Over the summer of 2006 I traded my Sheldon horizontal mill for a Bridgeport shaper head.  From a money standpoint it wasn't an advantageous trade, OTOH the shaper head fits my needs lots better.  Although the shaper head is fully functional, it lacks the clapper box and was instead fitted with a big plain bushing.  I have heard that the clapper box design is sometimes less effective for slotting in particular so locking or replacing them is common.

For mine, I figured I needed to make some HSS toolholders.  I had a seemingly clever idea to cut the recess for the tool, rotated by 45 degrees so the clamp would work over a corner of the bit instead of the flat.

Makes for a fun picture but getting the correct rotations is subtler than it looks.  I ended up milling out the 45 degree rotation and clamping against the flat.  So much for being clever... ;)

This is the end of the shaper head ram, the clapper box and in this case, the bushing secures here.

This is a view of the bushing my head came with, my homebrew toolholder and a 3/16" HSS cutting tool with a 1/4" tool soldered to it, intended to stiffen the otherwise very flexible cutter.

This was the first job, putting keyways into replacement gears for my lathe.  Step 1 was to bore out the 1/2" hole to 1.5". As can be seen in the bore, I kind of messed up the finish- forgot to move up to the 1" boring bar once so had some chatter on the final pass.

The vise & table combo tends to be springy, so the workholding should be secure.  As can be seen above, my solder job didn't hold.  I later redid it, being more careful with the wetting and it worked quite well. With a bit of practice with setup and grind I was able to obtain good cuts without the 1/4" backing tool, particularly in aluminum.

I found it helpful to adjust the ram gib to pre-load the ram a little bit.  With the gib loose, the ram tended to knock when coming into contact with the work.  The head doesn't nod, but rotates side to side.  I indicated the ram and with the head pointing down and indicated for vertical, the ram nods .001" or less over about 3". The prospect of tapering a keyway's depth is interesting, though I don't know where I'd use it.

The shaper head uses two lubricants, one for the worm gearcase and the other for the crank and ram.

For the worm, I used Mobil SHC 634 synthetic, available from Enco and McMaster.  This oil is very sticky and the fill hole is small so a dedicated pump oiler will be helpful.

For the crank and ram I've tried Velocite #10 and Mobil DTE Heavy/Med- both seem to work fine though the DTE doesn't drain out as quickly.

Overall I'm quite happy with the head.  Its nothing like a real shaper, but being compact and out of the way is helpful- and it makes keyways a breeze.


I made toolholder #2,this one holds the tool vertically, not angled to relieve the cutting edge. We'll see if it helps stiffen the 3/16" cutting tool. I think I'll make the next one hold the tool horizontally with provision for both 3/16" and 1/4" tooling.

;;; eof