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Thread: Fly Cutter - Handheld router without sled

  1. #1
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    Fly Cutter - Handheld router without sled

    Ladies and gents,

    Looking for people that have experience with using fly cutter bits. I'd like to use one on my handheld router. It will be guided by a rail, but not entrapped in a sled. What are generally the max diameter bits you would safely use with a hand router? Was looking at about a 1.5" diameter.


    I have a Bosch 1617 plunge router.

  2. Hi Andrew,

    1.5" at 8000RPM will have a serious mind of its own! What are you trying to do? Flatten a slab? Carve a dado? Shape a part?

    I know that my 1" copy bit is hard to handle and that is with a 3hp router that is quite substantial. When you turn a corner, if it wants to climb cut, you need to wrestle the thing (and it's a Whiteside, very sharp). Conventional cutting is doable but somewhat scary. You put it in the router table and it becomes a very efficient and subdued bit!

    Is a sled totally out of the question?

  3. #3
    Router bits must be balanced because of the speed they rotate. Fly cutters are generally low rpm cutters and don't have to be balanced. Your router will feel like a paint shaker with an unbalanced bit.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Contribute

  4. #4
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    Looking at creating a long dado. Was thinking of this bit: https://www.amazon.com/Amana-Tool-Su.../dp/B0035GWKCW

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew whicker View Post
    Looking at creating a long dado. Was thinking of this bit: https://www.amazon.com/Amana-Tool-Su.../dp/B0035GWKCW
    would not call that a flycutter. A flycutter generally has one cutter and is adjustable for diameter. In wood many will have a center drill. Also known as a trepan.
    I would call that a insert type router bit
    Bil lD.
    I

  6. #6
    I'm bigger, stronger, and braver than most with a handheld router. What you speak of is madness.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew whicker View Post
    Looking at creating a long dado. Was thinking of this bit: https://www.amazon.com/Amana-Tool-Su.../dp/B0035GWKCW
    I use that specific cutter on my CNC for maintaining my spoilboard and have also used it for surfacing thick lumber. It's reasonably well balanced, IMHO, but I'd be very concerned about it having a mind of its own in anything hand-held. I'd prefer to use a narrower cutter and multiple passes for a groove/dado/rabbit like you describe.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
    I have this exact bit, which I also use in a CNC to surface slabs. I've also used it in a 1617, but only in a surfacing jig where the sub base that travels in a dado within the walls of the jig to keep it held down. I go very slowly, and run at low RPM. If you're thinking of using it in a way where you are depending solely on you hands to control it, I would say it's a bad idea.

    Edit to add: This is an expensive bit to buy and then use it for something it's not necessarily built to do. If you were surfacing a lot of stuff (spoilboards, slabs, etc.) this is a perfect choice. If you need a bit to cut your dadoes I'd think you're money is better spent (and less of it) on something like a carbide spiral which could cut the dadoes as well as be useful in other situations.
    Last edited by Patrick Varley; 09-15-2018 at 11:16 AM.

  9. #9
    fly cutters of the type for wood work are some what balanced . machinery manufacturers did make high speed spindle moulders as early as the 1920s ,and they were generally supplied with slotted arbors, or French cutter heads, so that the users could grind their own tooling from flat steel blanks . Generally these machines had massive bearings unlike a hand head router of today . if you don,t hurt your self you will destroy the router in no time .



    French Head /fly cutter


    FrenchHead.jpg

    Typically they used to run at 10,000 to 12,0000 rpm, and believe me you wouldn't want to run one much faster than that! They were only capable of taking a very light cut as they used a scraping action. Router cutters were considerably more expensive to buy, required outside grinding unless you invested in a specialist grinders and were normally restricted to use on an overhead or pin router, a more specialized furniture manufacture machine which started to appear in the late 1920s with the advent of high speed bearings capable of 18,000 rpm and high speed induction motors, generally run via a phase changer and capable of running at 18,00rpm. This Wadkin LS is derived from a machine which first appeared in 1927 or 1928 and the design was manufactured before WWII

    WadkinLS.jpg

    Small shop practice in the UK (and for that matter much of Europe) was more inclined towards the use of the spindle moulder with either a French head or square cutter block. It took only 10 or 15 minutes to grind a new one-off profile, hence their popularity with furniture makers until they were banned in the UK in 1974.

    A shop with static equipment become a devotee of the French cutter. Factory made cutters in comparison where you can grind your own cutters from blanks like this are long gone . These days professional furniture makers that use knives are relatively low after you've bought a block to hold them
    And if we're talking about slow, 16,000 rpm is a bit slow for most router cutters.
    jack
    English machines

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew whicker View Post
    Ladies and gents,

    Looking for people that have experience with using fly cutter bits. I'd like to use one on my handheld router. It will be guided by a rail, but not entrapped in a sled. What are generally the max diameter bits you would safely use with a hand router? Was looking at about a 1.5" diameter.


    I have a Bosch 1617 plunge router.
    It really depends on the router, how big a bit you can safely run. I would run it by hand in my OF2200, but I wouldn't run it in my PC 8529's by hand. I'm not sure about doing a long dado with it either.
    If I was using a Bosch 1617, I'd be more inclined to use a 3/4" straight bit, with bottom cutters, to make a long dado. You might have to do 3 passes, but I think you might have better control.
    It is a pretty aggressive looking router bit. It is big.

    Amana makes some nice stuff.
    Last edited by Mike Cutler; 09-15-2018 at 6:04 PM.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  11. #11
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    Oct 2016
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    Awesome! Thanks for all the replies. Will just keep at it with my whiteside 1/2" roughing spiral bit.

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