There are many insert tooling shaper heads where you just buy the knives and
put them in a very expensive head. Shapers are for production work. They are
usually used with a power feeder, can cut very thick pieces in one pass and
just generally are less expensive to run than routers. Think about a 2 inch
thick door with rail and stile construction. What router can do that?
Shapers come with multiple heads, sliding tables and variable and reversible
Gee, sounds like the perfect tool. I'll take two!!
" Think about a 2 inch thick door with rail and stile construction. What router
can do that? "
I finished making five raised panel doors a few months back - 6 panel, solid
red oak. Two were a full 2 inches (exterior doors). 4 were 1 3/8 (interior)
While it certainly would be faster on a shaper, my 3+ HP Milwaukee router did a
pretty good job. If I were doing this for a living, I'd certainly opt for the
shaper, but I'd still use a router for most tasks.
Well - no. Two factors to consider are the 1/3 more cuts delivered by the
third face, and the fact that swinging a lot of bits the size that the
shaper does easily at 12,000 would be a pucker factor ten on that router at
the same speed, and 1/3 less cuts. A router is, after all a machine
designed to be used in hand, no matter how hard we try to secure it to ever
more elaborate tables to imitate shapers, a shaper is a standalone.
Oh yes, when your shaper says it's a horse and a half, it's not kidding. It
will outperform your "3HP" router, and do so for hours, if required.
Most shapers use induction motors. By the nature of the beast, an
induction motor will always try to maintain its speed and will simply
draw more current as the load in creases. The RPM will try to stay the
same.... an important feature when setting up feed rates.
Besides, induction motors sound so much sweeter.
Another difference? Router tables eat fingers, shapers eat hands.
The shapers your talking about wouldn't be much of a step above said router
and a good router table. If you want to move up, get a 3hp 3/4" spindle.
The price is at least $1k. These shapers are capable of raising panels in
one pass, and many other things out of a routers league. Plus, a feeder can
be added to a shaper to get large routing jobs done productively. --dave
Most shapers also allow you to tilt the arbor/shaft and hence the cutter to
get an even wider range of profiles and shapes from your bits, something
which a router in a table cannot do on its own.
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Spin a cutter the size of a tall boy beer can at 400 bazillion RPMs, and
produce about thirty pounds of sawdust per second. :)
But not, unfortunately, one of the ones you're looking at most likely. If
it runs on anything less than 440V, it ain't a real shaper. :)
(Yes, I have tool envy. Must stop playing in the production shop. :)
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
Make deep cuts in a single pass.
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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Pat Warner's website has a good discussion of the appropriate
applications of shapers vs routers.
Also this quote from Patrick Speilman (iirc): "The design duty cycle of
a router is measured in seconds. That of a shaper in shifts."
My current project calls for a door edge profile that requires either
four router cuts and a good deal of attention to setup, OR a single pass
on a stock shaper cutter.
not by a long shot....
A "good" shaper can be used for hours a day ...every day ....
They also are capable of removing material at a much faster rate
I have the time so I can survive with a Router ... A production shop
just could not afford to waste (time is money) the time...
Gerald Masgai has a great How To set of pages on building
a four panel door. Here's a shaper page. Note the size
of the cutter. For scale - the allen head bolt in the second
photo is 1 1/8 inches in diameter. The bore on the cutter
is probably 3/4" diam. though the shaper will handle 1 1/4"
diam. cutter bores.
For frame and panel kitchen cabinet doors a router
will do the job. The shaper will probably do it faster
and easier for the second, third and fiftieth door.
If you want a good "over the shoulder" on going from
rough stock to finished four panel door (and the
capabilities of what is now a low to mid price range
five function combination machine), along with plenty
of useful tips - start here and click "continue" at the
bottom of each page. I'm pretty sure you'll learn
several things you'll find useful.
Depends on what you intend to use it for.
2 interchangeable spindles: 1/2" and 3/4"
not sure what the 1/2" bore is for but there 3/4"
and 1 1/4" bore heads and cutters are fairly common
Heavy-duty 1-1/2 H.P., 110V/220V motor
this may be underpowered for larger cutters/knives
3 hp wouldn't be easy to bog down
Two spindle speeds: 7,000 and 10,000 R.P.M.
10000 rpm seems a bit high for spinning
a 5" diameter cutter head and knives but
7000 should be fine. HIgher rpms for
3 1/2" diam head I guess
3" spindle travel
unless you're going to do wide moulding
3" of spindle travel should cover most
Spindle openings are 1-1/4", 3-1/2" and 5"
not sure what these numbers are referring to.
Table is precision-ground cast iron
Table size is 20-1/4" x 18"
THIS MAY BE THE WEAK POINT. The width L/R
is only 18". With a 5" diameter cutter that
leaves you only 6 inches from the edge of
the table to contact with the cutter - not
much room. And if you're doing end grain
work you want a backer boards to reduce
or eliminate tear out at the end of the
It looks like there are two holes for a
table extension but getting the miter
slots to line up AND have the tables
coplaner could be a bit of a hassle.
Floor-to-table height is 33-1/2"
Powder coated paint
All ball bearing construction
Don't know of any shapers that use
bushings so this is sort of stating
what they all have
Maximum cutter diameter is 5"
5" should cover just about anything
you want to do.
The hold downs and hold ins seem kind of
flimsy. Beefier ones would be better - you
definitely want to keep the stock down on
the table and firmly against the fence, even
with the cutters trying to move things around
(and initially in passed the infeed fence)
I'd also like to see a hold in that keeps your
hands away from the sharp spinning things.
But, given how close the miter head is
to the cutters I don't see much room for
Shipping weight approx.: 220 lbs.
Weights OK but more weight = less
$483 is about what a 2 1/2 - 3 hp router
a router table top, insert plate and fence
would come to.
But, depending on how you go with cutters,
like routers, the tooling can add up to a lot
more than the machine. Shaper cutters
are more expensive than router bits. If
you go with a cutter head and insert
knives it may be a wash once you've paid
for the cutter head.
I'd want more info on how the fences
are adjusted, both the space between
them as well as fore & aft. Having them
anything but coplaner will make planer
snipe look trivial.
more than you wanted to know right?
There are 1/2" bore cutters (Grizzly, as well as others, sell them)
Does it also come with a spindle to accept 1/2" router bits? If so, this
is a reasonable transition approach for router to shaper. The bits at 10k
rpm are going to spin slower, but I've had good luck with my shaper running
router bits. Buy shaper cutters for profiles you are going to cut a lot,
buy cheaper router bits for those profiles you may only use occasionally.
That's an important point; initially, I spent a lot of time with my
WoodTek fence, fiddling to get the fences right. I have that process
pretty well down now. In addition, when a split fence is not necessary, ,
one can also build your own face board that spans the split fence and then
adjust the split fence relatively co-planer in order to use the single
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