I recommend specific bits below when talking about my top 7 favorite (and best) CNC bits, but in a broader view they are; 1/4″ Down Cut Bit, 1/8″ Down Cut Bit, Taper Angle Ball Nose Bit, Core Box Bit, Two types of 90 degree V Carve Bits, and the Key Hole Bit.
I think the title says it, but below are seven to the bits that I regularly use and think are “a cut” above. With that said, my choices on why these are 7 of the best bits for a Hobbyist CNC Machine, are very subjective and based on where I am in life! You’ll understand that last part in a second. I have come to really prefer to buy the best, because ultimately you get the best results.
The best, generally costs more… But you get what you pay for right? I am at a place in life that I can spend the extra 20 dollars on a great bit as opposed to cheaping out. But, I am sure you are asking, whats the difference?
Generally, I am going to say longevity. I have one of my Amana 46202-k’s that has thousands of hours of run time. Actually a baffling amount. And it’s still sharp. That is my number one reason for buying the more expensive stuff. There are tons of bits you can get from Amazon for cheaps, just understand, you are probably going to buy them more often than you think.
If this is your “first set” of bits or you are looking at what should I start with, this list works for that question too.
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This is my go to and I love it (46202-K). The 1/4″ shank and cutting edge maximizes the cutting efficiency of most hobby CNC machines. With Amana, you get the Spektra coating which really seems to extend the life of the bit and prevent undo burning.
For me the DownCut is the way to go. I cut signs, flags, cabinet rails and the down cut just stands out as the number 1 bit I have to have. If you are using more plywood or mdf, you may want to look at a compression bit or upcut, but you really won’t go wrong with the downcut.
I also recommend the “Jenny” Bit as they are pretty dang good. I DO NOT recommend Frued. They are the only bit I have had shatter (with evidence of an air bubble in the bit). Also, don’t forget if you are a beginner, this list tells you specific bits, but the type of bit may be what you really need to pay attention to.
Leading in to number two (46200-k). I personally believe you have to have an 1/8″ bit. And again for me it’s the Amana DownCut, why because it’s a better bit! I used SpeTools and some Amazon cheapos and they all just don’t seem to last on the sharpness scale. They would create chatter (the bit vibrating in the channel cut by the bit) and occasionally “burn” marks. And I get it, some of this is my speeds and feeds, but with one set I have the problems and with others I don’t.
Everything here is truly my opinion and based off of my actual experiences. I have gone through more of the 1/8″ than the 1/4, but I believe that is based off the geometry of the bit itself (not the design).
I didn’t mention before that I prefer a 2 flute bit for wood working. The 2 flute is going to allow you to get the optimal chip rate when dialing in your settings. More or less is going to cause adverse rates that can lead to bit breakage. If you are doing plastics, metals or alot of mdf, you may want a different flute bit.
Recapping my reason for this bit being Amana. It is 100% that Spektra coat, just like the first bit. The edge stays sharp -period-. I don’t have any alternates to suggest, truthfully, the other bits I have tried in this genre have failed me. I will say that SpeTools just came out with a new type of coating on their bits, maybe they are better than what I tested.
This dude is a cool bit. I use the ball nose (46282-k) almost elusively for 3D carves, and for me that means some type of flag or star for a flag. I do alot of very intricate 3D inlays and this bit works great. Because it has the tapered “ball” nose you are able to get fine detail, but still have the rounded effect needed for smooth flowing surfaces.
I do recommend both this bit and the one size larger of this bit for most people doing 3D. This size gets great detail, but that detail will take forever. Having a larger ballnose will allow you to get more of the large areas of smoothing done faster. Almost like a step between roughing (I use the Amana 46202K) and the finishing (46282K). I use the Amana 46294K for that intermediate cut.
You may be saying, “you use 3 bits for one cut?” Yes. Absolutely. When a cut time is 14 hours, I don’t fret about a 2 minute bit change if it will save me 3 hours.
I also wanted to mention, since this is a review in a way of these bits, that to date (3-4 years) I have not had to replace a ballnose due to dullness, or anything for that matter. They are great!
Next, I call this one (45901) the “bowl bit,” and yes you can make a bowl with it! I use these almost exclusively for my juice grooves on cutting boards. I like this size bit because it allows me to make a center pass on the juice groove (hogging out material) and then a finishing pass on both sides. Perfect, crisp rounded edges. If you wanted to do it in one pass or you actually were making a bowl or something, you may want a larger diameter bit.
I have never had an issue with any of these type bits, honestly, because the juice groove only takes minutes and is not an everyday use. Mine are still sharp and preforming well.
When I first got started, I did try one of those yellow Harbor Freight bowl bits. It did in fact work, but it caused a lot of chattering and if you know what I mean by that, you know that chattering is probably the step before disaster.
Bits cause vibration, it’s a no brainer. When that vibration gets extensive or “violent” enough, your hold down devices will start to fail. If your material moves a quarter of an inch due to vibration, kiss your project and maybe, bit goodbye.
Moving on to my number 5 bit of my top 7 bits is the small diameter V-Carve bit (45626-k). So, this is number 5, but in coolness, it’s number 1. I really love doing V Carve and if you are new to the hobbyist CNC world, it really is a great place to start. It is much more forgiving than a 3D or 2D deep cut. I say this because with a V Carve you are just taking that top layer of your material off, which is much less invasive than other cuts. The more invasive you get the more dangerous it is.
On to this bit though. I love this little guy (and yes, it’s seriously small) because it provides perfect, sharp lines every single time. If I am cuting through Oramask, paint or epoxy, I will get a perfect edge. I am not a scientist, so I can’t say that it is Amana’s propritory angles that causes this, but it is much better in consistancy than the cheapos.
I really have nothing bad to say about this bit.
On to number six (RC45711). This, is not my favorite. BUT, it is really important to have if you do certain types of CNC cuts. It is, again, a V Carve bit, and also a 90 degree just like the last one.
I don’t have an issue with this bit, it is just that the other 90 is so awesome. I also like the smaller diameter of the 45626k over this one.
Why do you need this one in your toolbox? It is THE PERFECT bit for doing the “Field of Stars” on an American flag. If you are a hobbyist CNC machinist in America or Canada, not doing the V Carve cut flags is just throwing money away. They are fast, easy, and don’t take much skill.
Another thing I like about this bit, and I am sure you noticed, is the interchangeable cutting blade. You can get twice the life out of every blade (flip it 180 degrees) and the replacement inserts are much less expensive than a new bit.
Last, but not least is a very nontraditional CNC bit (45652). The Keyhole bit is one of those extra things I do for my customers that just adds that little bit of extra awesome. When you hand them a product that is ready to hang (because you added keyholes to the back of the work) and it is perfect and level. Well, let me just say, it’s a real seller and might just close the deal at a craft fair or something like that. You took the worry out of hanging the flag or whatever it is and the customer will appreciate it.
I find that the 45652 is the right size keyhole for basically ALL normal hanging needs.
If you think I left out surfacing bits, I did! Check out my favorites on, my top CNC surfacing bits. I hope you found this article about my top 7 CNC bits informative. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and make sure to check out the rest of my website and blog!
Have a great one!
Hill Country CNC & Woodwork
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