Top 3 Beginner CNC Bits

Choosing your first three CNC bits can be daunting, in this article I try to demystify that problem and introduce you to three beginner CNC bits I would recommend starting with.

What is a beginner CNC Bit?

     Ultimately there is no such thing. There is not bit with training wheels that will keep you from breaking a bit or ruining your project. No doing those things come with experience, and time. What can we do in the while we are gaining that experience to reduce the chance of breaking a bit? Make good first bit choices.

      I recommend that you think of this less in the context of a tool and more in the realm of a goal. What is our goal.

Choosing a first project.

     First, I would choose my first project and it would need to have some simple parameters.

  1. Something basically 2D.

  2. It needs some simple text or design.

  3. It needs to be cut out of the larger body of wood.

     This project will teach you a few things, like V-Carving and use of a Endmill.


     So the real first thing I would do is surface (or flatten) spoilboard. To do this I will introduce you to beginner bit #1. The Surfacing bit. As a new CNC operator, I highly recommend the Whiteside 6210 Surfacing Bit. It’s simple, super effective and cheap. Other brands make better surfacing bits, but until you grasp what your CNC is doing, there is no reason to risk an accident with a $200 bit.

     For surfacing, I recommend you learn how it is done on YOUR software, because I have no magic ball to know what software you are using, I can’t tell you what the best method is to surface. For example, Easels surfacing methods and VCarve Pro’s methods actually look nothing alike in terms of layout and toolpaths.

     We need to surface first because if your CNC is not parallel to your cutting material, you will likely break that ever so precious first bit.

Image of the Whiteside 6210 Surfacing Bit.
The Whiteside 6210 Surfacing CNC Bit, a great economical option for surfacing, small cutting area but it gets the job done.


     My next recommendation after you have affixed your material to the surface board (again, everyone is different, so I won’t go into this) is actually to jump straight into a simple, light V-Carve. Don’t cut more than a 1/8th of an inch.

     I personally love the Amana 45626-K SC Spektra Extreme Tool Life Coated V-Groove 90 Degree, but also recognize this is an expensive bit. Starting with an Amazon special that is like it, Whiteside Router Bits 1500 V-Groove Bit with 90-Degree, for instance, would be a smart bet.

Create your v-carve, it should be simple and just take the tops of the letters off. You shouldn’t be hogging out anything, just a very light engraving on the surface of your material.

“45626k.” ToolsToday, Accessed 23 Mar. 2023.
Amana Tool 45626-K SC Spektra Extreme Tool Life Coated V-Groove 90 Deg x 1/4 D x 1/8 CH x 1/4 Inch SHK 3-Flute Router Bit
Picture of a Whiteside CNC Router Bit
Whiteside Router CNC Bits 1500 V-Groove Bit with 90-Degree 1/4-Inch Cutting Diameter and 1/8-Inch Point Length


     Moving on, I would then Cut out my material using an Endmill. You basically have 3 options here, a down cut, up cut or compression bit.

  1. I prefer Down Cuts. They are designed to give you a clean cut on the end of the bit. That doesn’t really matter if you are cutting all the way through BUT remember that the direction of the Down Cut applied inertia downward. This forces your material DOWN.
  2. Opposite idea of the DC. This bit pulls material upward, making the refuse material “escape” easier. I personally don’t care about that and have really never had a material in that it was a needed factor to remove my material more efficiently. Now remember, the Up Cut with be PULLING causing upward inertia. This is how a see a lot of new CNC’ers fail. The upward pull moves the material and then snap, bit is gone.
  3. I don’t love these, although I will admit they have their place. If you are cutting (in one pass) all the way through your material, they are great. Doing this is not a beginner technique. The compression bit is cool because it does both up and down cuts, but it must be at full depth.

Down Cut CNC Bits

     I use the, Amana Tool 46202-K DownCut SC Spektra Extreme Tool Life Coated Spiral Plunge 1/4″ Diameter x 3/4″ Cutting Height x 1/4″ Shank CNC Bit, for almost everything cut out. Again, not the cheapest bit. The Amazon, SpeTool Spiral Router Bits Down Cut 1/4 inch Cutting Diameter, 1/4 inch Shank Solid Carbide CNC Bits End Mill, is a good starter. Why do I tell you to get the cheaper one, again you are more likely to break a bit in the first 4 months than any other time. And yes, I am a ToolsToday affiliate, which sells those Amana Bits, but I support them because they are the best and I trust their construction.

Picture of an Amana Tool 46202-K SC Spektra Extreme Tool Life Coated Spiral Plunge 1/4 Dia x 3/4 CH x 1/4 SHK 2-1/2 Inch Long Down-Cut Router Bit
Amana Tool 46202-K SC Spektra Extreme Tool Life Coated Spiral Plunge 1/4 Dia x 3/4 CH x 1/4 Shank 2-1/2" Long DownCut CNC Bit
Picture of a SpeTool Spiral Router Bits Down Cut 1/4 inch Cutting Diameter, 1/4 inch Shank Solid Carbide CNC Bits End Mill for Wood Cut Carving Engraver.
SpeTool Spiral Router Bits Down Cut 1/4 inch Cutting Diameter, 1/4" Shank Solid Carbide CNC Bit End Mill


     Lastly, if you did this, your first three bits allowed you to surface your spoilboard, V Carve words, and cut out the sign. Not a bad first project. Having the throw away bits (don’t throw them away) is a great way to learn and get the skills you need to move up to better bit.

A couple more notes.

  1. Don’t buy a starter set. They are going to sell you bits you don’t need.
  2. Understand that not all bits are created equal! The cheaper they are the more they will fail and cause frustrations.
  3. Make sure your bit depth of cut is taller than your material you are cutting through.
  4. Try to avoid “hard” woods until you get your feet wet. Home Depot sells Poplar, perfect!
  5. Know that bits fail. It happens, I once had a bit that broke and I later saw it had a tiny air bubble on the fracture area.
  6. Drill Bits ARE NOT the same thing as CNC bits. Bad idea.

In closing, I think getting started on your first CNC project you really need to boil things down to the simplest level. What do you want to accomplish? What skills whould you like to learn? And that should lead you to what are the top 3 CNC bits I should start out with? Follow this path and you will be golden.

Remember. You will break bits. It’s OK, just try to learn from each experience!

Make sure to check out the rest of my website and blog! My store has many of the common items I personally use and the WHY behind it.

Have a great one!


Hill Country CNC & Woodwork

Hill Country CNC & Woodworking is an affiliate marketing business, but it is one with ethics and morals. We only promote the items that we use in our daily business. Let’s help each other! I will give you my experience (and discounts sometimes) and you can help me grow.

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