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?

We will give you a detailed comparison of the pros and cons of each of these devices. Make the choice yourself.

Benefits You Get From A Router And Router Bits

The Cost

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.


Routers are tools designed especially for versatility. It can be used for many different application, but what makes it even more versatile is the fact that you can easily pack it up and transport it to a job site. That’s just impossible with heavy and bulky shapers. Also, you can change router bits on the go, which allows you to make many different types of cuts. Your imagination is the limit – literally.

Benefits of A Shaper And Shaper Cutters


You can use router bits on a shaper, but you need the right adapter first. Since you can’t have a woodworking shop without a router, owners that have shapers usually own plenty of router bits already. You can use the router bits on most shapers.


Shapers are really routers with much more power. That high power makes the shaper cutters more complicated when it comes to profile cutting. The good thing about it is that you need only one pass to create a complicated profile. Doing the same with a router would require at least three passes. Shaper cutters are better at cutting wide profiles like crown moldings and raised panels.
do your woodwork with ease


The grain direction of the wood often contributes to the splitting of the piece you’re working on, but a shaper definitely makes things easier as they can run in reverse. Routers don’t have that function, sadly.

Lower Costs

We already went through the price differences between these two devices, but which one is more affordable? If you’re a shop owner, you know that time is money, which is why you can get more done with a shaper. Instead of three or more passes to make something with a router, one single pass with a shaper will save you a lot of time without a doubt.

Heavy Machining

You need a shaper if you plan on finishing up larger orders. Routers are versatile, that’s true, but they are designed only for light duty jobs. If possible, always make the tools do the work, instead of doing it by hand. Instead of pushing a router to its limits when it comes to heavy duty work, get a shaper as it’s safer and produces results much faster.


Believe it or not, shapers are much quieter than routers. The downside is that shapers tend to vibrate more and they feel less sturdy because of the shaper belt that rotates at slow speeds.
ready for some heavy duty work?

Questions to Help You Decide

When we draw a line and compare a shaper and a router, it’s obvious that they are very similar, but they also have many different capabilities at the same time. To figure out which one you need, there are a couple of crucial questions you have to ask yourself: what are you planning on doing? How delicate do you need the cuts to be? Do you want to make long and deep cuts? What type of finish are you looking for? Does the machine need to work all day long? Do you need to make complex cuts?

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.