I personally went for the following, but that wasn’t taking into consideration using more than a few times specifically for surfacing the spoilboard:
However, if I were to want to do far more surfacing more often, I’d probably go with something like this:
On a personal note: I’ve had pretty good luck with Chinese tooling. I sprung for some very reasonably priced carbide end mills awhile ago and was thoroughly pleased to actually receive quality carbide end mills.
I purchased a Whiteside 6210 surfacing bit, and it worked great on my MDF spoilboard. However, once I tried it on hardwood, I started getting burn marks, even after adjusting feed/speed. I’m still not exactly sure why (my DOC was only .010" / .25mm)
It could be that it’s starting to get dull, but it’s not that old and I really don’t want to spend that much money again, so, I now just use a .25" endmill when surfacing my actual workpieces and keeping the 6210 for just my spoilboard. It really doesn’t take that much longer time as I can increase the feed rate compared to the 6210. Based on this experience, unless you’re ONLY going to use it on something like MDF, I would not suggest a cheap Chinese surfacing bit at all and instead just save up, especially for one where you can replace the cutters like the others noted above.
I understand wanting to avoid Amana, but just adding what I use as a data point. I started with a Whiteside 6210, which worked great until it got dull. I bought a second one and was happy with it until it also got dull. I picked up an Amana 45528 as a replacement. I wouldn’t say it was any better or worse than the Whiteside 6210. When it came time to replace it I went with an Amana RC-2248 with the replaceable inserts. I was torn between that and the Amana RC-2265. The RC-2248 appears to be a bit more cost-effective than the RC-2265 (RC-2248 and inserts both cost less than RC-2265), but the RC-2265 should be able to remove more material per pass than the RC-2248. So, it’s a bit of a time/money tradeoff that depends on what you typically use it for. If you need 0.02 taken off most of the time, I think the RC-2248 would be the better choice. If you need more than that, I think the RC-2265 would be more appropriate.
For me, it’s a matter of where the tool’s made and its corresponding pricing. Amana’s owned by Whirlpool and, although it does have an HQ and distribution network in the US, it’s still a subsidiary of a corporation that outsources the bulk of its manufacturing to China.
A company marketing tools made in the USA typically will let you know upfront that their tools are made in the USA as a matter of pride. Amana declares “cutting tools manufacturer from the USA” but skates around the answer to the pressing question: where are Amana tools made? Sure, the company’s here but where are the manufacturing divisions? Shhhh. We don’t want to talk about that because why, then, would the consumer want to pay ten times more for a tool built by the same factory that also sells exact clones for 10 times less?
Basically, If I’m going to be buying tools from China, I might as well get the best bang for my buck and that’s definitely not buying Amana or Whiteside, the latter having been warned directly by the FTC about deceiving consumers with their “Made In USA” slogan. Neither of these toolmakers are what they claim to be as far as American Made is concerned.
That’s the irony, really. If you’re a hardcore woodworker, you’ve heard of Grizzly / Jet / Delta / Rockler tools. All of their tools, too, are built on the same Chinese lines as the same trash you can buy directly from Aliexpress for pennies on the dollar but they’ve built reputations and a level of trust around the deceptive implication that they’re made in the USA because they’re headquartered and marketing here, implying higher standards in quality control that may not necessarily be the case.
On the other hand, it’s fairly well known that most Chinese manufacturers are capable of producing quality tools that rival the price-gouging ones being claimed as American-made. Since these same factories are already producing Amana and Whiteside tools, it’s only reasonable to beat out the middle man price gouging and just buy direct.
And this is precisely why I jumped on the Onefinity as soon as I saw it. Maybe some of its components are coming from China but it’s constructed in Canada, QC’d in Canada and shipped from Canada. That’s as close as I can get today to “Made In USA” without forking over tens of thousands of dollars for what’s likely more Chinese than American-made.
It’s not even a matter of just jumping on a popularity bandwagon, either. Their carbide is really that good and seemingly consistently so.
Like I said, I’m running almost exclusively between SpeTool carbide and Kodiak Cutting Tools carbide and, aside from the much higher cost for “made in USA” with Kodiak, I see no difference at the business end of the spindle.
I bought into SpeTool’s end mills to have some cheap throwaways I could abuse without much guilt but I ended up having to look for lesser quality tooling because these end mills turned out to be too good to trash. The irony is it’s not all that easy to find garbage carbide tooling these days. I’m tempted to step down to using hss as sacrificial end mills instead.