Shaper vs Router Table

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Blog entry by Dustin posted 05-16-2010 01:23 AM 2108 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I built my first cabinet doors I did it with a cheap set of cutters I found on eBay with my 2-1/4 hp DeWalt DW618 router mounted under a melamine table. That was when I worked for Tim, a professional woodworker who left his two old shapers in the corner of his shop to collect dust. Tim would say that shapers are nice to have just in case but a router can do anything and more than a shaper because of the available cutters. Of course Tim really didn’t do any kind of large profile cutting nor did he do any kind of door making. He always got them from someone else.

Later I decided to go from a table mounted router to my first shaper, a 2hp Shop Fox. I would guess that my shaper is at least three times more powerful than the router even though it is labeled to have less hp. It could cut 1-1/2” raises through anything that I ran through it, including hickory. Now I admit that hickory was probably where it stopped but I wouldn’t dare make the same cut using a table mounted router. Another thing I noticed was less burn on the shaper. In fact I have only seen maybe two slight burns in my profile while using a shaper.

Later I evolved further by mounting a power feeder onto my shaper and now I couldn’t imagine it getting much easier. I love shapers so much I bought three more Shop Fox shapers, a 1, another 2, and a 3 hp.

I have heard people say that the Benchdog and other router mounting mechanism’s are making routers easier to use and are replacing the use of shapers. I have never heard of anyone wanting to use a table mounted router rather than a shaper unless it had something to do with the cost of blades.

What do you think? Do you think that routers will evolve and the shaper will be a thing of the past?

5 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4834 days

#1 posted 05-16-2010 02:02 AM

My shop teacher at school only let use the router table, and I pefer the router table to a shaper. Even thou I thought about getting a shaper, if you saw my shaper post awhile back. From a hobbist point of view a router table is the best option.

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 4588 days

#2 posted 05-16-2010 02:32 AM

I know that professional door makers use shapers.
Routers are probably better for hobbyist because of the cost of cutters and a router can do other things like cut dados, dovetails, etc.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4983 days

#3 posted 05-16-2010 02:52 AM

I don’t necessarily think that the cost of bits is as much an issue with the shaper vs router debate as personal preference. I do all my raised panels on a router table and just happen to prefer this technique. As a hobbiest I find a router table to be more versatile than a shaper.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View roundabout22's profile


94 posts in 5247 days

#4 posted 05-17-2010 01:03 AM

I’m just a hobbiest, and can’t rationalize the cost of a shaper. I do have access to a shaper at work though. The shaper does indeed make quick work of doors, but there is another thing to consider (at least in my case), and that is the shaper scares the [email protected]#$ out of me. Theres so much tourqe that when I run things through the shaper, I’m afraid I’m going to lose a hand. It might be the set up the school has, but until I see a shaper set up that doesn’t scare me I’ll stick with the router table.

-- remember always measure once and cut twice

View a1Jim's profile


118163 posts in 4738 days

#5 posted 05-17-2010 01:26 AM

A shaper is more powerful because of it’s motor type it can cut material all day where a router even a large one will not hold up long term to continually use especially making moulding all day. The cutters are far more expensive than router bits.


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