Fine Points of Power Feeders

Shop owners discuss selection, set-up, and operation of power feeders. October 26, 2005

Is there an affordable power feeder out there that will do the job well? I just need something to run shaper jobs to keep my fingers out of the cutters. Grizzly has a small 1/8 hp unit - is this enough power? I would like ease of use too. Not something that’s going to take an hour to set up.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
They all take some time to set up, but well worth it in the long run. Even if you're running just a couple sticks, the set up is worth the effort. It will give you an even feedrate, constant pressure against the fence, allow you to run butt to butt (production) and better yet keep your hands out of the way.

I have used the little power feed from Delta through 1-horsepower 3-phase 4-wheel feeders. The small feeder is more difficult to set up effectively. Do yourself a favor and spend some money on a 3 or 4 wheel ½ hp to 1 hp feeder and you won't be sorry. You'll be doing things with it that you would have thought impossible.

From contributor R:
Do you need a feeder on either side of a cutter head? I have never used a power feeder or ever seen one used in a shop. It’s mostly small shops that I deal with.

From contributor J:
I've been using a 1hp feeder for 5 or 6 years now. There is plenty of power and I wouldn't use a shaper again without a feeder. I bought a ½ hp unit but haven’t used it yet. I would think 1/8 hp would be too small, but I don’t have any experience with anything other than 1 hp.

Contributor R - I place the feeder in front of the cutter as close to it as I can and centered on it. Only 1 is needed. Also it is placed at an angle to the fence so it is forcing the stock into the fence when feeding.

From contributor M:
To contributor R: I mounted mine so that it will access the narrow side (with the miter slot) and the wide side. If I am going to be running parts that are too small for the feeder and I need the miter gauge, then I set my fence up on that side. I run the parts through with the miter gauge and then set the feeder up to run length wise - like drawer fronts. The feeder has a mount that allows it to rotate.

From contributor S:
I bought a 1/8 hp because it was a good deal, and it was also used. It is ok, and I use it on a 3 hp shaper. It does narrow trim or base ok, but I’ve never run bigger stock. Do yourself a favor and buy 1/2 or 1 hp.

From contributor L:
I use the Delta 1/4 hp 3 wheeled feeder. I have two of them, I think they work great. I've never seen the need for more power. 4 wheels would be nice on some occasions. I also have the Delta variable speed feeder. The feeder is great, however the arm that holds it is too weak and will bend out of the way before the suspension on the wheels flexes. If I could find a new arm that was capable of holding this feeder I would change it back to my shaper. It now resides on my flappy sander which is non-critical when it comes to arm flexing.

From contributor R:
I've seen the 1/4 hp and they seem way nicer than the baby feeder. I have 2 of the 1/2 hp Grizzly (Comatic) feeders. The smaller size is nice compared to the 1 hp. Once you get used to setting them up, it only takes a couple of minutes. I have one set up to pivot between 2 shapers, and the other on my jointer. If you feed big cutters, then the mass of the 1 hp feeder would be helpful.

From contributor K:
For a shaper I would suggest getting a feeder with at least 3 wheels, 4 speeds and reverse. Reverse is an excellent option for climb-cutting on a shaper.

From contributor V:
I agree with the other posts about the usefulness of the power feeders. I have the Grizzly 4 wheel 1 hp on a 3 hp Powermatic shaper that works wonderfully climb feeding 3 ¼ crown molding from hickory. I also climb feed the raised panels when using hickory. One of the most used pieces of equipment that is in my shop is a router table with a Jointeck smart fence and Woodpecker’s precision router lift and it has the Comatic 1/4 hp 3 wheel feeder. Also the arm and adjustments on the 1/4 hp are superior.