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Age of Smith & Mills Shaper and some pictures

James H Clark

May 11, 2011
southern in.
Tailstock4: I was interested to find your posting of your Smith & Mills shaper. I have an much older 16" Smith & Mills shaper. I do not know just how old mine is but it is an old line shaft machine that has been converted. Mine does show some patent dates on the side of the machine, 1893 or near that, I'm not down at the shop now. I can check tomorrow. On mine, the original input shaft is on the operators side, opposite yours. Your restoration is a work to be proud of, job well done. Thanks for sharing with us.
Apr 19, 2006
Manchester, England
Yes, I replaced the upper pins on the drag link and ran oil lines to them. I re-sleeved the large pin in the slide block and made new oil grooves. I don't like the clanking noises from loose pins.

I have a couple of questions for you. Are old shapers such as this one difficult to find in England or are they still around? One of the things I would love to find here is a DSG lathe. Not too many to be found in my neck of the woods. Are they more common there?

Also, do you or anyone else know why the old shapers went away from the square ways? Was it just to eliminate one precision surface or were there other reasons?

There are always shapers to be found out there if you look. Most places I know have had shapers but they don’t use them any more. It’s the same with planing machines but given that planers take up a lot of room they usually get scrapped. Shapers just get left in a corner under a sheet.

There are still plenty of DSG’s to be found. A dealer near me, “ New Century “, usually has one or two. They specialise in buying them from universities or government workshops so they are usually in good condition. There’s nothing nicer to work on than a DSG both from a turning and a maintenance point of view. Everything about them is right.

The DSG of the shaper world was the “ Ormerod “. Shapers and Slotters ( vertical shapers ) were their speciality. They were made in a little place called Hebden Bridge, about 10 miles from me. Very Hippyish and expensive these days. The Lesbian capitol of the UK apparently. “ Ormerod “ were closed down in the 1960’s. I worked in a shop that had a 36” “ Ormerod “, it was a thing of beauty, the finish on the paintwork was something to behold. It was so tall I could hide from the shop foreman behind it !

I can’t help you with the design of the ram ways. Most of the shapers out here had prismatic ways.

Regards Tyrone.