Dating from between 1900 and 1914 - the Rapide-Lime shaper had won medals at machine-tool exhibitions in London during 1908, Brussels in 1910, and Turin in 1911 and was manufactured by de'Armes et de Cycles de Saint-Etienne in France. The shaper has also been found with the "maker" Planos cast into the top face of the ram and stamped with the maker's name and patent numbers. In addition, some of the operating arms are inscribed "Jacqout & Taveroon Paris".
Several accessories were offered including a conversion to a morticing machine, a drilling unit, a gear-equipped diving attachment, a rotary table and the expected machine vice.
A useful, hand-operated machine, the Rapide-Lime was protected by Patent No. 2304500 Brevette SGDG and appears to have been of sound construction. However, a mystery surrounds both this machine and the English Robblak and Alexander models - all of which are laid out on very similar lines. The Alexander was patented in the UK by the inventor, Mr. Alfred Hindley Alexander, with the number 27,663 on 27th May, 1909. Hence, one wonders if the Rapide-Lime might have inspired him for, although the Alexander was in some ways a more adaptable machine, it might be that the clever wording of a patent avoided a clash of interests.
Unfortunately, all versions suffered from the same intractable problem - the work table (9" x 9" on the Rapide-Lime) was an extension of the machine's bed plate. While most contemporary shapers of the same class used a table formed as a simple angle bracket (that could be slid up and down a machined surface on the front of the bed to vary the vertical capacity) on the Rapide-Lime and Robblak the bed plate was just that, a flat, T-slotted plate bolted to the casting that carried the ram. Hence, to increase the vertical capacity it was necessary to separate them an insert some form of distance blocks or parallels.
Despite this rather clumsy arrangement, on all machines the table was of a generous size (with robust T-slots) that would have allowed most jobs to be clamped in place. The ram stroke could be set to a maximum of 7 inches, the cross travel 8 inches and the cutting tool adjusted through a range of 1.5 inches.
One featured shared by all makes - and patented on the Alexander - was an automatic, reversible table feed. This mechanism consisted of a star wheel, mounted on and keyed to the hand-feed screw, that engaged with a pawl that turned it tooth by tooth. A stop was provided, in the form of a pin that could be inserted at either side of the pawl, and so reverse the feed direction.
One might imagine that using a hand-operated shaper, even a little one like the Adept, is hard work, but this is not the case - though there are three basic points to get right: the first is tool sharpness, the closer to razor-sharp the better, with frequent attention to the top edge by an oil stone to maintain it. The second is to resist the temptation to move the handle too quickly, while also taking time taken to establish the best rate for the job in hand; for example, fifty to sixty strokes a minute by hand on a 5 to 6-inch stroke machine might feel comfortable but, allowing for lost time at the end of each half stroke, this gives at tool speed of over 60 feet/minute - which is 30% greater than that recommended for high-speed steel on cast iron. Experimenting with slower strokes will, surprisingly, often produce better results. Finally, the third consideration (which is really two rolled into one) the cutting depth and feed rate. It is possible, if you have the patience, to obtain an almost mirror finish with a very fine cut and the slowest possible feed - but it does take time.
Other popular small hand-operated shapers from the 20th centurty include the following makes ans brands: Alexander, Arrow, Benson, Boynton, Bradley, E.W.Cowell, Drummond, Flexispeeed, Graves, Liverpool Castings & Tool Supply, Omerod, Perfecto, Polygon, Portass, Rapide-Lime, Robblak, and Tom Senior..