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Shaping Safety
Shaper Cutters
Cutter Storage
Fence Shaping
Pin Shaping

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Shaper Cutters

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Figure 9-3 . Three-lip shaper cutters are available as combination cutters, full-profile cutters, or in sets that form the mating parts of a particular joint. *Warning: always use the fence assembly when using these cutters that remove the entire workpiece edge. Click on image to view larger.

Attempting to maintain a complete assortment of cutters can be expensive. A careful selection of from ten to twenty shapes (Figure 9-3), picked for the type of work you do, is adequate. With a basic assortment on hand, you can always add a new cutter as the need for it arises.

Probably the most practical type of shaper cutter for home workshop use is the three-lip shaper cutter shown in Figure 9-4. This type of cutter is available in a great variety of shapes: some are combination cutters, others have a profile that will produce a particular shape such as a tongue or groove. Other shaper cutters come in sets so mating parts can be cut (Figure 9-5).

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Figure 9-4. Exambles of three-lip shaper cutters.


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Figure 9-5 . Examples of cutters that should be purchased in sets. At the top, tongue-and-groove cutters. The others are mating cutters for the dorp leaf table joint.

The shaper arbor holds standard shaper cutters and collars (Figure 9-6). The arbor is locked firmly in place by securing its setscrew against the spindle's tapered flat. The collars are used for depth-of-cut control and for cutter spacing. The cutters and collars are secured to the arbor with a nut. Be sure the nut is tight before starting the operation.




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Figure 9-6 . (A) The shaper arbor and (B) various collars.

When positioning for cutter height, make the major adjustment by raising or lowering the table. The final setting is made with the quill feed lever. On shaping operations, especially at high speeds and on hardwoods, quill extension should be held to a minimum.

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Figure 9-7. Combination cutters can do various jobs. (A) Here a quarter-round and cove cutter is used to round off the edge of a workpiece. (B) The same cutter is shown forming a cove.

It is not usually desirable to use the full shape of the cutter to form a molding. How one versatile cutter is intended to be used is partially described and shown in Figure 9-7.

A wide variety of shapes can be made by changing one or more of the following:

  • The depth of cut, which is adjusted by moving the table or the fence or by using collars.
  • The height of the cutter in relation to the work, which is controlled by the table or the quill feed lever.
  • The position of the work when making the pass.


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Figure 9-8. One combination cutter, in this case a bead and a quarter-round, can produce many shapes. Some forms are done with one pass, others require two or more passes.

Figure 9-8 shows a few shapes formed by a single cutter; in this case a combination cutter that can be used to shape a bead or two sizes of quarter-round was utilized. Some of the shapes were cut in a single pass, others required two or more passes, but the same cutter was used every time.

The important thing to remember is that not all cutters are intended to cut their full-profile shape, even though they can be used that way. Most of them are combination cutters.

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Figure 9-9. Collars are used above, below, even between cutters as controls for depth of cut and, when doing pin shaping, to provide bearing surface for the workpiece.

Collars come in various sizes and are used to control the depth of cut and to position the cutter. As shown in Figure 9-9, they may be set over, under or between cutters. Be sure to position the keyed washer so it seats correctly in the arbor slot. Never set up cutter/collar assortments that don't allow the arbor nut threads to be fully engaged.

Since the collars lock on the arbor together with the cutters and turn at the same speed, there is the potential, when the workpiece bears against them, of scoring or even burning the workpiece. Keep the collars clean, smooth, and free of knicks and burrs. When cutting, hold the workpiece against the collars with just enough pressure to maintain contact.

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