With a few tips and the right equipment, custom woodworkers can save set-up time and improve productivity on their shapers. For a complete listing of shaper manufacturers and suppliers, visit www.redbookonline.com.


As with most any machine in a woodworking shop, operators are looking for a couple of simple things from their shapers: good performance and simple setup. Several shaper suppliers and manufacturers have provided a few tips that will help woodworkers maximize their shaper’s performance and know what to look for when purchasing new equipment.

Mark Duginske, custom woodworker and Felder USA customer: There are a number of ways that the use of the shaper can be maximized.

• Acquire a shaper that has enough power and speed ranges.

• Use sharp tooling; I think that cutters with insert tooling work best.

• Use a high-quality cutter with a maximum diameter at the appropriate speed.

• Use one setup (fence setting) rather than multiple fence settings, if possible.

• If more than one pass is needed, do it by raising the cutter rather than adjusting the fence, if possible.

• Use a power feed and sliding table whenever possible.

Adam Lopuk, national sales manager, Adwood Corp.: One of the keys for today’s shops is quick and easy setup, to be able to make quick changeovers from one profile to the next. Some solutions available for this are:

• CNC positioning and programming for the spindle height and fence location — This allows the operator to switch back and forth from different profiles to take out the human error factor of making a manual setup. When you have this feature on a shaper it takes away the need for making test runs on material that waste time and money. You can even stack several cutters on the same spindle and use the CNC programmer to raise the spindle and adjust the fence for the proper profile on the spindle you would like to run.

• HSK quick-change spindles — This feature allows the operator to walk up to the machine without any tools, turn a switch and the shaper will release the spindle so it can be removed. The operator can then place another spindle, with a cutter already set up on it, onto the machine with no tools and turn a switch and have the spindle lock in the machine. This saves valuable time from changing out cutters on the spindle each time you need to run a different profile.

The ultimate is to have a shaper with an HSK spindle and the CNC programming. With this, you can store more than 250 profiles and setups in conjunction with the ability of fast changeover with each shaft stacked with cutters.

Jim Strain, president, MiniMax USA: With a power feeder installed, a shaper becomes a very impressive and productive moulder for creating crown, chair rail, base, trim, etc., which can greatly reduce cost versus buying stock profiles. It also gives you the flexibility to create custom mouldings that wouldn’t normally be available off the racks.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.