Wood Shaper Vs Router Table – Which Is Best For Your Shop?

Last Update On: January 25, 2022 // Author:

If you own a small woodworking shop, chances are you’re struggling with space or money to invest in too many tools. Some tools are too important to ignore getting one; a router or a shaper in your workshop is one of them. It’s hard to determine which one to choose between the wood shaper vs router table because they both do almost similar jobs.

Both of them do a great job, especially when it comes to preparing the edges of the workpiece you’re working on. However, as you must get a routing system for your wood projects and it’s either between them, it’s important to know how they work. Stick to the article to know how router tables and shapers work to decide the one you’re getting next time you go shopping:

Wood Shaper Vs Router Table: What Is The Difference?

At first glance, you may get confused between the wood shaper vs router table because they look similar to the eyes. You must know how they work and what end-results they offer to understand the differences between them. Here are the things you must know about wood shaper vs router table that can help you choose one on top of the another:


What Is A Router Table

The first difference between the wood shaper and router table is their identification and how they work. A router table will come with a motor with a router bit that goes into a collet and a tightener. The bit will come with a shaft bit and a cutter bit; the shaft is usually anywhere between ¼ to ½ inches or other sizes. The table will have a single fence that you have to move back and forth to adjust the cutting depth horizontally.

A wood shaper

A wood shaper comes with two separate fences that you can move individually for better control over the cut’s horizontal depth. It also works with bits, which some don’t really like to call bits anymore because they don’t have the shaft with them. Unlike the router tables, a wood shaper is more often common in the professional woodworking shops. It’s because the wood shapers are usually more robust at high-end jobs with their bigger bits. You will get a steering wheel to raise or lower the bit shaft on the tabletop of a wood shaper.

What Can You Do With

A router table

You will often see a router table in small to medium woodworking shops because they don’t have to do an insane amount of cutting jobs. The primary perspective of a router is to do small cuts for smaller projects like cabinets or other single items. You may need a few dozen cuts with the router, which a router can handle easily. Some common jobs people do with routers are profiling edges, cutting small materials, using jigs, making joint pivots, doing arts on surfaces, etc.

A wood shaper

If you’re planning to do the big stuff like making doors, doing wood flooring, or need an all-day workflow, you want to get a wood shaper. The wood shapers work with bigger bits and have larger application capabilities. You will see most of the professional woodworking shops have wood shapers because they have to work in bulk woods. For example, when it comes to making wooden floors or doors in bulk, it’s better to use a wood shaper. They tend to be more robust and don’t tire out or break on you and help you complete bigger projects.

Advantages Of A router table

The biggest advantage of using a router table with a router inside is the cost of work. You will get router tables at a lot less price point than the wood shapers, and they work just fine. If you’re running a small woodworking shop, getting a router table would be a better choice. You can do small to medium routing jobs that require smaller and precise bits using a router. It gives you better control over smaller pieces at the maneuver and gets you a smoother finish that a wood router couldn’t.

A wood shaper

On the other hand, a wood shaper will give you much higher power on the work, especially when you’re doing large wood jobs. You can easily take a whole-house flooring job only with one shaper and keep cutting them continuously. It can help you handle the big cuts that need a much higher power to handle properly. Another big advantage of using a wood shaper is that you won’t need multiple passes for a single piece to get the shape you want. You can use a double stack cutter bit with a much higher power for a single-pass cut without any burn-out.

Disadvantages Of A router table

The biggest disadvantage of using a router table is the power they come with. You cannot expect a router table to stand for you all day long if you have to make multiple passes with hundreds of boards. The router table isn’t a suitable purchase if you have to make bigger cuts or groves because they have smaller cutting bits. You have to use a fence to move both sides individually because it’s for smaller woodworking jobs. It gives you a high-quality output on smaller jobs, but cannot help you when you’re doing it all day long; the motor starts to smoke on you.

A wood shaper

One of the notable disadvantages of the wood shaper is, they are incapable of handling smaller jobs, which are more common in the industry. You have to keep it stand for bigger jobs like doors, bigger boards for whole-house flooring, etc. If you do single piece furniture like cabinets, tables, chairs, or even beds, a wood shaper will be an overkill. On top of all these disadvantages, the wood shapers are way more expensive than the router tables because they have more mechanisms in the table.

Wood Shaper Vs Router Table: Which One Should You Buy?

The big question is, which one you should get for your woodworking shop, a wood shaper or a router table. Well, the answer is relative to what you do the most in the shop, and obviously, what’s your budget for the tool! If you’re planning to work for higher-caliber jobs like house flooring, handling heavy lumbers, getting a wood shaper would be a good decision. It can keep you in production all day long and still won’t tire it out and make you give it some rest.

However, if you’re doing small to medium-sized furniture like cabinets, tables, racks, or beds, getting a router table will cut it just fine. On top of that, the router table will cost you way less than the wood shaper and give you better hand control on the piece if you want.

Final Thought

To sum up the debate between the wood shaper vs router table, I must say that you should consider your job first. They both do their jobs great as long as you’re using it for the right job to the right extent. Wood shapers do great if you have to land a huge amount of large jobs with higher penetration because they have bigger bits.

A router table is also a tool that you cannot deny getting because you cannot go out of making regular smaller furniture. If you own a house where you do only bigger jobs and have a separate section for smaller ones, a wood shaper is the only option you may have.

Author - Lee Morris

Hi, I am Lee Morris, I have run a power tools business for woodworking. Where I sell mostly wood router, compact router, trim router, plunge router, wood lathe chuck, and many other power tools for woodworking.

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