Shapers Versus Router

Can a 1.5 horsepower shaper outperform a 3 horsepower router for cutting door panels? Yes, but best would be a 3 horsepower shaper. January 16, 2012

Would a 1 1/2 hp shaper be better than a 3 hp router and table? Would it have enough power for making small raised panels out of pine? I was going to go buy 3 routers and tables so I could leave them set up all the time for raised panel doors, but the shapers are about the same price.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor R:
Since I have both a 1.5 HP shaper and a 3 HP router table, I feel I can answer your question. Yes, a 1.5 HP shaper is better suited for the tasks you mentioned. I have used a full profile 4 and 5/8" raised panel cutter on my shaper to make raised panels out of oak and softer hardwoods (soft maple, elm, cedar) and think that you could definitely run full profile in pine. I would not recommend full profile with a router bit. I have the same 15 degree bevel panel raiser in router and shaper applications (3.5 and 4.625" diameter respectively) and would recommend running at least 3 passes on the router and 1 or 2 on the shaper. Power feed is always a plus on the shaper. You are still better off with multiple passes. The shaper wins hands down for all rail/stile/panel applications.

From the original questioner:
Sounds like they will do what I need. I didn't want to buy them if they have less power than the router I have now.

From contributor S:
There is no way on God's Green Earth that you will ever get 3HP from a 15 amp, 120 volt circuit. An industry standard, 1HP motor draws 16 amps at 120 volts. To claim that a router operating on a 120 volt, 15 amp circuit can produce 3HP is pure, unadulterated bulls**t. False advertising at its worst. Horsepower has a concise definition.

From contributor K:
Check your calculations again.
1 hp at 120 volts is 6.25 amps.
3 hp at 120 volts is 18.75 amps.

From contributor J:
HP is one of those things that for some reason you can never seem to get a consensus on. I have very few single phase induction motors in my shop... actually three right now. I go by the motor plate, not any crap the manufacturer claims or prints on the machine. I have a 1/2 HP motor rated at 7 amps, a 1/2 HP motor rated at 8.7 amps, and a 3/4 HP motor rated at 10 amps. The newest of these machines is over 30 years old, not that it should make a difference. So it seems unlikely that you could indeed get 3 full hp from a 20 amp circuit.

So what does it all mean? Nothing! Will an inexpensive 1-1/2 hp induction motored shaper be powerful enough to do raised panels in soft pine? Probably. But if you're going to use this machine to make your living, you may want to consider spending a few extra bucks and looking for a 3 hp machine. Then you'll never have to worry about it being powerful enough. Used shapers are going cheap these days and in my opinion 3 hp is the bottom end of power for door making.

From contributor S:
I did double-check as you suggested. I Googled "motor amperage draw" and got three motor amperage charts that verify what I said.

From contributor R:
Enough about the motor amperage. Amps are more reliable than plate or claimed HP ratings, however that does not factor motor efficiency, duty cycle and other variables into the equation. A 50% efficient motor is going to draw lots more amps and provide lower HP than a 90% efficient motor. My 1.5 HP shaper does what I ask it to, which isn't much. In a real production environment, 3 or 5 HP (240v 18amps or more) would be preferred, particularly for panel raising.

From contributor M:
I find that my shaper, which is comparable to my largest router in my loose definition of power, can consistently deliver smoother and higher quality cuts. In addition, the shaper has a better fence system, has more power/speed adjustments, and as mentioned can safely handle larger bits and cutters. When faced with not so popular profiles or larger profiles, I can often find tooling for the shaper that I can not easily find for the router. Plus my shaper is a lot quieter when running and less distracting. Dust collection is also easier to attach.

From the original questioner:
I'm using a Festool of 2200 right now for raising panels with a 2 1/4 bit. It works okay. I am only looking to upgrade if it is going to be a definite improvement. I am not willing to spend the extra money on a 3hp. For the price of a new 3hp it would take too long to get my money's worth out of it. Used is not an option in my area. The shaper would never be used for anything other than the raised panel bit.

From contributor B:
They can make the router hp claims because they spin at 25,000rpm. The calcs work, but it is not a very useful 3hp. They do the same with the little palm routers. A 1hp router that fits in my hand, hmm...

From contributor D:
Do yourself a big favor, and get least a 3hp shaper to raise your panels. New, used, domestic, import, it doesn't matter. A shaper will do a better job, faster, safer, and in the long run, cheaper than a router table setup. I burned up two Porter Cable 3-1/4 hp routers (at $300 apiece) doing pine raised panels in my early years. That money could have gone into a shaper and tooling that I would still be using now, 20 years later. I currently use a 7-1/2 hp shaper with a 4 wheel feeder that will cut any profile in any material in one pass. Don't forget that your time is money, especially if you're considering running a batch of panels 3 or 4 times around to get your finish cut.

From contributor H:
You may say you will only use the shaper for panel raising, but believe me once you have one... You'll use it for other things. About the amps thing... A 1 1/2 hp shaper will deliver more and constant torque/power to the cutter than a router ever could.

From the original questioner:
I bought two routers the other day, one for the rails and one for the stiles. I am going to keep using the Festool router for now until I can get a bigger shaper because I think you are all right and I should just get a 3-5 hp shaper rather than be disappointed with a 1 1/2. I can raise a panel with two passes now on my router, so I am really looking to do it with one easy pass, otherwise it would be a waste of money.