Episode 20 – Shaper or Router Table

PodcastPhoto_20In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking, the 360 team talks about two woodworking machines, one of which is currently out of favor with many woodworkers. The topic is: Would you spend your money on a shaper or router table? One of the guys still opts for the shaper when cutting tombstone raised panels. And another 360 member pilfered his Dad’s router setup because he had a router lift. Plus, you hear what each of the crew used as a router table at the outset of their woodworking. Take a listen.


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4 thoughts on “Episode 20 – Shaper or Router Table

  1. When I was finally able to begin purchasing decent equipment for my workshop about 5 years ago, one of the first things I got was a high end router table, and I have never looked back. It’s the top of the line JessEm table and fence system. The table has a lift with a permanently attached crank handle coming out the side, like an organ grinder. One full turn of the handle raises or lowers the router precisely 1/16″, so you are able to make adjustments (for which there is an accompanying measuring wheel) to 0.002″. There are adjustable centered rulers on both sides of the table so you can line these up with the center of the router bits and get the fence accurately parallel to those damned mitre tracks. Ever try routing a groove along the entire length of an 11-1/2′ long board? Two featherboards here were indispensable. (Plus two above for good measure which are easily attached to the fence.) So good router tables are available for the hobbyist like me. Although I must admit I wish the table were wider. But I have the router table sistered to the side edge of my table saw, so I can rout longer pieces and use the table saw fence. With the optional slide attachment for the router table fence, I cut tenons up to 3/4″ long (my biggest rabbeting router bit) that I can make very snug by sneaking up on the thickness with that side crank. Any longer tenons and I cut them with hand saws and a router plane. I much prefer using my router table to the table saw for many operations.

    1. Mitch,

      A good router table can make so many operations easier and safer. After working for about 25 years on a shop-made router table, I purchased General’s Excalibur router table and I love it. My shop-made table is about four feet long, which helps tremendously when you have a groove to run in an 11-1/2′ board, but I really like having the fine height adjustment that comes from a router lift on the new table. I also really like the fence system on my new table and the fact that the dust collection makes running it nearly dust-free. The only thing better than having a good router table is having two.

      My suggestion for people in need of a router table is, look at some of the different companies producing them out there. There’s lots of great router tables available on the market today that just weren’t there years ago. If you can swing it financially, buy one. If not, making one is a pretty easy shop project that will increase your capabilities without breaking the bank.

  2. Chuck, I see you went to the dark side when you moved to the “Mid West”. I’m very familar with that old table, and have seen you do some pretty complicated profiles on it with ease (just required a bit of thought and a couple of attached jigs).

    What influenced you to stop using a piece of equipment that worked so well for all those years?

    Are you able to make some of the larger profiled mouldings found on Period Pieces, or do you have to turn to your Shaper for them.

    Are you able to mount your power feeder on the new router table?

    Did you upgrade to a larger router when you switched tables?

    With the old table you had the capabilities of tilting the router to make certain profiles. Are you able to do this with your new table (if so how are you doing that)?

    1. Joey,

      I haven’t gotten rid of the tilt-base mechanism that was part of the old router table. It’s far to versatile not to have it in the shop. The major reasons for the change were a lack of space and having actually used the General table (it’s awesome). The plan is to make a small, benchtop router table for use with the tilt base. And, since I haven’t had the need to make huge moldings for any period pieces yet, it’s still on the back burner.

      As to the other questions, I haven’t tried mounting the power feed to the General table…yet. When I do, I’ll definitely publish some photos. I did not upgrade my router – still using my old PC 690s. I have not shifted to making all my moldings on the shaper, but it is also an extremely valuable tool that I can’t see ridding myself of just yet.

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