Making Shoe Moulding with a Shaper

Thoughts on running small volumes of shoe moulding with a low-end setup. February 24, 2008

I'm thinking about starting a company making shoe molding, QTR round, and other small moldings. I'm trying to start off with a low budget and need some advice. I want to run 10,000 to 50,000 LF a month and do custom woodworking, as well. I was thinking about buying a 1 1/2hp shaper and a 1hp feeder. I will be running oak, maple, cherry, etc. I have access to free rippings from a SLR saw that I will rip down with a tablesaw and feeder. I would like to eventually buy a moulder, but for now I need to start off with what I can afford. Any advice?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor C:
A decent molding shop will make 50,000 l/f of shoe mold before lunch - less than one day. They do it by running multiples - 4 to 6 profiles in one pass of the molder. That is 1/30 to 1/150th of the time it will take you. Granted their equipment is more costly, but their quality will also be consistent. Shoe mold, like any other molding, has to be consistent in size and profile. That is what is hard to do on a shaper.

Even if your material is free, you still have to haul it and handle it. Rippings are burned or landfilled at an alarming rate because there is far more material than uses for it. The handling of it is what adds up. So add up your real costs - all of them - and see what you come up with.

From contributor D:
We make shoe moulding from the spoils that are generated by the rip saw. First, using a shaper, as contributor C noted, will not yield a consistent profile. But I have found a system that works for me. I mill the stock on a single head moulder (Mikron). A W&H will do the same job at a lower cost. First I had a knife cut. The first pass is cut by a knife that is 3 inches long and has a notch cut in the middle that is 3/4 wide and 1/2 deep with a small chamfer on the top inside edge. This yields a blank that is 3/4 by 1/2 with a small chamfer on one corner s3s. The nice thing about this is there is no ripping on the tablesaw; all the waste is turned into dust. Then the stock is turned over and run with the shoe profile. Both knives are installed on the head at the same time with a custom bed with two slots - one for each operation. The reason for the slight chamfer on the back inside edge is so the shoe fits tight against the wall, something you can't find in the big box stores.

From the original questioner:
Thank you for your time and your responses. Contributor D, I have a few questions about your setup. What size stock do you start with and how much wood can be hogged off with the knives? If the stock is bigger when it hits the knives, is it important that the stock coming out is supported by the rails on the outfeed side?

From contributor D:
All the stock starts out 15/16 thick, so to bring the blank down to 3/4 is not a problem for the outfeed roller to pick up. The stock is rarely wider than 1 1/2. If it is, we rip it again on the rip saw so two blanks can be cut. I understand your concern about the size of the stock. If it was so thick going in, the out feed roller would not pick it up after it was cut down to 3/4. The stock would kick back and we all know how much fun that is.

From contributor V:
Check into leasing a moulder. I started out with what I thought I could afford and ended up spending much more trying to make things work than if I had done it right to start with. The money I saved in labor costs more than covered the lease payment for the Logosol moulder I now have. I have a 4 year lease with a $1 buyout at the end of the lease.