Oh my aching back, I am recovering from a visit to the doctor, expect things to be a little slow. Recovery expected in time for steelhead!
Over the years I have read and heard about so many frankly scary methods of cutting the groove in the frame of the landing net, that I decided to share with other net builders the same style of custom router bit that I use.
Originally I had the wing cutters custom made by a local firm serving the furniture industry here in Grand Rapids. When I tried to re-ordered the firm had been sold to a large national firm and they were no longer interested in this small volume work. Luckily I have a fishing friend in the auto supply industry and I was able to find a Korean manufacturer who was able to supply a wing cutter of similar quality. Both the HSS and Carbide wing cutters are made in Korea. The arbor is made in the USA. The ball bearing are made in China.
This router bit consists of a custom wing slot cutter about 1.075 inches in diameter and two 7/8 inch ball bearings on an extended router arbor. It cuts a groove that is approximately 80/1000 of an inch wide and 100/1000 (1/10th) of an inch deep. ( 1/8 inch is about 0.125 inch or 125/1000th)
I recommend the 1/2 inch shaft as it will have less flex and vibration. This router bit is for use on a Router Table.
The High Speed Steel (HSS) Wing Cutter is $50, this cutter has essentially no set to the cutting teeth, this may cause burning with a heavy cut or in some woods. First I find if there is pitch/resin/crud on the bit, it will burn. Clean it with something like Simple green or Zep. You can also decrease the burn by adjusting the feed rate or router speed.
I have had a few (2) customers report bearing problems, these are an inexpensive bearing and there isn't a way I can test them to avoid failure. I haven't seen the problem in my shop. I find you need only mild pressure against the guide bearings. I run my router at a speed of about 21,000 rpm. If a bearing is starting to make noise or burn, stop; it shouldn't. A replacement bearing should be about $5 or less.
The Carbide Wing Cutter is $85, this cutter is best for those who are making multiple nets.
They are selected under options with your choice of 1/4 or 1/2 inch arbors. The router bit is complete with the selected wing cutter, arbor and the two ball bearings .
I am now using American made Whiteside arbors for this custom bit. The quality is excellent but there was a small increase in cost compared to the imported product. I am trying to hold the price on the router bits at the same level by buying a little large quantity and carrying a bigger inventory. (I will see how this works out.)