Looking for advice from shaper owners and users

I've been using table-mounted routers for some time now, and am considering investing in a router lift and the PC 7518 for heavy duty work. But, I think that for the considerable expense, I could just as well spring for a shaper. The 1-1/2 HP Grizzly is only $425, but then starting up a collection of cutters is a big outlay.
I'd like to stop being afraid when raising panels, and make my own moldings -- wide moldings on the router table suffer from too much vibration and chatter, and require alot of cleanup. I'm told that larger moldings on the shaper come out much cleaner, but I'd like to know what the rec thinks.
My questions are, does this seem worthwhile to those of you with shaper experience? Or is the router lift more practical? What spindle sizes are needed? The shapers in my price range have only 1/2 and 3/4 spindles. Is that enough, or will I regret not having a 1 or 1-1/4 inch?
Does anyone have the small Delta SH-100 that Lowes carries? It has only a 1/2 spindle, and I've read the owners manual from the Delta website, but it hasn't helped much. I think there are limitations on the diameter of cutters it will safely use, but they don't list any restrictions. This machine (and some similar from Grizzly) are cheaper alternatives, but if they aren't up to the job, I'd rather put the dough in something more substantial.
Thanks for any advice
tt
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@hotmail.com says...

That was my rationale for buying a shaper.

Buy one that includes a 1/2" shank router bit adapter. You can use your existing router bits while you slowly transition to shaper cutters.

I'm not sure that's going to happen with a shaper. The plus side: it's a whole lot quieter than a screaming banshee router. The downside: that quiet hum you hear as the spindle rotates it the hum of pure power and torque, you don't want to screw up by twisting a piece of wood or getting cross-wise with that bit or you will have as much, if not more, fun as a table-saw kickback. However, this can be managed -- it really forces you to think safe in terms of hold-downs, push-sticks, use of starting pins, use of guards, etc.

Haven't done this yet, so can't help you there.

You're going to get a number of equal but opposite opinions. In my case: 1. I knew I could get a shaper with a table flatter than a router table 2. I really, really dislike the screaming of a router - I wanted something a bit more "civilized", so the shaper met that desire 3. I have settled on 3/4" spindle cutters as my "baseline" set. Thus far, I haven't found a reason to desire larger (I do have a 1 1/4 spindle, but haven't used it) 4. Since I'm not doing production work, I have been using Grizzly cutters, they are (IMO) comparably priced to similar router bits. I have not regretted this yet, however, I am having some questions right now regarding the drawer lock bit (Grizzly's drawer lock bit is really the same as everybody else's glue joint bit -- it doesn't cover the end grain of the side piece). On the first 12 drawers I cut, it fit very well, on the second 10 that I just finished, the joints are much looser than I like. I will do some later experiments to determine why this is the case -- whether I did something to cause the problem by technique or whether something else has happened.

I went with the Woodtek from WWS of NM. I looked at the Jet shaper, the table was too small for my comfort factor. I looked at the Grizzly shapers later in Springfield, MO. They are slightly different and I'm happy with my choice, but some of the models with larger tables looked pretty good as well.
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Based on my experience, I feel much safer swinging a panel raiser on a 3/4" or larger shaper spindle than on a 1/2" router shaft. Add to that the mass of the machine, a bigger table, the ability to power feed and you know my answer. A 3/4" will do most anything you need to do at home. For production shops, the larger spindles have better bearings and last longer.
--
Ross
www.myoldtools.com
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You've gotten some pretty good advice already so I will attempt to add a few bits of wisdom from jo4hn's john. I have an ancient Craftsman 1/2" model which works quite well for hobbyist efforts. To my knowledge, no one makes 1/2" cutters any more, but most 3/4" come with a bushing to 1/2".
Shapers turn more slowly than routers and some of the cutters are pretty complex, e.g. 3/16 and 1/4 roundovers top and bottom with a 1/4 bead in the middle. Be sure that the motor is reversible. Take shallow multiple cuts in hardwood. Use featherboards and jigs and keep your fingers out of the mix. And enjoy.     mahalo,     jo4hn
Test Tickle wrote:

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True, but a typical shaper cutter has three blades vs. two on a router, so this isn't quite as big a deal as it might seem. Shapers also have a *lot* more torque than routers, and thus don't slow down as much when making cuts.

I haven't seen a shaper yet that isn't reversible. Not to say that such don't exist... but IME they must be rare.

I have not found that to be necessary. Granted, I haven't yet used my shaper on anything really hard like sugar maple or white oak, but in cherry, soft maple, and sycamore I get beautiful results making full-depth cuts.

Couldn't agree more.

-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
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I have that little Sears shaper and like it very much. I had to use my own 3/4 HP motor and it's fine. The hole in the table limits size, but I use 3/4" bore cutters from Woodline and like them fine. I use bushings and can put them on my 3 HP shaper when I want to.
I have a few of the old HSS 1/2" cutters and they are fine too, but I like the nice Woodline carbides more. Wilson
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On Sat, 24 Jan 2004 05:05:28 GMT, Test Tickle

The Delta toy shaper was the worst tool purchase I have ever made.
Don't waste your money. Do yourself a favor and at least look under it. You'll see that it doesn't even have a TEFC motor. The table is crappy cast aluminium and won't stay flat, and the spindle doesn't come close to being truly vertical in all planes. Put the money towards a real shaper.
Tim Carver snipped-for-privacy@twocarvers.com
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wrote:

Thanks for all of the tips, everyone. The toy Delta is definitely off my list, and I think I'll wait a little bit and get a decent small shop shaper.
tt
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