends 18,000 RPM as the maximum for the bit used in these tests. Trying to run this or similar bits at the higher RPM usually attained by single-speed motors is extremely dangerous.

   For the average woodworker, the vertical panel raising bit represents an opportunity to use these distinctive profiles to enhance cabinets and other projects. When the budget does not allow adding a big horsepower router to the tool inventory, consider a good quality vertical panel raising bit. The Infinity vertical panel raising bit (#90-602), at the time of this writing, had a price of $59.90. That's way easier to work into a tight budget.

Resources

Infinity Cutting Tools web site
Newwoodworker.com Router Table Plan
Rockler FX Router Lift review

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