I am debating the merits of a shaper vs. a router table. I have a “good” router table with a dedicated router, but find height adjustments and changing collets to be a pain. I just don’t like it. And the overall expense was more than a shaper. I need to convince my wife how bad I need a shaper, but if it doesn’t perform as I expect, then I’d have wasted all this begging for nothing…you know how it is. Why would you choose one over the other?
Michael Dresdner: A good shaper can have several advantages over a router, including the ability to handle much larger cutters, reverse cutting direction, quicker cutter changing, a larger motor for deeper and more powerful cutting, and easy height adjustment, but there is no guarantee that any of these things will convince your wife. Instead, I’ll share this with you: When I owned a small guitar company in Pennsylvania many years ago, we found that although new employees were always scared of them, the two matched shapers were the best tools in the shop when it came to actually making money. That’s for her. For you, I’ll tell you that woodworking is supposed to be fun, and if you don’t like the tools you are working with, the fun goes away quickly. If that happens, what is the point? You might as well spend your time licking envelopes.
Lee Grindinger: Hmmm, stepping in between a wife and husband over tools he needs, I hope I won’t need to relocate after this. A shaper can do things a router cannot, just as a router can do things that a shaper cannot. Because of the length of the spindle on a shaper you can cut farther towards the center of wider boards and often you can make deeper cuts on a shaper because of the larger diameter of cutterheads. However, since the advent of the hobby woodworker, routers have taken huge leaps in power and versatility. The selection of bits and accessories for routers is enormous and, frankly, there are few things these days a router cannot do that a shaper can. For production purposes a shaper is still the tool of choice but for the home workshop a router or two and an array of cutters is a good solution. Perhaps your begging would be better spent on a new router and table.