Metal Shapers

by Kay Fisher

Welcome to the first shaper column. The reason for starting now is threefold. First as many of you already know, I have been working on a book about metal shapers. Over the next few months I expect to copy much of the book I've been working on into this column. Second, I recently volunteered to write the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document on shapers for the rec.crafts.metalworking newsgroup on the World Wide Web. Third, the topic of shapers has come up so much recently at our club meetings that I think it is time to start a monthly column.

But before I start cutting and pasting, there is something you can do for me. I have been collecting Questions for the FAQ since I volunteered but guess what? There has only been one question so far and one implied question. So I would like you to write to me or send email with any of your shaper related questions. I'll take input anyway I can get it – verbal at our meetings, napkins with notes, glossy pictures, whatever.

If you own a shaper please let me know a little about it. Brand, size, weight, anything special about it, and best of all if you could - please send pictures. If you have any anecdotal stories about shapers or any other shaper facts that you would like to share in this column (and in the book) please let me know. If you have a manual or any factory documentation for your shaper I would be interested in obtaining a copy but… Warning… Don't send any manuals without checking with me first – I may already have the one you're sending. If you send me something that you want returned (like a manual or picture) be sure to state that clearly. That said, I also am volunteering to be the keeper of shaper documentation so if you or anyone else needs a copy of something I have been able to obtain I will be glad to get a copy out.

Ok, now back to basics. Why am I writing a book about shapers? I'm not a shaper expert but when I obtained my first shaper I was disappointed at the available documentation. In the process of learning about shapers, I became sort of a shaper enthusiast. I've always wanted to write a book so I started. I'm kind of funny that way. Years ago I wanted to write a computer chess program – so I did. I didn't know a lot about chess and am still not a good player but I thought it was an interesting software challenge. It took a couple of years but I managed and learned a lot about programming games that require look-a-head tree searches, VAX macro, VMS, and book openings. Anyway, I don't claim to be an shaper guru but I do know how to do research.

My first task was to find and study all the existing shaper documentation I could get my hands on. After I did this I found that my first assumption (that there wasn't much documentation available for shapers) was wrong. But along the way I also found that there were many things that I could add to the existing literature. Not the least of which is the FAQ.

In the next monthly column I will publish a fairly comprehensive list of shaper documentation resources (the most frequently asked question). In future columns I will include the current outline of the book which hopefully you can help mold into something even more useful. After that I will get into the history of shapers and talk about why shapers are not dead.

Hopefully along the way with help from your input I will answer some other questions and present some interesting shaper stories.

My email address is