Raised Panel Cutter Options

Shop owners compare the advantages of insert and tipped tooling for machining raised panel doors. October 20, 2005

I'm looking to tool my shaper up for raised panel work. What are the pros and cons of the solid carbide tipped cutters compared to the type that use changeable inserts?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
Insert tooling offers a number of advantages over tipped tools. These include:
1) Cost efficiency
2) In house maintenance
3) Highly repeatable profiles
4) Multiple profile options on the same tool body
5) Use of higher grade of carbide offers better finish and longer life

There are instances when tipped tools are the better option. These include:
1) Custom profiles
2) Novice shaper operators

Retipping a tool would be less than replacing an insert cutter. Stark Tooling manufactures the Cabinator, designed for use on moulders and larger horsepower (5HP plus) shapers. The small cabinet set is made for lighter duty shapers. There are multiple profiles available for raised panels. Freud also offers an RP2000 insert shaper set.

I recently purchased insert tooling for my shaper and I went with Freud kits. I bought a set of stile and rail cutters for 450, which has several profiles that come with it. I like them because they have a 7/16 tenon which allow space balls to be used. The nice thing about insert cutters is that you can buy new tips for the heads and not have to worry about whether the person that sharpens your tooling went crazy forcing you to always figure out which shims to use every time they come back. Also, this head can cut glass doors by removing one of the heads, which is pretty cool since you will not have to spend additional money to invest in those cutters. The insert panel profile set also comes with several profiles and a back cutter which allows you to make 5/8 or 3/4 panels. I purchased the 32mm door edge profile, also. It is a two piece kit but I only got the top half since we use pulls or knobs on everything. The cool thing about this kit is it's compatible with the cups on euro hinges. It cost about 900-1000 for all of this. I think the stile/rail has 9 profiles, the panel cutter has 5. For the money, Freud is a steal. We build about 100 doors a month.

I had the Freud insert system for a few days. Hated it. Felt the carbide inserts were too cheaply made, was told by a tech at Freud that the profiles may not always be perfectly ground, may vary from set to another in the same profile. Didn't feel the cove and bead door profiles allowed for a deep enough setback from the face of the of the stiles/rails to allow for machine sanding without destroying the profile. Personally, I would rather have 10 different heads for 10 profiles than have the Performance System. The bottom line is that I think there are much better insert cutter profile heads, and I will be looking at them.

Freud told me on the phone that I would need 3 cutters if I where stacking them for stile and rail, which seemed really crazy to me, but I figured they knew their own products.