Help Selecting Cutters - Router bits or shaper cutters? (cabinet doors)

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Forum topic by Keith Kelly posted 09-26-2014 02:47 PM 1101 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Keith Kelly

263 posts in 1659 days

09-26-2014 02:47 PM

This will be my first time building cabinet doors. I’ll be building quite a few of them for our basement remodel project.

I’m looking for the cutters to use. I’m under the impression that a shaper will do better, but FWW’s articles seem to be centered around a router.

So, here are the relevant tools I own:
  • Shaper: 1hp Jet JWS-18HO
  • Router: Hitachi “3hp” router – the TR12 (no speed control)

I think 3hp is very generous for the router. The 1hp Jet is wired at 230v (if it matters) and certainly seems more powerful than the router.

So I’m leaning towards using the shaper. Feel free to advise me otherwise. Options seem to be:
  1. 1/2” Router bits to use in shaper
  2. Cutterhead with swappable knives
  3. Stackable cutter

I don’t know, there are so many options…. If I bought something right now, I’d buy stile and rail router bits since I know they’d work in either, and then a raised panel cutter for the shaper.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri,

2 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


10380 posts in 3643 days

#1 posted 09-26-2014 03:41 PM

I don’t think a 1hp shaper will impress you
with panel raising power. If you’re going to
use MDF, it shapes super easy so the shaper
would probably do a good job.

Shapers are preferred for a few reasons,
but with 1hp they may be moot points. The
1hp motor isn’t going to do it in one or
two passes. Shapers can also spin larger
diameter cutters, again, in theory because
at 1hp the best cutters for your shaper
may be in the same diameter range as
larger router panel raising bits.

You may find that the shaper is a good
candidate for a rail and stile bit you can
flip over and re-stack to make the
opposite profile. You won’t bog down
the motor doing cope and stick and you
can leave it set up for the whole job.

You’ll need a speed control to run
big panel raisers in that router. Another
option is to turn the router sideways
and use a vertical panel raising bit, which
can run at full speed.

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1420 days

#2 posted 09-26-2014 07:19 PM

Most would suggest using the router table. They have sufficient power for raised panels for enthusiast uses and the router bits are going to be far less expensive, long term.

Lack of speed control really limits the Hitachis bit use, depending on what it actually is. Might be time to turn it into a dedicated router and get a new one with speed control, soft start, power control, etc.

ALWAYS follow the bit speeds provided by the mfg of the bit being used.

-- Brad, Texas,

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