Metal Shapers

by Kay Fisher

Here is another interesting question. Should I always fasten the table support rail? Yes, you should. But used shapers frequently come missing this part. Ever wonder why? Because when working with small light cuts or soft material like aluminum there just isn't much difference whether the support is connected or not. Without the support you can damage your shaper with heavy cuts.

In “the good old days” the shaper was the workhorse of the metal shop. Some have said that a good shaper can remove more metal in less time than any other machine. I believe before high-speed steel tools were introduced this was probably true. As my friend Max ben-Aaron is fond of saying in reference to shapers — “If the chips don't come off hot and smoking you aren't working it hard enough.” To illustrate the point a bit further Don Nichols of CAMS (Chesapeake Area Metalworking Society) recently submitted this interesting anecdote:

“From an ex co-worker, who had taken over running the machine shop in our team (at an Army scientific lab), and who had previously worked in the main machine shop on post, which had some serious sized machines. He was given a particular job to do, and decided that the shaper was the ideal tool for that particular task. Nobody else had used any of the shapers for a long time, but he clamped the workpiece in place, and fired it up. This was a serious sized shaper, and he was never one to let a machine loaf. The shop had been re-arranged a few times since the shaper was last used, and the big hot chips from this machine landed directly on the foreman's desk, and started setting fire to the paperwork which was there. It was solved with a movable partition, but this does show just how long it had been since that shaper had been used.”

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