Spindle moulder or router table?

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Doug71

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Even though some of the spindle moulders can take router bits they often don't spin fast enough for the smaller bits, a spindle moulder can spin about 10,000rpm max but a router will be about 20,000rpm.
 

clogs

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if that Logosol was 13 grand ...? I think it needs to have another spindle for a spiral planer head...(not those straight line cutters)....that way I could see where the money went....
to me it does seem a lot of money for a well made tin box...
I may be wrong.....
I still miss my Wadkin EQ........
 

Jar944

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Used spindle moulders are usually less expensive or very similar than well setup router tables (at least over here)
 

Jar944

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An interesting topic and having looked at a lot of other info it still raises the question of if the shaper (spindle moulder) is such a good tool then why does anyone use a router table.

Hobbyists tend to shy away from spindles. That thought tends to be backed by "youtube professionals" and other forum contributors talking about things they have no experience with. It seems every time the router vs spindle topic comes up (on most hobby targeted forums), They always say they are:
1. Scary
2. For production only
3. Expensive to buy and tool up.
4. Slow to setup
5. Eat fingers/arms/hands or your first born child.



Ask a cabinet maker and you will get a different answer.
 

guineafowl21

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I’ve never had a router table, but I do like a spindle moulder. Probably the most used machine in my shop. For example, in building a simple chairside table recently, it got used for:

Template shaping of the leg curves
Apron tenons, their haunches and bevels
Apron arches, again with template
T&G for the top
Roundover of the top.

Once the cutting list is produced, it’s pretty much the mortiser and the spindle that do everything.

It’s a 4hp Cooksley that I picked up for £370 inc. power feed. No sliding table, but a simple plywood jig replaces that. It’s quiet enough to use without ear protection, and produces shavings, rather than dust like a router would.

Best advice against mishaps is to go through a quick ‘cockpit drill’ as per Roy Sutton - briefly check everything’s locked off, spindle/cutter free to move, speed setting correct. It takes about 5 seconds and is now second nature.
 

countrybumpkin

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For me the shaper is the queen of the shop. The jointer is about accuracy. It sets the tone for all other machines. The planer does well planing to thickness.

No other machine is as capable and versatile as a shaper with the possible exception of my Wadkin PK table saw.

My current shaper is a 1968 Oliver 287. The spindle does not tilt and I am using a home made fence from the previous owner. While it’s a nice fence made of wood I am slowly replacing it with a reproduction of an original fence. That will be a series on YouTube.

Shapers are great for joints but you don’t need a sliding table. You will need a shop made sled however that rides the fence. Doing a coping cut on the end of a rail is to risky without one! That applies to router tables as well.

Pattern shaping is shaping using a guide bearing. Often with a fence removed. It’s not only an art form but an advanced technique I don’t recommend to a new shaper user. Often you need to make pattern jigs with hold downs for this. This is when you see the true power of what a shaper can do. But take baby steps to get comfortable first.

A power feeder is nice. Set up correctly the feeder moves the work item thru the shaper but also forces it into the fence. It gets you a consistent finish but also aides in blocking the cutter from your fingers. I use an old festo feeder about a third of the time.

There are some operations where a router table excels. For example cutting blind dados. That is because you need an end mill style cutter like an up cut or down cut straight router bit. But a collet spindle on the shaper takes care of this so it’s a waste to have both a shaper and a router table.

Tiny pattern router bits are useful in doing small repetitive tasks. Again solved with the collet spindle.

while all machines are loud the router is the worst. While routers have their use I don’t like the extremely loud whining noise. Shapers are much quieter but still loud,
Thank you
 

countrybumpkin

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The industry caters to the newbies who are bright eyed and hungry to learn. They would go casters up with us old farts. What burns me is the suggestive need for an arms race in woodworking especially in the small shop space and hobby space.

For every modern development there are a few old school ways to do the same job. But they don’t tell us about them do they!

The strange thing about COVID is that it had forced many to slow down and think for themselves. Many have delved into vintage woodworking also called renascence woodworking.

The side effect here is that vintage tool makers like Lie Nielsen can’t keep their tools on the shelf! Everything is sold before each batch is finished. So I see this as a golden awakening.

I even have begun a new batch of molding planes as a result.

In the hobby space, you work on a single piece. Work at creating something while expanding your skills. For those of us who have worked in the commercial world, it’s totally different and often anything than enjoyable.

so while a LN plane is expensive, it is a quality tool that will outlast you! A digital router table will be junk in less than ten years. No software updates and computer chips that are not available.

When my 1968 planer needed bearings, I went to a bearing supplier who had them on the shelf cheap.

So I feel we all need to slow down and think about what we’re doing. The internet has brought tons of old school techniques out of hiding and many folks on forums are always willing to assist those who want to learn.

The Covid years will go down as the golden age of renaissance woodworking.
Definitely agree with slowing down
 

woodieallen

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Meanwhile, back on topic....if you have never used a spindle moulder before then please...go on a course. Remember...routers rip off fingers, spindle moulders a hand.
 

baldkev

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As doug says, cutter speed is important. My little ( old ) axminster spindle has the router collet spindle ( lots of machines have these including wadkin, jet etc ), but i haven't tried it yet due to the speed difference. It might be ok. Ive got a lock mitre bit which i recently used ( in my router ) which would be easier to adjust in the spindle moulder

OVERCONFIDENCE

Which leads to complacency

wheras the shaper can often do it in one pass so the shaper must have a much more powerful motor than just the 2400 watts found on a router.

I think the mass of the block makes the difference. Like using a half inch touter over a quarter, the half inch bits carry more mass. My axminster is i think 2000w? And i think my router ( hitachi m12 ) is 2200w? But the spindle can remove material quicker
 

deema

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Meanwhile, back on topic....if you have never used a spindle moulder before then please...go on a course. Remember...routers rip off fingers, spindle moulders a hand.

Modern spindle moulder tooling has exactly the same amount of cutting blade projection as any router bit ie beyond the limiters. The ability to cut off flesh is the same for either machine. Routers are seen as ‘user’ friendly, and spindles gave a reputation from the old blocks and cutters that were used……and by accidents caused by using cutters without limiters.
 

Spectric

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I am coming to the conclusion that maybe the router table has gained popularity not because it is the better tool but because the plunge router has been around a long time and at some point someone put one under a workbench with a fence and it all progressed from here, but was that the right path of progression?

Having thought about this and thinking about differences between these two machines then once a router table becomes a motor in a lift then it is more spindle moulder than router apart from the different tooling. I have never looked inside a spindle moulder but would assume the spindle is belt driven from the motor and that it works along similar principles to an upside down pillar drill that allows height adjustment, and if you want a tilt facility then the whole motor / spindle assemby tilts. If someone was looking at buying a router table setup then given all the info about a spindle moulder and both demonstrated would they still buy the router table? Perhaps someone like @Peter Sefton who has taught woodworking might have some thoughts about such a choice and whether spindle moulders were used in his workshop.
 

guineafowl21

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I think the mass of the block makes the difference. Like using a half inch touter over a quarter, the half inch bits carry more mass. My axminster is i think 2000w? And i think my router ( hitachi m12 ) is 2200w? But the spindle can remove material quicker
Routers are generally powered by brushed universal motors, whose high wattage comes from high speed, but low torque. Induction motors on spindles are the other way around, and they give you much more cutting power.

For example, I have a cheapo 180W (1/4hp!) induction powered drill press that wipes the floor with my 750W (1hp) screeching brushed handheld drill, when it comes to drilling large holes in steel.
 

guineafowl21

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I am coming to the conclusion that maybe the router table has gained popularity not because it is the better tool but because the plunge router has been around a long time and at some point someone put one under a workbench with a fence and it all progressed from here, but was that the right path of progression?

Having thought about this and thinking about differences between these two machines then once a router table becomes a motor in a lift then it is more spindle moulder than router apart from the different tooling. I have never looked inside a spindle moulder but would assume the spindle is belt driven from the motor and that it works along similar principles to an upside down pillar drill that allows height adjustment, and if you want a tilt facility then the whole motor / spindle assemby tilts. If someone was looking at buying a router table setup then given all the info about a spindle moulder and both demonstrated would they still buy the router table? Perhaps someone like @Peter Sefton who has taught woodworking might have some thoughts about such a choice and whether spindle moulders were used in his workshop.
Some years ago I was looking for a router table, but was put off by the amount of money you had to spend on ‘added extras’, which were really essential. Many are supplied unpowered, and without a decent lift mechanism or fence/dust extraction, and lacking a good cast iron top. By the time you’ve built your own table, you could have got a fairly decent spindle.
 

Spectric

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Some years ago I was looking for a router table, but was put off by the amount of money you had to spend on ‘added extras’, which were really essential. Many are supplied unpowered, and without a decent lift mechanism or fence/dust extraction, and lacking a good cast iron top. By the time you’ve built your own table, you could have got a fairly decent spindle.

The cost of a decent router table can be some investment but looking back to when I first got one I only paid a quick glance at spindle moulders because I thought they were for production workshops and making skirting and such in quantity but basicaly lack of knowledge and taken away by the wave of router table users. It also becomes more expensive because often your first router table is just to get you into that market but then you realise that it needs upgrading to deliver better. If / when the next woodworking show happens it is something that I will take a closer look at.
 

deema

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A router table is just a baby spindle moulder, some of the benefits and a lot of downside IMO. A router has a tiny spindle compared to a spindle moulder (SM) a SM will typically have at least a 30mm spindle which is located in very sturdy and stiff housing usually with big beefy bearings. A routers bearing can best be described as tiny and are not designed for accurate spindles, being usually just common garden bearings I.e. no preloading etc.
A SM can and should be used to take big bites out of the wood, so moulding is done in one pass. A router can’t handle the forces and the cutters have limited waste capacity so multiple cuts are required to achieve the same result. SM cutter blocks are big, carry mass as does the whole system which produces a far better result than a router cutter held in a router body, you get less chatter.
SM blocks are relatively cheap, especially if bought secondhand. They also hold their value, so I look on them as putting money in the bank…..they earn about the same interest! SM Cutters (HSS) are cheap, far cheaper than a router cutter doing the same job. I can get a custom set of cutters made for around £50. That’s any moulding I want. Standard 40mm Euro cutters are around £10 with an initial investment of a further £10 for the limiters.
SM are solid, and old machines with cast iron tops, heavy duty fences that don’t move or wear like some flimsy aluminium extrusion fences for routers budget new SM reduce the likelihood of kickback. Add a powerfeed and you probably have one of the safest machines in the work shop. Routers in the other hand are seen as less dangerous and operators hands are often seen mm from the cutters.
You can buy a secondhand say a Sedgwick SM3 with a decent powerfeed for less than a typical router table setup. It takes about the same room and is far more versatile. It will also hold its value, and probably increase in value over time. There are larger machines, which dont sell for much more, and I would also advocate getting the largest you can accommodate. Wadkin, Sagar, Sedgwick, SCM, as examples, don’t be put off by 1”1/4 (31.25mm) spindles, the tooling is readily available, and secondhand is far cheaper than 30mm. To start off, a rebate block and a profile cutting block will do 95% of most things, secondhand can usually get these and more with the machine. If buying a machine secondhand try to ensure you get a machine that comes with the shaw guards and a circular work fences.
 

Sporky McGuffin

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Some years ago I was looking for a router table, but was put off by the amount of money you had to spend on ‘added extras’, which were really essential. Many are supplied unpowered, and without a decent lift mechanism or fence/dust extraction, and lacking a good cast iron top. By the time you’ve built your own table, you could have got a fairly decent spindle.

I'm not disagreeing with most of this, but I'm not sure I could get a 200kg+ spindle moulder into my workshop without hiring a couple of scaffolders - it's up 2 1/2 flights of steps. The router table came in bits I could carry on my own.
 

dzj

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It's true what deema says about the cutters. They can be inexpensive.
If you get in the heavier coping/tenoning stuff, or door and window sets, you'll
be paying for such tooling as much as a decent used SM costs.
Even if you don't do such work, over the years you accumulate a bunch of different cutters usually
worth more than machine itself. Then there's the powerfeed...
All in all, it's worth it.
(it doesn't mean a RT doesn't have its place in shop.)
 

Doug71

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I paid £350 for my Wadkin spindle moulder including tooling (although you wouldn't want to use some of it 😬) in an auction about 3 years ago, absolute bargain :)


spindle moulder.jpg
 
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