Three-Wheel, Four-Wheel, and Belt-Type Power Feeders

      A discussion of the advantages of different power-feeder configurations. May 23, 2007

I have a 3 wheeled feeder on my shaper. I wish I had gotten a 4 wheeled one for extra stability (2 wheels on each side of the cutter). I see aftermarket belt drives for this feeder and wonder if this would be a cheaper option than to buy a 4 wheeled feeder? It also might help with short stock more than the 4 wheeled units

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor R:
I've used both and there's nothing I couldn't do with a three wheeled feeder that I could do with a four wheeled feeder. The belt is good for short pieces. The best thing you can do is replace the stock wheels with better gripping wheels from places like Western Roller.

From contributor A:
Weaver sells a conversion kit to belts. For small pieces I find that the real issue isn't how many rollers but the distance between rollers. They are different on every powerfeed. Some people run the belts 90% of the time and switch to rollers only when straddling the cutterhead is required.

From contributor J:
It depends what you are doing. I went to a 4-roll feeder on my panel shaper because I have cutters that run CW and CCW. I got tired of repositioning the feeder. The 4-wheel feeder just pivots depending on feed direction. I use belt feed conversion kits from Western Roller on sticking shapers because they excel at controlling short rails. There seems to be at least one skinny door in every kitchen. We've run sub 4" rails with pre-coped ends with no problem using the belt feed.

From the original questioner:
To contributor J: Do you run your shortest rails along the shaper fence with the belt drives or do you have to run them along a continuous stick, spaced the finished thickness of your rails away from the cutter?

From contributor J:
The only thing I run along the shaper fence are raised panels, and even then, it is a continuous type fence made with 1/8" aluminum strip.

For all frame groove/profiling, we run along an outboard fence so that we get final width dimension nailed every time. The outboard fence strip set using plastic spacer blocks between it and the shaper fence (which never moves). It is either clamped to the shaper table with C-clamps, or bolted to tapped holes in the table. Angle the feeder to push against the strip fence, of course. Climb and normal cuts are much more secure this way, especially with the belt feed.

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