Small shaper or router table? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-18-2019, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Small shaper or router table?

Ok so I have a PC 892 router an older 1 3/4hp Craftsman router and a Ridgid mini router. I would like a router table of some sort. I don't really like using the Craftsman router and I'm not keen on the idea of dedicating my 892 for the router table. So I guess I'm looking at a new router motor unit, router lift and a table. All this added up gets pretty close to the cost of a shaper. Just looking for a little input.

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post #2 of 8 Old 04-18-2019, 04:37 PM
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A small shaper ......

A small shaper is as good as no shaper. Shapers are 3 HP or greater and are meant for production runs in thicker stock than a router table. I own a 1 HP, Craftsman shaper with a 1/2" arbor. I haven't used it for a project in 25 years. It was a gift from a woodworker who was too frightened of it to use it. I'm not scared of it, just haven't found a need to use it.

I have 3 router lifts in cast iron tables and they will do everything I need. I can't remember why I ended up with 3, honestly, but it's definitely overkill. I do love my JessEm MastRlifts with the locking bit height. They are smooth as silk and make adjusting bit height a breeze. The router of choice is the venerate Porter Cable 3 1/4 HP bare motor, minus the base. I have a drawer full of bases by now and more routers than I will admit here..... maybe some were on sale?

The basic difference is the shaper has a large nut on top to secure the $$ cutters. The router has a collect which holds the cutters, no nut to get in the way of plunge type cuts. The 890 series from PC is a good middle size, but if you need more power go with the 3 1/4 HP. You are looking at around $1,000.00 total for all 3 pieces, a Bench Dog Pro cast iron top, Jessem lift and the PC motor, BUT it will do so much more in a small shop or DIY'r.


Now, there are folks who say use to a router bit collet in your shaper. BUT, the shaper RPM is only 10,000 at the highest. Many 1/4" router bits run the best at 20,000 RPM. So, you are now informed .......
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Last edited by woodnthings; 04-18-2019 at 05:13 PM.
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-18-2019, 04:46 PM
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Routers and lifts are far more versatile than shapers. Shapers are only useful for edge profiling, you canít make groves or dados because of the large nuts holding the cutters on.

There are far more router bit profiles available than shaper cutters, and the router bits can be had for as little as $5 ea, shaper cutters start at $50 and up.

Shapers are great when you are doing a lot of production work since they can take off more in one pass, but if you are a home hobbyist making many different things and set ups, the router is easier and faster.

An inexpensive shaper will come with a crappy split fence that can be extremely frustrating to adjust, especially for a novice. The router table fence will be much easier to use and adjust.

Shapers are extremely intimidating to use. The massive cutters, the split fence, the use of rub collars, profiles that are made up of multiple parts, and the power of the motor, all take a little getting use too.

I went through the same decision making process once and I ended up buying some of each. I use the router tables far more often.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-18-2019, 04:50 PM
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I have two shapers and built my own router table out of melamine board, my big shaper is a 5 HP it does the big panel raising bits and I have a 1 1/2 hp Grizzly shaper that you can use router bits on, but they really don't cut that good as top end is 12,000 RPM


I used a reman Bosch 1617 EVS router for the table it has a lift system built into the fixed base, and you can get predrilled table base plates to fit it, makes it easier then drilling yourself, I used a Rockler base plate and the pattern board is about $10 it was worth the $10 the insert fits perfectly




CPO has the reman routers for about $140, I have gotten quite a bit of the reman stuff all has looked and worked like new

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post #5 of 8 Old 04-18-2019, 06:05 PM
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The small shaper would give you a wide selection of cheap cutters but you would get a better cut with a router. The router runs faster but the bits are more expensive.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-18-2019, 09:02 PM
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This question brings back memories of my Brother-In-Law getting into woodworking. One of his early projects was going to be making six panel doors for his home. He bought a 3 hp PM tilting arbor shaper so he could use the cutters made for doing this chore. Router tables with 15 amp. routers were fairly new at the time, so he thought he had to have the shaper. The first time he mounted up a cutter set and turned it on, the sound scared the crap out of him. He then ordered a PM power feeder and had the table drilled and tapped for it. As far as I know, he never made any doors with it, nor did he use it for much of anything. Last I heard, it's sitting in his basement, along with the thousands of dollars of other PM stationary tools, unused. Getting them up the stairs to sell is too daunting a task.
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-19-2019, 02:26 PM
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I bought my first shaper in the early 80's there were only 1 1/4 bore cutters for panel raising so i got an 1 1/4 bore spindle


I swear the day I bought it they came out with the 3/4 bore panel raising cutters, the first Freud's I bought were around $400 if I recall right, the 3/4 bore cutters were about $100

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post #8 of 8 Old 04-20-2019, 01:15 AM
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I too, thought that I wanted a shaper. At school I had access to a 5 HP shaper and all kinds of cutters. Under the guidance of a lab technician, I set up the cutters that I wanted in the shaper. When everything was set up I turned the shaper on. With the sight of the cutters approximately the size of coffee can spinning, I shut the shaper off. The lab tech laughed when I said that I didn't have the courage to use the machine.

Oh, I forgot to add that I still have all ten today.

Before you buy a shaper, go find one in operation. Just watch for a minute or two.
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