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Wood Shaper vs Router: Which One to Choose?

wood shaper vs router



Wood shaper vs router: Are you also confused which one to choose? There has been a long ongoing debate among the new woodworkers and enthusiasts whether Wood Shapers and Routers can be chosen interchangeably. While the correct answer to the question is ‘no’, there are conditions at times where people can use one type of machine in place of others. The use of Wood Shapers and Routers is more often than not same; the significant difference between them lies in the size of wood used with them and the quantity of it. There are, of course, many other little differences associated with them. In this post, we highlight the nuances of both, so that you can select the right equipment for yourself.   

To make things easier to comprehend, let us divide the properties of Wood Router Machine and Wood shaper on which they differ. By deciding as to which machine has the features for fulfilling your needs, you can purchase the right one for you. Let us look into them.

1. Size of the Shaper and Router

Size plays a crucial role in deciding whether to go for a Wood Router Table or buy wood shaper. Consider your working space before you purchase a wood router machine. Experts would often tell that if you prefer to do your woodwork by moving the wood around the device, then you should use a shaper, and if you are looking to run the tool around the wood, then you should buy wood router machine. Although the shapers are fixed, they do have customizations with which you can move them horizontally and vertically. However, the shapers will not provide you with the same mobility as provided by the wood routers. Wood shaper bits and Wood Router Bits can be used to achieve intricate shapes on the wood, although bits are easier to work with the routers because of the movement factor.

Shapers require to be fixed at one place because of the power they have; generally, it is much more than the routers. On the other hand, the wood router machine can be handheld and moved over to the workpiece wherever the shaping is required. So, if you need to shape your workpiece at different locations and do not want to be confined at one place by buying a large piece of machinery that a shaper is, then you must try to buy best router table along with its tool. There are hand wood shapers out there, but their availability is low, and you are better of using routers instead. We would suggest shapers for people who have ample workspace to perform their tasks on the shaper and are not looking for the mobility of their tool.   

2. Wood Shaper vs Router Uses

There is very less that you can do with a shaper and not with a router. Wood shapers tool can make deep and long cuts on the wood, which is not the case with routers. Therefore, the precision work and jobs that require repeatability need shaper as their equipment. One can buy a wood router table for better accuracy in the job performed, but if it is for professional work and not homely tasks, then it is better to choose a shaper instead.

Even with the Best Wood Router would require an experienced craftsman to achieve the desired shape of the workpiece as controlling the machine, along with the pace with which it should be moved play a massive role in the final form of the work. Therefore, it is crucial to learn how to use a wood router for beginners as someone new to it without the right guidance may have to learn it the tougher way buy wasting woodworks or even the machine itself. Shapers, on the other hand, are comparably more comfortable to use, where the craftsman has to set the feed and depth of cut, and the machine takes care of the rest. It is also a tool that has been used for years, so people are often familiar with how to work on it.  

3. Longevity of Tools

It is the tools that matter in shapers and routers rather than the machines. People often ask the wrong question as to which machine of the two would last longer when instead, they should be asking if the tools used in them would last long or not. As the tool-heads of the router works on various angles and the edges of it can get deformed around these places, it is understandable that the tools of a router would require even more frequent changing when compared to the shaper. 

If we observe the shapers, the machine is often mounted in one place with customizations that help them move vertical and horizontal. Compared to the router, the tool of the shaper would get deformed at fewer edges. It is also vital to note that the tools with carbide tips and HSS can be reshaped and used longer.

4. Automation Involved 

The best possible automation that you can achieve with a shaper is the automatic feed. You can move the woodwork at the desired rate in front of the tool in the shapers with the help of automated feed. However, when it comes to the router, it can be used directly with Wood Router CNC Machine, where most of the tasks are automated once all the programming is done.

With a CNC machine, automation is easier for using Wood Router. Wood routers can easily be set up with CNCs, that can not only work precisely but also bring down a lot of labor work. It also brings down the disadvantage of no repeatability in a router, as CNCs can quickly achieve it. The new CNC is made such that the routers are more comfortable to set upon them. These CNCs make the work more convenient for the operator and ideal for work that involves the large scale of work to be done.  

5. Price of Wood Router and Shapers

Wood Router Price is lesser than that of shapers. The motors and spindle that come with shapers are of greater size and more power. All of it naturally increases the cost of shaper machines. You can find the best wood router for sale as now and then there are offers on this machinery. If you are looking to buy a shaper, then you can also find a wood shaper for sale, where the discounts on it can bring down its price significantly. If you add customized tools on your shaper table, then there are chances that it is going to cost you highly.

You must also know that if you buy a wood router table along with the router, then the price will also add to the setup. While the table is an essential piece of equipment that comes with this machine, many users often prefer to use the handheld wood routers on standard or spare tables, which is not a very safe method of doing it. We suggest that you use a specific router table which would work well with your kind of Wood Router Design


6. Maintenance Required

There is very less to compare in this regard, as both the machines use HSS and carbide tip tools to shape the wood. Most of the wood shaper reviews suggest that their users find it easy to reshape their cutting tools and utilize them for a longer time. It is not that the same cannot be done with routers, but the edges of the tools in them often get chipped more than in shaper.

When it comes to the cleaning of these machines, the routers are often easier to handle as they are portable, and users do it readily right after the task is performed. In case of the shapers, where the machines are generally mounted in one place, the chipped wood and dust may accumulate in the machine which must be cleaned by dismantling the parts. It must, however, be noted that the repairability of shapers is more than routers. The gears and other parts of the shaper are readily available. 

By considering the points we mention in this post, you can choose the machine that serves your needs better. Make sure to read into the pros and cons of each device when you buy a wooden router or shaper. There are numerous options of both the machines out there to buy. We suggest that you look into the online options too to get the best price on the tools and equipment that you buy. Also, ensure that you look into the warranty and the availability of the parts used in your machine when you purchase it. Some manufacturers offer a year warranty on the shapers and routers, but extended replacement offers on the motors that come with the machines. 

Now that you have all the necessary details of each machine in front of you, we are sure that you will be able to make an informed decision about your wood shaper and router purchase. So, what are you getting? A wood router or shaper?


Here is the recommended wood shaper:


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If you are looking for the top wood routers then check my article Here. I have mentioned the top 15 routers along with the pros & cons and buyer’s guide at last.