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Settling the debate

In my last post I promised to answer the router/shaper debate once and for all.

Today I have to admit that this is a trick question. The truth is, debating the router table and the shaper are like debating the apple and the orange. Both are fruit. Both are more or less round. But the similarity ends there. Think of the movie "Twins" (if you have not seen it, rent it) with the shaper being represented by the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the router table by the character played by Danny DeVito.

There is a large degree of overlap in what can be none on these two machines. But, for the most part, the shaper is a workhorse in a shop that produces large numbers of cabinet doors or large molding runs. The shaper can run all day and has the power (or at least it should have the power) to make a full raised panel cut with a back cutter in one pass in oak or hard maple. The router table can be fitted out with one of those Incra-style fence setups and used to make intricate joints that would be cumbersome on a large machine. Plus, just try and take the motor out of a shaper and use it freehand!

So the bottom line here is that which one is "better" will depend on what you need it to do. That question is going to have to be answered by each individual according to their own requirements. But the answer to which one is "best" and which one you "should have" is easy. Neither is best and you should have both.


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