Choosing a Shaper for Tongue and Groove, Shiplap, and Flooring

      Advice on machinery for running small volumes of edge-profiled lumber. January 17, 2011

I have a small lumberyard with a small woodshop. Iím looking to make tongue and groove, shiplap, and maybe flooring from our excess S4S inventory. Iím wondering if a shaper is the way to go, without buying a Logosol or a better moulder. Is a 3hp shaper with a power feed ok? 50% of the lumber would be 6-8' boards being milled into a WP4 tongue and groove pattern, out of eastern white pine. We have an excess of 6-8' boards, which cost us less than full-length lumber, so we are looking for a way to better market our excess shorts. We might also make some flooring too. Iím wondering if a $1000 shaper, $500 power feed, plus knives and accessories will help me keep me busy over the winter.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor G:
It'll keep you busy alright. I'm not too sure about profitable though. The best tool for making flooring/molding would be a moulder. Itís quite a bit more than just a shaper. A shaper will make what you want and do it pretty quickly. Setups will need to be critical, but same as the molder.

From contributor F:
I don't know much about making flooring but I wouldn't bother with a 3hp shaper for what you want to do. Best bet for a machine that's going to run all day is a 5hp or larger motor on an industrial machine. The good news is with all the used equipment on the market you can find a larger machine with a powerfeed for less than the cost of a new Powermatic.

From contributor A:
You've already had two responses from small shop guys. Likewise I'm a small shop guy trained in a medium shop. Making simple flooring on a 7 hp 1 1/4" spindle shaper is no faster than the 3hp shaper you are considering. Two passes at 16-32ft/min with two setups. Buy a couple of cheap 3/4" spindle sets from Infinity. Spend a couple of more bucks on an insert head with scoring knives to do the ship lap.

From contributor J:
You can save yourself a pass running shiplap if you use the table saw. Set up your dado blades with a rip blade on the outside. You will have to use a tape measure to set your fence to the width you want. With one edge straight (jointed or SLR) just send it through. It will rip to your width and make the first rabbet cut in one pass. Flip it over and run it through again for the second rabbet. No shaper setups.

From contributor P:
It does not take much power to do what you are asking. 2 hp would do it for sure, but I would stick to at least a 3hp machine with a 1.25 spindle. You'll eventually ask it to do other tasks. The trick with flooring is to use an outboard fence to keep the width constant. It you run the stock against the standard fence, you will have an inconsistent product.

Grizzlyís five wing T/G flooring cutter set is awesome, worth it. If you have the space, and 3 phase, you can get a nice old double spindle shaper and do flooring, etc, in one pass using the matching cutters on both spindles. The rotations are opposite for each spindle, thus providing a conventional cut on each side. Your set up involves running the stock skewed between the two spindles. Once set up, it is very fast. These shapers are pretty cheap these days.

From contributor W:
The thing nobody takes into consideration is the finished width of the boards. Ripping to width is not going to be close enough for flooring and neither is a single sided shaper operation. You can get the tongue and groove the right height, but how is it going to be the correct width if you donít run it through a moulder or matcher?

From contributor H:
He says his stock is already S4S so only needs to shape two edges not the face or back. Getting the correct width with a shaper is easy using an outboard fence as Contributor P has said. As for ship lap it can also be done in one pass per side. I would vote for at least a 5hp machine with 1 1/4 spindle.

From contributor K:
I use the outboard fence method as mentioned. My shaper is the General (SS-032), 5hp, 3 phase, along with a General 1hp, 3 phase Power Feeder.

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