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- Which Shaper and Planer Should I Buy? -

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Exactly which lathe, milling machine, drill, shaper, wood lathe, saw or grinder (etc) should I buy?
That's a bit like asking me which car you should choose. It depends upon so many different factors, but here are some suggestions.
- for metal-turning lathes this page
- for wood-turning lathes this page
- for milling machines this page

Many of the more common types of shaper and planer below are often to be found advertised here

In the UK, the smallest machine to contemplate for serious work is a Boxford 8-inch
. In the United States the shaper by South Bend, upon which the Boxford was modelled, also makes an excellent buy  - though finding one might be difficult. Another excellent small model, the 7-inch Atlas/Craftsman, can be found in both England and the USA and is also a delightful and very effective little machine (though it is rare in the UK). However, available in the UK, and not much larger, are the superior 10-inch stroke Elliott 10M/Alba 1A and Royal/Viceroy. If your work is serious and heavier, you might be better off with a 12-inch or even 14-inch machine of the same make - these being shown lower down the Elliott 10-inch page. Elliott shapers were also badged as INVICTA. However, almost any make of powered 10-inch stroke (or greater) machine will do, all were strongly built and intended for serious use.
For buyers in the United States other smaller, well made examples are the Ammco/Delta Rockwell, the Broadhead-Garret J-line, the Rhodes, a model sold originally as the Porter-Cable, then branded as the Logan (and finally Broadhead-Garret) and kit-built ones by Jones and Lewis - though finished examples of both are rare as buyers realised that their ambition exceeded ability.

A number of interesting and surprisingly effective hand-operated shapers and planers have also been offered over the years. With razor-sharp tools and the right action of the operating handle these can be surprisingly effective machine tools - and command a surprisingly high price. Miniature planers are especially effective in a small workshop having the ability to handle surprisingly large workpieces whilst being compact and easily operated. Unfortunately they have not been manufactured for some considerable time but do turn up occasionally - when (being an interesting and mechanically delightful artefact) they tend to command a premium price.  Common models of hand-operated shapers to look out for include:
Senior (and Firth)

Many others were made, some rare, but others turning up with surprising frequency such as the:
Leyland & Barlow

All small planers will be antique machines (but non the worse for that) and include:

Selig Sonnenthal
Senior (and Firth)
...and a number of unknown makes..

Although a simple machine, a shaper is a remarkably versatile and adaptable one. To discover just what can be achieved with one, the following book is essential reading:
SHAPER WORK - A complete, thoroughly detailed and well-illustrated 333-page book on how to use and get the best from a shaper. "For beginners in Machine Shop Practice". Features a larger machine - but the methods and principles involved apply to all makes and types. A heavy publication bound in two volumes and printed on a heavy, high-quality 120g paper.
It can be ordered securely on-line here with payment by credit or debit card or PayPal:

One way of locating a machine (and often being presented with a choice) is to place a "Wanted" advertisement on the sales and wanted pages

Keep the wording simple and non too-specific, you never know what might turn up. Don't ask for one in perfect condition - a well-used one might be inaccurate but have masses of valuable accessories included. Buy the complete outfit, save the accessories, throw the remainder into the local canal - and keep looking. Something along the following lines, tailored to your requirements, can be effective

Wanted: small shaper. Any model considered, in any condition. Please phone: *************

For the coverage, the costs are modest: 42 including VAT per advert for up to 150 words and - the great advantage - a display duration of 6 months and the facility to have the words changed later - any number of times you like - free of charge. For example, if you find what you are looking for you can change the advertisement to ask for accessories, or even something completely different.
To place a "Wanted" advertisement it's best to phone: 01298-871633..

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Machine Tool FAQs
- Shapers and Planers-
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