Shaper Versus Router Tables

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Forum topic by smartlikestick posted 01-03-2010 10:57 PM 2202 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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54 posts in 3547 days

01-03-2010 10:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shaper router

Hey All:

I’ve always wondered why people are drawn to router tables over shapers. Other then the fact that the shaper does not provide you with a free hand router, what are the downsides? I figure by the time someone purchases a router, mechanized lift, and table (whether built or bought), the costs have to be quite similar to that of a shaper. Anyone have any ideas as to why the draw to router tables?


-- -- Mike Beauvais

11 replies so far

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3431 days

#1 posted 01-03-2010 11:07 PM

For me its the availabity of space. I have a bench dog table as my extension in my table saw. I do not have the floor space for a dedicated shaper. I also feel the router is a safer machine compared to a full fledged shaper. The cutters on a shaper are much larger too. The cost of shaper cutters is also more than a good set of router bits.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

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2387 posts in 3516 days

#2 posted 01-04-2010 12:44 AM

We operate out of a 18’ by 18’ garage and use a 3 hp shaper for our doors and we use a router in the wing of the TS for running small router bits. I do prefer working with the shaper, I think it is just beefier and if handled right can produce quality cuts. I do turn to the router table some, not much though. And as far as shaper prices go, they can be bought locally here in San Antonio for between 200 and 600 depending on size off of CL. A small 1 1/2 hp shaper probably would rival some of the larger router motor tables and may be more powerful. Also my shaper is much quieter then my router table, it just humms.

-- .

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Bob #2

3809 posts in 3990 days

#3 posted 01-04-2010 01:18 AM

There are a great number of accessories developed for the router allow you more versatility than the shaper alone.
If money is not a problem one of each fitted out is probably the best solution.
Another thing about routers is that you can dedicate one to a specific job without investing a lot of $ in the tool.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

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134 posts in 3380 days

#4 posted 01-04-2010 02:42 AM

I have had two shapers in my woodworking career, both delta. The first was still on the crate when we decided to end the relationship so I used my cousins when needed. I was given a smaller delta/rockwell and had it until last year. I gave it to a guy that fixes old machines and uses them. It runs like new now and it is available if nedded, but I have several routerbits and routers. I work out of a two car garage right now and need the space but the projects I do now only need a small router table and a lift which is great for what I am doing. When I was doing more cabinet work I utilized the shaper because it would run longer before getting hot and was quieter.

-- Humble Wood Servant

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#5 posted 01-04-2010 02:49 AM

I think it’s a matter of what you have used before and maybe the cost of router bits are less expensive the shaper cutters. It is also my experience that shops that bigger heavier cuts like door and window folks always
use shapers.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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1580 posts in 3730 days

#6 posted 01-04-2010 03:02 AM

Shapers are powered by induction motors that drive the cutter at around 10,000 rpm. Now this may seem slow in comparison with a router, however shaper cutters have three cutting edges as opposed to the router’s two. This gives the shaper more cuts per inch. An induction motor produces more torque than the universal motors found on routers. Therefore a 1 1/2 HP shaper will easily outperform a 3 HP router. The shaper can also run all day long, day in – day out. A router motor would not withstand this kind of duty.

The shaper cutters can be easily sharpened, just running a few strokes on the back of the cutter’s edge. As for cost, I just purchased two drop leaf table cutters from Corob Cutter Div. for $15 each.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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2387 posts in 3516 days

#7 posted 01-04-2010 03:34 AM

Bob, I like the ability to dedicate routers to jobs, As I find new bits I know will get regular use, I get on CL and buy a PC 690 for the bit.

-- .

View Dave's profile


26 posts in 3036 days

#8 posted 01-04-2010 04:21 AM

Being i sharpen , sell , and make new tools for the last 18 years i have found that shapers are used mostly for production use. The cost of shaper cutters can be very costly i.e. carbide, jonalloy, insert and the cream of the crop diamond. I had a shaper but never used it . I always went to the router table.


-- Dave

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95 posts in 3106 days

#9 posted 01-04-2010 04:43 AM

I never had a router table. I went straight to a shaper for the same reasons you cited. I found a used 3HP dual speed reversible WoodTek shaper with sliding table for $400.00 on CL. It came with 3 spindles plus a 1/2 collet for router bits. I do have a router that I occasionally use mainly with 1/4” shank bits but so far the shaper has done everything I have wanted it to do – mainly raised panel cabinet doors and running glue joints for wider panel lay ups. I can run any 1/2” router bit and for that matter any 1/4” shank if I had the desire. As far as I can see it is as versatile as a router table. My next project on it will be crown moulding. I like the fact that it is heavy, vibration free and quiet not to mention individually adjustable infeed/outfeed cast iron fences. It does take more room that a router table does.

8iowa is right in what he says about the difference in motors. There is just no comparison in power.

-- My greatest fear is that when I die, my wife will sell all my stuff for what I told her I bought it for.

View Dustin's profile


392 posts in 3419 days

#10 posted 01-26-2010 09:32 AM

What is better, a shaper or a router set under a table? As far as making precise cuts you can’t beat a shaper with a powerfeeder but the most important thing to remember about making a fine cut is the speed of the blade against the wood. The faster the speed the finer the cut. On a router bit the center-most point of the blade is moving much slower than the outside. In fact, if the blade get’s too close to the center of the router bit it’s not going to be moving fast enough to cut wood properly. A shaper cutter will typically have a larger diameter so the blade is actually moving faster and is able to make a better cut.
General rule of thumb, a one horsepower shaper is the equivalent of a three horse router. So your not going to find a router as powerful as a 2 horse shaper…
If someone tells you otherwise have them talk to me.

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742 posts in 3636 days

#11 posted 01-26-2010 03:04 PM

I think for some it is a simple matter of intimidation by a large stationary machine. For most beginners, the idea that since you can run or hold a router in your hand then it must be safer to use inverted in a table. They will both make for a bad day should you get a finger in there.
I have a router spindle for my 3hp shaper so it works double duty. I prefer it because of the large cast iron table. Its flat, dampens vibration and with a fresh wax the wood glides effortlessly. Use what your comfortable with, its a similar argument to contractor saw vs cabinet saw. Both do the same job with similar results but one is made bigger, heavier and more powerful.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

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