Adjusting a Shaper Spindle

      A bent spindle, bad bushings, or worn spacers could cause a shaper to wobble and make sloppy cuts. Here's advice on making precise adjustments or repairs. January 2, 2012

My friend just set up a used shaper and ran a glue joint knife (Freeborn carbide) and ended up with quite a bit of play in the joint. I can only think that his 1" spindle might be a little bent causing run-out. Does anyone else have other possibilities or can confirm my suspicions? He is quite disappointed.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor D:
Setting up a good glue joint is a little more complicated than most people think. Verifying your fences are parallel is first. Then set it up like your jointer, removing a very tiny bit on the infeed side to insure what you're cutting is the whole profile of the cutter. The outfeed fence needs to be exactly the same distance from the spindle as the cut stock.

Checking your spindle for runout could have been done before purchase. Just slap down a mag base dial indicator with the spring loaded tip against the highest part of the shaft, and turn the shaft by hand. The less the needle moves, the better. This is not a bad idea these days to check even new machines. You never know. Smaller diameter cutters and brand new spacers will help before replacing the shaft, which is not really that big of a deal.

From the original questioner:
I just talked to my friend and he said he solved the problem by replacing the spindle spacers below the knives. They must have been worn or abused enough to cause a problem. Thanks for the in-put.

From contributor K:
Congrats on finding the problem quickly. I thought I had a bent spindle as well while using a glue joint cutter. Switching to another spindle and using a dial indicator and magnetic base attached to the spindle showed the same problem. It would seem that I need to shim the spindle housing from underneath the table to bring it back to 90 degrees in all planes. Does anyone have tips on the best way to do this, i.e., shim stock type/material, torque specs on the bolts, etc.?

From contributor U:
Shaper setup is a big deal and might have been your problem. As for the bent spindle, I thought I had one until I checked the spacers from Freeborn, they were the problem. Putting a dial indicator against the shaft and rotating by hand showed no needle movement, as in zero. I bought new spacers and problem solved.

From contributor L:
To confirm your spindle is perpendicular, the easiest way I have found is to place a magnetic based dial indicator on the end of the spindle. After confirming that the spindle is not bent as mentioned, it is possible to have a straight spindle and bad bushings. I have seen many times spindles that will run untrue when loaded and true when unloaded all due to inconsistent bushings.

Rotate the spindle, the indicator should move very little. Make several rotations slowly and note the values throughout the rotation. Then reverse direction and repeat. Look at your data and determine where your highs and lows are. I have seen on some machines with weak castings and the table itself will not be true, but Iím assuming this is not the case. What I use to shim a spindle mount is actual feeler gauges. Just be sure any shimming done must be balanced. If you only shim one side of a bolt, it will pull the casting unbalanced and create stress.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: Setup and Maintenance

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article