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Thread: What is a metal shaper?
10-04-2011, 09:15 AM #21
10-04-2011, 09:39 AM #22
when I was selling machinery, this subject came up often. some people like talking about shapers, but few want to pay for them. Anyways, I was selling some stuff for a shop and was in and out of their frequently for a while. They were doing a pilot run of boat anchors made from formed 1/2 inch steel plate and were sharpening the edges by milling the edge down on a BP. Right next to the BO was a unused shaper and I suggested that they do that, less wear on tools, the BP, runs on auto, etc. They thought I was a genius, and it worked great, problem was there were always a couple of guys standing there watching the ram go back and forth!
10-04-2011, 09:50 AM #23
It does seem quite hypnotizing....
10-04-2011, 09:54 AM #24
10-04-2011, 10:46 AM #25
Basically Dustin, if you need to cover all your metal cutting needs with a minimum of machines to start, it's a plus to think of how each performs it's work and of ways to stretch the envelope.
No doubt that the most common metal cutting machine is a drill press and most guys start there.
Since most mechanical projects require round objects like shafts, a lathe is probably the second choice, as it can be pressed into light milling jobs too.
Since the price of used lathes is upside down, little ones expensive, get a bigger one for less. It's likely to have more of the features that make lathes the great machine tools that they are, will not disappoint when there's a lot of metal to remove and it will support a much bigger milling attachment, until .....
#3 comes along, a milling machine. The common guy sees a light turret vertical when he hears "milling machine". That means that they demand much higher prices per pound of metal removal in an hour capability, 10:1 and more and horizontal mills are much more versatile than most see them as. A great deal on a good milling machine, horizontal or vertical should make it #3 in your shop.
Either will do you a lot of good, while you wait for that deal on the other. Again, little hobby mills usually cost more money than a real mill. I started 50 or so years ago with a little hobby mill. I sold it for $50 more than I paid for my favorite mill, that would hold 5 of the little ones on it's table.
If you hear of a good old shaper for scrap metal prices and you are not working in the closet of your school dorm, by all means, drag it home, you wont be sorry. And if you are, call me, I'll come get it out of your way.
Search the posts here to flesh out your knowledge of machine tools, together, they "can do anything" and separately, they can do much more than a casual glance would first indicate.
10-04-2011, 11:29 AM #26
I am a "hobby" guy who works in the garage. First machine purchased
was a 16"x30 Monarch 16CW.
It cost about half what small SouthBend Lathes sell for.
I pieced together a (oversized) Rotary Phase Converter for the 3-phase motors.
Then, when the mill came along I had plenty of power for it. Most common mills are the bridgeport type,
since Bridgeport has the most name recognition they tend to be pricey;
from what I hear a Wells Index is a better machine. I was lucky enough to get a VanNorman 22L,
that converts from Horizontal to Vertical.
It also has power feeds on all three axises.
Both machines are larger than the average hobby
mill/lathe but the prices were much less than smaller units.
I would love to get a shaper, of course it needs to be less
than scrap value and in good shape .
If you come across a shaper drag it home,
you will find a use for it.
10-04-2011, 11:56 AM #27
One thing a shaper or a planer can do, is cut female dovetails, that is tougher on a horizontal mill ;-). I have a shaper that was my dads, and when he was a one man shop he used it as a force multiplier, it would be working away making a flat side on the parts while he was doing other work in the bridgeport or at the lathe.
He did that even working in bigger shops...very few of the other guys would, they thought his idea of running two machines at once was a bit odd :-).
If you think about it really, a wire edm is just a bandsaw with a very tiny blade :-) that only gets used once :-).
10-04-2011, 12:27 PM #28
10-04-2011, 12:27 PM #29
As an owner of a universal mill and a lathe, I would buy the right shaper in a minute.
I'm certain it would collect dust 95% of the time but would be invaluable for all those internal keyseats that require expensive broaches and a drawer full of bushings.
Add an indexer and You'll be cutting internal splines.
Im sure a production shop would have very little use for a shaper but for one-off work I'm thinking it would be a great investment.
Just my humble opinion!
10-04-2011, 12:46 PM #30
That pair typifies the class of machine tools that I was thinking of. One of the better American lathes of the era and the VN mill the best of the smaller foot print convertibles, before stepping into the high dollar Euros, like Deckel and Maho. The Swedish Abene would be a great substitute for some of the Van Normans, but usually more expensive too.
The Van Norman is quite capable as a sturdy horizontal and a good vertical, some of them even having a quill.
The best part, both of his machines can be found as tremendous value for the price.
Reeltor is either reel smart or lucky, probably both.
Oh yeah Dustin, Reeltor is exactly right on the rotary phase convertor. Start there, today! Never again stub your toe in the dirt with a tear and sigh, "I'd die for that machine but I only have single phase power...." They are way too easy to make for that to keep you shut out from the real machines. My 10HP RPC took less than $200 in common parts and a weekend of fun. Got seven 3 phase machines now and still shopping, without the crippling reservation of hair-dryer-max power.
The difference in price of real machines over expensive, dainty hobby types alone, paid for the RPC many times over.
Cute milling machine worth more to someone else and the RPC below
Last edited by Robert Campbell Jr.; 10-05-2011 at 12:34 PM.
10-04-2011, 01:03 PM #31
10-04-2011, 01:29 PM #32
10-04-2011, 03:20 PM #33
I agree with Bob regarding the RPC. As a complete novice when it comes to 3-phase,
I didn't want to build one from scratch. I picked up of a control box
for $200 and a new old stock 15 hp motor.
I have less than $300 in the RPC, you can do a lot better price wise with a 7.5 hp or 10 hp unit.
If you can wire a dryer plug you can put together a RPC.
Ask a lot of questions, (I am ready to relinquish my crown as King of the dumbest questions ).
Some of the more technical/electrical minded can tell you why, but using such an over-sized convertor doesn't
cost me "anything" to use. What I mean is, I cannot see any difference in the electric bill when running the
machines all day for most of a billing cycle than when not using them at all.
The only downside is the noise the large motor (fan noise) puts out when running.
Bob, thanks for the kind words, but I was lucky, smarts didn't have anything to do with it other than wanting
"large" machines that wouldn't take forever to do a job.
10-04-2011, 11:31 PM #34
10-05-2011, 07:54 AM #35
I am not a trade machinist, but happened to grow up in a small shop that my Dad (80 yrs old) still uses today. He has the usual tools, but no shaper. I saw my first one at the vocational school, so I took a night class and asked to learn how to use it. I was 20 or so at the time and got a bunch of weird looks from the some others in the class. The instructor was an older gent (go figure!) and seemed overly delighted that someone actually wanted to learn how to use the shaper. It was explained to me at the time, that a shaper is/was the second fastest method of metal removal, behind the bandsaw. Not sure if that is true today with modern CNC machines, but I was enthusiastic anyway. I managed to rough out a pair of Starret copy V-blocks in a couple of nights while the rest of the class was still figuring out the dials on the lathes and Bridgeports. It was amazing to watch the fat chips turning blue and flying off that machine. Today at 49, I only have a small lathe and mill for weekend projects and don't see a need for a shaper in my work. However, if I had the space and one came along for a good price I would jump on it for nostalgia sake.
10-05-2011, 08:50 AM #36
Dustin, willbird's got a good point on the VFD. Gives you a broad range of RPM to add to your machines and it's about a push as to cost between it and a shop built RPC of decent capacity, like my 10HP.... for one machine.
My $200 investment has since been divided by the 7 machines it happily supports, making it a $29 investment per and getting cheaper by the machine.
Not so the VFD, which practically, can only run one machine. At say $250 per pop for a nominal low HP VFD. I'd have $1,750 now invested just to run the 7 machines.
The $1,550 I saved was happily invested in more machines at remarkable bargains.
All of my machines have a pretty good speed range designed by the factory and I've never felt the need to increase that range with a VFD, rarely even wish it was available for that odd instance when it might have been handy to fine-tune the RPM array built into the machine. And I'd sure be askeered to spin my old LeBlond at double the RPM the engineers designed it for.
Over the past 100 years, innumerable job shops across America have productively hummed along without VFD's, so I've chosen to make-do too.
It's nice to know that all I have to do when I drag that next machine home, is to put on the common plug that I wired my shop for and plug it in, unless it's the odd one that I feel must have protection at the machine and then it's a simple wiring job to add the appropriate breaker in a small box, which should be done with the VFD anyway.
Oh yeah, danged if I can remember the amperage draw on the 10HP Baldor high efficiency motor that I used for the "Idler" but it sure wasn't 10A per leg, 'cause oddly, all it has to do is idle. Simply keep it's shaft spinning, no torque loading 'cause the idler is like I say, just idling. Of course you do have to provide the ampacity each machine requires but the VFD doesn't make the electricity either.
A 100W incad light bulb draws less than .1 amp, 12 of them would draw 1 amp @ 120V. 10 amps would keep 120 100W bulbs going and the other 2 legs of the 3PH circuit would add an additiuonal 240 bulbs burning brightly for a total of 360 100W light bulbs. If your RPC idler requires that feed unloaded, something is wrong.
Money no object, I'd have a VFD on every machine for that odd time when it might come in handy but to me, that's gilding the lily at a pretty high entry fee.
Not picking on willbird, lot's of guys love their VFD's and happily laud their choice. Just took this opportunity to contrast the viable alternate.
And since no one has yet used it here, I wont be embarrasing anyone, one last picky point, you'll notice that no where have I used "RPM's". RPM stands for "revolutions, (note plural) per minute" RPM's would be revoutions per minutes.... huh?
Last edited by Robert Campbell Jr.; 10-05-2011 at 12:23 PM.
10-05-2011, 09:49 AM #37
Wow lots of great stuff to think about. Thank you all so much. It really is hard to figure all this stuff out on your own starting with nothing.
So....Is an RPC a rotary phase converter?
VFD- variable frequency drive?
I am soooo happy you guys pointed out that the bigger machines are a better value!
So it sounds like there is no reason to try to find a single phase unit? (that was the current plan)
10-05-2011, 10:02 AM #38
IIRC my RPC draws less than 4 amps on on each of the 220 single phase legs. Name plate on the idler motor calls for 39 amps. I don't know why it pulls so much less but it but it does.
There was a bit of conservation about it on the Transformers/RPC/VFD section. A quick search for reactive pulled this up:
Jim Rozen tired to explain it with this post:
"jim rozen jim rozen is offline
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: peekskill, NY
Post up a photo of your watt-hour meter (electric meter by the service entrance, the
thing they "read" to send you your bill) and somebody could make an educated guess.
In most parts of the US right now, utilities do NOT charge for reactive power, for
residential customers. For residential customers they ONLY charge for real power,
that is to say current that flows in-phase with the applied voltage.
In most cases in the US the ONLY customers that get charged for reactive power
are commercial customers, and typically that comes with a peak demand meter.
We need to know more about your service to be able to say for sure what is going on.
Real power is what happens when you put a resistor across your power line. For
example, a space heater or an iron. The current that flows is "in phase" with
the applied voltage. If you plotted the current waveform and the voltage waveform,
they'd pretty much be right on top of each other.
Reactive power is what happens when an inductive, or capacitive load is placed
across the line. In this case think of a power transformer primary winding across
the line, with no load on the secondary. There's a tiny bit of heating in the core
(core losses) but the current waveform will be 90 degrees out of phase with the
To put it simply, the current and voltage do not "happen at the same time." Because
the real power is the instantantaneous product of the current and the voltage, it
is very very low - even though there's voltage across the winding, and the amp-clamp
says "hey, the juice if flowing!"
What the simpson meter measuring voltage, and the amp-clamp do NOT tell you,
is that they (voltage and current) are
happening at different times. So when you compute the power
based on the simpson meter and the amp clamp, the transformer *should* be
red-hot. But it won't even warm your hand on a cold day.
That's reactive power."
I hope this makes some sense, years ago I wanted to know everything about the computer, how it worked, messing with the programing etc. Now all I want it to do is turn on when I push the button. Same with the Lathe and Mill, just need it to do its thing when asked. I went with the RPC because I wanted the flexibility to pick up other 3-phase machines without incurring additional cost to power them up.
Like I said, I don't know how it works, just that it does, good enough for me.
10-05-2011, 10:28 AM #39
the last Van Norman I saw at auction went for $25.00 and they were offering free loading! I think it was a #25 IIRC, one of the bigger ones, but was in use and included about half its weight in tooling! I sure it went to the big furnace in the sky.
10-05-2011, 11:24 AM #40
Transformers, Phase Converters and VFD - Practical Machinist - Largest Manufacturing Technology Forum on the Web
Read through the posts in the top entry, the sticky. Most if not all of your questions regarding RCP's and VFD's will be answered on that forum.
If you have the room, don't even consider the small, low power machines. My little 120V Benchmaster milling machine in the photo above, is truly an industrial machine but it's way too small for anything bigger than model building sized items. My Index vertical mill cost less, does everything the Benchmaster could and much more, with power feeds instead of the Benchmasters all manual feeds. The Index drinks 3PH power though.... but we've got an easy fix for that, right?
The mill that I mentioned above that cost me $50 less than a great guy paid me for the little Benchmaster, is a Kearney and Trecker 2H universal with power feeds on all axes, (plural of axis, "ax-eez") plus "rapids" in all axes to get you back rapidly.
With a universal dividing head, the K&T will allow you to cut helical gears or any other helix, cutting common spur gears only requiring a simple, (non-universal) dividing head and a plain mill, (no universal table).
A large faceplate can be mounted on the K&T's spindle and a tool holder made to bolt to the table and a 40" diameter part bigger than a train wheel can be turned on it as a T-lathe. That is just one example of what I meant by, "stretch the envelope".
It's table measures 10" X 50" and it takes no more floor space than a Bridgeport and more than a foot shorter head space. It will remove metal at several times the rate of the Bridgeport, which commonly is powered with a 1-1/2HP motor, the K&T a 5 HP motor*. That same motor will be driving the vertical head attachment if one comes with the K&T you may find. Now you have both horizontal and vertical in one machine.
*yes, Bridgeport made some bigger verticals up to 4HP but K&T made bigger mills too, 20HP and even more. That illustration is the common ones, K&T 2H vs Bridgeport J-head.
Now before the BP crowd totally freaks out, and there are millions of them*, I do use my vertical mill, (the Index) quite a bit and it's big plus, is that the chip pile around it at the end of the day, is much smaller to clean up than the mountain around the K&T.
*reminds me of the Montana bumper sticker, "Eat more lamb, 50 thousand coyotes can't be wrong." I don't eat lamb either.
Just for fun, check out the going prices of J-head Bridgeports vs the K&T 2h...... The BP may be a slightly better vertical in some ways*, (but not in metal removal rates) and when using it's tiny horizontal attachment, it is laughable to try to compare it to the K&T horizontal, worlds apart.
*it is a much better drill press but you already have one of those don't you?
Check here for John Oders K&T 2CH set up as a T-lathe, scroll to the top http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...8/#post1111025
Below Mike Ramsays 2H with vertical head, cutting an arc on a rotary table, driven by the K&T low lead gear box.
PS, there are other great horizontals such as Brown and Sharp and the first one I ever ran, a Cincinatti #3, which I have only good things to say about.