Stick Profiles and Out-Feed Fences

Setting up the shaper to cut the stick pieces for cope=and-stick doors. May 14, 2006

I have a question for those of you who still make your own doors. When running the stick profile on the shaper, do you set it up to take off a 1/16 of the finished width to plane off the tearout? If you do, how do you handle the outfeed being 1/16 off, split fence? I like using a one piece fence but can see the advantages of planing the whole profile.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I machine my stiles and rails to .03125" (1/32") wider than net width. I prefer shop built one piece shaper fences too. When I am running the sticking, I take a piece of vertical grade laminate scrap about one inch wide by the length of the outfeed half of the shaper fence and I attach it temporarily to the outfeed half of the fence with double sided tape.

It works out nearly perfectly since the vertical grade laminate is not quite 1/32" thick, and the two sided tape added to it comes very close to being .03125" total thickness. Of course, you can use any material that when added to the tapes thickness will equal the amount you want to remove from the edges of the door frame stock. Dial calipers make these sorts of calculations fast and accurate.

When the sticking is finished I just peel it off the fence and set up for the cope. Donít forget to file the leading end of the stick on fence to a shape that prevents the frame stock from catching on it and peeling it off.

From contributor B:
I always use a back fence. That's when you put the fence on the opposite side of the cutter. You are basically trapping the workpiece between the fence and cutter. Set up the power feeder to push the workpiece against the fence and your wood will always come out the exact width no matter how wide you started, within reason. You will not have to worry when ripping door stock that it's always perfect because the shaping operation will dimension the wood for you.

From contributor C:

To contributor B: Does this mean that you don't use and input side fence? I'm just starting out with a shaper versus router table. I hadn't thought of this - how do you keep the material in place until it gets past the cutter?

From contributor D:
In answer your original question, you need a good adjustable split fence to do this effectively. You are basically using the shaper like a jointer and the out feed fence must be in alignment with the inside cutting circle of your tooling or you will have snipe at either end. If your stock is bowed a little that can cause snipe also. It is normal to remove 1.5 mm or 1/16Ē to get a clean edge. This method works best with long lengths. The downfall is running short pieces and trying to keep a precise width of your stiles and rails. In our shop we donít like to trim or size frames (both cabinet and house doors) after they come out of the frame press. This makes precise stile width important.

The outboard or back fence is a better method and quick to setup. You are using the shaper like a molder with this method. You do need to keep a little pressure against the outboard fence even when using a feeder. The stock sometimes wants to pull toward the cutter. Weaver has a spring loaded fence that works well on dedicated shapers to apply this pressure. Back in the old days of our dedicated shapers we had a permanent fixed outboard fence with clamp-on spacers to get our final width for different sizes. If you have an Aigner fence they make a pressure jaw that clips on to the fence to do this with quick setup. You can also use the split fences to apply this pressure but this has to be setup very precisely. Aigner also makes a very easy to setup (but expensive) outboard fence. They call it a thickness stop.

From contributor E:
We use a dedicated cope shaper with a sliding table and a dedicated stick shaper with a tractor belt power feeder. We use stacked cutters with a shaker profile on the bottom and a typically an ogee on the top.

On the stick shaper we use an outboard fence like contributor B and contributor D describe. We have a vernier scale attached to this fence and we adjust the width of cut with a T-nut clamp and Allen wrench. Both cope and stick shapers have a shimmed bed to adjust height for each stacked cutter. It takes about 2 minutes to remove or add this bed when changing profiles and you never have to run test cuts. The tractor feed will handle a stick as short as 5 inches because you are pushing against the continuous fence, as opposed to against the hole in the split fence system.

Before we had a cope shaper that was sturdy enough to stack the cutter heads we relied on colored sets of shims and collars. You never raised the spindle to change a profile. The spindle stayed constant but the stack of spacers changed. My cope shaper is way overkill for the task. It became the default shaper when an import machine failed. You definitely notice the increased horsepower when coping but you also pay for the 42 inch footprint when all you are looking for is a 4 inch cope.

I'm going to guess that with the emphasis on lean manufacturing and cellular work zones that we will start to see great improvements in set-up reduction (digital and repeatable positive stops) and maybe smaller footprints in dedicated machines. The extra cost in shapers (footprint and dollars) is because the machine is designed to be so flexible.

Split fences are expensive to make and dust collection that comes out the back just minimizes the number of spots in your shop that the machine will fit. We have a half dozen table saws that are set up for dedicated purposes. Only one of them is set off 90ļ and I would be happier if most of them were half as wide as they are. Some of these machines don't have rip fences and some that do have custom rip fences that we built. None of them get changed in height or position after being set up. One of them is built on a drawer that pulls out when needed for a one minute cut.

If you were to optimize a machine for one procedure at a time I am sure they would look a lot different than they do now. They would be smaller, more accurate and probably cost less. This would go a long ways to overcoming some of the objection to dedicated machinery.