Shaper Machine: Definition, Parts, and Working

What is Shaper Machine?

A shaper is a type of machine tool that uses the linear relative motion between the workpiece and a single-point cutting tool to machine a linear toolpath. Its cut is analogous to that of a lathe, except that it is (archetypally) linear instead of helical.

A wood shaper is a functionally different woodworking tool, typically with a powered rotating cutting head and manually fed workpiece, usually known simply as a shaper in North America and spindle molder in the UK.

A metalworking shaper is somewhat analogous to a metalworking planer, with the cutter riding a ram that moves relative to a stationary workpiece, rather than the workpiece moving beneath the cutter.

The ram is typically actuated by a mechanical crank inside the column, though hydraulically actuated shapers are increasingly used. Adding axes of motion to a shaper can yield helical tool paths, which has also been done in helical planning.

The shaper machine is a reciprocating type of machine basically used for producing horizontal, vertical, or flat surfaces. The shaper holds the single point cutting tool in ram and the workpiece is fixed in the table.

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During the forward stroke, the ram is holding the tool is reciprocating over the workpiece to cut into the required shape. During the return stroke, no metal is cutting. In the shaper machine, the rotary motion of the drive is converted into the reciprocating motion of the ram holding the tool.

Therefore, in order to reduce the total machine time, it allows the ram holding the tool should move slower during forwarding cutting stroke and it comes faster in the return stroke. This can be achieved by a mechanism called a quick return mechanism.

Shaper Machine Process

The shaper process can be defined as a process for removing metal from the surface in horizontal, vertical, and angular planes by the use of a single-point cutting tool held in a ram that reciprocates the tool in a linear direction across the workpiece held on the table of the machine.

The table may be supported at the outer end. The ram reciprocates and the cutting tool, held in the tool holder, moves forwards and backward over the workpiece. In a standard shaper, cutting of material takes place during the forward stroke of the ram and the return stroke remains idle.

The return is governed by a quick return mechanism. The depth of the cut increments by moving the workpiece and the workpiece is fed by a pawl and ratchet mechanism.

Who invented the Shaper Machine?

An English engineer named Samuel Bentham was an engineer and very known naval architect. He was an inverter of many mechanical engineering items. He invented the shaper machine in 1791 and 1793. This machine is common in the mid-19th century and early 20th century.

Working of Shaper Machine

The workpiece is mounted on the table and the table is rigid and box-shaped and placed in front of a machine or near the machine.

The height of the table is easily adjustable and it is adjusted to match the workpiece. The motion of the table is control manually. Have you ever thought about any other way for the motion of the table?

The table is equipped with an automatic feed mechanism and works with a feed screw. This is for cutting and the ram is adjustable for stroke.

There is a single-point cutting tool used in this machine and it has only one cutting edge. The turning tool is the best example of a single-point cutting tool. It is placed in the tool holder and also mounted on the ram.

The workpiece is clamped directly on the table for machining and it may support at another end. Ram is exhibiting the reciprocating motion. And the cutting tool holder is moved backward and forward on the surface of the workpiece.

Many of you think that the ram rotates and cutting in strokes. And it is depending on the shapes. The cutting takes place in forwarding stroke in a standard shaper machine and the backward stroke is considered to be idle.

The cutting tool got motion from the quick return mechanism and cutting depth is achieved by movement of the tool. Feed motion follows the pawl and ratchet mechanism.

Parts of Shaper Machine

The following are the main parts of the shaper machine:

  • Base
  • Column
  • Cross-rail
  • Table
  • Ram
Shaper Machine

1. Base

  • It is the most important part of the shaper. The base provides support to other machining tools. The base is hollow and made of cast iron. The hollo shape minimizes the vibration.
  • The construction of the base is to handle the load of the machine.

2. Column

  • It is mounted on the base and made of cast iron.
  • There are two guideways provided on the column on which the ram reciprocates.
  • Column supports the reciprocating ram and worktable.

3. Table

  • The swivel of the table takes place on any angle.
  • The table is clamped to become rigid to handle heavy applications.
  • It is a very important part of the shaper machine.
  • There are T type bolts used for clamping on the top and bottom side.

4. Ram

  • There are guideways present on column Ram reciprocates and carry the head of the tool with a single-point cutting tool.
  • The cutting action takes place on the forward stroke of ram due to the tool head present in the clapper box.
  • The depth of the cut is given by the down feed screw.

5. Cross-rail

  • It is mounted on the surface of the table where the saddle is there.
  • With the elevating screw and cross-rail, the table got the vertical motion.
  • There is a horizontal motion of the table by moving the saddle with the cross-feed screw.

Application of Shaper Machine

The most common use is to machine straight, flat surfaces, but with ingenuity and some accessories, a wide range of work can be done. Other examples of its use are:

  • Keyways in the boss of a pulley or gear can be machined without resorting to a dedicated broaching setup.
  • Dovetail slides
  • Internal splines and gear teeth.
  • Keyway, spline, and gear tooth cutting in blind holes
  • Cam drums with toolpaths of the type that in CNC milling terms would require 4- or 5-axis contouring or turn-mill cylindrical interpolation
  • It is even possible to obviate wire EDM work in some cases. Starting from a drilled or cored hole, a shaper with a boring-bar type tool can cut internal features that don’t lend themselves to milling or boring (such as irregularly shaped holes with tight corners).
  • Smoothing of a rough surface