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A miter lock router bit cuts matching tongues and grooves into a workpiece to create a strong angled joint. Not only does this bit increase the glueable surface area of a joint, but it also automatically aligns the opposite pieces, reducing the need for special clamps. You  can use the common 45° bit to create parallel or perpendicular joints, for such projects as drawers, boxes, and frames.

In order to use a miter lock bit, you’re going to need a router with a 1/2″ collet, and a router table equipped with a fence. I also advise beginner and intermediate woodworkers to order a set-up jig with their miter lock bit, to ease the learning curve.

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Once you’ve set it up properly, run one side of the joint along the router table so the center of the stock is aligned with the centerline of the miter-lock bit. Then, run the opposite side of the joint along the fence to create a matching contour. For thicker materials, you may want to complete the cut in several passes, to protect the bit and achieve a smoother cut.

You can choose from two main bit sizes — one for thin panels, and the other for 3/4″ stock and thicker. You can also get 22.5° bit sets, which can make parallel or 45° joints. Many reputable router bit manufacturers offer decent quality miter-lock bits, with prices ranging from $40 to $100 for the 45° style.

If you’re looking for great quality, consider MLCS’s Katana bit which costs $53 (or $44 for the smaller size), and carries a lifetime guarantee.  MLCS also offers regular-quality and 1/4″ shanked bits — but for the extra few dollars, stick with their Katanas. For excellent quality, consider Freud’s bit, which is currently going for $70 on Amazon after 25% discount. No matter which brand you go with, be sure to check out the helpful instructional video at MLCS and their detailed article.

Miter Lock Bit [MLCS]
Miter Lock Video [MLCS]
Miter Lock Instructions [MLCS]
Miter Lock Bit [Freud]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Freud 45° Bit Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Freud 22.5° Bit Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

4 Responses to Miter Lock Router Bit

  1. AZ_Engineer says:

    I have a miter lock router bit, and a miter lock shaper cutter. Frankly, I haven’t found them terribly useful. If you look closely at the picture about, your will notice that the grain runs across the tongue right where the stress would be. I don’t think I’ve noticed any increase in strength when using them, and they are a bit of a pain to setup. You have to find the right fence setting by trial and error to get the joint to fit just right.

    Just my experience, your experience may vary

  2. Keith Melton says:

    I don’t see them adding that much strength either, but logically these would lead to easier assembly of a miter joint wouldn’t it?

    But yeah, watching the setup video for this and the multiple passes involved to get the cut correct just made me think it was not worth it.

  3. Stuart Deutsch says:

    Generally speaking, a well-glued joint will be stronger than the base material itself. The greater the gluable surface, the stronger the joint will be.

    But you’re right, similar or at least sufficient strenght can be achieved by combining glue and pocket screws, or turning to other jointing methods. The beauty of a miter lock joint is that it is incredibly easy to create, once you get the hang of it.

    Multiple passes are always advised when dealing with large router bits, and this one is no different. The most common complaint when using these bits for the first time is that the setup is difficult. A few scrap pieces of wood and a set-up jig makes the process move much easier, and subsequent joints are easier to setup and cut once you get the hang of it.

  4. Fred says:

    There are folks who sell setup jigs for their profile bits. I think that I’ve seen them at Price-Cutter and Eagle. I’ve used these and drawer lock bits – both after creating a setup jig to gauge the final result. If your cutting a few joints it may not be worth the trouble – but for dozens – the joints look neat and tidy and are plenty strong for many applications. For drawer fronts, however, I like dovetails.

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