Shaper Advice for Euro-style Outswing & Tilt-Turn Windows

Tilt-and-turn windows in the European style require fine tolerances and call for good tooling. January 28, 2014

(WOODWEB Member):
I'm entering new territory and need advice. The work involves fabricating casings, frames and sashes for doors and windows, both having double-glazed glass panels, including the moulding. A few of the designs call for solid wood panels, essentially rails tenoned into the stiles. Wood is primarily red cedar, from 1 3/4" Ė 2 3/8" thick by 3 1/2"-4 1/2" wide. Ten to thirty units a month. Some of these Euro-profiles are quite complex. All installed with European hardware.

I donít have a shaper, nor have I ever used one. My budget is $3,500 although I could push it to 5k. Iíve gained a lot by going through the Knowledge Base and Iíve ordered a couple of books. I'm in Mexico City with limited used equipment available. Thereís a Griggio TC-2000 available for $5.9k (out of my budget). Iíve also available an Invicta DS-15 for $2.5k, fair condition. It has a 1.25Ē spindle, lacks the miter slot on the table Ė although I donít know how important that is. The dealer says the motor, non-reversing, is 5hp, but I think itís 7.5 (thereís a lot of nomenclature missing). Purchasing used in the US is not viable for the freight and import duty involved.

Also of course is the investment in cutters (Oertli/Leitz?) and a power feeder. So I was thinking, at least for starters, that the Invicta and a Festool Domino XL DF700 might be the way to go.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor D:
Joe Calhoun of Cascade Millwork in Colorado is the man to talk to. He has even been running a few seminars at his shop with Rangate Supply and Garniga tooling. I think the challenge will be to do this on your budget.

From contributor J:
Is $3500 your budget totally or just for the shaper? You will find the tooling is way and above the cost of even a new shaper. Some other equipment is key - frame press, milling equipment if producing your own scantlings, etc. If using water base finishes, that adds some challenges as well.

10 to 30 units per month is possible using a shaper. Minimum shaper for profiling is 7 1/2HP with minimum 1 1/4Ē shaft . 40 or 50mm shaft is best for this. A pull out extension bar for outside profiling of assembled sash and frame is another desired feature. Without this you will have to build extensions around the shaper. A 5 hp could work but would require 2 passes on most profiles. Minimum 4 roll feeder. 6 roll is better if you find one.

For tenoning, again minimum 7 1/2 HP. Best is a side mount sliding table typical of the heavier Euro shapers, a tenoning hood because the tenon heads are too large to fit in a shaper fence. Tenoning and profiling can be done on the same shaper if set up right. It's better if the shaper does not have a miter slot. You donít want to make these cuts with a sled.

I started out coping and doweling the joints using a bolt on sliding table for the shaper. It was marginal but worked to get a start. Your idea of the Festool Domino XL is a good one. We have been testing one of these and are pretty impressed with what a handheld machine can do. I did a review using it on Euro doors and windows on the Festool Owners Group.

It would be possible to start with coping disks instead of the big tenon disks and use the Domino for corner joinery.

From contributor U:
I would go for that Griggio, if it runs out well. It already has a sliding table, 9hp and since it is listed at Ex Factory for 5,900 I would think you could easily get it for less than 5,000.

From contributor E:
I agree about the Griggio looking like a nice machine, and that asking prices on that site are generally quite a bit higher than what the machine is actual worth. Remember they're just a machine broker - the more the machine sells for, the more they make. I think it's worth talking to the owner and seeing what his realistic expectations are for a price.

It sounds like you're making a pretty big jump here though. Going from having never used a shaper to doing small production runs of doors and windows is quite a step! How confident are you that this work will be steady after you make the investment? A shaper has unlimited uses in a shop. The specialty tooling you'll end up buying, though, is a different story. Plus you'll be making numerous jigs for all that specialty hardware you mentioned. I would want to be fairly confident there was enough work to pay for a good chunk of that investment before rushing in.

From the original questioner:
Thank you. Oertli responded with some profiles I sent them, and said the tooling would run $25k. Ouch! They also said it could be done on the Invicta DS-15, but then they're salespeople. I'm awaiting word from Ex-Factory regarding the Griggio.

You're absolutely right about this being a big jump for me and I need to have the confidence that my investment will be well-returned. The manufacture of these frames is a niche market, no one else is doing it here at the moment, and the architects, believe with their salespeople in short time they can be giving me 30-50 units a month.

The profiles are for the hardware. I gotta say though, that all my work has been custom designed; although perhaps a little more boring, I look so forward to setting up a portion of my shop into production lines.

From contributor J:
I recently learned how to make a tilt and turn window. I did it with a less than optimal shaper and it can be done, but I am fairly certain that making 30 units a month with the shaper you are talking about will be very difficult. The difficulty with making tilt and turn windows is that there is very little room for error. A quarter mm in the early stages of production will build on itself and the result will be a window that does not function well. Even a 1mm final error can cause the weather seals not to seal and even if they do work at the beginning, when the building moves even a little bit, the errors will be revealed.

That said, since you are in Mexico where the winters are not very cold, you can use a cutter set for thinner 58mm to 68mm sash and frame thickness. Very nice sets are available used from Europe as they are obsolete there. Now some places require 78 to 92mm thickness so the old sets are available for large discounts at under woodworking machines, window production machines, other. You will see several tooling sets available for good prices and these sets will accommodate double glazed panels.

Your budget may not allow it but I highly recommend going to Joe Calhoon's class on Euro style windows before you start to spend money.

From contributor T:
Cutting tools will run several to many times your $3,500 budget. It's been (like 15) years since I was directly involved with this, but it sounds like you've got drawings for standard German windows using 60mm and 80mm scantlings. The coping-tenoning will be north of 3" deep. You'll blow out like Horizon Deepwater if you don't use counter-rotating spindles.

Are you in fact building to print using European drawings? If it's the standard German T&T window, they're typically made with a European single-end tenoner, jump counter-rotating, very long stacked-tooling spindle, with a single-sided moulder set up for automatic transfer at 90į. I set up door factories in Guyana and Costa Rica using this sort of set. You could do 30 units a day with that and it's obviously too much machine for your production. But if that's the drawings you're looking at, they call for the 350mm-400mm diameter stacked insert tooling; it'll be difficult to do with a manual single spindle shaper and hold the tolerances required for windows. Doors aren't so demanding - are they Euro flanged doors, or US cope and stick?

Is your red cedar also known as Spanish cedar, like what's used in cigar boxes? It makes a nice door. I've had Central American customers doing Euro window parts in mahogany too.