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Dedicated Shaper Advice12/20/20
Long story short I want to know what others would do if they were to keep a dedicated shaper in their shop for one operation? I am a one man shop, 3/4 of my work is custom inset face frame cabinetry (the other 1/4 being furniture).
I have a 1.25" spindle Martin shaper for any door and panel work but I also have an old but serviceable .5" spindle shaper I fell when someone retired last spring. I have collars to use larger bore cutters on the .5" machine but as a one man shop I don't gain much efficiency to set both machines up to cope and stick in tandem. I'm only ever operating one machine at a time. As a result I'd like to keep the .5" spindle machine set up for a specific task at all times.
My general workflow building cabinets is:
The .5" spindle shaper does not have an adjustable fence so all adjustment is made slowly and then the shop made fence is re-clamped in place. I don't use it at all now but would like to get some use out of it since I can't seem to get rid of it. It's in rough shape cosmetically (rusted at the floor, melamine was added on top of the table at some point in the past). If it's going to be taking up a few square feet in the shop, I might as well get use out of it.
If you were a small operation and were to keep a dedicated shaper set up what would it be for?
Am I overthinking this and should just set it up for all my edge rabbeting?
It probably doesn't have the power or rigidity to do any door work consistently. You could put on a power feed and back fence to accurately machine the face frame width if you leave a small enough machining allowance.
You need to look at your processes and decide if a shaper set up all the time for one operation can occupy floorspace versus the setup time on that big Martin. If you can do changeovers really quick and accurately on the Martin, would you be better served by that open floor space for another cabinet ready to go or a different machine for a dedicated process.
Walking up and turning on a machine ready use is awesome.
Paying for floor space is not.
I have eight....
A NC controlled shaper with an hsk spindle would be the dream setup for a one man shop in my opinion. Though I don't trust the longevity of the widgetry
I presume you break edges with a router bit, i use 1/8 round over bit. I setup a router table dedicated to this and might setup that 1/2 shaper for the same duty. Door edges, drawer boxes etc etc
Im sure your question pertains to day to day work in a modest shop. I love the idea of having a bunch of monsters in a pheomenally equipped shop (in which case it may likely no longer be a shaper shop other than for short runs/one-of's) . I wouldnt hesitate to dedicate a, or a few, imports if you to land on some dirt cheap turn key euro machines or have the time to fuss with anyting other than turn key. Boat loads of shops are running on imports or weavers. Pick your post painful operation and go from there.
I wish we had the space, the time look for and setup, and the demand, for a brick of heavy euro machines but we dont. CNC changeover if the demand is fixed enough that the machine can support it would be great but id guess that'll be a never in my world. No will having a rack of fully populated spindle cartridges for rapid swaps.
If your in the setting up tooling for varied op's world I wouldnt worry about dropping a single or a few pretty basic shapers on the floor. Our runout has alwyay held in the .001 or less range.
In general if you make doors and don't have 3 shapers you are wasting a lot of time. I have 3, love to have the forth for other tasks. I break down the panel shaper because it's the easiest to set back up again.
Just like me having 7 routers that I leave the most useful bits in at all times. Go over to the drawer and pick up the router of choice, use it, put it back. I'd like to get 3 more.
It is my experience that small shops generally are not into large production runs and the other problem for small shops is space.
I can make doors with one shaper no problem, I have 2, but have figured out quick ways to change cutters and set them up.
As for routers it takes a couple minutes to change a bit so having a fleet of them to me is a huge waste of space. I have a router lift that is easily adjusted for running pieces through. The only routers I have dedicated are a couple laminate trimmers for working with plastic laminate.
I would have to agree with Karl, the ultimate would be a single controlled shaper with multiple spindles.
Your small shaper with 1/2 inch spindle could be used for breaking corners, or some small cutters for mouldings. If it was me I would sell it and look for a shaper with a little more power and a 1 1/4 spindle, that way you can use the same cutters on both machines and there is a lot more selection of 1 1/4 inch cutters out there, you can also get some fantastic deals on used cutters.
As a one man shop I have had 4 or 5 shapers set up for various tasks. Stile and rail , raised panels one for edge details and one with a power feed for moldings and such. The machines are like employees except they are always there. When making cope and stick doors and you need one more part it is so easy.
More cutters set up can increase your production time easily.
Thanks for the replies all. Some good ideas here. Scott you are correct - I am not in production mode at all. As a result maybe it doesn't make sense to keep the dedicated floor space for a single-operation machine given that an extra few minutes to set up another machine to do the same thing does not break my business model. As you said Karl it's great to have the machine set up for a purpose but paying for the floorspace is less enjoyable. I will keep trying to sell the machine, I think.
3HP shaper on wheels that gets tucked into a corner when not in use. For the most part 3HP will take care of a lot of duties.
If you are doing any beaded inset face frames? A small dedicated shaper with a mini power feeder on edge as a dedicated set up is a big help with beaded frames. You are probably not going to get a lot of money by selling the shaper. They are kind of like routers the more you have the better.