Router Table Vs Shaper, looking for advice

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Forum topic by Chupacama posted 08-17-2019 02:26 AM 795 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 37 days

08-17-2019 02:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: shaper router

Greetings, new user here with a question.
I’ve slowly been acquiring woodworking tools over the last couple years to keep up with home renovations and some small projects. Anyways, I’ve come across a retired cabinet maker who’s selling off all their tools. They have both a Freud FT2200 router/table ($250) and a Rockwell 43-120 wood shaper($200) with probably at least a dozen cutters.

Now, I’m wondering which would be the most sensible choice. I have an older craftsman router but no table. I’m looking to build some dressers and other various furniture pieces down the road. I’m currently leaning towards the shaper, but I was looking for some opinions from more experienced woodworkers.

Thanks in advance!

12 replies so far

View Woodmaster1's profile


1212 posts in 3071 days

#1 posted 08-17-2019 03:39 AM

Router table, I have three. I built two and purchased one. I like the router tables better than small shaper your looking at. I had that shaper in my woodshop classroom it’s ok but the spindle is small so there is no advantage over a good router and table. With the choices on router bits we have today makes the router table a good choice.

View canadianchips's profile


2627 posts in 3481 days

#2 posted 08-17-2019 03:58 AM

I completed my cabinet making certification in 1975.
We had shapers in the school. I loved them !
Then ALL the years I had my own my own business I used router table.
I built my own router table onto my table saw in 1976 .
Then over the years I was able to purchase a small craftsman shaper (1/2 spindle) Ironically I bought my shaper cutter from Sears when I purchased my first 113. table saw. Had it in storage for 30 years !!!!!!
Today I have 2 shapers. I use them for making tongue and groove on 3/4” boards.

I have two router table that make tongue and groove on 1/4” boards.
I also have 2 router tables for making tongue and groove on 1 1/2” boards.
I mill my own 1/4 round. I use an older B&D router table like one in the picture
I attached

Which do i prefer using ?
I like the shapers. Smoother running,
BUT that is only my opinion.

YES….I have way too many tools…...AND LOVE IT !

i took my cabinet making shoo; in 1975

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View knotscott's profile


8329 posts in 3859 days

#3 posted 08-17-2019 10:46 AM

Router bits are likely cheaper and easier to come by than shaper bits. If you’re not building mass quantities or hogging out huge chunks in a single pass, a shaper probably isn’t worth the extra cost.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5696 posts in 2977 days

#4 posted 08-17-2019 11:15 AM

That is (I think) a 1 HP shaper, and if you only plan to own one’s a little small. Everything I’ve read says a shaper is on a different class than a router table; and far superior. That said, I’ve had a RT for 20+ years, and as a hobbyist it’s done everything I’ve ever needed. Plus, compare the price of shaper tooling to router bits and you see a financial reason to avoid them. Just my opinion. BTW, My table had a Freud 2000 (same as the 2200) in it for many years before I changed it to a lift…they are great router. They do have one disadvantage, the opening in the base isn’t large enough for the big panel raising bits. I actually cut mine out so I could run those bits. You can use them but it means mounting them a little further out of the collet and keeping the cutter outside the base. That router has been discontinued for several years (I still have one for hand held use when I need a router that large) but parts can be had form Bosch. I guess they agreed to support the power tools when they bought the router bits business from Freud.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View TungOil's profile


1319 posts in 979 days

#5 posted 08-17-2019 11:42 AM

I have both and use both but there is a lot of cross over between the two. A router table is better for small profile work and in some cases pattern routing where you need to get into a tight inside corner. For everything else the shaper is a superior tool. It leaves a cleaner cut, can take far deeper cuts and with the addition of a power feeder is much safer.

A Rockwell shaper is probably 1960’s vintage, they are well made machines and should have many years left in it if it has been maintained. Fences on the older shapers were often fussy. What size motor and spindle are on it?

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Woodbum's profile


883 posts in 3549 days

#6 posted 08-17-2019 12:02 PM

Router Table.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View Jared_S's profile


216 posts in 443 days

#7 posted 08-17-2019 01:48 PM

That is a very small 1/2” spindle shaper (its a delta (LD) light duty model) and as such is limited in available tooling. The design is from the pre router era in home shops (iirc it dates to the 1930’s.) The cutters originally supplied are 3 wing steel with a diameter under 2”

Personally i prefer shapers (i have 3) larger the better and i almost never use a router table, but most hobby shops have router tables..

Of the two options i would suggest the router. However a delta hd size or powermatic 26/27 sized shaper would be preferable to a router table.

If you eventually outgrow a router, a large shaper (5.5-10hp) makes a great addition to a shop..

View ibewjon's profile


924 posts in 3277 days

#8 posted 08-17-2019 02:13 PM

I have a 3 HP shaper with 3/4 and 1 1/4 inch options. A shaper with 1/2” really is small. I would get the router for now, and wait for a larger shaper.

View Peteybadboy's profile


1032 posts in 2433 days

#9 posted 08-17-2019 02:55 PM

I think router table as well. I use mine all the time. I do have large 3 1/4 motor in a lift. Added the Incra micro adjustable fence (love that dial in capability), I have done cabinet doors with the match set of bits. That is all I will need. Good luck with your choice.

-- Petey

View WoodenDreams's profile


709 posts in 395 days

#10 posted 08-17-2019 09:21 PM

If you don’t have a router table already, then I would get a router table first. Having a extra router is beneficial. If later you decide to get a shaper, you can contact him later and see if he still has it. What makes the shaper attractive is if the dozen or so cutter bits are included.

View Chupacama's profile


2 posts in 37 days

#11 posted 08-18-2019 03:01 AM

Well thank you all for your input! This seems like a solid community here. I think I was leaning towards the shaper because it was an unknown to me and something new. It is a 1hp, but not sure on the spindle size. I will add that both are in excellent condition, and the shaper does include the cutters, which are all in excellent condition. Honestly, I’m debating whether or not to buy both. My garage and my wife will potentially hate for me it, but I love tools, lol.

I’ve already bought all his tube clamps, 4” jointer, porter cable 24” omnijig for some reason and a Lincoln 100 Mig welder with a DeWalt abrasive chop saw.

Also for sale is a General 14” bandsaw, Delta floor model drill press, a giant table saw that I didn’t see and other various stuff. Ahh decisions decisions… Thanks again!

View farmfromkansas's profile


125 posts in 98 days

#12 posted 08-31-2019 02:18 AM

Just buy it all. As to the shaper, when you get one, get the 3hp and power feeder as well, makes the thing safe to operate, and keeps your hands away from the cutter. I got mine on sale from Grizzly, and my router table sees much less use. For bigger jobs the shaper is the only way to go.

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