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Author Topic: collet capacity  (Read 9726 times)
swift
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« on: 28 September, 2006, 22:49 »

If collet capacity makes no difference to the range of diameter of cutters which can be used (which seems the suggestion in a woodworking book I've bought) what is its significance ? Is it related to the length of shank that can be acommodated or what ? Thanks, all info so far has been really helpful.
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pooka
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« Reply #1 on: 23 October, 2006, 18:18 »

I understand "collet capacity" to refer to the diameter of the router bit shank that the router can accomodate, but perhaps this phrase is also used to represent something else? There are three sizes of shank diameter that I am aware of: 1/2", 1/4", and 8mm.  The main advantage of router bits with a larger diameter shank is that larger cutting heads can be used - a smaller diameter (i.e. thinner) shank means a weaker shank, and therefore a bit with a large cutting head and thinner shank may be more likely to snap at the shank. Another advantage is that routers with a 1/2" collet tend to be less prone to vibration (of the cutting head), so not only are they safer but they also tend to produce a cleaner cut too (depends on quality of router though, and power of router).

The general advice is to always use a router bit with a larger diameter shank where you can, for reasons of safety and quality of cut. This assumes a good quality router and good quality router bits - anything less than reasonable quality there and you are risking life and limb by using the router. The disadvantage of larger bits are: usually a router with a 1/2" collet is heavier and can be more difficult to move about (although sometime the weight can give greater stability), the bits and router are more expensive (although a larger cutting surface on a bit may mean that it will last longer so the bit might be better value over its lifetime).

I have a 1/2" router (that also accepts a 1/4" collet) and a 1/4" router. The 1/4" router is easier to manoeuvre because it is lighter, so I often turn to it first. However, the 1/2" router is more stable due to its weight and also has greater horsepower so I tend to rely on it for more demanding tasks.

The 8mm collet sits between the 1/2" and 1/4" collets, size wise, bringing the router close to the benefits of a 1/2" router. Personally, I'd opt for an 8mm collet over a 1/4" collet except that I have already invested money into quote a few 1/4" router bits. Although I haven't seen 8mm router bits in Ireland, they are available from at least one website in the UK. Not all routers can take an 8mm collet however, so that is something else to bear in mind.
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