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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Brand newbie here to routers so apologies ahead of time for my ignorance :)

I've been band-sawing rough cut lumber for the past three years as my primary business. I do not have a kiln yet so airdry most of my stuff if it isn't custom cut green lumber. Once airdry, I do have a 12in Dewalt planer and portable table saw that I use for smaller pieces. I would love a production size planer but that's off in the future.

My own house needs a large amount of tongue and groove and several of my customers would purchase bulk T&G from me if I could produce it. I've done small pieces on the table saw but I cannot produce large volume (or boards) this way.

My main question is what HP router should I be looking at for making T&G? My goal would be to make 8-15ft, 3/4-5/4 in T&G. The species would be red pine, white pine, hemlock, and spruce mostly. Do I need a 3.5HP Milwaukee 5625-20 or equivalent or would the cheaper 2.25HP options suffice? I have no problem spending the money for the right tool and table since I already have customers but I have zero experience with routers/shapers and don't know if I would bog down the 2.25HP models.
 

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@TrueDisciple
welcome to the group

that to is a lot routing.some of the more dense wood / harder to cut would need a lot more HP.
there is real craftsmen here and also at Woodworking Talk ask the same question there.
they may have down this road before.

for myself I would use the Table saw for floor boards. cabinets it may both.
with the correct saw blades like a dado stack. or a molding head you can make it a single pass.
routers are not for production as you have said you need to do.
there many used shapers available out there. get the correct blades for it.
you may want to buy two dado stack blades. one for the grove. keep it set up that way the the tongue stack.. the same way.
or another choice a I have seen moulding heads for a table saw that will cut the profiles and these should work much better. takes two and can be faster than dado blades. less errors in set up.
here is link to a good company Corob Cutters

router may require multiple passes. no matter what the HP is.

small pieces will be the router.

note I am weekend woodworker. that is how i would approach it.

you need answers from the guys who are or where in a production place.
 

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Hi @TrueDisciple , and welcome to the forum.

If going to use a router, I would go for the biggest HP you could get. That much production type work will take a heavy toll on a smaller router, and then you have to get a set of cutters to work with.

I would go for a shaper, if it was me...
 

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If I had that much lumber to process, I would consider the options available;
1 - sub-contract the work out to a professional that does that for a living.
2 - consider a molder or shaper with a power infeed to greatly reduce the physical labor involved.
3 - not seeing what you have, there has got to be a better way than a "router".
 

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Routers are far slower than a shaper, a saw with the special shaper cutters Biotek suggested would be an in between solution. It will cost you a fair amount, but is at least a workable solution.

You could do this with a dado stack. Set it up for the tongue, run your stock through, then reset for the groove. That's two passes per piece. And T&G is usually done on long pieces for siding, so I think you will need some serious support on the infeed and outfeed sides. You'll need some featherboards or feather rollers to press the piece down onto the blace, and back against the fence. I think you want a slightly loose fit, and if the lumber is green or not completely dry, you'll have to account for shrinkage and expansion, so the Tongues and grooves need to be fairly deep, I'd go at least 5/8ths to 3/4. The gap (reveal) can change with the weather.

If you're a fussbudget like me, you'll paint both sides of each piece so it doesn't cup on you after installation.
 

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For large amounts of tongue and groove I would use two shapers with power feeders. It can process the wood as fast as you can feed it. One pass on each edge. You better know for sure you have the customers since it would be an investment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks everyone for the advice. I may take the easy way out, at least for my own projects, and use shiplap instead of tongue and groove. I think I can stick a dado on the table saw and produce that way much quicker and easier than the T&G for now. I'm not a high-volume sawyer, my mill is a Woodland Mills HM130. It's all manual and most of my logs are still manually loaded since the old tractor isn't reliable or capable of always lifting what I need it to.

The shaper tables look nice and I may end up going that route eventually but those shaper cutters for the tablesaw are intriguing.
 

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Thanks everyone for the advice. I may take the easy way out, at least for my own projects, and use shiplap instead of tongue and groove. I think I can stick a dado on the table saw and produce that way much quicker and easier than the T&G for now. I'm not a high-volume sawyer, my mill is a Woodland Mills HM130. It's all manual and most of my logs are still manually loaded since the old tractor isn't reliable or capable of always lifting what I need it to.

The shaper tables look nice and I may end up going that route eventually but those shaper cutters for the tablesaw are intriguing.
You should be able to find a good used 3HP shaper for $500-$700, depending on age and condition. Carbide profile cutters run $25-$40 each depending on size and profile. You'll probably need two sets for different stock thicknesses. A power feeder may be hard to find for a reasonable price. Prices start around $400. If you already have dust collection, stock rollers, and 240V power available, that's money saved. Hope that helps with your decision.
 

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What advantages would I gain from a shaper? Full disclosure, I'd never heard of those machines before the last couple days.
A shaper is a much heavier machine. They are designed for production work. Many of the shapers can also use router bits. A shaper will have a higher torque motor so no bogging down. And if you really get into production, you can mount a power feed to it.
 

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I would love to see your milling machine. I find that fascinating, cutting raw logs into lumber. I like the programs set in Alaska and the Yukon, and a couple of the guys on them have mills. With the cost of lumber and shipping up there, makes sense to mill your own.
 

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You will need at least a 5 hp planer molder with molder blades I made all my oak flooring, cabinets and base boards in a house some 30 years ago. All red oak. It was a lot of work. The power feed is a must. The unit I had was a Folley Belsaw under a craftsman name. Grizzly has planer molders and knives.
 

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A planer/molder will be of big assist on this. Power feed rollers make the quality worth the expense. I milled all my red oak base board and kitchen cabinet stock and tounge and groove flooring and chair rail out of straight lined red oak. It was a lot of work and I did it when I was 26. The molder with knives and power feed make it a one pass operaton.
 

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Routers are far slower than a shaper, a saw with the special shaper cutters Biotek suggested would be an in between solution. It will cost you a fair amount, but is at least a workable solution.

You could do this with a dado stack. Set it up for the tongue, run your stock through, then reset for the groove. That's two passes per piece. And T&G is usually done on long pieces for siding, so I think you will need some serious support on the infeed and outfeed sides. You'll need some featherboards or feather rollers to press the piece down onto the blace, and back against the fence. I think you want a slightly loose fit, and if the lumber is green or not completely dry, you'll have to account for shrinkage and expansion, so the Tongues and grooves need to be fairly deep, I'd go at least 5/8ths to 3/4. The gap (reveal) can change with the weather.

If you're a fussbudget like me, you'll paint both sides of each piece so it doesn't cup on you after installation.
You could have 2 offset shapers that would allow you to cut one side of the board then the other with automation to help move the boards through the process. Auctions are good places to find shapers as a lot of people seem to be moving away from them to routers although like everyone is saying they serve very different purposes. Routers are more for one-off processes and shapers are for production often with 5hp or more depending on what you're cutting but you're doing softwoods. If you were doing flooring like oak or something I wouldn't even know how to size a motor for that. Find someone that has experience and I don't mean the people selling the machines.
 

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You should be able to find a good used 3HP shaper for $500-$700, depending on age and condition. Carbide profile cutters run $25-$40 each depending on size and profile. You'll probably need two sets for different stock thicknesses. A power feeder may be hard to find for a reasonable price. Prices start around $400. If you already have dust collection, stock rollers, and 240V power available, that's money saved. Hope that helps with your decision.
Just 3 hp you're just as well off with a router.
 

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1000 board feet on a router? A 5 hp planer molder like a wood master would pay for itself very quickly. When I think of doing something hundreds of board feet by hand pushing it through with out the assist of power feed rollers.. well then again I put a winch on a 17" bandsaw to resaw 4' long oak logs. I don't often do stuff the hard way for very long.
 

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1000 board feet on a router? A 5 hp planer molder like a wood master would pay for itself very quickly. When I think of doing something hundreds of board feet by hand pushing it through with out the assist of power feed rollers.. well then again I put a winch on a 17" bandsaw to resaw 4' long oak logs. I don't often do stuff the hard way for very long.
I was just trying to say that to spend the money on a shaper and cheap out on the motor would leave you wanting. Either machine with a 3hp motor is going to process wood at similar speeds and have a similar cutting power.
 
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