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Thread: Router Table or Shaper?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Contoocook, NH

    Question Router Table or Shaper?

    Today I was at western tool looking at the benchdog tablesaw router extension whatever you call it. The extension plate and router will cost almost as much as the Jet 1.5hp shaper? Would there be a reason not to just go with the small shaper?

    Thanks for any advice
    Richard "Butch" Leshner

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Bloomington, IL
    What kind of work will you be doing.

    I just got a shaper myself. I have had a Router table for a long time.

    Here is some good advice - pick up a copy of Lonnie Bird's The Shaper book.
    It is a great book to learn about shapers and what to look for in them.

    Here are some things I have learned.

    If you buy a shaper the cutters can very very quickly out price the shaper by a huge margin.

    Many small shapers have poor quality fences - factor that in mind.

    The shaper really does not spin router bits fast enough due to their small diameter. That is why you buy the cutters. Many people do run router bits in shapers with adapters. The spindles are pricey though - $100-$160 for my shaper. Plus you need bushings and rub collars wich is more money.

    Cutters will outlast router bits by a huge margin and most are easily shapened several times. (part of that cost I get).

    Benefits of the shaper are power, interchangeable spindles, very low if any vibration, ability to swing very large profile cutters (5"-7")

    Many people say you should also own a power feeder if you own a shaper. That can cost quite a bit as well. A decent 1 HP feeder can be $700-$1000 easily. Small ones are $280 and really not big enough for a shaper (I will let you know as I just got a small one).

    Start with a router table you build, put your moeny into a good router and not the table as much (although that Benchdog table is really really nice according to many buyers). 1.5" MDF laminated is a very sturdy router table top - edge band it in oak like norm does and it will hold up for many many years of bumps and bangs.

    Get a feel for the type of router table work you do and if you find yourself doing a lot of work and want the power and speed and stability of a shaper then move up to one.

    I believe I will always have the need for a router table, the shaper is just icing in my hobby WW world.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    I think Mike hit the nail on the head!

    I have a homemade router table, it works great, for the amount of work I'm doing right now, it is fine. If I ever get to a higher production, I'd sure like a shaper.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Contoocook, NH
    Well I need to do a kitchen's worth of raised panel doors.
    The small Jet shaper comes with the 1/2" and 1/4" adaptors for the router bits the small shaper can be had for about 699.00 no shipping. The bench dog I was looking at was the cast iron table saw extension. Dunno just tossing out ideas. I kinda figured if I could do both with one machine it would save space in my garage er shop.

    • Jet 1-1/2 HP Woodworking Shaper
    • Motor(TEFC) 1-1/2HP, IPh, 115/230V, Prewired 115V.
    • Spindle Speeds (RPM) 7,000 and 9,000 Reversing.
    • Table Size (Wx D/in.) 22-3/8 x 18-1/8.
    • Table T-Slot (In.) 3/8x3/4.
    • Table Opening Diameter (In.) 5-1/4 .
    • Insert Opening Diameter (In.) 1-5/8 and 3-1/4.
    • Fence Size (In.) 9-3/4x3-1/4.
    • Spindle Size (In.) 1/2 & 3/4.
    • Spindle Capacity (1/2)2-3/16.
    • Under Nut (In.) (3/4)2-3/16.
    • Router Bit Collet Size (In.) 1/4 and 1/2.
    • Spindle Travel (In.) 1-7/16.
    • Table Height (In.) 33-1/4.
    • Includes: 1/2" and 3/4" interchangeable spindles, 1/2" and 1/4" router bit collets, two table inserts, two starting pins, workpiece hold-downs, T-slot mitre gauge, micro-adjustable fence, one-piece heavy-duty closed stand, cutter guard, 4" dust port.
    • Overall Dimensions (WxDxH/in.) 23 x 25 x 40.
    • Net Weight (Lbs.) 190.

    • Features: Powerful 1-1/2HP totally enclosed fan cooled, reversing, single-phase motor. Extra large solid cast iron work surface. Heavy-duty one-piece steel stand with motor cover for stability. Handwheel and spindle lock for safe, accurate spindle height adjustments. Two reversible spindle speeds for Increased versatility. Independent left and right fences feature micro-adjustment and zero-clearance capabilities. Adjustable workpiece hold-downs mounted to fence. Spindle lock for quick and easy cutter removal.
    Last edited by Richard Leshner; 02-17-2007 at 10:57 AM.
    Richard "Butch" Leshner

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    That's good advice Mike, and you have mentioned several things that I took into account when making my recent decision to go with a router table rather than a shaper. (for now, at least)
    Cheers, Frank

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Only thing I can add to Mikes very good post is that I have a (1985) Mini Max T3 and it does not have an interchangeable spindle. Mine is a 3/4 bore fixed spindle. I wish that I had the option of changing spindles. The factory tells me that they can do the complete transition but the cost is way more than the shaper is worth X 4
    A very wise man once said.......
    "I'll take my chances with Misseurs Smith and Wesson. "

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Punta Gorda, Florida
    I do not have a shaper but have watched discussions for a long time now as I have been interested. It seems to me that a lot of shaper guys say not to spend your money on anything less than 3hp. Is this good information or not?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    I am biased toward the shaper. Now that is out of the way I will add some observations.

    You don't have to have a feeder. I don't and I am happy with my shaper. I don't even have a feeder on the want list. I may someday but I have my doubts. But it's not a have to have IMO, if it was you would need one on the router table too.

    Another thing I think about is what happens when the router has to be replaced? Some last forever and some die a short death. But if you have to replace one, you probably have enough money in it to have bought a shaper. If you use it a lot, I doubt a router it going to have the life a shaper does.

    This is personal preference but the mass of a metal shaper cabinet and cast iron top makes them smooth and more pleasurable to operate. It's like going from a contractors saw to a cabinet saw. No real difference in the cut but it's more pleasurable to use.

    I have never priced this out but I understand a good quality router and table will put you close to decent shaper.

    The huge factor for me, and this is personal. The shaper doesn't have a screaming universal motor. I really don't like using a router because of that one fact.

    The only downside I see is cost of tooling, well initial cost could be higher, depending on the shaper your looking at. If you have a lot of router bit's that could be deciding factor. Shaper tooling is more expensive but there is a lot available on EBay too, thats where I got mine.

    All that said, you have had some good answers on this subject from the previosu posters.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  9. #9
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Shaper for the raised panels.
    Routers for the rails and stiles, and other stuff.

    I never raised a panel on a router and table. That always seemed like a pita way to do that kind of heavy work to me. I always thought that was a job for a shaper.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Houston, Texas
    Hi Richard,
    There is much good advice here from the fellows.
    The power for raised panels is great as Steve mentions and likewise for other power needed applications.
    If you are new to this woodworking it may be wise to start with less powerful machinery, nevertheless good stuff, quality tools, but learn how they can hurt you and what their versatility is. Move up as you find the existing tools are not good enough, accurite, powerful, easily serviced or whatever. You don't have to have the best to be the best.( but I'll bet it would help ) I agree in asking "what are you expecting to use it for"? Do you need it or do you just want it?
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