Raised Panel Bits for Routers

      Shapers are more powerful, but vertical raised panel bits put door panels within the reach of a good router. April 30, 2009

I don't have a shaper so I want to use raised panel bits in a 2hp Milwaukee router in a small router table. Will that work safely, or does that type of router run too fast? If those bits will work, can I use other large profile bits too?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor G:
It shouldn't go much above 12,000 RPM on a bit that large. 2HP is small but if you take lighter passes you should be able to do it.

From the original questioner:
I thought that would be the case. I just wanted to be sure. I know my router is over 20,000 rpm.

From contributor A:
They make two styles of raised panel router bits. The old school typical ones are large diameter with a bearing and you run the panel flat on the table like a shaper. They sell newer style ones in the same profiles but they are vertical (small diameter). You run the panels vertically against a fence. This is similar to the rough cut you will be making on your tablesaw to remove as much waste as possible. The diameter is the key. The bigger the diameter, the more horsepower. I know Amana makes vertical raised panel bits. Freud and CMT might as well.

From the original questioner:
I just looked at the vertical bits on Freud's website. I didn't know about those. They have a picture showing how to run material. It looks like a good idea. I guess you just need to be more careful running something vertically. I looked at Freud because I have found that their bits stay sharper much longer than most other brands.

From the original questioner:
Would it be better to use the vertical bits or put a speed control on my router so I can use the regular bits? How would I know what speed to run it at? I'm sure the wood species determines that.

From contributor A:
The two problems you have are too high RPM and too low HP. Slowing down your small router will not make it any easier for the router to spin that large cutter. If you are going to run raised panels with a 2hp router you should use a vertical bit. The other option is to buy a less expensive but still high quality 3 hp like the Hitachi for about $200. It's got the guts and speed control. If you plan on running raised panels in the future you should consider investing in a bigger router.

From contributor F:
Is this just for a small job? How many doors do you have to do? Before I bought a 3 1/4 hp speed controlled Bosch, I used a 1 3/4 PC with standard horizontal Freud bits and a speed controller. Your setting will be down in the first 1/3 of the dial. As stated by contributor G, you will still need to make light passes, but it is safe and the results were very good. You will have to take your time, but again, if it's for a small project now and again, not a problem.

From the original questioner:
Yes, for now, it will be for small jobs.

From contributor C:
Invest in a shaper. You will be able to do much more and it will pay for itself quickly.

From the original questioner:
The only reason I don't have a shaper yet is because of very, very limited space right now. I was trying to see if I could use what I have, for now.

From contributor D:
Having more space and being able to add a shaper would allow you many more profile options but there are so many choices from so many bit manufactures that are making shaper cutters in router bit form that a good 3 1/4hp router mounted in a table becomes a darn good profiler.

From contributor J:
I have been using a regular router for raising panels for awhile. Vertical would be your better choice for the most part since it is Easier and safer as far as I can tell. A horizontal bit burnt out a $150 PC router for me about six months ago. I have noticed that you don't get the same fit as you do with shapers. Every RP/CS combo I have tried was a little sloppy even at its best. Getting into any kind of decent shaper is going to run you $3,000 easy, plus tooling. Then you have to screw with the power feed, listen to it, and hope it doesn't kill you.

From the original questioner:
Those 3 1/4hp PC routers are pretty powerful. I wouldn't use my smaller PC for continuous running like that. I don't think it would last. That's why I have my older Milwaukee in the router table. I'll probably have to buy a used shaper. New ones cost too much for me to handle right now. I know what you mean about the power feed. I helped someone run some maple on a shaper with a power feed and it seemed like he never really got it right.

From contributor A:
The problem was the operator not the power feed or shaper. Running a shaper with a decent power feed is orders of magnitude safer and more accurate than running parts free hand on a router table.

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