The Best Power Feeder For Saws and Routers

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Home » Tools » Power Tools » The Best Power Feeder For Saws and Routers

Shop Fox 1/4-HP Power Feeder

Best Value Power Feeder for Small Workshops

Top Pick: Shop Fox 1/4-HP

Every router table or shaper needs a power feeder to make it work better. And, surprising to many woodworkers, many table saws can use one too. But deciding on the right size, deciphering power requirements and number of rollers can be confusing. So, in this guide learn what the best power feeders are for your shop and accessories you’ll need with one.

Power feeders take your woodworking tools and projects to another level.

Because pushing hundreds of sticks of wood through any machine is fatigue-inducing, it also means it impacts the quality of your work. 

But when a power feeder is combined with a table saw, shaper or router table you’ll free your back and shoulders to focus on cut quality. And improve safety as your hands are further from the action.

In this article we’ll cover these features:

  • Power options including 3-phase
  • Three sizes of power feeders (baby, standard, industrial)
  • Feet per minute and why it matters
  • Roller count on feeders
  • Weight from portable feeders to fixed
  • And lastly, the two types of arms used to adjust feeders

After using professional size feeders on a shaper to installing a baby feeder on my own router table, I know this is a tool I couldn’t make cabinets without.

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What is a Power Feeder?

Power Feeder for Router, Shaper or Table Saw

If you’ve ever tried to feed dozens or hundreds of strips of wood through a router, shaper or table saw manually you know a few things go wrong:

  • Pause marks in the stock as you re-position your hands to push the wood through
  • Sore shoulders and fingers due to the constant pressure required to keep the wood down and against the fence
  • Risk of injury as your hands are more exposed to the moving bits or blades

Sure, you can use feather blocks to keep the pressure on (I have, and do use them for small jobs). 

But a power feeder is a serious upgrade that allows for:

  • Constant down pressure and speed of wood versus the bit or blade
  • Improved safety as the nylon rubbers are close to the danger, not your fingers
  • Faster production as you aren’t the power behind the feed

A power feeder works by attaching to your machines table top, then swivels in place while in use and swivels back out of place when not in use. It works by using three or four nylon rollers that create down pressure against the table that pull the wood through the blade or bit. And, by angling the feeder slightly toward the fence it will keep the stock firmly in the right place as the stock is machined.

Best Power Feeder for Shapers, Table Saws and Router Tables

Let’s start with categorizing power feeders as they fall into three broad groups by size and power needs:

  • Baby power feeders are best for smaller router tables as they are lightweight and the least expensive. These feature 1/8 to 1/4HP motors and 3 rollers.
  • Standard power feeders are 3 roller units with 1/4 or 1/2 HP that run on standard 120V wiring. These are best for larger router tables, shapers and table saws.
  • Industrial power feeders require 3-phase wiring and have 3 or 4 rollers. Few homes will have this type of power.

Trouble finding power feeders with COVID-19 stock and inventory issues? Check out Woodcraft for a great selection. And, for some tools, they offer up a regular 10% discount for new buyers.

Baby Power Feeders for Router Tables

I can’t think of another tool in the woodworking shop that is called a baby.

But, baby power feeders are anything but childish as they have all the basics for converting a table saw or router table into a production machine for turning out high quality projects.

If you’re shopping on price, the Shop Fox gets my nod with a 2 year warranty and most are compatible with the Steelex clamp-on base

However, if you want the best performance the Powermatic PF-33-Jr is the top of the line. For a few hundred dollars more it features the standard “post” design that will make the feeder easier to use and adjust. And, it is my choice for use on table saws with it’s extra horizontal reach.

Powermatic PF-33-Jr Small Power Feeder

Powermatic PF033 Power Feeder

Overview

While categorized in with the baby power feeders the Powermatic PF-33-Jr almost ages out of the group into the standard power feeder category.

However, because it weighs in at a manageable 71 pounds (vs 134 for the PF-33) it is great for solo installation and removal on a table saw. 

Key Features

  • 1HP 3 Phase motor (for industrial shops)
  • Four feed speeds (13, 26, 33, 66 FPM)
  • Four rollers with 3/4″ suspension
  • Roller height: 8-1/2″
  • Vertical movement: 9-3/4″
  • Horizontal movement: 18-1/16″
  • Weight: 71 pounds

Grizzly G4173 Baby Power Feeder

Grizzly G4173 Power Feeder

Overview

Grizzly is an established brand in power tools and their baby power feeder is similar in function to others of its (basic) design.

Note the difference in the post design? This is replicated across other baby feeders and gives them lighter weight and lower cost.

But, as a tradeoff  you will lose some ease of adjustment as there is a “z-axis” tilt that takes some getting used to.

Key Features:

  • Motor: 1/8 HP, 120V, single-phase, 1.2A
  • Variable speed range: 6-1/2 – 39 FPM
  • Rollers: 3, synthetic rubber, 1-3/16″ W x 3″ Dia.
  • Rotation: forward and reverse
  • Maximum height of rollers: 6″
  • Maximum vertical distance: 10-1/4″
  • Maximum horizontal distance: 10-1/4″
  • Weight: 27 pounds (shipping)

Shop Fox W1764 Baby Power Feeder

Baby Power Feeders - Shop Fox W1764

Overview

The Shop Fox is nearly identical to the Grizzly baby power feeder. 

But, in this small class, it features two important features that make it the “best baby power feeder”:

  • First, if you want to move it around between a router table and table saw it has one thing the Grizzly doesn’t: a clamp on base plate from Steelex.
  • And second, it features a wider range of vertical and horizontal movement that might be important for your sized router table or table saw.

Key Features:

  • CSA certified, meets UL standards, made in an ISO 9001 factory
  • Motor: 1/8 HP, 120V, single-phase, 1.2A
  • Variable speed
  • Rollers: 3, synthetic rubber, 1-1/8″ W x 3″ Dia.
  • Rotation: forward and reverse
  • Maximum height of rollers: 13″
  • Maximum vertical distance: 13″
  • Maximum horizontal distance: 11″

Standard Power Feeders for Table Saws and Shapers

Moving up a class of power feeder to what I call “standard” power feeders takes us into feeders with longer reach, more horsepower and a build for continuous duty.

But one thing this class doesn’t have? Three phase power. And, that’s intentional as most smaller workshops looking at this size power feeder are using standard single-phase 120V or 240V wiring.

Powermatic PF-31 Power Feeder - 3 Roller, 1HP

Powermatic PF-31 Power Feeder

Key Features:

  • 1HP 120V motor (standard electricity)
  • Four feed speeds (13, 26, 33, 66 FPM)
  • Four rollers with 3/4″ suspension
  • Roller height: 8-1/2″
  • Vertical movement: 9-3/4″
  • Horizontal movement: 18-1/16″
  • Weight: 143 pounds

Grizzly G4176 Power Feeder - 3 Roller, 1/4HP

Grizzly G4176 Power Feeder

Key Features:

  • Motor: 1/4 HP, 120V, single-phase, 1.2A
  • Speeds: 4 (20, 26, 33, 43 FPM)
  • Rollers: 3, synthetic rubber, 1-3/16″ W x 3″ Dia.
  • Rotation: forward and reverse
  • Maximum height of rollers: 6″
  • Vertical movement 6-1/2″, horizontal movement 10″
  • Shipping weight: 79 pounds

Shop Fox W1765 Power Feeder - 3 Roller, 1/4HP

Shop Fox W1765 Power Feeder

Key Features:

  • Motor: 1/4 HP, 120V, 2.5 Amp
  • Number of speeds: 4
  • Range of speeds: 20, 26, 33, 43 FPM
  • Wheels: 3, synthetic rubber, 1-1/8 W x 3-1/16-inch Dia.
  • Maximum height of rollers: 5″
  • Vertical movement 6-3/4″, horizontal movement 9-3/4″
  • Rotation: forward & reverse

Shop Fox W1766 - 3 Roller, 1/2HP

Shop Fox W1766 Power Feeder

Key Features:

  • Motor: 1/2 HP, 120V, 4 Amp
  • Number of speeds: 4 (9.5, 15, 25, 38 FPM)
  • Wheels: 3, synthetic rubber, 1-1/8 W x 3-1/16-inch Dia.
  • Rotation: forward & reverse
  • Range of motion: 7-inch roller height, 9-inch vertical and 16-inch horizontal

Industrial Power Feeders

For production workshops where the feeder will run all day you’ll have the choice between 4-roller units with 3-phase power or 3-roller units with 3-phase or standard 120V power.

What to look for in an industrial feeder? While Powermatic is an old brand in this category of power feeders, Shop Fox and Grizzly are well established brands as well.

Powermatic PF-41 - Best Power Feeder for Shapers and Table Saws

Powermatic PF033 Power Feeder

Key Features:

  • Roller chain and sprockets provide positive feeding for a variety of work
  • Support column is fully adjustable for horizontal, vertical or angled feeder position
  • Feeder body, column base and joints are cast iron for heavy duty operation
  • Rollers can be changed out easily and quickly
  • 1 horsepower, four large wheels, optionally available in 3 phase power, roller chain drive for durability

Shop Fox W1769 Power Feeder

SHopFox W1769 Power Feeder

Key Features:

  • 1HP 3 Phase motor (for industrial shops)
  • Four feed speeds
  • Four rollers with 3/4″ suspension
  • Roller height: 7″
  • Vertical movement: 9″
  • Horizontal movement: 17″
  • Shipping weight: 187 pounds

Grizzly G1096 Power Feeder

Grizzly G1096 Power Feeder

Key Features:

  • CSA certified
  • 1HP 3 Phase motor (NOTE: 3 phase motors are for industrial shops)
  • Four feed speeds
  • Four rollers with 3/4″ suspension
  • Vertical movement: 9-1/2″
  • Horizontal movement: 24-1/2″
  • Shipping weight: 150 pounds

Alternatives to a Power Feeder

JessEm Stock guide

While you can guess there aren’t motorized alternatives to a power feeder, there are a few innovative solutions if these just aren’t in your budget:

  • JessEm has professional grade STOCK GUIDES that attach to your table saw and apply both the down and in pressure that you need for consistent cut quality.
  • Kreg and many others, FEATHERBOARDS that will hold you stock tight to the fence.

Power Feeder Buyers Guide

What size feeder do I need?

I look at these feeders in three categories:

  1. Industrial use with 3-phase motors and continuous duty rating for running 8-10 hours a day.
  2. Serious hobbyist or small cabinet shop where 3-4 hour sessions are common during the week (table saws and shapers).
  3. Router table grade for the “baby feeders”.

Chances are you’re looking at a “baby feeder” and the Shop Fox W1764 is a great option.

Three rollers or four?

Unless you are doing high volumes of long stock a 3 roller configuration will work fine. And the extra weight of a four roller configuration must be considered.

Frequently Asked Questions for Power Feeders

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install a power feeder on a router table?

Yes there are many “mini” power feeders made specifically for router tables. These feeders perform well for router tables with smaller wheels and retain key features like forward/reverse.

What is a power feeder?

A power feeder for shapers and router tables automates the task of pushing the wood against the fence and pushing the material forward at a steady pace. This improves overall quality as starts/stops aren’t made in longer material that can cause uneven marks in the wood.

What is the best power feeder for a shaper?

The answer depends on your use. For industrial duty the Powermatic brand is built for durability and all day use with options for 3-phase power. For hobby use a smaller motor with fewer rollers will do the job for most.

Summary

While it’s easy to put off an investment in a power feeder it’s one investment I have never regretted. When a tool can improve safety, quality and reduce strain it just makes woodworking more enjoyable.

References

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 04:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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