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Thread: Educate me on Shapers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Lebanon, TN
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    Educate me on Shapers

    So I thought I had all the power tools that I would ever need, naive, I know.

    I was watching a woodworking show on PBS and my daughter asked me if I had all the tools the guy was using on the show, and then I realized that I didn't own a Shaper.

    I have two routers in lifts in router tables, one with a PC75182. So I'm trying to decide whether a Shaper would be a useful addition to the shop.

    I'm just a hobbyist, but don't spare reasonable expense when I get the desire for a tool.

    I'm looking at and trying to educate myself on 3HP-5HP Shapers in the $1500-$2400 range, 230V single phase. So far it looks like my choices are Grizzly, Laguna, Jet and ShopFox.

    And should I consider a power feeder?

    So what should I not compromise on, spindle size, multiple speeds, throat plate size?

    This will also probably be one of those tools that I may definitely look for used as well.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Search the archives. There are days if not weeks of full time reading on shapers. A mile of it very recently covered and several thousand miles more in the not so distant past. All completely relevant and all completely accessible with the "search box". The search box is a very handy tool.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Griswold Connecticut
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    Chris
    It really depends on what you do.
    If you have the room, and the budget supports it, yes.
    There are multitudes of shapers for sale on Craigslist all over the country. For much less $$$$ than new, you can by a shaper with a power feeder and cutters, and all for less than the cost of a new shaper alone.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    Shapers and feeders are dirt cheap.. tooling is the expensive part.

    Get both

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    Not much to go wrong with a shaper. used is fine as long as spindle bore is not worn. Make sure the fence can use a big dust collection hose. I have 1.5 Hp grizzly and it works for me. I have even built doors with it. It is really for cabinets. For you I think any shaper with a factory cabinet will be big enough. If you can see the motor without opening the cabinet it is too small. They sell cheap on used market due to low demand. Ask if there are extra spindles around. I would budget $400 for a bare machine, more with knives.
    I had a little sears cast iron from the 1950's with a home made cabinet. Scary to use, only 1/2" spindle. fence only allowed shop vac hose.
    Bil lD.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Griswold Connecticut
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    Chris

    I was thinking more about your post and I thought I would try to address some of your questions directly, rather than in general.

    I personally would not buy a shaper less than 3HP,a nd I think 5HP would be ideal. They make lowered powered models that perform very well, but 3HP would be the minimum for me. A personal preference.

    Spindle sizes;
    1-1/4" is the "norm". Most every company that makes shaper cutters makes their tooling in 1-1/4". 30mm is also very common.

    1" This is kind of an odd duck. Most of the tooling used on a 1" spindle will be 1-1/4" tooling with a T-Bushing adapter. At least all of mine is.

    3/4" Quite a bit of tooling for this size, but once you start looking at cabinet making sizes, it gets more limited.

    1/2". Not as much tooling. but just about every 3/4" spindle cutter ships with a T-bushing adapter.

    Spindles come as a separate piece, which is set into the cartridge. This way one machine can accommodate more than one size of cutter.

    Spindles also come as an integrated unot. My 1" spindle and cartridge are a single piece. My 1/2" and 3/4" spindles are interchangeable, but the cartridge bearing assembly remains in the machine. If I want to use the 1" spindle, the cartridge bearing for the 1/2" and 3/4" has to come out. The 1" spindle is what is in my machine 95% of the time.

    You'll need an assortment of spacers, shims, and bushing with spindles to get the correct heights.

    I just bought my first power feeder about a few weeks back after many years of using a shaper without one. I like it! and should have bought one a long time ago. Mine is a 3 wheeled, 1/2HP model. I understand the 4 wheel models are better, but I'm definitely not an expert.

    Throat size is variable based on the cutter in the machine. The shaper though uses false tables as the norm, to close this distance and control material. Kind of the ZCI solution for shapers.

    Dust collection. YES! Shapers spew out a lot of dust and debris.

    Fences.
    There don't seem to be many makers of aftermarket fences for shapers. Accura and Aigner come to mind. The Aigners are pretty expensive and the Accura fences are limited in their availability. There is one for sale on Amazon right now for $200.00, but I don't know if it's a complete unit. I have a Delta shaper fence on mine, and it's kind of finicky. It's pretty easy to throw it out of whack.

    Shaper cutters
    -Tooling, cutters, can be very expensive, but there is lots, and lots, available used all the time.
    -If you're a hobbyist, like I am, you will probably need a limited assortment of cutters. Rebate, Groover, Glue joints, would probably be the bulk. Profiles would be project specific, but a multi radius cutter for edge work would be included also.
    -Cutters come as insert type and carbide tipped where the cutting edge is brazed to the cutter body.
    -Cabinet sets can cost as much as you want them too, but expect to start out at about $300.00 for a brazed cabinet set. Again though, there are lots of cabinet sets for sale used, everywhere. When I bought my shaper it came with two cabinet sets, and an interior door set, as well as 20 or so more cutters of different types. It's doubtful I will use any of these cutters with the exception of a T&G cutter set and Drawer Joint cutter.
    -For a hobbiest, a brazed cutter will probably last a lifetime, other than maybe a common groover size like 1/4". You're just never going to put the linear feet of material past a cutter head that a production shop will.
    Last edited by Mike Cutler; 12-26-2018 at 3:41 PM.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  7. #7
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    Jul 2016
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    Lebanon, TN
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    Thank you. much appreciated.

  8. #8
    Be patient and keep your eyes peeled. I just bought a SAC TS120 for $400.

    It doesn't run. Woopty dooo. I'm betting within seven beers and $200 to replace some garbage Italian electrical component, it'll be operational.

    Tooling adds up quickly, but inserts are cheap.

    Get a feeder.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA Edwards View Post
    Thank you. much appreciated.
    Hi Chris, don't be too discouraged by the cost of tooling. If you're not anticipating huge production runs, a euroblock that accepts cheap replaceable knives can quickly be cheaper than the equivalent good quality router bits. Shapers are far more versatile and suited to small shops than many realize. I did a little video series on shapers for small shops... https://youtu.be/mylYGzZC2yU

    B

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Lebanon, TN
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    Thank you, I watched all of those yesterday just before I started this thread.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA Edwards View Post
    Thank you, I watched all of those yesterday just before I started this thread.
    Cool! Fire away if you have any questions!

    B

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Toronto Ontario
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    A shaper is probably the most versatile machine in the shop, along with the band saw.

    I have a tilting spindle, sliding table shaper, it gets a lot of use in a hobby shop.

    For tooling you'll need a carbide rebate head, an adjustable slotting cutter and a Euroblock 40 mm head that takes HSS knives. You should purchase MAN rated tooling which has a reduced risk of kickback incidents.

    The cost of HSS knives and limiters for the 40mm head is about the same cost as a good router bit, and will produce superior results in solid wood.

    A stock feeder should also be considered a necessity for safety and work quality...........Regards, Rod.

  13. #13
    Took me a couple years to realize that router tables (small hole) are cutter up and shapers (giant hole) are cutter down.

  14. #14
    I think Mike summed it up pretty well.

    IMO shapers are intended for production shops. Power feeders are a must (minimum that's a $700 item -- try finding a used one!!) Cutters are more expensive. Machines take up space. Dust collection is an issue to address.

    So with 2 (yes 2) routers, what will a shaper do that you can't already do?

    Or do you have that disease "see the tool, buy the tool, find out you don't need the tool," LOL

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    So with 2 (yes 2) routers, what will a shaper do that you can't already do?
    Single pass coping, sticking and panel raising (to include cleaner from both more tangential cutter geometry and sharper hss or carbide insert tooling.
    Tenons
    Large Rebates
    Moulding / architectural millwork

    Basically larger / deeper profiles with better surface finish done much faster and more consistently.

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