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Thread: Router table vs shaper

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Cockeysville, Md
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    1,778

    Router table vs shaper

    Which is the better deal???

    If i build a router table and commit a router to it, what advantages does it have over a shaper? Seems i can get a shaper from Wilke or Grizz for ~$500 that'll also accept router bits along with shaper cutters. If i build a router table and add the cost of a nice fence, router and table/insert i'm around the same price.

    I'm leaning towards a shaper....

    Brian
    The significant problems we encounter cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

    The penalty for inaccuracy is more work

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
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    519
    The main difference between a router and shaper in running router bits is the speed. Routers generally run around 20k rpm at top speed (or single speed). Shapers run at a top speed of 10k. Some people I have talked to say that is too slow to run a router bit others say they run just fine. I have not had the opportunity to test router bits in a shaper. There are several other advantages to a shaper. The biggest for me is the fact they are reversible. I cut curves for many of my pieces and the ability to cut "downhill" on the grain really is helpful for me. Cast iron tops and more powerful induction motors are also advantageous.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Inlet, NY (beautiful Adirondacks)
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    233
    I have both. I have the grizzly 3Hp. I'll take the shaper any day. less vibration. many cutters have two shapes on them ie. 1/4" and 3/8" round over so there is no savings. I find that except for the smallest bits, the shaper does well with 1/2" router bits. And bidirectional is a great bonus when shaping woods that tearout easily. By the time one buys a good 3hp router, table, fence, and raiser close to $1000 bucks is invested. A 1 1/2 Grizz shaper with all that is only $425!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Peshtigo, WI (~50 miles N of Green Bay)
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    1,403

    Router vs. Shaper

    Brian,
    You've left a lot of questions unanswered. What kind of use do you plan for your eventual choice? I built a router table into the extension table of my PM 66. I use it 98% of the time. My shaper is a nice unit but, unfortunately, it collects dust except when I am making raised panel doors, panels, etc..

    Router bits are NOT designed for a shaper due to the speed factor mentioned previously. They have two cutting flutes as opposed to the three flutes usually found on shaper cutters. The slower speed of the shaper requires that you really slow down your feed rate. How slow? Who knows?

    Also, shaper bits are much more expensive than router bits and your choice is far more limited.

    The points made above about the reversibility of shapers are certainly valid. On the other hand, in those rare circumstances you can simply make one or two additional passes with the router table. Let's face it, a piece of wood which is determined to "tear-out" is probably going to do it no matter how you try to "shape" it. Remember that you can always rout "dowhill" in a pinch. Just don't tell anyone that I said that. JUST HANG ON!!

    As a woodworking "hobbiest" and a total idiot, I would definitely go with the router setup. Your needs may be totally different.

    Dale T.
    I am so busy REMAKING my projects that I don't have time to make them the FIRST time!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Skillman, NJ
    Posts
    933

    router/shaper

    Brian,
    There is a big difference between the two. I have a small pro shop and I could not live without either one. If you are just a hobbiest, than you most likely will get more flexibility from a router table. You can use the same router in hand held mode & table mode.

    I accomplish many things on my shaper: tenoning up to 1-1/2" long, rabbits, crown (up to 5"), coves (up to 5"), styles and rails, curved stock, pattern shaping, every kind of profile you can think of plus use of ALL of my router bits (1/2"). My shaper runs at only 8k max and I get aboslutely no burn with my router bits. I do it very often and matter of fact did it this morning. I do not know how the rumor of "you need at least 10k..." got started but it just is not true. I have a sliding table on my shaper and so far it has been one of my most important machines. I also use my router table when I need to do dados or very small moldings and use my PC OSS in it for sanding. Do yourself a favor and BUILD your own router table. You are a woodworker remember and you can make a great table yourself that will serve you very well. A shaper can be a very intimidating machine, especially like one I have. When I insert in my custom head and knives and that thing spins you get a breeze in your face, it still scares me at first start up.

    It really comes down to what YOU will be using it for. But, if you are just a hobbiest then the router table will fill most of your needs. Then on the other hand if you are interested in a European combo machine that is a another story ...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Southeast Texas
    Posts
    200
    I too have both but use my shaper quite a bit (1 1/2HP Jet that will accept 1/4" and 1/2" router bits). I typically use mostly 1/2" router bits in it and seldomly the 1/4" bits unless it is a profile that I only have in that size. That being said, shaper cutters are inherently more expensive, somewhat harder to find, and I have found in the past that I cannot get the profiles that I would want without spending more money. However, I have become to accept this and am now actively seeking out more and more cutters. My shaper is much quieter and much more stable feeling that my little benchtop table. I love my shaper and wouldn't trade it for anything. I spent much less than I would have if I had built my own table, bought a good fence and a router to go on it.

    One thing to consider is what you plan on using it for. I didn't plan to make my own moldings at first but have done so since buying it. I set out looking for a good high quality router and table set up but wound up finding what I wanted was just as easily served with my shaper and I have had few regrets since.

    Like I said before I have the 1 1/2HP Jet but my dad has a Grizz of the same HP and he swears by it.

    I hope you make the right choice that works for you. I don't think you can go wrong either way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Tidewater, VA
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    2,123
    Brian -

    Was just having the same discussion with a very good friend who uses my shop a lot. Most of the above items were what we discussed. One thing no one has said so far, is that many shapers have the ability to tilt the spindle. That opens up the possibilty for additonal cuts/profiles.

    You are right about the cost. The router table will be a little less $$$ if you build everything - including the fence. Bit choice vs price is less with the router. Noise is signicantly less with the shaper.

    Built my own router table and fence. Glad I did? - Yes. Would like to have a shaper, too? Yes, but it would only get occasional use. Space is a really critical issue right now.

    Your decsion should be based on what the predicted use woud be. Don't forget you can always whip out the handheld router with an edge guide and make lost of cuts.

    Regards,
    Ted

  8. #8
    I use my shaper all the time. Go carbide insert tooling & the options are endless. I even run all my miters on the shaper with a 45 deg head. Much nicer cut than a table saw. Putting a power feeder on it is a definite plus. All I really use the table router for anymore is grooving drawer parts.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Peshtigo, WI (~50 miles N of Green Bay)
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    1,403

    Shaper

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B. Cresti
    Brian,
    When I insert in my custom head and knives and that thing spins you get a breeze in your face, it still scares me at first start up.

    )
    Hey Paul,
    I hear you on THAT one! When the proverbial "breeze" blows my hat off, I get kind of paranoid. That is especially true when I am wearing one of my SMC hats. I'm trying to keep sawdust off of them.

    Dale T.
    I am so busy REMAKING my projects that I don't have time to make them the FIRST time!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Cockeysville, Md
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    1,778
    Thanks guys!

    I had considered the speed issue but i seldom if ever run my router at top speed, more like 1/3 as i perfer to go at it slow. As for the use, mostly stile/rail doors and some sliding dovetails. Most edge treatments are done freehand.

    Maybe i'll just stick with what i have till after xmas and see what funds remain. Still need to pick up that bandsaw first!

    Brian
    The significant problems we encounter cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

    The penalty for inaccuracy is more work

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Skillman, NJ
    Posts
    933

    router/shaper

    Brian,
    If you are doing cope & stick you will need some way to hold the rail to do the stick. You can use a scrap piece of ply or make a jig. I use to use a scrap of ply until I got my shaper.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Skillman, NJ
    Posts
    933

    router/shaper

    Dale,
    yup when my big knives are spinning and the breeze is a blowing you sure do not want to hit a knot! That thing spins with such force you can feel it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Skillman, NJ
    Posts
    933

    router/shaper

    Brian,
    I wanted to post the pics of my router table and shaper for you. The router table has served me very well over the years. I made everything on it even the fence. I picked up some alum. stock from a window/glass fabricator for 20" and attached the ply faces. It serves as both a router table and spindle sander when I insert my PC OSS in it. My shaper has a tilting head, sliding table w/ outrigger table...the whole nine yards, but it serves me in many ways (joinery, shaping, etc)
    Attached Images Attached Images

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