Shaper or router table

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Blog entry by Huckleberry posted 12-11-2008 05:40 AM 1146 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was looking at my latest magazine from American Woodworker when I got to the back cover and saw that Laguna has this big package for what seems to be a reasonable price for big ticket tools. And since I am in the market for most of these I considered the package deal, but as I was reading one question came to mind about the shaper. I have never worked with one and therefore I have no clue what the heck they are. I have seen T-Chisel use his and to me it looks like a glorified router table. So I guess the question is does anyone use one or have used them and is there differences between this and router tables. Are there advantages to a shaper versus router tables. Basically I am looking for experiences good and bad just to figure out this machine out. Long winded I know but just searching for information on the tool and to hear your experiences. Thanks to all who took the time to read this.

-- I cut it twice and the damn thing is still too short!@#$%

7 comments so far

View Timberwerkz's profile


20 posts in 3460 days

#1 posted 12-11-2008 07:12 AM

I have a shaper and a router table and I use both often. The router more than the shaper.
Shapers are great for any edge forming you would want to do. This is what they are designed for and excel at it. The only reason I have one rite now is that I was able to trade a bunch of labor for it with an old guy who could no longer work in his shop for any length on because of health reasons. One of the best deals I have ever made to get stuff. If you plan on making lots of moulding or tons of rail and stile doors, or raise lots of panels( I mean lots)
it would be worth the investment. Cutters don’t come cheap so it increases the investment.

The difference with the router table is you can also cut joinery, dovetails, box joints, and dadoes. It is less of an investment and will do everything a shaper will. Router bits are easier to find and cost less.

And the shaper is the scariest tool in the shop in my humble opinion.

Hope that helps


View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3606 days

#2 posted 12-11-2008 01:34 PM

Lots of this… see comments here

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View douginaz's profile


220 posts in 3995 days

#3 posted 12-11-2008 01:38 PM

Hi All, I think Chris is spot on with his analogy. I don’t have a shaper but don’t think I have missed not having one. I do own four routers though and I can use most of the bits I have in any of the four. I consider a shaper more of a production machine than a home shop tool. Again as Chris stated, they are very scary. Enjoy getting your tools and happy Holidays.
Doug in AZ.

-- If you need craft books - please visit our small business at

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1285 posts in 3730 days

#4 posted 12-11-2008 06:08 PM

I have a 7 1/2 HP shaper. It has the HP to swing a 10” diameter 20lb cutter. Shapers are used for cutting tenons, molding, curved work, raised panels, arched work, template work, etc. Basically, they are a large router. However, the shaper has been in use for many many years. Way before the router. Generaly, a shaper uses larger diameter cutters which allows the machine to run at a lower RPM. The heavier cutters and the heavier machine vibrates much less than any router. This gives much cleaner cuts.
A power feeder can also be used with a larger shaper. This helps make it safer and gives smoother and more consistent cuts.
It boils down to what type of work you do and how often a specific tool is needed.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3666 days

#5 posted 12-12-2008 02:45 AM

I would choice a router table.

View burkelyn's profile


31 posts in 3072 days

#6 posted 04-29-2010 01:30 AM

Think at last count I had two standard routers so I don’t have to switch between bits when doing dovetails. Two plunge routers and a 3.25 HP mounted into router table. They are all Porter Cables, but my next one will either be the mid sized or Large Festool depending on how much cash I have at the time. I have a Jess’um router table with a nice lift.

“He who laughs last thinks slowest.” thought of the day.

-- Peter J. Blake, Auburn, ME

View burkelyn's profile


31 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 04-29-2010 01:33 AM

I forgot to tell you that I have a friend with a large Shaper which I get to use anytime I need

-- Peter J. Blake, Auburn, ME

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