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Where can I find shaper tooling to make 3 1/2” casings and 4” baseboards?

AndyF

Stainless
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Location
Phelps, NY, USA
I think what I’m looking for are moulder heads that I can use on my Delta Shaper.

Who are good suppliers of this style tooling at prices that won’t break the bank? I’m planning to do primarily ranch style window casings and baseboards for my mid century ranch renovation in pine, cherry and ash and may be doing some additional profiles for some of the built-ins and freestanding cabinets in the kitchen and laundry.

I’ve found a range of heads ranging from really cheap by Woodstock to fairly pricey by Byrd and some other vendors, but don’t know enough to have a sense for which vendors make sense for part-time use on a 3hp machine.

Additionally, what style knife - corrugated or one of the other styles should I consider and who are good vendors to look at for HSS knives?
 
When I started woodworking these people were around. They are still around.
I almost bought one of their molder/planer machines.


Not sure if knives from them will fit on a Delta shaper.

I have a molder head for a Delta Unisaw. I tried it a few times but was never satisfied with HSS cuts.
 
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Andrew -
What size is the spindle on your Delta?
I trust you will be using a power feeder?

I find it difficult to advise others based on what has been very successful for me for over 50 years, due to concerns about "safety".
However, if flexibility and cost are a primary goal, i use modified single knife shaper heads originally from Woodmaster (does not look like they still sell them) or 2, 4, or 3 knife heads made in my shop. Often with only one knife & balance slugs in the multi-knife heads. All knives ground from O1 or A2 steel and hardened here. Though if possible (if the knife does not have too much projection), i will grind them from wide 5/32" or 3/16" HSS planer blade steel o save the hardening step.

This requires running the shaper at under 5,000 rpm, usually closer to 4500 or sometimes on big projection knives at 3600-ish.
My process allows me to replicate a set of mouldings that might have less than 30 ft of maybe 3 to 5 profiles (stacked individual moldings in old work) very economically. I pocket most of the effective knife cost, instead of paying a thou$sand or 2 for multiple sets of custom knives and merely being a go between from the customer to the knife company. The customer sees less cost and i make more money for the time. FWIW, i've produced runs of over 1,000 ft for some commercial jobs. It is seldom necessary to gain the speed of a multi-knife operation unless runs are well over 1,000 ft. Remember, the smoothest cutting system is a single-knife cutterhead, because it is always in joint. The only reason to add knives, is to run faster feeds. Usually small machines can't take heavy feeds, and most perceived lower quality or ripple in the work is from spindle flex, run-out (if multiple cutters) and vibration in the machine and feed system.

But i'll bow out, as many prefer turn-key systems.

FWIW, many who do decide to roll their own go with corrugated heads.
This adds a lot of expense, and forces the use of very expensive corrugated back knife steel.
But it does add a level of security, and precludes the need to calculate loads and friction when starting out.
(I do it by eyeball except in very iffy cases, now. But i did start out running calculations with big safety factors because it scared me)

smt
 
I am not a full time shaper hand, I just don't need to run that much compared to my other work, but I have ran more than the average guy. With that said, I like the ease of corrugated knife stock heads as that is what I am used to if it is not a stock profile with carbide. I'd like to have a profile grinder in my shop some day, but will wait til the right deal comes along, it's not a priority for sure.

Anyway, the last thing I bought, which was app 3 years ago, I got a generic 4" OD head with 4 pockets, 2 at one angle and 2 at the other, it's app 2" tall. I think it was app $175. I then had a pair of knives cut for me which I think was right around $130 from Hot Knives in St Louis. It was a higher grade material which I forget what it is, I think one step down from the diamond coating. I had a high abrasive plastic I was running so needed the upgrade but the jump to diamond was considerably more.

A good person to talk to would be Bobby at Woodworkers Toolworks, he is pretty good with application advice and also has alot on hand.
 
Depending on your actual interests re:tooling, it might actually be cheaper overall for you to buy an old Belsaw or W & H moulder than to tool up the spindle shaper for wide mouldings.

I prefer Belsaw for size, flexibility, and one knife cutting. Or one of the woodmasters, which would allow swapping shaper tooling back and forth between that machine and a spindle shaper. For a more limited/dedicated approach, people who use W & H with a speed control seem to love them. The knives are thinner, proprietary, and so slightly more expensive, with a slightly more limited projection (depth of moulding pattern) than Belsaw or Woodmaster.

Any of the machines mentioned can do curves in both planes. W & H will do slightly tighter curves than the other machines. Of course a spindle shaper can be contrived to do the most extreme curves, but the (ahem :) ) learning curve is a bit steep and the tooling and set ups for feeding can be rigorous and complex.

smt
 
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Depending on your actual interests re:tooling, it might actually be cheaper overall for you to buy an old Belsaw or W & H moulder than to tool up the spindle shaper for wide mouldings.

I

smt

Cough cough….

 
About 1985 i worked at a wood dimension plant that made lots of moldings, all on molding machines. No profile grinder was used, it was all by hand. Smooth back knives individually ground by hand and set in the heads by hand. The heads were installed on the machine and joined with an appropriately shaped silicon carbide stone, also made by hand. They had operated this way since the late 40's and saw no reason to change.

Anyway, all the profiles were created totally by hand. It can be done. Full disclosure, all profiles were cosmetic, no joinery profiles.

New ownership got a Weinig profile grinder and it was quite a step up to say the least.
 
The shaper is a 3 hp 2 speed machine (7,000 and 10,000 rpm). I will be using the 3/4" spindle. I'm planning to use a Maggi 4 wheel variable speed feeder.

Sounds like you are pretty well set up.
However with a minimum rpm well over 5,000 i will refrain from further comments about how i do things so inexpensively, fairly rapidly, and effectively. :)

a wood dimension plant that made lots of moldings, all on molding machines. No profile grinder was used, it was all by hand. Smooth back knives individually ground by hand and set in the heads by hand. The heads were installed on the machine and joined with an appropriately shaped silicon carbide stone, also made by hand. They had operated this way since the late 40's and saw no reason to change.

This is how i learned in the mid 1970's. Except i got jointing stones but never needed to use them since a big run for me back then was only a few thousand feet, so mostly ran single knife cutting which is always in joint. These days a run can be as little as a couple dozen feet, sometimes.

smt
 
I've mostly used bevel edge knives in lock edge collars. Started having them ground by Schmidt, and then doing them myself. Worked great for me, but no large runs, just one off or small edition custom furniture parts, where I needed a very specific contour, and might need to adjust it. Started with an SCM T-100, moved up to massive German machine, both with 1-1/4" spindles.

For 3-1/2" and 4" wide cut, you'd need a long spindle to accommodate both the knives and the collars. What model shaper do have? Another option mentioned is a corrugated head. The knives aren't any more difficult to grind, and they are safer, less likely to let go. As Stephen mentioned, it's only necessary to accurately grind one knife - the second knife just has to balance the first perfectly. I like to grind the balancing knife close to the profile, just so it's mass distribution is similar to avoid any vibration. Schmidt used to sell a good booklet on grinding shaper knives, well worth a look at.

If you choose to go bevel edge, I have way more knife stock than I'll ever use, would be glad to provide some at very reasonable price. Might also have some corrugated knife stock. You can also get used knives cheap on ebay and re-grind them to your needs. Custom ground knives can be pretty expensive, and if you have time to grind your own, it's a very useful skill.

And has been said, a power feeder is an absolute must for a cut that large. You will want to make sure the outfeed fence supports the full width of the cut. I used a vfd to slow down my powerfeed to improve the cut when necessary.
 
The fundamental reason i never got into bevel edge shaper collars, even safety collars with the screw and toothed edge, was cost.
They appear to be a wonderfully flexible system. But i made lots of mouldings and patterns that were more than 4" wide to often 6" wide (up to 15" wide if you count curved church pew scooped seats). Over 3" wide profile is getting into 3-1/2" wide x 3/8" thick bevel edge steel, and more of the steel is held in the cutterhead than actually forms the profile. So plain back knife stock i could buy for $5 - $10 for a blank (O1 or A2) & use a balance slug, could cost over $100 just for the raw material in safety edge bevel steel. These days maybe $more depending on projection. Corrugated back moulder steel will make the $$ metric closer, but a lot less of the moulder steel needs used just as a shank to hold in the cutterhead. ( Consider a possible 3" wide profile finished off the machine on one edge, projection say 1" at the knife for a nominal 13/16" to 7/8" thick moulding. The bevel edge collars are going to require a piece of 5/16" minimum thick, x 3-1/2" wide x 2 pcs aprox. 3-1/2" to 4" long. = 7" to 8" of 3-1/2" bar. The corrugated back knife is going to require the 1" for knife + 3/4" to grip. So depending how it is sold or how close you can hold the profile to the cutterhead either 1-3/4" or 2" wide x 5/16" corrugated back steel x 2 knives 3-1/2" long = 7". IOW 1/2 the area or weight of cutter steel for the same profile.

OTOH for bevel edge collars, you adjust knife projection to the integral ball bearing to match your forms and patterns.
With a moulder head, you end up needing a stack of ball bearings sleeved different sizes so you can choose among them to match a given job.
Of course either type head can be run with solid collars and fences on the shaper.

I do have a sets of safety collars in a couple sizes, and bits to match, from the bottom of various auction lots bought for other tooling over the years, but still have not found a reason to run any of them. With integral ball bearings there would be convenience over some of my other methods with separate ball bearing collars, for furniture making and some curvy millwork; but like most of us, when it comes time to set up a new or unusual job, i tend to go with what is familiar.

smt
 
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