Shaper vs Router table

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Forum topic by Nicky posted 02-16-2008 06:49 PM 2592 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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695 posts in 4332 days

02-16-2008 06:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve been using a router table for many years but have always hated the hassle of the bit changes and height adjustments. I’m currently using a Rockler table that is wearing out; the insert has some play from being removed/inserted so many times.

I started looking at replacing the table with a router lift and new router so that I can make the adjusting and bit changes a little easier. Costs are significant. For a few bucks more…a 3hp shaper?

I’ve never used a shaper. I could use my router bits in a shaper with a collet. Seems that I would get more power with a shaper, greater selection of cutters etc…

From a safety perspective, what am I missing? Can I replace a router table with a shaper and not lose any functionality? I’ve always felt safe using my router table, granted that if the operation did not feel safe, I just did not do it.

Your thoughts.

-- Nicky

12 replies so far

View Suz's profile


51 posts in 3997 days

#1 posted 02-16-2008 11:59 PM

I’ve got both a shaper and a router table. (Extension off the table saw) The big thing about using a shaper with router bits is the fact that most shapers have about a 10,000 RPM and that makes them a safer choice when you have to spin the big router bits. But, the slow speed is a hindrance when you have a small bit like a 1/8” round-over.
Another thing that might bite you is most shapers will run in either direction. So, you could flip the switch the wrong way and you would try to cut using the back side of your bit.
But, I personally cannot think of any reason a shaper would be less safe than a router mounted in a table.

-- Jim

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 4128 days

#2 posted 02-17-2008 12:45 AM


Shapers have a large diameter axle and have less vibration when working with large cutters. For this reason they support stackable large cutter heads. Especially for molding, a shaper is much faster than a router since you can cut the profile in a single pass. On the other hand, shapers do not work well with small cutting heads. Unless you do production work involving a lot of molding, a variable speed router is more than enough.

Shapers were essential until about 20 years ago since routers were not powerful enough to spin the large bits. Due to rare earth magnets that are very powerful, the size of the motors decreased (and weight as well) and the power significantly increased. A modern 3 1/4HP router is almost as powerful as a shaper.


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4332 days

#3 posted 02-18-2008 01:37 AM

Thanks Guys.

-- Nicky

View handyman_pk's profile


46 posts in 3885 days

#4 posted 06-07-2008 03:56 PM

Alin Dobra thanks you tell us in detail difference between router table and shaper.

if i wanna made my own router table. what kind of router i need to mount under the table? which will give me maximum functionality and ease of operating.

-- when you lose, Don't lose lesson

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4008 days

#5 posted 06-07-2008 05:20 PM

handyman_pk, what you would want it a 3+ horsepower router with variable speed and a router lift. that can be expensive though especially with the lift and cost hundreds of dollars. i would suggest a Triton 3 1/4 hp plunge router. they are variable speed and can be adjusted from above the table. this will really get everything that a router lift has but a router lift is more heavy duty and easier to use.

View handyman_pk's profile


46 posts in 3885 days

#6 posted 06-08-2008 09:54 PM

thank teenagewoodworker i will check the triton plunger router. any thoughts about insert plate? and collet?

-- when you lose, Don't lose lesson

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3984 days

#7 posted 06-08-2008 11:16 PM

Thanks for this post, Niky. I’ve been contemplating the same decision myself. I’ve worn out a few routers, running them in a table, and I’ve though about the wear and tear that I could save by using a shaper to at run the larger bits. Like someone said, the speed is a little slow for the smaller bits, but I’ve only used one speed routers and it’s kind of scary when using a larger bit, running at those high speeds. Plus, I think with the larger bits, the extra weight and heavy duty construction of the shaper will hold up better. I look forward to more info from the folks that have been using shapers regularly.

View handyman_pk's profile


46 posts in 3885 days

#8 posted 06-09-2008 10:16 AM

DeWalt 3 HP Plunger Router

-- when you lose, Don't lose lesson

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4332 days

#9 posted 06-12-2008 10:38 PM

Here is what I did…

I bought a Woodtek 3hp shaper, with a sliding table (sweet). I’m now kicking my self for not doing this years ago. My next addition will be a powerfeed.

I bought a new Rocker offset router table to be used with my incra universal jig, and new Triton 2hp router.

Very happy.

-- Nicky

View hcbph's profile


14 posts in 3858 days

#10 posted 07-03-2008 01:51 AM

I think at last count I have 10 routers and 1 shaper. Various routers for various jigs and setups but only the one shaper. For table mounted shaping, there’s nothing better than a shaper. I’m taking it one step further with a guard addon I’m finishing.


View northwoodsman's profile


245 posts in 3986 days

#11 posted 07-03-2008 02:31 AM

Handyman_pk – The DeWalt 625 is a great plunge router but next to impossible to find a router lift for. Because of the size of the router it’s hard to get in and out of a table. Depending on the router plate you use, you may have to twist and turn it a few times. Also because of the way the power switch is integrated into the handle, you’ll want an auxilary power switch. It’s hard to adjust the depth also under the table. You’ll find that you will need to do it above the table. It would be one of the last “big” routers that I would purchase to use in a table. Don’t get me wrong, I have one of these and I love it, but I ended up purchasing a PC 7518 and a JessEm Mast R Lift last week. Now I have 5 routers. Seems like a common problem however. By the way, I have no affiliation with Rockler, but you can get the 7518 motor, Mast R Lift, table and fence for under $550.00 on sale right now. That’s over $160 off.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View handyman_pk's profile


46 posts in 3885 days

#12 posted 08-25-2008 02:54 PM

thanks northwoodsman sorry for late reply, i was busy in my job, if you have to buy a router for mounting under table, what will your choice

-- when you lose, Don't lose lesson

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