Molder or Shaper?
Choose the best tool for you!
and shapers are cutting tools that truly elevate woodworking projects
to a new level of professionalism. Using either one of these unique
cutting tools allows you to create, in your own shop, what the pro’s
produce in their factories. Not having a molder or shaper limits
the potential of the woodworking you can do.
when you look at the profiles available for molders and shapers,
you may wonder just exactly what the difference is between the two
tools. You’re not alone. Both the molder and shaper have a lot in
common – especially profiles – but just how you use these profiles
does make a lot of difference.
To clear up the issue of which tool is best for you and your projects,
here’s a short guide to the molder and shaper.
Two Peas in A Pod
function of both the molder and shaper is to add decorative or functional
touches to the edges and surfaces of wood. You’ve seen these tools
used in such things as tabletop edges, window and door construction,
glue joints, and decorative moldings in the home.
To accomplish all these cuts, there are a wide variety of profiles
available for both the molder and the shaper. Of the many profiles
available, some profiles are unique to one tool or the other, but
there are a wide variety of profiles available for both tools.
As similar tools, molders and shapers are both capable of forming
glue joints – an edge treatment that increases the gluing surface
and provides accurate alignment when gluing stock edge to edge.
And both tools are capable of forming drop-leaf joints, window and
door sashes, as well as a wide variety of decorative edge treatments
like bead-and-cove, ogee, and cloverleaf.
Different As Night And Day
But even though the molder and shaper are similar as far as many
of the profiles go, there’s a big difference when it comes to actually
using the tools and actually forming the profiles.
of all, the molder is a table saw attachment that mounts to the
horizontal spindle beneath the worktable. A heavy steel disc holds
three 1-inch wide matching cutting knives and this disc rotates
at about 3500 RPM ("R" on the speed dial).
the molder is easy. Simply set up the Mark V in the horizontal position
with the lower saw guard in place. Mount the Molder Head (with the
desired knife profile installed) on the 5/8" Molder Arbor. Then
install this assembly on the headstock quill. Lower the table over
the molder head.
place a special Molder Table Insert (Mark V 510, Mark V 500) in
the tabletop and mount the rip fence to the table. The rip fence
here guides the stock as it passes over the rotating molder knives.
To mold the surface of stock, use a Push Block, to keep the stock
flat against the table and your hands safely out of the way.
5-10 When molding the edge of stock, a simple wooden fixture is
attached to the fence so the knives will not hit the rip fence.
molder is best suited for adding decorative touches to straight
work such as custom room trim and picture frames.
shaper, unlike the molder, requires the Mark V to be set up in the
vertical position. With the machine in the vertical position, the
worktable is perpendicular to a 1-inch wide profiled three-lip shaper
cutter mounted to an arbor. Unlike the molder, the stock is passed
by the spinning cutter – not over it – and the stock is guided by
the use of either a shaper fence or a rub collar with a starter
The Shaper is best suited for forming decorative edges on straight
and curved edges.
What The Difference Means
Since the ideal way to handle stock on a worktable is to have the
stock flat – the molder and shaper each have distinct advantages
First of all, the molder is best suited for forming a profile on
the flat face of stock as it’s passed over the rotating knives.
This application is commonly used with door and window frame moldings,
picture framing stock, and surface treatments of furniture components
like table aprons or chair rails.
a profile on the edge of stock is possible with the molder, but
any stock over 5 or 6 inches wide requires the added support of
a vertical fence extension. This extension is easy to make and greatly
aids in the safe handling of the stock (Figure 5-10 for plans).
When forming the end of a narrow but long piece of stock (like a
door stile or rail), a special jig or accessory must be used.
Tenon Master 555479 - Tenon
major limitation of the molder is that it’s only capable of forming
profiles in a straight line since all stock must be guided with
the rip fence in place.
strong suit of the shaper, on the other hand, is that the table
is perpendicular to the cutter. This means that as the stock is
held flat on the table, the edge of the stock can be safely profiled
as it passes past the cutter.
shaper, when equipped with a special shaper fence, is capable of
forming profiles on straight edges like the molder. But the major
advantage of the shaper is that, when equipped with a starter pin
and a rub collar, can form profiled edges on curved stock. And because
the shaper is mounted on the main spindle above the worktable, it’s
possible to shape inside edges. With both of these edge treatments,
the large worktable surface supports stock without the need of any
special jigs. A shaper then is capable of forming the outside edge
of a large oval tabletop or the inside edge of a round picture frame.
Making a choice between a shaper or molder attachment may seem difficult
– and it is for most woodworkers. Each attachment has its strong
suit – the molder for surfaces and the shaper for curves. And each
tool has a shared ability – forming decorative edges on straight
help with the problem of which tool you need, look at the next project
you want to build and get the appropriate attachment(s) for that
project along with the required cutters or knives. If you’re going
to be making, plaques, oval or round picture frames, or kitchen
cabinets with curved rails, get a shaper. The addition of decorative
edges to these projects would certainly add a real degree of professionalism
to your work.
If, on the other hand, you plan on making new trim for a remodeled
room, picture framing stock, or straight decorative moldings for
furniture pieces, select the molder. You’ll even find the molder
great for adding decorative touches to porch railings, fencing,
and a host of other outdoor projects. For more complete information
on the molder and shaper, refer to 555069, Power Tool Woodworking
the right tool for the job is important from both a safety and an
economic standpoint. Look through the literature for the tool yu
need. Remember that each accessory requires a special insert and
mounting device – a 1/2" arbor for the shaper cutters and a 5/8"
molder/Dado arbor for the molder head that holds sets of 3 matched
accessory you choose – the molder, the shaper, or both – you’ll
find your woodworking taking on a whole new dimension.