Buying a Used Shaper

      A shop owner considers a second-hand shaper with a one-inch spindle, and hears advice from colleagues. May 28, 2006

I am going to be looking at a used shaper soon. Any advice on what I should take a close look at? I am concerned about the bearings and spindle.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor P:
Shapers, in general, are simple machines. I personally would only get a 1 1/4 spindle, but if you do settle for a smaller spindle, be sure it is interchangeable so you can use other sizes later. 3 hp min. Hopefully you can hear it run. Grab the spindle and rotate it and pull it up - there should be no noticeable play. Better yet, get a dial indicator and check runout. Watch out for the Taiwanese clunkers - many have an inferior bearing design/spindle design. Look for a machine with a good fence. The infeed side should be adjustable and easy to lock in place without wrenches. Wrench adjustments have no business on a shaper - too many opportunities to damage cutters, etc. I like the Italian machines and older Deltas and Powermatics before they went to the dark side and were made overseas.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the info. I have used the machine, but it was about 2.5 years ago and only minimally. It is in a shop that I worked out of part-time while on my way to starting my own shop. The machine has never (I think) had a power feed on it and was used for primarily free hand shaping and such. I can't find any info on Isis, which makes me leery. But it is a tilting arbor, and there will probably be a bunch of tooling that comes along with it, and the price is attractive. I am torn between picking up this 1 inch shaper or waiting and getting a 1 1/4. The piece is part of a package deal that I am involved in.

From contributor B:
It depends on what you want to do. The 1" machine is great for stile rail door cuts, more than heavy enough, but for raised panels the 1 1/4 is the way to go. Don't count out the imports. I bought one with a brand name I have never heard of and it is still running today, cast iron from the top to the bottom. The appearance isn't much, the paint was peeling when I bought it, but it runs well. Its fence adjustment is more precise than the Griego I have at three times the money. In fact, the Griego's fence is junk, not smooth, not parallel and making minor adjustments is almost impossible. Aside from that, though, the Griego is a nice machine and does have interchangeable spindles.

From contributor C:
The 1" spindle will always be a limitation. Hold out for a 1 1/4", as the standard tooling is for either this or 3/4". It won't fit the 3/4" cutter heads, and what's the point of weakening your setup by bushing out to 1 1/4" from 1"? The tilting head is a desirable feature, although I seem to get by without one.

From contributor G:
Got to say I have a 3/4 spindle and have nothing but 1 1/4 cutters. Just get a lot of various length bushings so you can mix and match for dif. stacks. Ideally I would just put a 1 1/4 on it, but my particular model needs to change the spindle carrier to be able to change the spindles. Have to agree with the above advice about Italian machines. Way better than the Taiwan stuff.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the info. My main concern is that I am not picking up a piece of worn out crap. But contributor P gave me some good advice. I currently have a small, lightweight Delta shaper with the interchangeable spindles from 3/4 to 1 inch and with the router spindles. As far as I am concerned, the router spindles are worthless. Yeah, they work, but just okay. The machine overall is just too lightweight for the 1 inch spindle. But like the router spindle, it works. Plus, changing out the spindles just takes time that gets me annoyed. So, ideally, I would pick up the nice Italian machine with the sliding table and 1 1/4 spindle and all the nice things, but my business is young. If things go the way they have been, it is only a matter of time before that comes, but... I am faced with this package deal opportunity that is hard to pass up. It consists of a piece of equipment that I don't necessarily need now, but might in the future, and the price is right.

From contributor J:
I was just thinking that even though the 1" spindle size will make it difficult to find cutters (with 1" bore), depending on the work you do, you could get a cutting head that will fit. Then you just buy the knives you need and you will still have a good amount of flexibility. If you move up to a bigger spindle in the future, you just replace the cutterhead and keep all your knives.

From contributor R:
I say go for the package deal and take the shaper. If you think the price for the shaper is good or great and you have the money for it, what's the worst thing to happen? Maybe you just sell it down the road for a little profit or a trade, etc. Bottom line for me is this: does the machine run well and is it complete with all its equipment? Does buying it in this package deal put me in a financial burden? If not, then take a chance on an investment. I'm a one man shop and with some risk taking and sound deal making, I have 5 dedicated shapers that stay set up all the time for their operation in making frame and panel woodwork. I can't have enough shapers. Also, if it can help you on your way to buying that 1 1/4" shaper you really want, use it as a stepping stone. Then sell it if you need to, or keep it if you want to.

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: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: Tooling

    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 © 1996-2020 - 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