Router Or Shaper – Which One Is For You?

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????A router and a shaper serve similar functions, but they are no means the same tool. A router can be used in and out of a table, whereas the shaper is actually part of the table, so there is no removing it. So the router has more versatility. But that doesn’t mean that it is better. A shaper usually will have more power than a router does. In fact, a router is very limited as to power. Even the most powerful of routers are nothing in comparison to a shaper’s power.

A router may run more rpm’s than a shaper, but it can’t handle using bigger cutters like a shaper can. A shaper turns slower but it takes off so much more on each rotation that even the router going double the speed would be no match for it.

A router, though having less power, is more versatile than a shaper. You can handle a larger variety of projects with a router, because the router can be used at different angles. The shaper only can cut from one position.

So which one should I choose if I can only get one? It is all going to depend on different factors, such as what projects you are doing, what bits you are using, etc.. As an example, in my shop, we build the same things over and over, which are porch swings. The only bit that we use is a round over bit, and even though I used to use a router table with a router for this, I didn’t realize how much better it was using a shaper. We have to round over many, many slats at one time, and the shaper is the way to go on this.

It is not only faster using the power of the shaper, it is also so much quieter. I had a good quality router and it still screamed so loud. Remember, the router is super loud because it runs at so many RPM’S that it makes a ton of noise. Because of this, you have to wear hearing protection. If you don’t it won’t take long to go deaf. I had a guy that worked in the shop with me for a few years, and he wouldn’t wear hearing protection on any machine…. except the router. It was so loud, even those with hearing loss usually don’t like the noise.

When woodworking though, I like to have both. Actually, there are certain projects that require both. But you can get away with more if all you have is a router than if all you have is a shaper. The router is more versatile, and can make cuts from different angles.

If you have a router and a router table, then it can act like a shaper, but just with less power. But you can’t use a shaper like a router. You can’t take the shaper out of the shaper table. If possible to have both then, that is the best. However, if you can only have one, here is my opinion as to both tools:

Shapers are usually set up for big jobs that last a long time. They are usually in a fixed location. The power of a great router is nothing in comparison to even a lower powered shaper. They are quiet as well.

Routers may lose the battle when it comes to production, but they excel when it comes to versatility. A router table can be put about anywhere, whereas a shaper is usually big and heavy, and usually is set up in a permanent place. They are great when it comes to short run work, but you can’t get the performance out of a router that you can a shaper.


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Ted Leger –


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Updated: February 16, 2017 — 11:57 pm
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