Choosing shaper tooling

      Making the most of a new spindle shaper. Includes advice on grinding knives. November 7, 2000

Q.
I have just purchased a 3HP Tilting Spindle Shaper with a 1" and 3/4" spindle. I hope to run base, crown, stiles and panels. Can anybody advise on cutterheads and knives and the capabilities I should expect? I mostly work with maple, cherry, mahogany and occasionally poplar.

A.
If you do not have a grinder to make the knives, I would look into the use of a small uni-profiler head. This head allows you to use many profiles in the same head body. If you have a grinder, the use of a small corrugated head is a good choice.

Dave Rankin, forum technical advisor



You do not need a profile grinder to accurately produce molding knives for your shaper. With a bit of practice you can accurately grind profile by hand.

Stetson Ross (makers of the old XL molder) published an excellent resource on grinding knives. I don't know if it is still available. The company has been bought and sold a couple of times and I don't know who is supporting it--it shouldn't be hard to find out.

Beyond that you need only an 8" bench grinder, assorted aluminum oxide wheels, dressing tools, and a single beam scale for balancing your tools.

There are two types of heads available. (1) corrugated molder heads and (2) clamp collars for bevel edge steel. Charles Schmidt in NJ(http://www.cggschmidt.com/) is an excellent source for both and the salesmen are knowledgeable. Be sure to read, understand and follow all safety instructions with both types. A knife breaking or otherwise coming out the cutterhead at high RPM is like playing Russian roulette with a 357 Magnum.

I find bevel edge steel to be more versatile, particularly for pattern work as the collars are available with an intregal ball bearing for following a pattern. If you opt for bevel edge steel and clamping collars be sure to buy lock edge--this eliminates the possibility of the knife slipping out of the head.

Start with small, simple profiles and work into larger more complex moldings as you gain experience.

Tip: always keep the edge of the knife perpendicular to the wheel while grinding, regardless of the profile. Otherwise you’ll make a mess of it. Excepting areas that require side relief.

By the description of your machine, it sounds a bit light duty. You generally want mass quantities of cast iron, a 1-1/4” spindle and several spindle speeds when swinging large knives. Again, start small--there is no substitute for experience--and safely work your way into the larger profiles. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!

A power feeder is also a good investment. Your finish quality will be better. It also provides an added measure of safety, keeps your hands away from the knives and provides a barrier between you and the cutter, should a knife break or slip out. Absent a feeder, you can use feather boards and supplied or shopmade guards.



I have a new manual for an old 2x4 moulder that included a 10 page(one side printed) section on grinding knives. The company I got this from might send out just the grinding section.

Tyler Machinery Co
610 S. Detroit St
Warsaw,Ind. 46580

Ph (219) 267-3530



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Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: Tooling

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: Tool Grinding

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base


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