Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shaper Work

     For some reason, probably well deserved, the wood shaper is not a tool you'll find in too many small size shops.  Even as a teacher, I only had one at a high school I taught at until they decided to eliminate the program and turn the shop into a weight training room for the football team!  I know one of  the reasons shapers are scarce -- they'll completely mangle a finger or hand or whatever else it may come into contact with.  Sounds gruesome but a tablesaw, on the other hand, will slice a part of you off and it can probably be re-attached!
     I have an old Rockwell model, probably produced in the 50's that I traded for some work many years ago. It's a one horsepower, 1/2" spindle but I've used it to make numerous doors and also for pattern shaping on chairs, legs, etc.  Here's a picture of it with the parts for the barrister doors stacked behind it:

Coped Pieces for Doors
Years ago I bought a set of matched cutters from Freeborn and they're worth their weight in gold.  Actually I have two sets of these cutters, one is a more provincial style and the other more streamlined.  That's what I chose for this job as well.  Shaping these pieces reminded me as to why I prefer working with woods other than red Oak -- it's very splintery, almost felt as if I needed a flak jacket with pieces going every which way!

Close Up

     I feel comfortable enough using my shaper.  The yellow wheels are excellent in preventing kickback and also holding the piece firmly onto the table.  You can see that a lot of material is being removed at one time so a steady feed pressure is called for.  In a production shop there would be a power feeder to control the stock and rate of feed. Maintaining a steady rate of feed is important in determining the final finish on the wood when using a shaper.
     Since the temperature is not going down any time soon I really can't start assembling the case.  In the morning I'll cut the pieces to final width and start the process of sanding all of the pieces of molding.  I left the case sides and shelves an inch or so wider than needed so that I could rip clean edges after running  the dado head for the grooves.  Making good progress, now if only it'll cool down some so the assembly process can begin.

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