Are shapers needed?

........if you have a hefty router of say, 2.25 hp or more? Most of the shapers in my price capabilities are equal or less in hp. So my question is: what will the shaper do that the router can't?
bill
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It cuts slower with (usually) more blades, so less chance of burning sensitive woods? I know it used to be easier to get custom shaper heads done, but that's probably not the case any longer.

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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 speeds. Gee, sounds like the perfect tool. I'll take two!! max

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" 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.
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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.

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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.
Rob
wrote:

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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

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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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wrote:

Deliver the horsepower advertised.
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Bill Otten wrote:

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. :)
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Make deep cuts in a single pass.
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wrote:

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.
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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 17:52:03 -0500, "Bill Otten"

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...
Bob Griffiths
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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.
http://www.geocities.com/PicketFence/5276/shop/page25.html
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.
http://www.geocities.com/PicketFence/5276/shop/page16.html
charlie b
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Charlie, that being said, are you better off with one of the cheaper shapers, or a router in a table?
I was thinking about trying one of the cheaper machines, like this one:
http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?ItemNumber=G1035
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mark wrote:

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 needs 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 pass.
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 one.
Shipping weight approx.: 220 lbs. Weights OK but more weight = less vibaration
$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?
charlie b
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Not at all. I printed it out and am keeping it. Thanks for the insight.
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wrote:

There are 1/2" bore cutters (Grizzly, as well as others, sell them)
... snip

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 fence.
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