I use my router in the router planer. It has been through a lot of use and I use 2 different bits for planing. Both are 1/2 straight bits. Recently they will start to fall out if I went to fast, even if it wasn't working hard. But does necessarily mean the collet is shot because these were cheap bits off of ebay (did not want to use good bits for the job). By cheap I mean about $2. I was careful to make sure they did not explode in my face. Could the shanks be smaller than 1/4 like it clams.

Is it worth investing in a more expensive bit. Or thinking the other way is it the collect? I would not think it would wear but I may be wrong I guess. If it is and I can not find a new one, could I use a piece of paper around the shank of the bit to help get a better grasp? I really do not know what is happening. And I am tightening the bit as good as I can go, maybe a little to much. So anything would help right now, thanks.

  • 1
    The word your were looking for is "collet". It's hard to say whether your problem is wear, dirt, or usage errors without seeing the actual wear patterns on the parts....
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


While you say the bits were cheap and you think they're to blame1 there's a good chance your collet is shot also, because once bits become loose under speed they will tend to wear the collet too as well as their own shaft. Once the collet is worn you get an effect call runout where the bit can deflect from the rotational axis. Runout causes vibration and chatter, and of course at worst the bit can work free during use.

Router runout

Source: The New Router Handbook by Patrick Spielman.

But there is a chance your collet hasn't worn excessively and just needs to be cleaned well so that it can tighten properly. Sticky wood dust and resin can build up between the fingers of the collet (even inside the hole) and it needs to be cleaned away using an appropriate solvent and small brushes.

Prevention is not to be taken literally here since some wear is inevitable, but to lessen wear in future it's important to follow good practice when installing a bit2. Not sure if it's the main thing but it's important never to tighten the collet nut with a bit fully inserted or "bottomed out", always back it up slightly.

The bottom edge of the cutter head on the bit (or the bearing if it has one there) should never press against the rim of the collet, but there's also this which isn't as obvious:

Router bit installation depth

Source: Wonkee Donkey Tools.

As a quick visual reference for installing bits to their proper depth in the collet it's worth marking their shafts with a sharpie after you've determined the ideal position, the line will instantly tell you that's in far enough and not to mount the bit any deeper. This line will probably need to be renewed periodically as cleaning resin from the bit will eventually wear it away.

1Cheap bits are a potential problem here because reportedly their shafts can be undersize (by a very tiny amount, but it's enough) which in addition to allowing for play in the bit when spun up can also stress the collet if it's tightened down enough to grip firmly — overtightening collets can lead to premature failure.

2Your router's manual probably has all the basics laid out in the introductory pages and it would be worth going over them again to commit them to memory, then doing some practice drills until good installation practice is second nature. Can't be too safe.

If you don't have the paper manual for your router an electronic version will be available for download online (this is a legal requirement everywhere I believe).

  • 1
    Depending on where he got the bits, they might be metric instead of English. No reputable supplier would make this mistake, but a 6 mm metric shank is close enough to 1/4" shank that someone who didn't know the difference might mistake one for the other. And if that is the case, a metric collet is required to use the bits safely without chatter and the associated premature wear. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 14:47
  • @CharlieKilian Yes that's possible but I think it's an important take-home message that this can still happen with 1/4" bits in a 1/4" collet, which could well be the situation here given the stated cheapness of the bits and that the problem has only cropped up recently. This is of course assuming it's not caused by something as simple as resin buildup haha.
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 7:01
  • I have fixed my problem with the router. The collet was to blame. I had got a new one and then I compared the two. There was a noticeable amount of wear on the old one. I will keep in mind and try to get more one hand. (the manager of Menards took one from a new router and is going to order a new one).
    – Ljk2000
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 22:44
  • @Ljk2000 When you can see the wear on the old one comparing it to a new one you know there was quite a lot. Now the thing to do is identify why the collet wore, whether it was the shanks on the bits being ever so slightly undersize or from some other cause and rectify whichever it was.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 7:12

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