Router Table Versus Shaper

      Which to buy? It depends on the intended use. The two are suited for different purposes, but there is some overlap. October 2, 2005

I am in the market for a router table or shaper. What are the advantages of one over the other?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
If I could only have one, I'd build a router table and buy a large motored router for it. A shaper is the superior tool for tasks like making stick and cope cabinet doors and raised panels. These joints can be done on a router table, but it just doesn't have enough power for production. A router table is a very useful tool and for making smaller shaped cuts and a multitude of specialty machining tasks, it is much easier to set up than a shaper. Also, the cutters are far less expensive. If I need, for instance, to put a quarter inch radiused round on some parts, I'm going to use a $20.00 router bit instead of a $75.00 shaper knife. Anyway, for my operation I need both machines.

It depends on what you're building the most. If it's cabinets or other doors or continuous duty, like making flooring, then my vote goes for the shaper. Really, there's no reason why you can't build a router table out of common lumber and shop scrap. Building one yourself is a good project, and doesn't cost much. Use the money you saved to buy yourself a good shaper later on, once you have the need for one.

I, too, use both (and a couple of overhead pin routers for good measure), but I'd say the biggest difference is my shaper (spindle moulder) can chomp out full 3 x 1 in rebates (for example) in a single pass all day long - there isn't a router table around that can do that.

After years of building the "perfect router table," I finally discovered that a router collet on the shaper outperformed anything I could build. Vibration is eliminated with a cast iron machine, and adjustments come quick and easy.

Who makes them and how are they configured?

Both Powermatic and Delta have a shaper in the craftsman series, smaller machines with a half inch arbor. Both have the router collet. Makes a good machine for router bits, but I don't like running shaper cutters on the smaller arbor. As a router table, though, you set up, jig or fixture, just like you do for regular shaper work. What's funny... the cost is comparable to buying a larger router motor and building the table... maybe less.

I've had a router collet for my Delta shaper for many years. The fastest my shaper goes is 10,500 and that's too slow for all but the biggest bits. I always figured if I'm going to run large cutters, I'd just run them on the shaper spindle rather than use a less desirable collet, etc. Running smaller bits at 10,500 is too slow and the feed speed needs to be too slow to get a smooth cut, so I don't agree that it's a cure all replacement for a router table.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: General

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article