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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