Author Topic: Shaper or router table  (Read 11013 times)

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Offline HowardH

  • Posts: 1130
Shaper or router table
« on: April 21, 2007, 05:52 PM »
Ok, folks.  I am going to undertake a fairly big project, refacing all the cabinet doors in my kitchen.  31 to be exact.  I don't have a router table and my original plan was to build Norm's cabinet and then attach an aftermarket table, fence and lift.  I was in Rockler looking at options and one of the salesguys suggested to look at this Jet 1.5 hp shaper instead.  He made some compelling arguments, at least to my mostly uneducated ears. 
Pros:  about half the footprint.  Big with LOML.
         easy to set up
         powerful, even with only 1.5 horse since it is a true rating
         110 or 220, don't need to necessarily rewire but I'm adding a sub panel anyway (tired of tripping
         breakers when I have planer + DC going)
         Less expensive - about $650 whereas the entire RT setup would be close to a $1000.

Cons: you tell me.  I don't have any experience with shapers so help me out.  I know I would not be
         gaining any additional storage from the router table if I go the shaper route. 

What do you guys think?
Howard H
The Dallas Texas Festool Fanatic!

Mark Twain:  "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a letter approving of it." "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

mft1080, Trion, MFT/3, T15, OF 1400, RO150FEQ, TS55, RTS400, CT22, CT36E, 800, 1080, 1400, 1900 rails, CSX, Vecturo, Qwas dogs, Parf Dogs, Zobo's, Syslite Uni, CMS GE

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Offline Steve Rowe

  • Posts: 828
  • Teach them safety when they are young.
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2007, 07:48 PM »
I have had a shaper since 1984.  In addition to what you have already stated:
Pros:
1) A shaper is much quieter
2) I have gotten smoother cuts from a shaper than a router
3) Fences are generally much better than router table fences and have independent infeed and outfeed adjustments.
4) Some shapers have collets enabling you to use router bits.

Cons:
1) Shaper cutters are much more expensive than router bits. 
2) With large cutters, shapers can be a bit unnerving to use when hand feeding. 

Since the Jet you are looking at is only 1.5 HP, the cons indicated above are not likely to be a big deal since a shaper that small probably only takes the 1/2" or 3/4" bore shapers which have much smaller diameters and also cost less.  Check the cutter capacity of the one you are looking at.  If you intend on making raised panel doors, these cutters are very large and it may not fit the Jet 1.5HP.  I recommend going to a 3HP shaper if you want to make raised panel doors.
Steve

Offline LaserGecko

  • Posts: 161
  • Tools Smarter Than Operator
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2007, 01:10 AM »
Thanks for posting this, Howard. I noticed the exact same thing the other day at Woodworkers Emporium. I'm in pretty much the same boat as you, too. Part of the justification for getting the tools was the money we'd save by doing our cabinet refacing myself.

Of course, there's the pride element, too.

That shaper has a 1/4" and 1/2" bit collet, so it would swing the same bit you'd use in a router table, anyway. The biggest spindle it supports is 3/4". I used to sharpen router bits, planer blades, and shapers at a crappy $5/hour, non-OSHA, non-EPA compliant job at a toolshop in the Ozarks. I very rarely saw any shapers that small. Shapers are definitely the way to go if you're doing it for a living, but I think you (and I, eventually) will be more than happy with a good raised panel router bit.

The shop owner said that Whiteside bits were the best on the market. I sure sharpened enough of 'em. Good thick carbide and I never remember seeing any Whiteside bit chip out while it was being sharpened.

Of course, I have no actual experience using either a router table nor a shaper, so take it for what it's worth. I would be very interested to hear more from people who've used one.

http://www.jettools.com/shop/index.cfm?navPage=4&iid=11687&vid=1 is the link for anyone who's interested in checking it out.
Jason Creager
Las Vegas, NV

Offline Jerry Work

  • Posts: 307
    • The Dovetail Joint
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2007, 10:07 AM »
Hi Howard,

I have no experience with small shapers but do use the large shaper in my European combo machine all the time.  3/4" is the very smallest spindle I would be comfortable using and much prefer 30mm or 1.25".  When the shaper cutter gets very big/heavy the smaller spindle can deflect and whip so be sure to size your cutter to this smaller spindle.  Also, make sure the cutter is designed for hand feeding.  Shaper cutters come in hand feed and power feed shapes.  It is not safe to hand feed wood past a cutter designed for power feeding.  I would avoid the 1/2" spindle as I do not think it stable enough to work safely. 

The Jet machine link does not indicate where the router collets mount, but if they mount to the end of the 1/2 or 3/4" spindles then the cutter will be quite a ways away from the upper bearing and may wobble resulting in a less than steller cut.  A good table mounted router has an upper bearing very close to the cutter and likely would provide more bit stability.  For home use, over time I think you would be better seved by a good quality router table and industrial class table mounted router.  If you plan to do production runs then get a much larger industrial shaper with a power feeder.

On a router table, use horizontal panel raising bits, not the vertical variety, and one that has chip limiters built in.  Stay away from the cheap two wing cutters.  Pay for a good quality bit that is well balanced and work safely.  For a simple, elegant look that does not require hogging off a lot of wood, look at the 15 degree bits sold as "Shaker style" bits.  Festool also sells an interesting panel cutter that uses a rounded, almost bead like profile that has a nice modern look.  It does not require removing a lot of wood in one pass as you first cut a simple rebate to establish the tongue and then profile the edge of the rebate.  Part of the appearance profile is cut by the R & S cutters and part with the panel raiser bit.  To help you find it in the catalog the numbers are 491-129, 491-130, 491-138.  Hope this helps.

Jerry

Ok, folks.  I am going to undertake a fairly big project, refacing all the cabinet doors in my kitchen.  31 to be exact.  I don't have a router table and my original plan was to build Norm's cabinet and then attach an aftermarket table, fence and lift.  I was in Rockler looking at options and one of the salesguys suggested to look at this Jet 1.5 hp shaper instead.  He made some compelling arguments, at least to my mostly uneducated ears. 
Pros:  about half the footprint.  Big with LOML.
         easy to set up
         powerful, even with only 1.5 horse since it is a true rating
         110 or 220, don't need to necessarily rewire but I'm adding a sub panel anyway (tired of tripping
         breakers when I have planer + DC going)
         Less expensive - about $650 whereas the entire RT setup would be close to a $1000.

Cons: you tell me.  I don't have any experience with shapers so help me out.  I know I would not be
         gaining any additional storage from the router table if I go the shaper route. 

What do you guys think?
The Dovetail Joint
Fine furniture designed and hand crafted by Jerry Work
in the 1907 former Masonic Temple building
in historic Kerby, OR. 
26 mi SW of Grants Pass on US 199, The Redwood Highway
Visitors always welcome!
http://jerrywork.com
glwork@mac.com

Offline Daviddubya

  • Posts: 704
  • Arizona, USA
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2007, 12:33 PM »
I owned a low HP Craftsman shaper for a number of years and I'm now using my third generation of router table.  In my home-based shop, I find the router table more versatile and useful.  Lots of folks make raised panel doors on a well-equipped router table.  Get a 3HP router with lift capability and a good fence system - I like Incra myself.  My experience agrees with Jerry's comment, "For home use, over time I think you would be better seved by a good quality router table and industrial class table mounted router."

When you are planning your router table, be sure you know what fence system you will use.  The depth of the table is dependent on the fence capacity in fences like Incra and Jointech.

The best plan for a cabinet I found is this one:

http://www.jointech.com/routerstation.htm

The Jointech cabinet is far better for deep tables.  The NYW cabinet works well for less deep tables.
David W. Falkenstein
in Cave Creek, AZ, USA

Offline Jim Dailey

  • Posts: 278
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2007, 01:55 PM »
Howard,

I've had shapers for about 30 years.  I also had router tables for the same length of time.  For me both are tools I couldn't function without.  However how I view them having & using both is different.

First I generally agree with both Steve's & Jerry's post.  I'd only add that I view shaper cutters as an investment just like a stationary tool.  Where I view router bits as a consumable or an expense.  Insert cutters for the shaper fall in the middle... they are an affordable way to add a large number of profiles for a very minimal expense.

To me a shaper is primarily an edge forming tool where a router table will do both edge forming & within field work.  In both cases I have added Incra fences to gain repeatability & accuracy.  The shaper with power feeder allows me to literally feed raw stock in one side & finished product out the other AND my hands never come near my cutters.  I feel very strongly that a power feeder is a requirement for a shaper.

The Jet shaper your interested in has too small a top or work surface, & boarder line power.  I doubt you'll be happy with that unit over a long period of time.   Think bigger & you'll be happier.   Reread Jerry's post about the 1.25" preference...

I had to smile at the link Dave posted to the Jointech plans.  I'd never seen that before ... made me  :)   I've never posted "my" router table on any of the forums I write on.  But first let me "show" you what I think is a good router table.  For those familiar with John Lucas's Workshop demos, note I used his idea for storing my Incra templates.  "Thanks John".  The router table uses a Jessum lift, & a single speed PC 3 1/4hp router.  Why single speed?  I only use small diameter bits on the router table since all my large profiles are on my shaper.

And a picture of the modifications to my Unishaper in one form or another has been posted on other forums.   I will the post seperately these pictures because of file size.

In both cases I use a veneer height gauge to set the cutter heights, thus between the Incra's & the height gauge I can repeat a set up to a couple thousands... time after time.   

One more thing... regardless of the bull you've heard read using router bits in shaper... they work fine.  I've done it for years.  I'll use the shaper with power feed to run a batch & then use the same bit to match the profile on site (like an inside corner etc.)

Hope this helps,
jim
Life is just a series of projects...

Offline Daviddubya

  • Posts: 704
  • Arizona, USA
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2007, 04:32 PM »
...I had to smile at the link Dave posted to the Jointech plans.  I'd never seen that before ... made me  :)   I've never posted "my" router table on any of the forums I write on.  But first let me "show" you what I think is a good router table.  For those familiar with John Lucas's Workshop demos, note I used his idea for storing my Incra templates.  "Thanks John"...

Jim - Did those pesky guys at Jointech swipe your design???  Smile.

Your photos give me router bit collection envy!!!
David W. Falkenstein
in Cave Creek, AZ, USA

Offline Jim Dailey

  • Posts: 278
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2007, 05:18 PM »
Hi Dave,

"No" they did not steal my design...   ;)

In either case whether you'd use a Jointech or a Incra fence, the fence or top to hold the fence dictates the shape of the cabinet.  I used a top from Woodpecker's & the Incra postioner is a "Linear Twin" model.

"Thanks!!"
jim
Life is just a series of projects...

Offline HowardH

  • Posts: 1130
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2007, 06:07 PM »
Thanks for the imput, guys. I do have a concern about with cutting the ends of stiles using a table designed for the incra or jointech offset tables.  It would seem that it is pretty short from the bit to the end of the table.  Would it give me enough support for a longer stile i.e. maybe 2.5' long?  I do like the Jointech setup.  Seems a bit beefier than the Incra.  It is a bit more expensive though.  I go to San Antonio quite a bit so I can always stop by their factory and see what's what in action.  The owner is good guy.  He came from Incra many years ago.  I also have a Craftsman/bosch 1617 router that I planned on using as a permanent router for the station.  That, of course, would clear the way for the of1400!  ;)  It's 2.25 hp so I presume it has enough power if I take smaller bites rather than trying to hog it off in big gulps.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2007, 06:21 PM by HowardH »
Howard H
The Dallas Texas Festool Fanatic!

Mark Twain:  "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a letter approving of it." "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

mft1080, Trion, MFT/3, T15, OF 1400, RO150FEQ, TS55, RTS400, CT22, CT36E, 800, 1080, 1400, 1900 rails, CSX, Vecturo, Qwas dogs, Parf Dogs, Zobo's, Syslite Uni, CMS GE

Offline Dave Rudy

  • Posts: 771
  • Coloroda Front Range, in the lee of Pikes Peak
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2007, 08:27 AM »
Jim,

Beautiful work.  You may force me to take the time to build my own -- I'm using a Jessem top with steel legs at the moment.  Thanks for sharing that with us.

Howard, Not sure exactly what you're saying about the 1400.  As much as I love that router, I would not recommend it for use in a table, but rather for topside work.  For the cabinet work contemplated here, best to get the PC 7518 or equivalent -- 3+ HP.  If you use larger bits on the router table (unlike Jim) both the HP and the ability to change speeds is essential.  I have both Jointech and Incra and your comments are accurate -- however I use the Incra more and find that it has peformed without a hitch.  So bigger (heavier?) may not always be better.  You wont make a mistake either way.

Finally, on feeding edges of long stiles -- two choices: either use an auxiliary table or stand beside the router table or just build a bigger top.  Or, if you use a sled with adequate clamping ability (either fence- or slot-driven) you shouldnt have any problem.

Router table is up to the task.


Dave

Offline Jim Dailey

  • Posts: 278
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2007, 09:55 AM »
Howard,

Dave's comments about a clamping fixture to hold the styles is "right on..."   It's not so much as the long rails as the small surface area & end grain on the ends that will cause problems... 

Howard I don't agree with your comment about the surface area of the router table as it is virtually the same area as my Unishaper on which I have don't thousands of style & rails. 

My Festool OF 1400 & OF 1010 are my favorites of my more than a doz. routers but like Dave said... they are for hand held work.   There are much better choices for inverting in a router table.

Dave the top sat across a couple of saw horse for a while before I got around to building the cabinet.  I had a bunch on inlay around the shop so I added that to the cabinet's four corners, & the door (so easy with the Incra to get the fit "just right" on inlays...)  The draws are wrapped with black walnut so you don't see the that the inlay on the draws faces are not actuallly inlay.  The faces where cut in three pieces then re-joined with two "strips" or rows of black walnut dovetails joining the three piece back together edge to edge.  The handles are made of black walnut but are mounted on two 1/2" oak dowels locked with purple heart wedges.   Most of my work goes out the door or is done "on site" and I never see it again... the router table cabinet I did for "me". 

jim
Life is just a series of projects...

Offline HowardH

  • Posts: 1130
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2007, 10:52 AM »
I'm sorry but you guys mis-interpreted what I meant about the OF1400.  I meant to say that the 1400 was going to be my new handheld unit and I was going to permanently mount the Bosch underneath the cabinet.  I should have reread my post before I put it up.   No way would I subject a 1400 to the ignominty of being hidden away under a table, never to see the light of day!

Jim, thanks for letting me know that the table size would be adequate.  I based that comment/question on a conversation I had with a guy who is an accomplished woodworker and it was his opinion that offset tables don't generally have enough support to cut ends of long stiles.   I do like the Jointech plan.  I hadn't seen that one before.  I'll have to order it. 
Howard H
The Dallas Texas Festool Fanatic!

Mark Twain:  "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a letter approving of it." "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."

mft1080, Trion, MFT/3, T15, OF 1400, RO150FEQ, TS55, RTS400, CT22, CT36E, 800, 1080, 1400, 1900 rails, CSX, Vecturo, Qwas dogs, Parf Dogs, Zobo's, Syslite Uni, CMS GE

Offline Dave Rudy

  • Posts: 771
  • Coloroda Front Range, in the lee of Pikes Peak
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2007, 10:55 AM »
Jim,

GREAT DECISION (to make that one for yourself).  Nice to be able to work around some fine cabinetry while you're making things out of wood.  Thanks for providing the details -- every bit of the work and talent shows in the finished piece.

Dave

Offline Les Spencer

  • Posts: 487
Re: Shaper or router table
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2007, 11:54 PM »
Howard,

Take a look at this coping sled:
http://eagleamerica.com/product.asp?pn=400-1248&eid=GOOGLE&SID=GL0062&gclid=CNCBl-D83IsCFQstWAodoXGLcA&bhcd2=1177476538

I'm happy with mine. There are other companies selling these also.

Thanks for the imput, guys. I do have a concern about with cutting the ends of stiles using a table designed for the incra or jointech offset tables.  It would seem that it is pretty short from the bit to the end of the table.  Would it give me enough support for a longer stile i.e. maybe 2.5' long?  I do like the Jointech setup.  Seems a bit beefier than the Incra.  It is a bit more expensive though.  I go to San Antonio quite a bit so I can always stop by their factory and see what's what in action.  The owner is good guy.  He came from Incra many years ago.  I also have a Craftsman/bosch 1617 router that I planned on using as a permanent router for the station.  That, of course, would clear the way for the of1400!  ;)  It's 2.25 hp so I presume it has enough power if I take smaller bites rather than trying to hog it off in big gulps.
Les (near Indy) XL