Router Table is Better for Small Shops
I added up the costs of a bigger router, a lift, and a nice router table, and it would basically cost the same as a shaper. Am I better off just buying a shaper that can handle router bits too?
Jason Skagen, St. Paul, MN
For the home shop, a router table is the better value. To get a high-end router table, lift, and a powerful 2-hp router, you’ll spend about $1,500 total. For that money, you’ll really get only an entry-level shaper. And when you stack those next to each other, I don’t think it’s worth it to get a shaper. Also, because shaper cutters are designed for production work, they command higher prices, and aren’t very economical for a shop that makes one-off pieces of furniture and smaller-scale projects. Stick to the router table, and you won’t be disappointed (for a complete guide to router tables and lifts, check out “Tool Test: Router Tables” and “Tool Test: Router Lifts” from FWW #237).
Router bits are a lot less expensive. For the price of two or three shaper cutters, you can buy a whole collection of router bits.
Two reasons a router table is a no-brainer. Router tables spin bits much faster than shapers do, leaving a smoother surface. Also, you would have to spend a lot more on a shaper to match the features you get with a top-end router table.