Mortising vs Straight Router Bit — What’s the Difference?

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The tools you use can greatly affect the outcome of your woodworking project. If you don’t use the right bits, you may not achieve your desired results.

So in this article, our expert woodworkers will help you understand the difference between mortising vs straight router bits and which one is better suited for your projects.

What’s a Mortising Bit?

A mortising bit is a special type of drill bit that you can use to produce square or rectangular holes in wood, which are also known as mortises. 

Typically, this type of bit consists of a cylindrical shank and a squared-off cutting edge located at the end. The cutting edge of the bit can either be straight or spiral in form. 

It’s made from carbide or high-speed steel, which you can sharpen or change as necessary to maintain its sharp cutting edge.

mortising bit

Most woodworkers use mortising bits to create joints like tenon joints and mortise in furniture making. We usually use the bit with a mortising machine to hold the workpiece securely in place while the bit plunge into the wood to create mortise. 

You can avail mortising bits in various sizes depending on what you need on your project. You can use the small bits if you need to create fine details, or you can use the bigger bits to make large mortises for bigger structures. 

You can also use it on different types of wood, making it a versatile tool for your various woodworking projects. It helps cut wood more efficiently and precisely, creating more consistent mortises with the same shape and size.

Using a mortising bit can increase your productivity and save you more time and effort compared to using other tools like a chisel [1].

What’s a Straight Bit?

A straight bit is a kind of router bit that has a cylindrical shank and a straight cutting edge. It is an essential tool that you can use in making rabbets, grooves, edge treatments, and intricate designs for your various woodworking projects.

straight bit

It’s available in different sizes and materials, but it’s typically made from carbide and high-speed steel. It’s a versatile tool that’s compatible with your table-mounted or handheld routers.

Essentially, it’s easy to use and can be guided with a template or straight edge to make straight cuts. It produces precise wood cuts, helping you achieve accurate and clean woodwork.

Differences Between Straight Router and Mortising Router Bits

A mortising router bit and a straight router bit are both types of cutting tools used in many woodworking projects, but they have different purposes and designs.


Straight router bits are available in different sizes applicable to various applications. Generally, the bits’ widths are measured by their widest point in diameter.

The straight router bits’ common sizes that are available in the market are 1/4-inch, 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch, 3/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1-inch diameter.

different size of bits

Likewise, mortising router bits are also available in various sizes, which are measured by their length and diameter.

Their most common sizes are 1/4-inch, 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, 5/16-inch, 5/8-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1-inch diameter.


A straight router bit is a versatile tool in woodworking that can be used in many applications.

Typically, it’s used to create grooves for wood joints or wood decorations. It is also used to make dadoes to join two pieces of wood.

Our woodworkers use it to flatten wood surfaces or make flat bottoms on wood pieces. It’s also ideal for creating slots, straight cuts, and trimming or shaping the edge of the wood.

different size of router bits

Overall, it’s an essential tool for different woodworking projects, such as furniture making and cabinetry, among others.

Meanwhile, mortising router bit is mainly used to make mortises in wood. These are rectangle or square holes that are used to join two pieces of wood.

Mortises are popular among woodworkers due to their durability and stability. But mortising router bit is also used in cutting wood grooves for holding panels steady.

In addition, it’s an essential tool for carving intricate designs on different types of wood for aesthetic purposes.

carving bit tool


What router bit should I use for a mortise?

The router bit that you should use for a mortise is a square-end or straight mortising router bit or also known as mortising bit. It’s designed to create straight, clean edges and precise mortises on all types of wood.


Overall, it’s essential to use the right tool for your woodworking project to ensure safety, increase efficiency, and produce high-quality output. 

And now that you know the difference between a straight router vs mortising bit, you can decide which tool is more appropriate for your project and can help you achieve the best result.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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