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-   -   Router vs. Shaper (https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/router-vs-shaper-56129/)

SMLWinds 10-13-2013 08:32 AM

Router vs. Shaper
So being the novice that I am, I just discovered shapers. I was getting ready to buy my router and build my router table set up but am now wondering if maybe I should steer towards a shaper instead. I know there will be conflicting opinions on which is better, but can people please give me the pros and cons of each? I would also welcome people's personal opinion. Is there anything a router table can do that a shaper cannot?

Thanks for your help!

SMLWinds 10-13-2013 09:02 AM

As a follow up question to that...

Aside from liking to collect tools (not that anyone on THIS list, myself included, would ever do that!) is there any practical purpose why people would want to have both a router table and a shaper? Thanks!

Gene Howe 10-13-2013 09:14 AM

At some point, I'm sure you will find the need for a hand held router and you will be able to use the router bits in it as well as in the RT.
Additionally, AFAIK, there are more router profiles available than there are shaper cutter profiles.
And, I don't think you can plunge cut and run a dado with a shaper.
Finally, shaper cutters are more expensive than router bits.
If you contemplate doing a whole lot of edging on thicker woods, a shaper in addition to a RT might be a good investment. Otherwise, I'd stick with the router table.
With today's more powerful routers, you can have nearly the capability of an edger for doing thicker stock.

Maylar 10-13-2013 10:04 AM

Shapers can take off much more wood in a single pass. If you do millwork like trim moulding or you're restoring an old house or do other archetectual stuff that needs lots of shaped lumber then a shaper is the way to go. For the typical woodworker however, a router is much more versatile.

Fred Hargis 10-13-2013 10:12 AM

Every pro that I've read or spoken too declares the comparison is fruitless, adding that the shaper is so superior that once you try one, you'll wonder how you got along without it. I agree with that, or at least I don't disagree; but I still haven't bought a shaper. As a hobbyist, I've yet to run into something I can't do on my router table that I need to do. The shaper certainly has more power, can run backwards (you can flip the cutters over) and a multitude of other things. It can, in some instances, be cheaper than a RT. That is, until you price the tooling. Gene mentioned it: the cutters will add up to a larger bill than the equivalent bits, but not all shaper profiles can be had in a router bit. So think it over, look at the cost, and decide...then don't look back. But as a hobbyist, I can't seem to convince myself (yet) that I need one.

Al B Thayer 10-13-2013 07:15 PM

I think advise given thus far has been good. You really need a good router first. Router table usually follows. They can be a simple design or something that resembles a shaper. The router bit has two cutting blades. The shaper has three. The shaper cutter will do far more feet of cutting but can't be utilized if you don't have long runs to make. Cabinet doors will come out better on the shaper but you can get good results on a router. Routers do a zillion different cuts and are going to do the majority of the cutting you will be doing. I have two shapers but my routers still get the majority of the work.


Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.

cabinetman 10-13-2013 07:51 PM

There are router bits that have three flutes. Shapers usually run between 7K and 10K RPM, compared to many routers that run in excess of 20K. Table set ups for routers can do many of the profiles that shapers do. Shapers are more intended for large profiles or production use. Doing long stock on a router table would benefit from a power feeder, but it's not necessary. For a shaper, I wouldn't run one without a power feeder.


woodnthings 10-13-2013 07:53 PM

shaper vs router table
Big, powerful, 220 v 3HP, spindles up to 1", cutters come with holes in the center for different size arbors, can be stacked or inverted, cutters are expensive compared to router bits, rotation can be reversed, much more quiet, made for production runs with long run times, have induction motors...heavy duty and you have a choice of 2 speeds, 7,000 RPM and 10,000 RPM, designed for edge work, up to 4" thick, but cannot be used in the center of a panel.

Routers in a table:
Home shop size and weight, 1/2" or 1/4" collets, many variations of bits, from small round overs to large panel raising, no reversal of rotation, noisy AC/DC motors, not designed for continuous duty, but can be abused somewhat, variable speeds if you get the good ones, 8,000 to 22,000 RPMs, best fitted with a height adjustable "lift" for easier and precise bit height, the bit can be raised into the bottom of the work piece at any point in the panel or an edge. http://jessem.com/MAST-R-LIFT_II.html

Good, well equipped shops have both, maybe several of each to avoid changing out the bits or cutters. JMO :yes:

SMLWinds 10-13-2013 10:08 PM

Thanks a lot guys! Those were great answers...very educational! I'm going to proceed with getting the router table set up, but have little doubt as I get into things I'll have a shaper as well before long! Thanks again!

Steve Neul 10-13-2013 10:30 PM

The biggest advantage of using a shaper is you can get a collar for one and buy bars of steel and make your own blades. This is especially handy if you have some old molding that nobody sells anymore. You can just makes some blades to match.

SMLWinds 10-13-2013 10:55 PM

Steve-Thanks a lot! I will keep that in mind for the future, although I have a ways to go before I start making my own bits!

Woodnthings-I am very very appreciative of your posts. Your thoughts on all my threads have been very informative and professional--thank you! I learned a lot from the Grizzly link above. Thanks again!

Hackberry 10-14-2013 12:59 AM

Buy the router and table. Then you have something to dream about.:smile:

If I had space and money I would buy a shaper and that 52" Tanawitz band saw the local university surplus was selling. But alas I do not high enough ceilings in my shop nor the moving equipment to get it here. The city flat out refused to give me 3-phase in a residential area.:censored:

RepairmanJack 10-14-2013 01:24 AM

If you consider yourself a novice, I'd stick with a router and table, and upgrade to a shaper when you reach the limit of your router. Both can be pretty dangerous, and a shaper is (IMHO) much more dangerous than a router.

I was just struggling with this issue myself in building replacement windows for my home. I had just about talked myself into investing in a shaper when I found that I can get most of window and door profiles I need in a 1/2 in router bit. I still plan to upgrade, but I've got a lot of other benchtop tools that need to be "upgraded" to stationary equipment first (bandsaw, drill press, etc.)

You can make you own bits for routers as well.

BWSmith 10-14-2013 08:18 AM

You will sort of figure it out for yourself....

Router;You will either ruin the bearings or kill the motor through excessive heat....and/or run out of capacity.

Or you won't experience any of the above,in which case you will live long and prosper.

IF,you experience killing a router/table......well, then you get to go shopping for a shaper.

We use both here to VG effect.And though the RT dosen't see daily use,when it's needed it works fine.I think safety is about the same for either with one exception.That is theres a direct correlation to tooling size and...oh how do you put it?The robustness of the guarding,and drive systems.IOWs...irrespective of what the spindle size is....the actual cutter is what determines "how much" on the guard.You can run small little router "bits" in a 7HP+ shaper.What's the difference in that guarding/holdowns and runnin the same cutter in a RT?

Another way to put the safety in perspective is running HUGE(for the machine),panel "bits" in a router.So,you can be safe or not safe with just about any application.......saying one is inherently "more" safe is kind of misleading.It's the size of the tooling moreso than the size of the machine.

del schisler 10-14-2013 08:52 AM


Originally Posted by SMLWinds (Post 528989)
So being the novice that I am, I just discovered shapers. I was getting ready to buy my router and build my router table set up but am now wondering if maybe I should steer towards a shaper instead. I know there will be conflicting opinions on which is better, but can people please give me the pros and cons of each? I would also welcome people's personal opinion. Is there anything a router table can do that a shaper cannot?

Thanks for your help!

i have owened both router and shaper, both are goot tool's but, they are different in their own way's, a shaper use's different type of bit's, so does a router, my self you can do more with a router , also i don't need all those T track's i can do anything with 3 fences's look at this router table made by the router work shop , bob and rick, they are no longer available tho, but you can make one that will work, i will provide a pic at the end of post, router bit's are cheeper than shaper, also may depend on brand . the shaper doesn't have the flexability the router has, most wood from shaper goes from right to left, on a router table mounted router alway's on the left side of the bit, which is spinning counter clock wise, on my table i use the fences across the top and feed across the table or at a angle, so don't need T track's , also have a fence you can use for a jointer using a flush trim bit, the end feed on the fence and out feed has i belive 1/8" difference, the out feed is 1/8" thinner so that when you aligne the bit with the fence that is all the bit will take off and than when you run the wood across the fence and bit the end will pass off to the outfeed with out hitting the out feed fence, you can make this fence also i make most of my fence's and never need a
T track or other item's, this is just me here is a pic of the router table http://www.oak-park.com/images/libra...ront_cover.jpg

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