I have a three HP shaper and plan on making raised panel doors. Would I be better served to use router bits or raised panel cutters that are dedicated for a shaper? At present I do not have any bits or cutters? Roger Bradley

Joe Barry replies: A couple of years ago, I left a message on my ex-wife’s answering machine – “I just got my heart’s desire and you know what it is!” She called back the next day and said – “Well you guys either finally got married or you got a shaper, and I know she has better judgement than that!”

Presumably a 3hp shaper has a high and low speed as well as a reversing switch. If so, you have the best tool for the work. Router cutters are not as big as the cutters for a shaper because the motors and bearings of a router are designed for lighter duty use.

Look in the cutter catalogs at the amount of reveal on the raised panel cutters and you will find that the shaper cutters give a larger reveal. With a 6˝ diameter panel raiser for the shaper compared to about 4˝ for the router, there is a significant difference in appearance.

If you have never used a shaper for raised panels or to cope and stick, I strongly urge you to spend some time with someone who has. This can be a very dangerous operation if you don’t know what you are doing. I will be glad to spend an afternoon with you to get you started.