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Prices on spoilboard (surfacing, planing, & slab leveler) bits vary from $10 to $500. Naturally, the $20 Brand X looks the same as the $300 Amana:

enter image description here

Has anyone tried mixing the Brand X body with high quality cutters?

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  • Should you choose to go this route, be aware that the threading/diameter of the screws may be different and that, even if you use the brand x screws, they may not fit in the Amana replacement cutters and/or hold them properly, sizes of the cutters may be different, etc.
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 8 at 15:35
  • If you buy yourself a ‘brand x’, please report back, esp with regard to the quality of the screw holes. Commented May 9 at 12:36

1 Answer 1

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I'm not one that has ever subscribed to "you get what you pay for" or "cheap or good, pick one" as being truisms and the basis of reliable buying principles. Although of course there is a grain of truth to them these are not true now1.

However, with router bits, it's often worth paying more rather than less. Especially for big router bits because of the dangers associated with bits of large diameter and the extremely high rim speed. Take special note if your router has no speed control or its lowest speed is relatively high.

I'd also caution that someone else's good experiences with Brand X and quality inserts doesn't offer any sort of guarantee that you'll have an equally good time. This may be "Duh, obviously." to you but it has to be said out loud for future readers.

One can generally expect at least some degree of higher consistency and long-term reliability with stuff that isn't bottom-tier.

Naturally, the $20 Brand X looks the same as the $300 Amana

Yup. But "looks the same" doesn't in any way translate to "equivalent to" with router bits as much as anything else. Certain hidden or not-obvious details with router bits include:

  • the material used for the body;
  • heat-treating (esp. consistency of same2);
  • accuracy and/or consistency of shank diameter3;
  • quality of the threading in the screw holes;
  • quality of the screws themselves.

One of the things that paying more does help with is quality control weeding out some, most or all of the things that didn't end up within spec. It's abundantly clear that some low-tier stuff goes through zero QC checks.

All this is not to suggest having to go with an Amana or another in the same price bracket of course — especially due to this bit type being less-usual in having replacement carbide inserts, which obviously are responsible for a lot of the heavy lifting. But still, cheap as I am, I personally would not go with a bottom-tier bit here :-)


1 And it's my personal thesis that they have never been (examples abound historically).

2 Heat treating is still notoriously variable these days, despite the virtually universal use of computer-controlled equipment for mass-produced products.

3 Again far more variable than one might expect.

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