How to Use a Wood Shaper

What You'll Need
Wood shaper
Safety goggles
Ear protection
Safety mask
Dust collector

A wood shaper is piece of woodworking equipment that is used to mold cuts into a piece of wood. The basic design is a rotating spindle mounted on a large router table. While it is possible to mount a router vertically on a special table, this is technically not a wood shaper. Wood shapers are larger machines. They have bigger, quieter engines and can handle larger, more durable bits. A wood shaper is best suited for shaping edges on a piece of wood, such as for raised door panels and more ornamental designs, while a router is commonly used to make simpler cuts such as joints. However, unless you are a woodworking professional, a wood shaper and an inverted router perform the same function.

Wood shapers are regarded as very dangerous pieces of equipment. The revolving cutting head spins at very high speeds and can turn a piece of wood into a projectile. They are especially dangerous if you are shaping a curved, irregular or knotty piece of wood. It is generally not advisable to shape a piece of wood shorter than twelve inches, as it increases the chances of your hands and fingers getting caught in the blade. Read the manual that came with your wood shaper and make sure you fully understand and follow all instructions before beginning work.

Step 1—Prepare the Work Area

Make sure the area around the machine is free of clutter, materials and debris. The same goes for the area around the blade. This is also the time to make sure you have an exhaust system (a dust collector) in place to minimize dust, which can be hazardous to your health.

Step 2—Choose a Blade

There are a wide variety of blade router bits available for doing simple grooves to very elaborate cuts. Choose one that is appropriate for the job you are doing and secure it to the cutter head.

Step 2—Adjust the Fence

The fence is comprised of two vertical pieces. They move forwards and backwards and can also be opened and closed by pushing them together or apart. The fence is also a piece of safety equipment, as it works as a guide to push the wood against. Adjust the fence as close as possible to the blade. For a wider blade, the fence can be opened up more. For a smaller blade, the fence should be narrowed. Normally, the fence is aligned parallel in order to make straight cuts. However, it can also be adjusted to make angled cuts.

Step 3—Make the Cut

Once the machine and the exhaust system are powered on, you're ready to make the cut. Apply pressure to the piece of wood both downward and against the fence. Push the piece of wood towards the rotating blade slowly, maintaining pressure. Never allow your fingers to get within more than a few inches the rotating blade, as you risk serious injury.