Radius Wood Shaper Work

Machining curves in wood requires the use of shapers. This is a Whitney Double Spindle Shaper. A very early ball bearing model. The spindles are large for a shaper at 1 9/16″.

American brand shapers have eluded me. My shapers are other makes. I have yet to operate a babbitted shaper. They just don’t seem to have lasted into the modern era as planers, jointers, and other common machines have.

The two spindles run in opposite directions. The knives are the same pattern in each. The wood is run half way on one spindle, then half way the opposite feed direction on the other. In this manner, one never needs to run against the grain.

The top of the handrail is run with the grain, the arc having been sawn from a wide plank. The form is still attached for stability.

This is the second pass. On large bites it is best to take a lighter finish pass.

All parts that will run through segment fences or against collars need to be surfaced. Here the double spindle is set up for surfacing edges.

Straight knives are set flush to the collars. The form or template rides the collar while the excess from sawing is removed from the material above.

When a pattern is perfectly symmetrical the radius can be run half way, the flipped over to run the other half.

Some profiles, like this wide chamfer, can be run against the grain because the dynamics of the cut is more akin to surfacing than edging.

Sometimes a deep cut can be made with shallow cuts when a radius is run on an angle. This is also another example of running against the grain with more of a surfacing cut. In this case an 1 3/4″ quarter round.

The same fence is used to remove excess to lighten the cut.

Always run the details on the sap edge. That is to say, the edge closest to the circumference of the tree. The grain will not raise on this edge.

Booms are used to swing large radius templates through the band saw. Templates are sanded and must be smooth and regulated. The collars are faithful duplicators of any irregularity in the template to the work.

Template is cut free.

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This is some old time reading material on how men operated shapers in the past.

MODERN SHAPER PRACTICE by W H Rohr

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