Why do home shops and youtubers hate / fear shapers?


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Seriously though I've never understood the lack of love for the shaper / spindle moulder in home shops (and now by extension the youtube woodworking community.)

I can almost understand the cost argument , but decent router bits are close to and often higher in price than a set of shaper knives. 

I assume that its a lack of exposure here in the US to the capabilities of the machines. From what I've seen Europe seems to have a different take on them as they appear far more common. 

Thoughts?

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I don’t have room for a ROS. 

This discussion comes around every couple of years. I think most of it comes down to the type of work we do as hobbyists vs. pros. A shaper is great for moldings and edge profiles, but how can it do w

Sweet then I'm a very bad professional woodworker and my hobby is engineering....

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A hobbyist buys a router first.  Then they bodge a quicky router table.  Then they make/buy a nicer router table.  Then they buy a more powerful router.  It's incremental improvements, whereas a shaper is whole different animal.

Norm didn't have a shaper.  Norm had a router table that he built.  We all learned from Norm, before the intertubes.  You built a fancy router table to be like Norm.

I do have a shaper (and am a youtuber) but only use it for very specific things.

 

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Hmmm, I don't have an edge bander or a multi-spindle dove-tail machine either.  Not a specifically correct statement but, a home or small shop may use a half a dozen profiles in one day.  A pro shop will run ogee raised panels by the dozen.  A small shop may only do one-offs, sometimes pairs.  The focus and target audience of the tools are different.

I do not dislike or fear shapers.  I just don't do the quantity of work that might qualify for one.  At the small end of the scale my router table is used for keyhole slots, 3/16" rabbets on small boxes and picture frames, 1/8" grooves for stringing.  None of those tasks really shouts "shaper" to me.  In my case it's a "right tool for the job" thing more than a prejudice.

I think this endless discussion ranks up there with "what is a real bandsaw?", "RAS or CMS?", "Cab saw or slider?" and others.

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I'd love to have a shaper. I think it'd be a great tool. I used to get alerts from Craig's list for them just in case a good one popped up for a decent price but they were always a bit too expensive or required too much work. The reason I haven't bought one is mostly cost and use. I use my router table maybe every 3rd or 4th project and generally it's for very simple operations that a shaper could do but wouldn't really be utilizing the machine.

I don't think it's any lost love, or hatred for the machines. I honestly just don't think most hobby shops can justify their cost.

That said there are a lot of absurd router table options out there that are FAR FAR more expensive than a shaper and less capable. I tend to lump those shops into the "more money then sense category". I couldn't tell you why this https://www.incrementaltools.com/INCRA_Router_Fence_Table_Combo_3_The_Works_p/rtcombo-3-tw.htm has more appeal than this https://www.rockler.com/jet-1-5hp-shaper-1-2-3-4-spindles?country=US&sid=V91040&promo=shopping

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2 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

This discussion comes around every couple of years. I think most of it comes down to the type of work we do as hobbyists vs. pros. A shaper is great for moldings and edge profiles, but how can it do with cutting away from tge edge, or jigged cuts like box joints? Shaper wins the power argument every time, but a router table offers more versatility, and can be used outside the table, which a shaper can not. But if my work involved lots of repeated edge profiles, you csn bet my shop would have a shaper.

Shapers do more than edge profiles and moulding (honestly though a moulder is always better at flat straight moulding than a shaper). I would argue Box joints (under 6" are easy) are best done on a shaper with a stacked cutter head set, though i prefer a table saw over a router for box joints with a box joint jig. 

Single pass tenons and patern shaping in addition to edge work are some common uses. Sticking / coping and panel raising are all an order of magnitude easier on a shaper, and not just because of the power difference. The larger the cutterhead the more tangential the cut which results is less tearout and a cleaner cut.

 

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1 hour ago, krtwood said:

A hobbyist buys a router first.  Then they bodge a quicky router table.  Then they make/buy a nicer router table.  Then they buy a more powerful router.  It's incremental improvements, whereas a shaper is whole different animal.

Norm didn't have a shaper.  Norm had a router table that he built.  We all learned from Norm, before the intertubes.  You built a fancy router table to be like Norm.

I do have a shaper (and am a youtuber) but only use it for very specific things.

 

Norm had a delta HD 3hp shaper. That was after his router table build but he had one.

I agree its typically incremental, and I understand upgrading as you develop skills. However the price of a router table with lift and a pc7518 is more than most entry level shapers new, and considerably more than a entry level shaper (or more) used.

I would be curious to know why you only use the shaper for specific things, and not general shop work or where you would use a router table.

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1 hour ago, gee-dub said:

Hmmm, I don't have an edge bander or a multi-spindle dove-tail machine either.  Not a specifically correct statement but, a home or small shop may use a half a dozen profiles in one day.  A pro shop will run ogee raised panels by the dozen.  A small shop may only do one-offs, sometimes pairs.  The focus and target audience of the tools are different.

I do not dislike or fear shapers.  I just don't do the quantity of work that might qualify for one.  At the small end of the scale my router table is used for keyhole slots, 3/16" rabbets on small boxes and picture frames, 1/8" grooves for stringing.  None of those tasks really shouts "shaper" to me.  In my case it's a "right tool for the job" thing more than a prejudice.

I think this endless discussion ranks up there with "what is a real bandsaw?", "RAS or CMS?", "Cab saw or slider?" and others.

don't get me wrong you need a router in any shop, I just think a home shop could use a shaper (and would be happier with the results) compare to a router table. Cutting rabbits/ rebates in panels, grooving parts (like drawer sides) works very well with a shaper. 

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1 hour ago, Chestnut said:

I'd love to have a shaper. I think it'd be a great tool. I used to get alerts from Craig's list for them just in case a good one popped up for a decent price but they were always a bit too expensive or required too much work. The reason I haven't bought one is mostly cost and use. I use my router table maybe every 3rd or 4th project and generally it's for very simple operations that a shaper could do but wouldn't really be utilizing the machine.

I don't think it's any lost love, or hatred for the machines. I honestly just don't think most hobby shops can justify their cost.

That said there are a lot of absurd router table options out there that are FAR FAR more expensive than a shaper and less capable. I tend to lump those shops into the "more money then sense category". I couldn't tell you why this https://www.incrementaltools.com/INCRA_Router_Fence_Table_Combo_3_The_Works_p/rtcombo-3-tw.htm has more appeal than this https://www.rockler.com/jet-1-5hp-shaper-1-2-3-4-spindles?country=US&sid=V91040&promo=shopping

I can understand cost, but used shapers are dirt cheap. I just saw a delta HD today for $200, at least locally $400 is average.

That incra router table is a bit much.. it was more than my 9hp 1700lb Italian shaper

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1 hour ago, BillyJack said:

Shapes  are designed  for production....Not the hobby woodworker...

What makes you believe that? Seriously the small ones are not really production oriented.

Yes you can find 3hp deltas, grizzlys and powermatics in one man cabinet shops but they are not really built for day in day out production. The bearings just don't hold up. If you look in the typical modern small cabinet or millwork shop they typically have a few SCMi t110 to t130 sized machines (1000 to 1500lbs and about 9-11hp)

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Little shapers are just teasers for little shops trying to pretend to be big shops..

You can put a lot of money in a nice shaper. 99% of the time you won't use it or need it...

What makes you believe that? I'm just guessing as a hobby woodworker....

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1 hour ago, Jar944 said:

Norm had a delta HD 3hp shaper. That was after his router table build but he had one.

I agree its typically incremental, and I understand upgrading as you develop skills. However the price of a router table with lift and a pc7518 is more than most entry level shapers new, and considerably more than a entry level shaper (or more) used.

I would be curious to know why you only use the shaper for specific things, and not general shop work or where you would use a router table.

Funny, I don't remember him using one but it has been a while.  I bought one of those cast iron router table tops that cost as much as my table saw, so yes you can certainly spend more on a router table setup than a shaper.  But while you've been using your entry level router setup you've been acquiring router bits along the way.  So by the time you'd be thinking about a shaper you've already got quite an investment into the bits and it's just simpler to stick with what you know.

As far as my shop goes, I'm shoe horned into a small shop and the shaper is one tool that gets stuck in a corner and I have to move three other things out of the way just to drag it out to use it.  I bought it specifically because I was doing production work where it was handy for cutting box joints on jewelry box drawers.  I had one size drawer that I had to make over and over again for years and it was helpful to just never touch the fence on the shaper so the drawers would always be exactly the same size without any setup.  I don't use my router table that often either and when I do it's for things like a 1/4" spiral or a small roundover.  Things the shaper would be worse at.  I have stopped that production work now though and I've branched out to getting a big flush trim setup for it.  Mostly I still just use it for little box joints.

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22 minutes ago, BillyJack said:

A set of door making bits from Freud $150.  A set of good door bits for weaver shapers $1300...

Big difference...

I wouldn't buy a weaver shaper or cutterhead but thats me.

Are we talking cabinet doors or passage doors

 

If cabinets A decent Freeborn set is about $500. Should last about 40,000 lineal feet. A matched pair (cope and stick) of custom Corrugated knives is around $200. If you can live with stock door profiles you can get a multi profile insert head for under $200 incuding a single door profile. Additional profiles are about $35 to $50 per set.

The 40mm cmt hss pin knives are about $13 per pair and cover about 150 profiles. 

You can spend a lot on tooling, but you dont have to. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Coop said:

Again, it sounds like you are justifying production, not hobby? 

Not really sure how I'm justifying production? Just pointing out it can be cheaper than some assume.

My point there was a shaper cutterhead with a profile for cabinet doors is under $200. It will last you the rest of your life and likely never need a new set of knives in a home shop. Yes its *slightly* more than a freud router bit set but considering the cut quality of a shaper head compared to a router bit its insignificant. 

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This seems like a conversation that will just get people flustered. There is no right tool for a hobby shop or production shop. I don't feel that some arbitrary classification determines the tooling a shop must have. What is a hobby shop? What is a production shop? Is a shop that produces woodworking videos by making furniture and cabinets, a production shop? I'd say yes, in that token my hobby shop produces more "product" than a few production shops. Does that make my shop a production shop? Does it matter? Shapers have a space in a shop where they are needed for the worker to complete what ever process they need to get the job done. I do feel they are overlooked in North American woodworking culture.

I make a LOT of MCM and stickley stile furniture. They are the stiles I like and I could go full time with those stiles and never even think about a sharper or molder. Those furniture stiles don't utilize complicated profiles that are best suited to the aforementioned machines. Would I loose customers by not providing stiles that have raised profiles and other various profiles? YES! but i wouldn't care.

I couldn't resist the pun.

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Lack of space is certainly valid. 

I would argue that a home woodshop where a person is working on projects only for themselves isn't necessarily a hobby, the same as i would argue a person with a well equipped set of mechanics tools isnt necessarily a hobby mechanic. (I often compare it to building a deck on your home. Just because you build a deck or diu around the house doesn't make it a hobby)

I see a router table similar to a circular saw mounted upside down to a board or  on the high end a jobsite table saw. Yes its effective but not as effective as a cabinet saw.

If you are there for the journey a shaper doesn't make sense. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jar944 said:

Lack of space is certainly valid. 

I would argue that a home woodshop where a person is working on projects only for themselves isn't necessarily a hobby, the same as i would argue a person with a well equipped set of mechanics tools isnt necessarily a hobby mechanic. (I often compare it to building a deck on your home. Just because you build a deck or diu around the house doesn't make it a hobby)

I see a router table similar to a circular saw mounted upside down to a board or  on the high end a jobsite table saw. Yes its effective but not as effective as a cabinet saw.

If you are there for the journey a shaper doesn't make sense. 

 

 

 

I think your confused....a person working on projects for them self is exactly a hobby.. What make it anything else?

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Jar944, do you live in North America? You mention that you find shpers regularly for decent prices on Craig's List, i just looked and there was only 1 here that was even worth looking at and it was $1,100 used for a powermatic. In your opinion what is the minimum a person should look for in a shaper? I feel like the jump to a shaper isn't worth it unless the top has a miter slot. One of the big benefits i see of a shaper is being able to use a miter gauge for cope and stick construction.

Do you have resources for some of the larger advantages that shapers offer over a router table? It is obvious to those that have used them extensively but for people that only have exposure to router tables it's not cut and dry. Like I said above the miter slot is a big advantage but that is also something that I could and have put into a router table.

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22 minutes ago, BillyJack said:

I think your confused....a person working on projects for them self is exactly a hobby.. What make it anything else?

A hobby by definition is something done regularly in your leisure time for pleasure. 

Woodwork could be a hobby. Doing a project for yourself does not make it a hobby.

For example I hate with a passion laying large format tile.. and moderatly dislike drywall taping. Both are aspects of projects I have done and will continue to do for myself. Neither are hobbys.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jar944 said:

 

9 minutes ago, Jar944 said:

A hobby by definition is something done regularly in your leisure time for pleasure. 

Woodwork could be a hobby. Doing a project for yourself does not make it a hobby.

For example I hate with a passion laying large format tile.. and moderatly dislike drywall taping. Both are projects I have done and will continue to do for myself. Neither are hobbys.

All I can offer you at this point...

 

9 minutes ago, Jar944 said:

 

 

 

 

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Often, safe use of a shaper means a power feeder. This also means cleaner work if a micro climb cut can be done safely. That means added cost on a hobby budget. I think for most it is that kind of cost that keeps us away. The question about YT seems obvious though. Content creators target things you already own. If 200 shapers exist in 5 million shops (made up stats,) then the YT popularity is not likely to be high. 

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