Introduced during the 1950s, the handy little Boxford 8-inch (200 mm) shaper was made in two distinct forms: an early and now rare Mk. 1 version, with an external, rear-mounted countershaft (that was a slightly modified copy of the long-established South Bend type) and a later Mk. 2 model mounted on an enclosed underdrive stand designed to help improve safety in educational and training establishments. Inside the stand was a complete countershaft system (with either a 0.5 h.p. or 0.75 h.p. motor) using V-belts to transmit the drive to an external (but guarded) 4-step pulley. Eventually to be called the Model S200, the Boxford sold well into educational establishments though, as a result of timid instructors, many of them emerged onto the second-hand market in pristine condition - the great majority of them appearing to have never been used (the ones in the writers school being in the latter category - indeed, we even had to gain entry in a "suppositious way" to the metalwork shop at lunchtime in order to make parts for our motorcycles…)
Although the vast majority of Mk. 2 machines were fitted with an ordinary fixed box table with a length and height of 7" (175 mm) and a width of 5.75" (145 mm) an alternative swivelling type was offered (at extra cost) complete with a special machine vice that allowed more complex work with difficult compound angles to be undertaken.
Underdrive machines had four rates of ram stroke (38, 60 100 and 160 per minute) with horizontal power feeds (in both directions) fitted to the table as standard and a vertical feed (very rarely seen) available as an option. The feeds (9 inches/225 mm horizontally and 6 inches/150 mm vertically) were engaged by a pawl, engaged by a white knob on top of the ratchet housing; four positions were available, two feed and two neutral with the recommended five rates of feed engraved on the feed plate at intervals of 0.0025" per division - the rates being 0.0025" to 0.0125" per minute (0.6 to 0.3 mm). When fitted with power vertical feed, the operating mechanism was cleverly designed to allow its pawl and ratchet assembly to be swung through 180 degrees to engage either movement. On the Mk. 1 the table's horizontal feed screw was supported at both ends but on the Mk. 2 was overhung at it's left-hand side, so allowing the nut to run off and safely stop the drive if the machine was left running with the power feed engaged.
Able to be swivelled through 360°, the tool-slide had a travel of 3.5 inches (90 mm) with a holder of the "American" type that could accept tools up to 7/16" x 7/8" (11 x 22 mm) and was fitted with a zeroing feed micrometer dial graduated at intervals of 0.001",
When fitted to the underdrive stand, the belt-tension release lever was fitted externally, its position intended to be a safety measure as knocking it downwards stopped the drive. Made from braced sheet steel, the cabinet had locks on both drive and storage doors, the latter giving access to a two-shelf compartment.
Just one size of square-headed key was need to lock and unlock the table support, the swivel tool slide and adjust the ram stroke - the crank gear eccentric being accessed through door on the left-hand face of the column
A Boxford shaper is probably the ideal machine for the home workshop - the motor is easily changed to a single-phase unit, the whole machine is light enough to be moved easily yet with sufficient strength and capacity to tackle even larger jobs successfully..