Router table vs Shaper

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Forum topic by TheWoodNerd posted 01-28-2010 04:15 PM 3724 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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291 posts in 3462 days

01-28-2010 04:15 PM

I’m at a point where I’m debating which to get. Luckily, initial cost isn’t really a big factor, so I’m willing to go either way.

I’m not a production shop making hundreds or even dozens of feet moulding every day, so the shaper’s extra productivity isn’t a factor for me.

The router will live in the end of my tablesaw extension. I’m not short on space in my shop, but extra floor space is always nice

It seems that good shaper cutters are considerably more than good router bits. I also can’t run down to Home Depot at 8pm on Saturday for a shaper cutter I suddenly need.

I don’t think I can do pattern routing on a shaper.

I already have two handheld routers and will dedicate a new router to the table, so the router’s removability isn’t a factor for me.

Basically, for me, I don’t see any advantage of a shaper over a table router.

Have I missed anything that would sway me towards a shaper?

-- The Wood Nerd --

11 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8550 posts in 3919 days

#1 posted 01-28-2010 04:27 PM

no. you pretty much summed it up.

router is slightly more versatile, can do edge treatments, joinery and misc. at the cost of power.

a shaper can just go on and on without bogging down, take heavier cuts, and run bigger cutters.

it really depends on what you’re planning to do with it?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4044 days

#2 posted 01-28-2010 04:42 PM

I have a Jet 1 1/2hp shaper and feel you have the best of both worlds. You can run 1/4” shank router bits and 1/2” router bits on it. You can also run bigger shaper cutters with 1/2” and 3/4” bore diameters. You can run it forward, reverse and it is more powerful than a router table. I feel it is cheaper than most good router table set ups. The time you buy the big router, lift and build a Norm like router table. If I had a big shop I would have a router table set up and a bigger shaper than the one I have now. Thanks for asking?

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

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51457 posts in 3751 days

#3 posted 01-28-2010 04:56 PM

This is a great question. I often wondered what the best choice would be too. In my case I would prefer not to put a router lift in my table extension for the table saw. But maybe that would be a good choice. My thought was if I had to put a router table on the floor, I might as well get a shaper. I like the idea of the weight and power of the shaper. The cost of course is a factor, but when you add up the cost of building a good router table, and getting a good high power router, you could just about buy a used shaper in good condition. I have seen some here (Delta and Powermatic) locally for $800 to $1000 on Ebay and Craigs List that are advertised to be in great condition. I know a lot of good work has been done with the router table, so it will be interesting to see what others say.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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291 posts in 3462 days

#4 posted 01-28-2010 04:59 PM

I’ve always heard that router bits don’t cut so well in a shaper because they’re running too slowly, they’re just not designed that way. Have you have any problems?

-- The Wood Nerd --

View PurpLev's profile


8550 posts in 3919 days

#5 posted 01-28-2010 05:30 PM

Tom – thanks for the info. I guess shapers don’t really get the proper acknowledgment that they deserve. and you are right – I am now building a router table, and it really adds up quickly when you account for the router/motor, fence, lift and all.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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291 posts in 3462 days

#6 posted 01-28-2010 05:35 PM

One thing that sways it for me is that I’m using an Incra fence system, so I can flip it around and use the Wonder Fence. It would be easier to integrate with a router table than a shaper.

-- The Wood Nerd --

View PurpLev's profile


8550 posts in 3919 days

#7 posted 01-28-2010 05:58 PM

same here, but I wonder if an Incra fence can be incorporated into a shaper table? extending it in the back like a regular small router table that get extended for those fences.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4032 days

#8 posted 01-28-2010 06:05 PM

The differences are such that a shop can justify having both a shaper and router table. For my Shopsmith, I have both the 10,000 rpm shaper and the overarm pin router accessories. Shapers run at lower speeds, have more torque, and the cutters have three cutting surfaces. routers run at 20,000 rpm or higher, have low torque, and often require multiple cuts to finished depth. Router bits have two cutting surfaces.

This spring, my brother and I will mill tongue and groove paneling for his new house. This is a type of continuous & heavy duty application that would likely burn up a router motor. I have a router table, but it will probably see less use, because the OPR can do the same things with better visibility, plus it is an excellent mortiser.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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291 posts in 3462 days

#9 posted 01-28-2010 06:09 PM

I was thinking of setting the shaper between the rails of the TS fence, just like a router table. The Incra will easily detach and flip around.

-- The Wood Nerd --

View art3427's profile


5 posts in 4033 days

#10 posted 01-28-2010 06:27 PM

I have used shapers and router tables for about 40 years. If I had to choose one – the shaper would win hands down. They have more power and versatility than a RT plus they run MUCH quiter. You can do pattern work on a shaper just as easliy as on ther RT. I f I couild only have one shaper I would get a 3-5 HP with interchangeable 3/4 & 1 ” spindles. A five horse machine will run a 3/4” raised panel edge in one pass in oak. A 3 hp would probably require multiple passes.

-- art johnson

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3557 days

#11 posted 01-28-2010 06:45 PM

I use both shapers and router tables extensively. Personally, I would hate to make a choice between the two.
Everyone has covered the differences well, so I don’t need to go there. If I were strictly a hobbiest, and space and money were an issue (of course they are—they always are) I would chose a router table. The bits are much more readily available and cheaper. Unless you live in a large town, shaper cutters are hard to find, and then the selection is not good.

For production—-a shaper is a must
For anything else, usually a router table will do


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