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

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The choice of tools plays a crucial role in determining the success of your woodworking venture. If you don’t select the appropriate bits, your woodworking masterpiece might fall short of your expectations.

So, if you want to unravel the distinctions between mortising and straight router bits, you’re at the right place! By the end, you’ll have a clear grasp of which one best suits your specific woodworking 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

Many skilled woodworkers rely on mortising bits to craft strong joints, such as tenon joints and mortises, when building furniture. To achieve this, they commonly employ a mortising machine, which provides stability for the workpiece. 

This setup ensures precision as the mortising bit is carefully driven into the wood to create the desired mortise. It’s a crucial technique in the world of woodworking, helping to produce sturdy and well-crafted pieces of furniture.

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 in the world of woodworking is like your trusty sidekick with a cylindrical shank and a straight-cutting edge. 

Think of it as your go-to tool for crafting rabbets, grooves, smoothing edges, and creating intricate designs in your woodworking adventures. It’s the secret weapon you need for your 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.


The straight router bit is a highly versatile woodworking tool that finds utility in numerous applications. Its versatility and ability to create clean, straight cuts make it an essential tool for both professional woodworkers and hobbyists alike.

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

Woodworkers rely on this tool to level wood surfaces and create perfectly flat bottoms on wooden pieces. It’s also excellent for crafting slots, making precise straight cuts, and refining the edges of wood with precision. 

This versatile tool is a must-have for any woodworking enthusiast, ensuring precision and finesse in your woodworking projects.

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 board lengthwise or crosswise.

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, be it regular or exotic wood


Selecting the correct tool for your woodworking venture is paramount. It guarantees safety, boosts productivity, and yields top-notch results.

With a grasp of the distinctions between a straight router and a mortising bit, you can now make an informed choice. This decision will be instrumental in determining which tool aligns perfectly with your project, enabling you to attain optimal outcomes.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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