Wednesday, January 25, 2012

V3.4 - The Last Word on Wood Shapers

Ok, so we’re gonna wrap up our informational series about Wood Shapers this week. That is, unless you folks come up with some questions that I can answer for everyone. I’m finding this sort of column a bit more difficult than I imagined because I can’t show you any pictures of what I’m talking about. I guess I’m just more used to writing Instruction Manuals when I’m talking about the features of a machine. Instruction Manuals have pictures. Now, if I’m discussing how to fix something…well, I did that over the phone for more than 20 years and Skype didn’t exist. So, “picture-less trouble-shooting” is right up my alley.
Alright, so where were we? Ah yes… another useful tool for Wood Shapers is called a ‘hold-down’. These are usually spring steel and the mount for them attaches to the fence. They apply downward (toward the table) and inward (toward the infeed fence) pressure to help keep the work snug against the fence as it enters the cutting circle. (see how a picture would be perfect right about here?)
No discussion about tools is complete without talking about Safety. A Wood Shaper is probably one of the most dangerous tools in a shop. It can cause kickback and loss of fingertips. Here are some good rules to follow when using your shaper.
1: Always wear the proper clothing. Generally it is a good idea to take off any wristwatches or bracelets and to wear tight-fitting clothing. The use of short-sleeved shirts will minimize the possibility of being pulled into the cutter. Never wear loose-fitting clothing or neckties when using a shaper. 2: Always use the appropriate hold-downs and guards. 3: Keep the cutters sharp. Sharp cutters will cut with less friction and minimum tear out. Less friction means that you will not need to use as much force to move the work thru the cutters. 4: With some cuts, it is better to make several light passes, rather than to try to make the cut in one pass. 5: Always minimize the open area around the cutters and the fence. In other words, keep the fence edges as close to the guard and cutter as possible. Too much open space can lead to snipes, gouges, kickbacks or nicks in the work. 6: Use work controlling devices such as hold-downs or stock feeders whenever possible to keep the work snug against the fence and table. 7: Always push the work past the cutters when completing the cut. Never release the work while it is still touching the cutter.

I’m not sure where we’ll go next time, but be sure to tune in. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. If you understand the reference, you’ve had more than a few birthdays.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

V3.3 - Wood Shapers, part 3

Fences. Yep, that’s where we left off. So that’s where we shall resume.

On a shaper, the fence is placed on the table top and secured to the table with two long threaded rods, usually with knobs on top. The fence acts basically like the tables of a jointer, laid on their side. The infeed fence side controls the depth of the cut and the outfeed fence side supports the stock after it has passed the cutters. The biggest difference between the two is that the outfeed of the jointer is pretty much always higher than the infeed. That is not always true on a shaper. If the stock is not being removed from the entire edge of the workpiece, the outfeed fence will need to be level with the infeed so as to support it properly. Most shaper operations are this way.
One of the most innovative fence systems to come along in the past 20 years was the segmented fence. This fence consists of fence “fingers” that are small slats of material and they can be adjusted to conform more closely to the cutters and guard outline for better support and dust collection. For best results the opening between the fence halves should never be more than is just enough to clear the cutters and/or guard.
Speaking of guards, there are two basic types for most shapers. The “ring guard” is, as it sounds, a small ring that is mounted on an overhanging arm and it encircles the top of the spindle. The most familiar shaper guard nowadays is the polycarbonate/Lexan, clear or orange-colored disc guard with the rounded edge. It sits on top of the cutter(s) and comes with bushings and washer kits to allow it to fit most spindles. This disc has a high-speed, pre-lubricated ball bearing center that mounts directly on the spindle. It keeps the operators fingers out of harms way, away from the revolving cutter. It minimizes flying chips and yet allows excellent vision to see the work as it is being shaped.
One of the most necessary parts of a shaper is the sliding jig. Its purpose is to clamp the work securely so that it can be advanced into the cutters. It is primarily used in creating return moldings across the ends of narrow strips.
Of course each shaper has an on/off switch and most of them are mounted within easy access of the operator. Some shapers have a movable arm that can be raised above the rear of the table for very good switch access. The switch for reversing the motor is usually on the side of the motor itself.

For now, let’s end our discussion and we’ll see if we can find some more “good juice” for next week.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

V3.2 - Wood Shapers, part 2

Last week, we started our series on the Wood Shaper. We’ll pick that back up this week and give you a bit more information about this vital wood shop machine.

Let’s talk about the shaper spindles; most spindles are solid, with different sized spindles or cutter holders on opposite ends, such as a collet to hold router bits or a stub spindle to hold cope cutters. All spindles can be raised and lowered which allows for adjustment of cutter height. Most shapers have the elevation handwheel at the front of the machine and a separate handle that locks the spindle in place at any desired height above the table.
A medium size shaper with a three-quarter horsepower motor is more than adequate for small cutters with a half-inch center bore. Cutters such as panel raising cutters or carbide cutters stacked for multiple cutting operations should be used only with shapers that have one and one-half horsepower, or larger, motors; and three-quarter inch or larger spindles. Some applications require the use of heavy-duty industrial shapers which can have motors as large as 7 horsepower.
On most shapers, the motor must have a speed of 3450 RPM in order to give the spindle the required speed. While there are certain applications the can better use a slower spindle speed, the optimum spindle speed is 10,000 RPM. Shapers may use a v-belt or a flat belt to transmit the motor speed to the spindle and some models have a reversing switch that will change the direction of rotation of the spindle and allow the user to turn the cutter over and feed in the opposite direction.
There are various spindles available that serve specific purposes. For example; the Stub Spindle is used for cope cutters; the Collet Spindle is used for router bits; the half-inch spindle is used for half-inch bore cutters; the three-quarter inch spindle is for three-quarter bore cutters and so on, up to inch and a half or larger spindles. Hollow spindle cartridges require auxiliary spindles with tie-rods so they can pass down thru the main outer spindle and be secured with a tapered nut that holds them tightly and safely while preforming shaper operations.

I’m not sure how much further we’ll get with this because it’s pretty difficult to describe things here on in, without using pictures… but we’ll see. I’ll do my best to give you some good mental visuals.

Every shaper has a fence. ‘What’s a fence’ you say? In some cases it’s used to keep cows in, but on shapers the fence is used to brace the stock that’s being shaped.
We’ll get more into that next time.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

V3.1 - Introducing the Wood Shaper

Alrighty then, 2011 is over. Everyone is coming back down from the exhilarating high of celebrating Jesus’ birthday and it’s now back to the old grindstone… ain’t it fun??? Well, I hope so. Life is far too short to not have some fun at each and every chance. As for us, we’re gonna start the year off by talking about one of the wood shop’s most basic tools, the Wood Shaper. Some of this information was previously published by Delta, in 1937 and used with Authorization.

The modern Wood Shaper is a very flexible and versatile tool. Its application in woodworking allows one to create an infinite variety of shapes in wood with a wide selection of cutter heads, offering many different profiles. The wide adaptability to many woodworking techniques likewise allows one to create many unique woodworking projects. The wide selection of lightweight to heavy industrial models offers the user many options.
At its most basic, the Wood Shaper is a stationary power tool that is designed to cut shapes in wood. Makes sense, right? Most Wood Shapers have a vertical spindle on which a variety of cutters can be mounted. The cutters cut the actual shapes in the wood, thereby creating moldings and making wood joints or joinery. While there are other tools, such as routers, that also cut shapes in wood they generally do not have the power and flexibility that a shaper has. The Wood Shaper usually has the ability to reverse the rotation of the spindle, vary the speed of the cut and to have multiple cutters mounted on the spindle at a time, which allows several profiles to be done in one pass. In addition there are several cutter combinations that expand the shaper’s versatility. The work piece is supported by a cast-iron table (Please note: my discussion leans more towards those shapers that have cast-iron tables, not so much the table-top shapers that might have aluminum tables – although the basics of a Wood Shaper is the same between them) and is controlled by a variety of supports including a fence, depth collars or special jigs and fixtures. This allows an infinite variety of applications to be handled by the shaper.
The spindle assembly is driven by an electric motor. A drive belt connects the motor to the spindle via various sized pulleys that control the speed of the spindle. The spindle size can vary from one-half inch to one and one-half inch. The larger spindles are designed for heavy industrial machines. Some shapers have spindle cartridges that are hollow which allows spindles to be interchanged much like changing a drill bit in a chuck, except that the spindle is held in place with a draw bolt.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

V2.36 - Happy New Year

So, here we are at the end of another year. Wow… I always heard that the older one gets, the faster time flies. After studying that for a few years, I think I know why. When you’re 2 years old, 1 year is one half of your entire life. When you get older, 1 year is only one-50 something of your entire life. So time really doesn’t go faster, it just seems shorter. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

The year that “they” say we’re gonna expire. There’s a Greek word for that – Baloney. I’ve read the last chapter of THE Book and some things it says must come to pass have not. It also says that Man does not know when the end will come, only the Father knows (Matt 24:36). So, come next Dec 22, we’ll still be here, although there may be fewer of us around. Now, having said that, I fully believe that we are well on our way towards the end. My clues are taken from the Holy Bible and some of the things it mentions are lining right up.
Years ago, no one could imagine that ‘the whole world’ could see anything at the same time (Rev 11:9). Now, it is not only possible, but routine.
We’ll get to the point that we can’t buy or sell anything without a certain mark (Rev 13:16-17) and even now, we can see the technology maturing to the point that this would not be impossible like it was years ago. You know, I’ve always thought that this might play out like this… Gov’t handout money is put on ‘smart cards’ and big momma gets to the register and says “I lost my card, but you gotta give me stuff anyway”. So the gov’t says, “Here, we have come up with a way to be sure you never lose it again. We’ll put this mark on your hand or forehead and all you need to do is put your number in front of the scanner and all is well.” So big momma says, “I’ll do it and the guy who come up with this idea is sooo smart. He needs to be President of the World”.

Oh yea, I’m probably wrong, but it IS coming. If you are still here when the “President of the World” shows up, do whatever you need to do, but do not take that mark. If you do, you will shut the door on any chance you’d ever have of seeing heaven. (Rev 14:9-11)

God Bless you all and we’ll see you in 2012.

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