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MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set
Cabinet capability in a box
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 7-17-2009
The MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set (#8389, #8387 is identical but does not have the panel undercutter) contains all of the bit profiles you need to create cabinets from raised panel doors to drawers. All of the included bits have tough, flex resistant 1/2"-diameter shanks and the cutting edges are sized to work with the common thickness materials used to build modern cabinets.
Despite the economical price the MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set uses C2 carbide for the cutting edges. The bit bodies are coated with a special paint that helps
prolong the life of the bit. This paint is designed to help reduce heating of the bit and burning of the wood those temperatures can induce. This paint also helps the bit resist pitch build up that is generated when routing virtually any species of wood.
The MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set comes with a handy shim pack that includes a bunch of shims along with extra lock washers and nuts for the bits. These shims are intended for adjusting the fit of the rail and stile joint. The bits are pre-set at the factory but you can tweak that setting with the shims to fit your taste.
The MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set also comes with a nice wooden box for storing the bits when not in use. The interior of the box has a block fitted with plastic hole liners that keep the bits secure and separated to prevent damage to the fragile carbide cutting edges.
Raised Panel Bit
The Ogee Raised Panel Bit (#8698) has a major diameter of 3-1/8" and is equipped with an undercutter that creates an attractive rounded-edge cut on the rear of the panel. That allows you to create raised panels that are flush with the front surface of the door rails and stiles. This two-wing bit is designed to work with material thicknesses from 5/8" to 1" so you can create the look that you want for your project.
Because of the undercutter you have to set the final bit height for the cut you want on the stock. Then you move the fence forward to reduce the cut depth. The bit and your router may be capable of making the full cut in one pass but making three or four lighter cuts improves the overall quality of the surfaces generated and relieves lots of stress that would be put on the wood.
The Ogee Raised Panel Bit is equipped with a ball bearing that limits the final cut depth (width actually) to 1-1/4".
Matched Rail & Stile Bits
The MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set includes a matched set of Ogee rail and stile bits, #8847. These bits have an overall major diameter of 1-5/8" and a 1/2"-diameter shank. These bits are designed to work with the very common 3/4"-thick rail and stile material. Though the bits used in this review came properly set up at the factory, you can adjust the joint fit to suit your tastes with the shim kit included with the MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set.
Both bits have ball bearings that limit maximum cut depth making clean, consistent cuts virtually automatic.
Door Lip Bit
Though not so common in cabinet bit sets the MLCS Round Over & Ogee Door Lip Bit (#7856) lets you put an attractive finishing touch on the outer edge of your cabinet doors. I have seen this kind of profile used with good results on drawer fronts also. Depending on how you set bit height, a portion of the profile can be used to create a simple roundover along an edge. Using the full profile produces the attractive door lip shape. The profile not only gives the door edge a more finished look, it gives it a "floating" or "stand-off" appearance that can add another point of interest to your cabinet projects.
The Door Lip Bit has a major diameter of 1-1/4", a 1/2"-diameter shank and a cutter height of 1". This profile is designed to work with stock in the 3/4" to 1"-thick range.
Glue Joint Bit
This traditional bit comes in very handy for making panel glue-ups but seems to have lost favor over the years for some reason. The MLCS version is easy to set up thanks to a square-shaped "tooth" that has its upper edge at the center of the cutter. Align that with the center of your stock thickness and you are a test cut or two away from the perfect setup.
The glue line bit substantially increases the amount of glue surface, increasing the strength of the joint. In addition, the contours of this profile align the full length of the edge, making it much easier to work with wood that may have a less than perfectly straight edge. That same profile prevents slippage under clamping pressure and the frustration that can cause when you find it after the glue dries. Take the time to set the bit up correctly and there will be little sanding to do later.
Drawer Lock Bit
Also a very traditional profile the Drawer Lock bit produces clean, strong drawer joints. Setting this bit up is a bit tougher than some but once you understand the process, it gets much easier. This bit makes a strong joint that is virtually invisible from the side and leaves a very subtle joint line when viewed from the top or bottom. It also can make flush or rabbeted type drawer front joints with the same bit.
I have used the drawer lock bit to make flush and rabbeted joints and then added a few dowels that dress up the look. Those dowels also add a bunch of shear strength. Though it is an age-old design, the Drawer Lock bit gives you many options for your projects.
In the Shop
All of the MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set bits made clean precise cuts right out of the box. Setup of all of the included profiles was easy and quickly confirmed with test cuts. Even the matched rail and stile bits cut a perfect fitting joint so I did not have to even open the included shim pack. I like a rail and stile joint to go together easily so that it accepts glue without having to increase pressure to close it fully. The MLCS matched set was adjusted perfectly at the factory for that fit.
Setting up the panel raising bit with the undercutter (back cutter to some) took slightly longer because you have to go through three fence positions to cut the full profile. My Milwaukee 5625 router has plenty of power and I suspect the MLCS bit would actually make the full cut in one pass but that puts tremendous stress on the bit, router and the wood itself. The undercutter makes it impossible to gradually increase bit height so using the fence to increase successive cut depths (front to back) is the only option. That said, the entire process took slightly longer than with a regular "bare" panel bit.
The panel raising bit with undercutter produces a very clean, consistent thickness edge. I also found that edge to be properly sized for the groove cut by the rail and stile set. That gives the panel a nice floating fit within the rails and stiles that will not inhibit expansion/contraction cycles.
The MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set gives you a full set of cabinet capabilities and a nice box to store them in. With a street price of $119.95 (7-16-2009) this set is a good value as well. If you are looking to add cabinet-making capabilities to your router bit selection, take a look at the MLCS 6-Piece Pro Cabinetmaker Bit Set.
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