Author Topic: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?  (Read 1450 times)

Offline 90LX_Notch

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Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« on: November 02, 2021, 10:29:28 PM »
A shaper is one of those machines that I have always felt that I wanted.  But do I need one? They go for good money in my area.  If they were reasonably priced, I would already have one.

If you own one, do you use it much?  What is a good size for this hobby? What advantages does it have over other machines in your shop?

Any thoughts on them?

Thanks,
Bob
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Offline Dave Otto

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2021, 01:45:22 AM »
I do!

Do I need it? probably not but I do enjoy it. It is a 7" Ammco which is pretty much the baby of the shaper range. I cut a steel rack gear for my PM research arbor press a while back, that was a fun little project.
Shapers have gotten crazy expensive around here in the NW too. I think all the You tube videos have increased their popularity.
My buddy has a 12" Sheldon which is a more capable machine, but it is easier to shoehorn a 7" in the shop somewhere. I got lucky on mine it is in very nice shape with original paint. I cleaned it up real good and polished the bright work, also added the Delta lamp that was missing and a period correct toggle switch.

In the photo you can see a fixture plate that I have added (I have the vise too), haven't used the plate yet but I think that it will come in handy some day.

Dave

Offline kuhncw

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2021, 02:29:53 AM »
Dave,  I like your fixture plate.  Great idea.

I have an Ammco just like yours, except I have no belt guards.

Like you said:  I don't need it but it is fun and it will really lay down a nice finish.

Chuck

Offline Elam Works

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2021, 03:16:41 AM »
Have two; a 1953 24 inch Cincinnati and a 1943 24 inch Cincinnati universal. Not what you would call 'hobby size'. They are pretty cheap when you buy in bulk; basically the going price for iron scrap. Even so, the applications scale somewhat down to the bench top shapers. Great for slabbing blocks and generating planer surfaces with inexpensive cutting tools. The hobbyist might be able to re-sharpen the end of a endmill, but the side cutting flutes are often beyond their ability unless they happen to have a tool & cutter grinder. But if you can sharpen a lathe tool bit, you can re-sharpen the tools for your shaper with nothing more than a bench grinder. So for additional effort in setup and grinding a tool bit, you can save wear and tear on you more expensive rotary cutters. The downside is while you are in the milling machine milling away with your more expensive rotary cutters, you can also be drilling and boring holes in the same workpiece setup. You cannot drill holes in a shaper. You can accidently punch holes, but that is not within the manufacturer's design intent. I think it is that extra versatility of the milling machine that allowed it to supplant shapers and planers. (Yes, have a planer too.)

The first picture shows the knee for a Bridgeport mill being mounted in the place of the shaper's box table to re-cut the dovetail surfaces. The knee was 25 inch long and the 24 inch shaper would actually stroke 25-1/4 inch. Back in the days when you got a little more than advertised. The shaper had been initially bought to cut some large sections of gear rack for a water mill sluice gate project, which paid for the shaper (with delivery). Since then its only cost has been the floor space it takes up. It is one of those things that now might get used once a year, but then comes in very handy. Use it to prep blocks of flame cut or perhaps alloy steel that tend to wear out the HSS rotary cutters because of scale or are hard on the carbide inserts due to vibration. The HSS tool bit wears out quickly, but is easy to re-sharpen. (Carbide lathe bits do not work well in shapers and planers in my experience.)

The second came along even cheaper, and was bought on the assumption the universal box could be removed and placed on the first shaper, which as it came out of the RCA prototype shops, was in practically unworn condition. The remainder would be scrapped. However Cincinnati built their universal shapers on the next bigger standard shaper casting (28 inch in this case) for additional rigidity due to the lack of outboard support of the box. Live and learn. So it got placed out in a shed and is run off an extension cord. In the photo, in is knocking the corners off a trunnion axle (winged gudgeon for a water mill shaft).

-Doug

« Last Edit: November 03, 2021, 03:21:44 AM by Elam Works »

Online Jo

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2021, 07:32:41 AM »
I had a 4" shaper for over 20 years used it rarely. Needing space for another machine tool I had to admit to myself that it was not worth the space it took up.

No one wanted to buy it so I stripped it for bits, buried the heavy bits I could not move  :-X The Box bed now get used very often and you will often see it in my threads. I still have my little hand shaper and that comes out every now and then if I need an accurate bit of needle filing  :)

Jo
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Offline Mcgyver

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2021, 09:46:10 AM »
A shaper is one of those machines that I have always felt that I wanted.  But do I need one?

haha, if need matter we'd not have shops and be watching sports or the Kardashians lol.

great photos Doug.  Big shapers are really big.  I remember a 36" GE at a place, it was like that feeling I get standing beside a locomotive.  Just slightly intimidating. 

I'd like one if I ever get out of Dodge and get a big country shop, until then, space (fortunately the wife says) constrains me.  I had a little Atlas I spruced up a few years ago.  Was kind of NOS, no reconditioning required.  Just needed paint and missing pieces.  An old boy had taken it apart to get it in the basement, never used it or reassembled and lost several pieces including the base casting (how one does that is a mystery).  Through ebay and some of my own manufacturing I got it back to full operation included a hand planed maple table top and cast iron legs I brought in for it. Sure looked pretty.

For me, that size was too small, at least two small when you also have some mills.  I think with a larger one I'd be turning to it for its low cost, high removal rate.  However I couldn't justify the space for the little one given there's a horizontal and vertical mill available


Offline john mills

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2021, 10:44:10 AM »
I still have some of the 1/2"HSS i used in the larger shapper and 3/8" tools used to use the larger one would have been more than 24"
stroke at least because the parts were 24"long there was a smaller machine but you would remove more metal with a file they were all discarded long time ago the space could be used for much more useful vertical milling machines and CNC machines with were much more
productive the mid size machines could be quite useful if in reasonable condition .most i got to use were not that good  but could cut metal we mainly machined tool steels .i did use one at a friends place which was like new that would do good work it was a good sized machine .bigger than you might won't but small machines
the space could be better used with a milling machine.unless you have the room for both.
John   

Offline Dan Rowe

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2021, 05:44:46 PM »
I have a Southbend 7" shaper. Like most everyone else who has replied I rarely use it as I have a milling machine next to it which usually gets the job.

You cannot drill holes in a shaper.

This is true but if you drill a hole with a different machine the inside of the hole can be machined on a shaper with a boring bar held in a right angle holder. You can not make an internal spline or an internal gear on a milling machine.

You can also use a shaper to generate a gear. I used a Sherline headstock in the vise to hold the blank. I attached a disk with the diameter of the pitch circle to the back end of the headstock. I wrapped a wire around the disk and attached one end of the wire to one wall of the shop and the other end to the other end of the shop. Now as the table is moved the gear blank moves exactly like it was driven by a gear. The cutter is ground like a single tooth in a rack and as the table moves the cutter generates a proper gear. I forgot about indexing I also had a gear with the same number of teeth on the back of the headstock with a simple index pin.

Here is an article with drawings for a shaper gear generating attachment.
http://neme-s.org/Shaper%20Books/Michael_Moore/shaper%20gear%20cut.pdf

Here is a link to the manual for a Southbend shaper which shows some setups that would be hard to do with a milling machine.
http://vintagemachinery.org/pubs/1617/4573.pdf

Cheers Dan


ShaylocoDan

Offline steamer

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2021, 05:50:05 PM »
I had a7" Ammco...great machine and I wish I didn't sell it...but I had to to make room for a mill.  If you have the space and cash they are great for flat surfaces....but slow
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Offline Mike Bondarczuk

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2021, 09:10:02 PM »
I turned down Jo's offer to purchase her almost complete Elliot shaper from her but purchased an 8" Boxford instead.

Don't use it too much but gives a great finish when I do and the tooling is relatively simple to grind to suit the application.

Mike
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Offline 90LX_Notch

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2021, 09:28:30 PM »
Thank you everyone for your replies.

It is kinda of like I suspected, neat machine, can do some odd jobs, but it doesnít get used much.  I canít really justify spending what the going price is around here.


-Bob
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Offline cnr6400

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2021, 09:51:54 PM »
Just an "outside the box thinking" idea - It may be possible to build a compact shaper to be driven from the lathe. It could be arranged as a small direct drive setup mounted /clamped to the bed, or as a standalone "shelf mount" or "table mount" setup driven by a belt from a pulley in the chuck.

Doing it this way, the footprint / machine size and weight would be far less than a standalone floor mount shaper. You would still get all the nifty ops / simple tooling and other benefits of a shaper. Shaper's machine elements are relatively simple to make and as such would not take a lot of time or $ to make. The lathe's speed control and motor are used, giving a good powerful motion source without needing another motor and associated wiring and controls. The machine if direct drive / bed mount would be compact and easily removeable for storage when not in use.

Just food for thought - I am sure this is not a new idea at all, probably has been done. There have been articles and ads for every other kind of add on machine for the lathe, over the years.  I've been mulling this sort of add-on shaper over for a while, and will probably whip up something when I retire.  :cheers:

Offline Art K

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2021, 02:34:39 AM »
Can't add much to this conversation as everything I know about shapers I learned in tech school in 1981-2. But you can do things like internal keyways and all the other things that have been mentioned.
Art
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Offline mcostello

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2021, 05:40:41 PM »
This was done on a 7" Rhoades, wish I had a 12". Also have an original Aamco shaper cabinet.

Offline Dave Otto

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2021, 06:10:00 PM »
Nice, how did you index it?

Dave

Offline 90LX_Notch

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2021, 08:22:58 PM »
Ditto on what Dave said.

-Bob
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Offline GWRdriver

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2021, 10:52:45 PM »
As with so many other aspects of the model engineering hobby it's often down to space, needs, wants, and personal resources.  If you have the space and resources, and you want it, it doesn't matter so much whether there's a need, so by all means have yourself a shaper.

I was always attracted to the traditional (old school) nature of a shaper so when my last mentor offered to sell me his (Atlas 6") machine, which was in pristine condition, I bought it.  At the time I had the space and the resources, and I imagined all sorts of needs.  However all the needs I imagined never really materialized.  I found that my mill would do, more quickly and accurately, what the shaper might have done (as did INDUSTRY) so it has sat essentially unused, taking up now much needed space.

I'm not sorry I bought it,  it's a fine little machine, and although I gave it a good try I was never able to find enough work for it to do to earn its keep and it will soon be for sale.
Of course your needs and mileage may vary.

Offline Craig DeShong

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2021, 11:47:52 PM »
Harry
My situation was the same as yours.  I bought a 6 inch Atlas from a friendís estate.  I used it some, but mine was well worn and I couldnít get it to do work any where near as accurate and quickly as my mill can.  It fell into dis-use and like you, space on the shop floor is at a premium.  When a surfacing machine became available, I realized the floor space the shaper was taking would be much better utilized by the surfacing machine, so the shaper went, and the surfacing machine took itís space.  A good trade in my opinion, Iím constantly finding uses for the surfacing machine.
Craig
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Offline Dan Rowe

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2021, 05:45:03 PM »
It may be possible to build a compact shaper to be driven from the lathe.

I was looking at hand powered shapers and spotted a Tom Senior "Shaping Attachment" that is exactly what you are describing they came in 5 sizes no less.

http://www.lathes.co.uk/seniorshaperplaner/

Cheers Dan
ShaylocoDan

Offline GWRdriver

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2021, 06:48:38 PM »
I don't know that what I wrote fully answered the original poster's question.

As an Owner and user (albeit rarely) of an Atlas 6" shaper (US made) I would rate that machine very highly.  There were a couple of other well-known makes in the USA, principally South Bend, the makers of the very well-known lathes, and AMMCO which was a 7" machine.  Both of the latter were thought of as top quality machines, suitable for commercial use,  However the Atlas shapers were well-designed and well made indeed, to a visibly higher level of quality than their lathes.  Compared to South Bend lathes the Atlas lathe had clear shortcomings, but IMHO the Atlas shapers performed just as well and had a similar work life.

In the UK, during the War and for a time after, the Atlas lathe design was made by Acorn Tools, under the name Acorn, and the South Bend design was made by Boxford.  I don't know if Acorn also produced a shaper (based upon the Atlas) or not, but Boxford certainly produced a shaper to the SB design, or their own version based upon it, and it was a very highly thought-of machine.

The next step above these are the industrial shapers which are too large for most amateur work (and sheds!)
« Last Edit: November 05, 2021, 06:51:53 PM by GWRdriver »

Offline mcostello

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2021, 07:12:23 PM »
There are 16 holes on the end. I put 2 dowel pins in the holes and used a Starrett square head and leveled across Them. The error would be very small, getting smaller when getting close to center. Also having a sample shaft helps. The holes were turned off after the splines were done, keeping My secret safe from Customer shopping the part out.

Offline Joco

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Re: Who has a Shaper? Your thoughts on it?
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2021, 08:56:40 PM »
I have a little 12" Alba 1A.  Was a fun restoration project with a few skeletons left to fix in the future if I choose to.

From a usage angle I think it depends what you want to do with them.  The Mill will be faster for most operations.  But there are some things that the shaper is rather good at, slotting being the main and obvious one.

In honesty, if you have space constraints there are probably better and more modern machines/equipment to put in that space.  However if you have a strong nostalgic bend or do quite a bit of work that shapers excel at then they are a grand and elegant machine to have in the shop.

Cheers - J.
James
Wellington - NZ