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Shaping Frequently Asked Questions

Shopsmith's Shaping Accessories are used primarily to shape the edges of project workpieces… unlike the Molder, which is used primarily to shape the surfaces of workpieces. You'll use the shaper to make easy work of turning your ordinary-looking, square-edged projects into heirloom-quality masterpieces with decorative edges that shout "professionalism" to all that see them. But that's just the beginning. In addition to adding those project enhancing decorative touches, you'll also use your shaper to create a variety of strong, practical joints such as tongue-and-groove joints, glue joints, rabbets and more -- and to form other highly specialized edges such as those used with cabinet door lips, drop leaf tables and the rails and stiles of cabinet doors.

Before using the shaping accessory read, understand and follow the safety all instructions.

What are the differences between Shaping, Molding & Routing?
is most often used for adding decorative edges to architectural moldings, tabletops, built-ins and virtually any project where appearance is important. But that's not all. The shaper is also a great tool for creating a variety of strong, easy-to-make joints. Unlike molding, shaping can be performed with equal ease and results on projects with either straight or curved edges.
is a process used primarily for shaping the surfaces of project components. Since molding is really a table sawing operation, it is used almost exclusively for straight-line work such as creating decorative architectural moldings and accent moldings for furniture, cabinet projects and picture frames.
operations can be performed on either the straight or curved edges… or even (with certain limitations) the surfaces of project components. Routing is most often used on parts where you're creating smaller edge profiles. Routing does, however, offer a wider range of joinery applications than either shaping or molding. With a few exceptions (such as some of the new panel-raising router bits), router bits are typically smaller than shaper cutters and routers usually operate in the 20,000 rpm range and higher. You can enhance the performance and versatility of routing operations performed on the Mark V by purchasing a Speed Increaser. It will increase the speed of your Mark V to around 10,000-rpm's for much smoother cuts. For more information on making the right choice, see…"The Molder or Shaper? Choosing the best tool for you!"

Why should I own the Shopsmith Shaping Package?
The shaper is a versatile accessory that does its work with the Shopsmith Mark V set up in vertical drill press mode. With the Shopsmith Shaping Package, you'll enjoy a wide range of professional woodworking capabilities, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Add decorative edges to architectural moldings, tables, cabinets & similar projects.
  • Form cabinet door lips, drop leaf joints, cabinet door rail & stile joinery and other functional edge treatments for projects of all types.
  • Create strong, professional-looking joinery such as glue joints, rabbets, tongue & groove joints and more.

When will I use my Shaping Package?
Whenever you need to decorate the straight or curved edges of projects -- or to form certain types of tight-fitting, professional-looking joinery. Take a quick look at the variety of shaper cutter profiles available to get a better idea of all the differen applications you'll find for this versatile tool. Click here to see profiles.

What Shaping accessories do I need to get started?
The Shopsmith Shaping Package is your perfect starting point. Our years of experience with introducing folks to the joys of woodworking have taught us which profiles are the most often ordered… and which are the most practical. We've used that knowledge to build a fantastic all-around Shaping Package for you.

The Shaping Package includes:

  • 1/2" Shaper Arbor
  • Shaper Table Insert
  • Micro-Adjustable Shaper/Drum Sander Fence
  • See-Through Shaper/Router Shield
  • Vertically Mounted Feather Board Guard
  • Horizontally Mounted Feather Board
  • Vacuum Attachment
  • Set of Four Shaper Collars
  • Five Shaper Cutters, including:
    1/4" and 1/2" Combination Quarter-Round
    3/16" Bead & Cove
    Flute & Quarter-Round
    Panel Cupboard Door Cutter
    Panel Door Rail Coper Cutter

555141 - (For Mark V, Model 510)
555170 - (For Mark V, Model 500)

In what ways are the Shopsmith Shaping Package superior to typical shapers?
If you already own a Shopsmith Mark V, the complete Shopsmith Shaping Package (with five cutters and a complete set of safety accessories) will cost you less than half of what you'd have to pay for a typical shaper with no cutters or safety accessories.

When in vertical drill press mode (the mode used with the Shopsmith Shaper), the worktable of the Mark V is adjustable up and down for optimum operator convenience and safety. Typical shapers do not offer this feature.

In shaping mode, the worktable of the Mark V can be tilted to provide a much wider variety of cut profiles from a single cutter. Only the most expensive commercial duty shapers can do this.

The Mark V is the perfect power plant for your Shaping Package. It offers an infinitely variable speed range of up to 5,200 rpm at the turn of a dial (up to 10,000 rpm with the optional Shopsmith Speed Increaser Accessory … so you can get the exact speed you need to achieve the best possible results. Most standard shapers only offer two or three speed choices, and you usually have to make belt changes to switch from speed-to-speed.

The worktable on the Shopsmith Mark V provides a larger working surface than ordinary shapers.

Both fence boards on the Mark V 510 Shaper Fence are micro adjustable so you can "fine-tune" your set-ups to achieve super-precise results. With most shapers, only one fence board is adjustable.

With the Shopsmith Mark V, the shaper attaches to a spindle offering a micro adjusting quill feed with a built-in depth stop that you can set when making repetitive cuts.

The Shopsmith Shaping Package comes complete with both vertical (quill-mounted) and a horizontal (table-mounted) Feather Boards, a see-through Safety Shield and a Vacuum Attachment (optional with most shapers) for your safety

What's a good project to build to get acquainted with the shaper?
Try a simple, square or rectangular wall plaque. Cut your plaque to size on the table saw and use your Shopsmith Shaping Package to form decorative edges around its perimeter. Use the 3/16" Bead & Cove Cutter that comes with your package. Start with a scrap piece of stock that's large enough to control safely. We suggest that your first shaping project be at least " x 10" in size, so you have plenty of stock to get a good grip on while you're "getting the feel of it". Practice adjusting the cutter and fence to achieve the profile you desire. When completed, you could decoupage a photo onto your plaque. You could tole paint a scene onto it. You could rout a recess into the top of it to hold a decorative tile. You could use it as a trivet. The use is not important. What is important is the fact that it's a simple enough project that even a beginner can get started -- and finish -- in about an hour or so… making it a great introduction to shaping operations.

What if I'd like to tackle something a little fancier than a wall plaque?
We suggest that you take a look at the two special project plans below, reprinted from past issues of Hands-On!, Shopsmith's popular woodworking magazine which had a circulation of over 1,000,000 in the 1980's. The first is a small, traditional drop-leaf table that's the ideal complement for an entry hall or family room. The second is a handsome 8' tall bookcase that could do double duty as an entertainment center.

What do I do when my Shaper Cutters stop cutting smoothly and/or burn the workpiece?
There are four primary factors that can affect the smoothness of the cut and whether or not you burn your stock. The first and most important of these factors… as with all cutting tools… is a dull edge. If your cutter is dull, you'll get uneven cuts and perhaps even ridges in your workpieces. You'll also have a difficult time moving your workpiece through the cutter -- and will undoubtedly experience workpiece burning. But this doesn't have to be the case. Shopsmith offers a special Sharpening Guide that works with the Disc Sander and your Mark V's quill feed capability to make sharpening these cutters a real snap. It comes with detailed instructions for sharpening your Shaper Cutters. To finish up the sharpening process Shopsmith also offers a wide variety of natural, ceramic, diamond and fast-cutting water Sharpening Stones to hone the edges of your cutters for maximum performance. Another factor that can affect cutter efficiency is a build-up of resin or "pitch" on the cutter. If your cutter is discolored or feels "gummy" to the touch, workpiece burning is close behind! We suggest that you use a spray-on pitch remover to dissolve these resins or pitch and prevent burning. The second factor is the workpiece feed rate. Feed the stock through the cutter too fast and you'll get a rough cut -- feed it too slow and your workpiece will burn. The right feed rate comes from practice. The secret is to keep moving without dwelling. The third factor is depth-of-cut. It is recommended that you always take at least two passes with the cutter to complete each cut… removing 80% of the stock in the first pass and the remainder in the second. If you're working with a particularly hard wood or the profile you're trying to achieve requires that a lot of stock be removed, you'll have to take more than two passes to get the safest, most professional-looking results. Again… practice! The final factor affecting cut smoothness is the speed of the cutter. The faster the cutter moves, the more cuts-per-inch you'll achieve and potentially, the smoother the surface. Shopsmith's special Speed Increaser Accessory will allow you to run your cutters at up to 10,000 rpm -- effectively doubling your cutter speed. Be careful, however. Increases in speed also require that you increase your feed rate accordingly to prevent brning and that you take lighter passes to get a smoother finish. It's important to remember that it's always a good idea to cut a few extra pieces of scrap stock that are the same thickness and widths as your actual project pieces to use for test cuts when setting up the shaper (or any machine operation). These test cuts will help you zero-in on the ideal cutter speeds, feed rates and depths-of-cut.

Are there other accessories that can help me improve my Shaping versatility and results?
Yes, there are. Besides the obvious suggestion that you add more cutters, there are four highly universal accessories that will improve your working convenience when shaping, as well as during many other Mark V operations. Two of the accessories that we recommend most highly for shaping are a Utility Light and some form of Dust Collector. Visibility is the key word in both instances… and as you know, with added visibility, comes improved safety and precision. The ability to maintain a consistent, clear view of the cutter and cutting process (in any woodworking operation) is key to achieving precise, accident-free results. Both of these accessories deliver on all counts. When shaping larger projects, consider the added support and stability provided by Roller Stands or for Mark V 510 owners utilize your Floating Extension Tables and Telescoping Legs. They're a welcome helping hand whenever you're cutting decorative edges on long stock.


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