Using Router Bits with a Shaper

The proper spindles sizes are hard to find, and there's also debate about whether a shaper spins too slowly for router bits. Still, here is some practical advice. January 2, 2012

I'm looking for interchangeable spindles for my T50N shaper. I used to work in a shop that had all Delta shapers and they would swap out the 1" spindles and insert a spindle that had a 1/2" collar to be used with router bits.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor R:
Why would you want to do this? For little more than what I suspect a new spindle would cost, you can put together a quality router table, with a good lift and heavy variable speed router. Because of their limited speed range, shapers make poor routers for most applications.

From contributor J:
I'm assuming you're looking for used spindles, since if you wanted new you would just call MiniMax, right? I'm not sure you'll have much luck there. Delta shapers have been around for many decades and there are just thousands of them out there. Makes it pretty easy to find those spindles you mentioned on e-bay and similar places. MiniMax... not so much. I think the only place you're really going to find those spindles is new from MiniMax, assuming they make them.

From contributor P:
I have the T50 machine. I believe only 1.25/1.0 and .75 spindles are offered. The cavity that accepts the spindle is a morse #3, and thus there is not enough room for a router collet setup. This is due to the funky differential lead nut that draws the spindles into their socket. That aside, the machine runs too slow for a router bit and there is no way to speed it up. Use your shaper with shaper cutters and get a router table.

From contributor E:
Router bits in a VFD powered shaper in the Delta or Powermatic class can be a reasonable solution. The bearings in the Delta are rated at 14,000 RPM so running the speed up is easy with a VFD. Those that have an investment in router bits can utilize them without having a router table cluttering the shop. There are some profiles that are only available as a router bit. For larger router bits such as panel raising bits, a router bit spindle in a shaper is the only way to fly since the shaper has real horsepower, not the peak rated nonsense that routers are rated at.

From contributor J:
I have a tilting spindle shaper I use with router bits all the time. No problems with speed, that's more myth than truth. The bigger the bit, the slower you want your speed, same as with shaper cutters. If anything, I'd say routers are too fast for some of the larger bits available today. So if I have a large profile router bit I'll throw it on the shaper and go to work. I still use the router table for all sorts of other things, especially smaller bits.