Power Feeder for a Shaper

Advice on choosing and using a power feeder for a 3-horsepower shaper. June 5, 2007

I am looking for information on using a power feeder on a 3 hp shaper. How well does this work in cabinet door making? Does it work well with arched doors? What size of power feeder should be used? It seems to me that it should make a better cut and a lot less strain on the operator at the end of the day.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
I use one regularly on my Delta 3hp shaper. I would advise you get a four tire feed to give proper pressure before and after the cutter. I have a Bridgewood and am very happy with it. Keep the feed angled slightly towards the fence. If climb cutting, make sure you have sufficient downward pressure. Radius work I shape by hand, not with a feed.

From contributor L:
I second everything contributor B said and would add: You will get a better quality cut with a feeder. They are also safer to use than by hand. Be really careful climb cutting - take only light cuts and keep the path clear. Don't climb end grain, as this produces a lousy cut. Keep the fence opening tight or provide a through-support if possible. If you only have one shaper, make yourself some fence locating jigs and spindle ht gage so you can quickly come back to the same setting.

From contributor T:
We make most of our doors. In my opinion, you can not/should not make doors without a power feed. This of course is only for the stiles. The rails should be cut with a sliding sled. There should be a board on this that backs up the cut to prevent tearout. If you use feather blocks for your stiles, you can do this operation almost hands-free. Just stick it in - the feed will do the rest.

From the original questioner:
Thanks everyone. It sounds like what I was thinking was right it's the only way to go. I have not seen a power feeder on a shaper in person or even seen one work, but I have always thought that it would be best to use one. I was just not sure if it would work with arched panels. What horsepower feeder should I get?

From contributor R:
A 1 hp feeder is the standard. Maggi/Steff is the biggest power feed manufacturer out there. I find the three wheel feeder does everything and is a bit more maneuverable and a bit cheaper than a 4 wheel. I used the 4 wheel but only if the 3 wheel was being used by someone else. If you can't do it with a 3 wheel then you can't do it with a 4 wheel either. It's just a matter of how you position the feeder. You can also climb cut with a feeder.

From contributor D:
I would agree with all of the above, and the cost of a feeder is cheaper than any trip to the doctor that results from a brush with a cutter! I still have all my fingers and think a power feeder is a great investment to keep it that way.

From contributor P:
I have both a 4 wheel Maggi and a 3 wheel Grizzly. The Maggi is by far the best in terms of quality. Oddly though, I have had quite a few problems with it and none with the Grizzly. Both have been used hard for 10 years.

I actually like the 3 wheel better; it's smaller and for door parts/panels, it has plenty of contact. It does not take much to push a panel through a shaper.

The 3 wheel can be used for some curved work, as you can easily steer the work under the feeder. The big 4 wheel tracks straight. I use the 4 wheel to feed into monster 10 in diameter cutters on by Oliver, the 3 wheel does everything else on my other machine. Either way, get the 1hp, no need for anything smaller. Your hands will appreciate you.

From contributor J:
I've got 3 and 4 wheel feeders, plus belt conversion 3-wheel feeders. I agree that the 3-wheel is just fine for shapers. The one place I find a 4-wheel better is when you have cutters that run in different directions. It is easier to just pivot the 4-wheel feeder slightly rather than crank the arm in and out and change the pivot for a cutter change.

The belt feeder is most excellent for doing short rails. We run 4" with no problem after the copes are cut.

Running sticking on a low profile "outboard" fence clamped or bolted to the table lets you trim to width as you run the sticking pattern. Pivot the feeder so that it pushes against this and you will not have parts diving into the gap in the shaper fence...