Owner of smaller woodworking shops often have to deal with their space, and that means that they have to carefully choose the tools they install in the store. Balancing space, money, and time often makes owners sacrifice the shaper, selecting the router instead.
That’s ok, but it’s not the smartest thing to do because an inverted router can do many things a shaper can. Also, you can’t replace the shaper for some specific functions. But, when you look at the bigger picture, a router can help you finish up many different projects that a shaper just can’t deal with. So, which one should you get for your shop or personal woodworking projects?
Money is often a huge issue when buying tools for a shop, but even so, when you compare the price of a shaper to a router, a lift, table top, and replacement bits, the results are a bit surprising.
All of the equipment you need for the plunge router can add up to 800 dollars, while a shaper usually costs anywhere between 350 and 5000 dollars. Just like with many other things, the price gives you a hint of the quality of the product, so if you buy a 350 dollar shaper, you can’t expect it to perform as a device that’s ten times more expensive.
Compare the mid-range prices of them both, and you’ll quickly realize that routers are far less expensive than shapers.
Router bits are way smaller than shaper bits in diameter. That allows you to work on smaller wood pieces as you get more control. Even though the router bits are smaller, they make far more revolutions per second (RPM) than a shaper does. That gives you far more wood contact and a cleaner cut than you’d get with a shaper.
You need to answer these questions to make the right decision. The money, space, and time are important, that’s true, but the quality of your work and customer satisfaction should be your primary focus. You could have all the space and time in the world, and it wouldn’t mean a thing if your final product doesn’t meet the expectations. Also, think about the profitability of the machine. There’s no use of spending lots of money on a tool you won’t use that often, right?
If you are at the beginning of your carpenter career, you should buy a router first. It’s cheaper, easier to master, the bits are easy to change, and you’ll get the necessary knowledge that will allow you to be even more efficient when you upgrade to a shaper.
Once you have both of these tools in your shop, you can experiment with all kinds of shapes and woodworking jobs. You’ll already have all of the bits you need for the shaper from your router, get an adapter, and you’re ready for some heavy duty work.