Three-Sided Shapers Versus Multiple Machines

For making doors, what's better: an expensive dedicated machine that cuts all the profiles, or a setup using multiple basic shapers? February 2, 2011

Do you prefer a three sided shaper or multiple machines? Any input is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
I am going to assume that you want to use those machines for making doors. I have an E-Z Door machine which cuts my stiles, rails and panels. It is similar to the unique machine. We also have a Powermatic five hs shaper. I bought the E-Z Door when they first started making them. I liked it very much. Mine has one drawback. The travel on it only allows me to do up to a 44" stile. The newer ones, I think go up to 60-65 inches. They also have them with four cutters instead of three and you can do the door edge. We use the five hs Powermatic to do our drawer edges and run our longer stiles on it and do whatever else we might want to do in the shop on the shaper. The nice thing about the E-Z Door is that you can pull your cart pull of parts right up to it and not have to walk around in circles.

From contributor Y:
I have four single shapers and one triple shaper. If I were to do it again I would get what Contributor J has. After seeing one of those machines run, that is where I would put my money. They are more accurate and not to mention a space saver.

From contributor E:
I was at Hermance Machine (PA) to see the demo for a similar machine made by Unique Machines - very impressive. The cost for it was close to $20K and extra cutters, etc brought the cost up. They claim 1 man can make the door in 2 1/2 minutes. I don't know if the mullions could be cut but the machines appear the same so I would guess that wouldn't be a problem.

From contributor R:
Do the sliding tables on both the Unique and the E-Z Door machine require hand feeding or do they move under their own power? Itís hard to tell in the videos but it looks like they have to push the sliding tables by hand.

From contributor F:
I've seen the Unique machines and they are very cool, however I believe they are single purpose machines. I do custom moldings and other odds and ends so I prefer separates. Itís something to consider if you'll be doing more than doors.

From contributor O:
Along with the E-Z Door and the Powermatic Shaper I also have a William and Hussey molding machine to make my moldings. I also looked at the Unique machine when I looked at better way to make my doors. I found that the E-Z Door was a much nicer machine to work with.

From the original questioner:
For a one man shop is a machine like the E-Z Door or a unique really needed. The reason I started this post was I saw the three sided Ritter machine in the Machinery Exchange with feeder and cope sled. I already have the three shapers and do doors fast. If machining doors with the E-Z Door or Unique only saves me 20 minutes or so on 20 doors is it really worth it?

From contributor O:
Probably not. If you already have a system working the three sided shaper wouldn't help you much and the E-Z Door or Unique is a big investment for a one man shop. Like I posted in another thread, if you have a system and it works, itís good. I changed to the E-Z Door because I had three shapers rigged for doors and was having a lot of trouble with consistency, but if your setup is working, stay with it.

From contributor T:
I had multiple shapers at one time. I'm a one man shop, and prefer to build my own doors. Several years back I bought an RBI Panelmaster which has all three cutters on one shaft with a five hp motor. I sold two of the shapers and kept one for profiles. This machine has a small footprint, is extremely safe to operate, and does a great job. I believe the cost was around mid 3k, certainly not an E-Z Door or unique, but a solid machine for a small shop.