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Laguna Compact Shaper 4 Speed 3HP, Model MSHAP4SPD-3-0130

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Review by JBrow posted 04-12-2016 03:48 AM 4876 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Laguna Compact Shaper 4 Speed 3HP, Model MSHAP4SPD-3-0130 No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Requirements and Order. Woodworking is a hobby. A long time ago I considered a spindle shaper but committed to the router table. A little over a year ago, I decided to upgrade the router table. The found the upgrades I wanted to make would be costly and a lot of time to put into effect. That led me to researching spindle shapers. The Laguna Compact Shaper 4 Speed 3HP 1Ph (MSHAP4SPD-3-0130) was my choice. I ordered it from M&M Tool Parts.

Receipt & Set Up. The shaper arrived after about 2 weeks from placing the order. It was well packaged in a sturdy plywood crate on a pallet. The delivery service used the lift gate to unload the machine and wheeled it into the garage on a pallet jack. The machine was rolled off the pallet using the integrated casters, a ramp, and some muscle. There was no damage.

The cast iron protective coating was removed from the top and cast iron fence sub-assembly. Following the manual and recalling the Laguna published YouTube videos, the machine was assembled without any difficulty. The instructions were clear enough for me to follow.

The cast iron sub fence was installed. The aluminum extruded fences were slid into place on the sub-fence. The fence was adjusted so the two fence halves were co-planar and square to the table. The cast iron cutter guard, also serving as the top of the table-side dust shoot, to was fastened in place. The table insert was screwed into place. Initially I installed the included ½” spindle/router collet designed for router bits. I later installed the ¾” spindle, which I now use.

Since the 3 hp motor required 20A 240V service, I added a dedicated switched circuit. The machine came with a power cord and plug wired into its magnetic on/off switch.

Features & Performance. The cast iron top and fence sub-assembly were machined flat, though I made no effort to use a dial indicator to judge flatness – just the edge of a framing square. The fence assembly locks securely to the table and the aluminum fence faces adjust smoothly and lock firmly. The spindle lock drops into the engaged and disengaged positions and works properly. The height adjustment wheel raises and lowers the spindle smoothly with very little play and locks the spindle height securely in place. The table insert ring was dead flush with the table. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the both back corners of the table were drilled and taped to accept a power feeder.

My first cut was with a router bit, since I planned to use the shaper as both a router table and a spindle shaper. The round over profile was as smooth as what I achieved at the router table and mostly free of chatter marks in one pass and comparable to results at the router table. I am satisfied that if I simply wanted to use the shaper as a router I could.

I replaced the ½” spindle/router collet with the ¾” spindle. The router collect, ¾” and 1-1/4” spindles were included. I have edge profiled, raised panels, and cut cope and stick door frames (straight and arched) with the shaper and ¾” cutters. The results are quite good at 10,000 rpm.

Opinion. The only somewhat serious negative I discovered with the Laguna Compact 3 hp Shaper is that the insert ring no longer sets perfectly flush with the table. The insert ring sets just a hair proud of the table along one edge, enough to catch the end of a work piece. It has been kept in place unless the cutter diameter required its removal. Unfortunately, the insert ring has no leveling screws; just three hold down screws. A little fiddling makes it work ok, but in the end a shop made insert ring from MDF with leveling screws or a new Laguna insert ring may be required. For this reason, I rated the machine with 4 stars.

The second negative issue is not unique to the Laguna Compact Shaper. The 4” table top dust port collects only a portion of the shavings generated. The rest end up in the cabinet. After raising a few panels, the cabinet must be cleaned out.

Since I have not contacted Laguna customer service, I can offer no opinion about their customer service.

With these problems aside, the machine performs well and does what a spindle shaper is designed to do. In my shop it will not see the use like in a pro’s shop. Also, I doubt that I will ever use 1-1/4” bore cutters. With the smaller cutters and the slower feed rate I typically use, the motor has plenty of power. There is plenty of room on the spindle to stack cutters, though I will probably never do this (except raising a panel with a back cutter). However, if stacked cutters were simultaneously cutting a complex profile, it is not clear whether the motor could support a full depth of cut or whether it would bog down. But then the motor easily handles the paneling raising operation with a back cutter and offers plenty of power for my needs. The machine is heavy and exhibits little vibration.

There is very little (almost imperceptible) dead play in the wheel when changing cutter height directions from up to down (or vice versa) and cutter height stays locked in. Cutter height is best set by measuring off the table. The height gauge mounted near the handle on the cabinet must be intended only for a rough approximation in height adjustment. The needle is just too far away from the scale to be of much value.

The drive belt and spindle lock are easily accessed by a hinged door. An access panel screwed in place is on the other side of the machine. Thus there is good access into the fully enclosed cabinet.

Changing the cutters is made easier with the spindle lock. The problem that could arise is if the spindle is locked and the machine started. Although I do not know for sure, I doubt there is a switch lock-out when the spindle lock is engaged.

Changing spindle speed requires repositioning the drive belt. A speed/ belt position diagram on the door means the manual is not needed to change speeds. I keep the reversing switch set for the cutters I have allowing for feeding stock from right to left, which is natural for me. However, the spindle rotation can be reversed by a switch.

The included mitre gauge is a self-centering gauge and slides smoothly with no play in the mitre slot. The one half of the split fence can be precisely off-set in and out, allowing the edge of stock to be jointed when fed from right to left. The aluminum fence adjusts easily toward and away from the spindle for various sized cutters. A large starter pin for profiling curved work pieces threads into the table in front of and to the left or right side of the cutter.

The integrated casters are a nice touch. One set of casters are locked in place to keep the machine from moving with bolted knobs that press into the steel wheels. The locks hold well. Unfortunately, the casters are straight-line mounted to the cabinet. To make turns, one end of the machine must be lifted and the repositioned. Luckily the machine, while heavy, is not so heavy that it is a struggle to lift one end. Nonetheless, a pair of swivel casters would have been nice.

I am very satisfied with this purchase and will use the shaper and cutters whenever possible. In my hands, the shaper and Infinity Raised Panel Door Set allow raised panel doors to be made easily and accurately; something that was always a struggle at the router table. The router table is still in the shop, but rarely sees any use.

Shop Made Add-Ons

Several Shop Made Add-Ons were installed to make the machine a little easier and safer to use. The first was a knee tap switch. This is a long narrow piece of plywood hinged above and covering the magnetic switch. It has a cut-out at the ON button so the machine can be turned on. A tab rests against the OFF button. A bump of the plywood with a knee turns the machine off while allowing hands to be kept on the work piece.

The second Shop Made Add-On was a fence bridge that accepts feather boards and the cutter guard. The fence bridge is a single piece of hardwood that sets on top of each half of the extruded aluminum fence and locks into place with a pair of knobbed bolts. The fence bridge has a T-track on the face in line with the face of the fence. It offers higher attachment points than the two T-tracks milled into the original fence for feather boards and the guard.

The third Shop Made Add-On was a set of rear mounted fence stop blocks to keep the fence parallel to the mitre slot. Each stop block, on each side and at the back of the fence, is a length of 2” wide ¾” hardwood. A pair of knobbed bolts passing through the slots in the hardwood stops and into the tapped power feeder holes at the rear of the cast iron table allows the stops to be secured in position. After squaring the fence to the mitre slot, the stops are brought into contact with the back of the fence assembly and locked into place. Shims of various thicknesses can be inserted between the fence and the fence stop blocks. The fence stops and shims ensure the fence remains parallel to the mitre slot while the fence is adjusted forward.

The last Shop Made Add-On was a 4” diameter hole cut in the cabinet flush with the inside floor of the cabinet. A dust port take-off was added. This resulted in a dual dust port shaper where the cabinet interior is now kept clean. While this simple but important add-on should have been designed into the machine, it was easy enough for me to do.

If I can settle on a design, I may build a coping sled to make coping a little easier.




View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1326 posts in 824 days



5 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2594 days


#1 posted 04-13-2016 01:10 PM

I doubt if I ever buy a shaper, but your review is thorough, deatailed, and written the way reviews should be.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

4786 posts in 2108 days


#2 posted 04-28-2016 09:58 AM

As I also have a shaper I found this review interesting and related to some of the concerns you documented
Some must be typical of this type of machine however dust extraction on table saws suffer the same problems

I was also subjected to the cabinet collecting waste but I did the reverse to you I added three fans to positively presurise the cabinet, I did this by blocking up all the gaps under the table to cabinet with EPE and duct tape other vents.
Insert ring you may find hitting the ring with a rubber faced hamer will seat it flush.
Dust extraction generally sux on wood working machines from experience but a bit of customising will improve it

Drive belt and spindle lock, dont move the spindle if its not running as you may find it throws the belt on start up.

Spindle lock yep there is a possibility of starting it when locked, to reduce the chance of this happening I leave the door open until I have unlocked the spindle however it dosent always work and a quick hit on the paddle and its off again.

Reverse, I dont have it on mine and its of no use with router bits for obvious reasons reversable spindle heads are another matter.

Enjoy your table routing as I think I use mine in this mode more then shaper head work.

-- Regards Robert

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1326 posts in 824 days


#3 posted 04-28-2016 04:59 PM

robscastle,

Thanks for your comments!

You got that right. Good dust collection at the table saw is a nightmare. I have been playing around with various options and configurations to get better collection with a zero clearance insert, but so far only with a little success at the table saw.

In the shaper review, I omitted my efforts to seal the cabinet to improve dust collection. I stuffed vinyl clad foam weather stripping in most of the shaper gaps and it helped a good deal. However, while looking into the table saw dust collection problem, I ran across a couple of great ideas (can’t remember where they came from; maybe here and one fore sure from a LJ).

One idea was to use upholsters foam for stuffing gaps. I had some and used an electric kitchen carving knife to cut it to size and filled the gaps in the table saw. It is a good friction fit and fills irregularly shaped voids. Then to cover those gigantic slots cut into the cabinet, magnetic HVAC register covers found at the home center stick to the cabinet and cover the gaping holes and slots in the cabinet. If the register cover gets in the way, it just peels off and can be quickly and easily repositioned. These covers are easily shaped with a pair of sharp scissors.

I was shocked to find out just how much money the upgrades to the router table would cost, and after spending all that money I would still have a router table. That is when I decided to buy the shaper. Initially I thought the shaper would perform much better and like you, I planned use the shaper as a router table and save money by continuing to use my collection of router bits. But then, after a little more thought and not really being satisfied with results I got with my raised panel router bit set, I took the plunge into shaper cutters. Once I used the Infinity Raised Panel Door shaper cutters, I guess I was sold. The results were simply amazing leaving me with precise and flush alignment of surfaces, clean cuts, and well fitting joints. I added some rub collars, straight, roundover and cove shaper cutters to my collection and have not looked back.

I will probably call Laguna and seek a remedy for the proud-setting insert ring. I doubt they will be of much help, but then maybe they will simply replace the ring. If I don’t call I will never know.

I was unaware of the belt-throwing problem. I will heed you advice and not turn the spindle by hand. Like you, I keep the cabinet door open when the spindle lock is engaged. I also keep tools used for changing cutters on the table as a second reminder. And then I try to remember to do one last check of the spindle lock before starting the machine. I just hope all these precautions are enough.

Since I am not a power woodworker, I suspect I will never reverse the spindle direction. Maybe someday it will come in handy, but running stock through from left to right seem awkward and could therefore be dangerous for me.

I have concluded, apparently as have you, the shaper rather than a router table is just a better way to get profiles, whether using router bits or shaper cutters.

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

4786 posts in 2108 days


#4 posted 04-29-2016 07:34 AM

Yeah well I am certainly not a power user either… unless you consider the amount of electricity I use to make sawdust as a “power User”!

When I was looking at router tables the shaper was a better deal cost and less fiddling about mounting a router to do the work, as opposed to fit a cutter and collet or a cutter head and knives.

When you raise and lower the spindle to the height required it will bring the drive belt out of parallel with the big drum, and upon start up it “may” throw the belt. So I turn on the machine on and rough set the required height then manually with no power do the final adjustment, I might also add I usually run a sacrificial piece through to confirm the required profile, if you can see visually OK this step may not be required but these days sadly for me its a must.

-- Regards Robert

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1326 posts in 824 days


#5 posted 04-29-2016 01:03 PM

robscastle,

Thanks for the clarification; I misunderstand the actions when the belt slips off the drive/spindle pulley, but then I am not the brightest bulb on the tree. It makes sense now. Yeah I can see where the belt slipping off could be a bad thing (more than an inconvenience), especially if a cut is started and the spindle loses power. Since this has yet to happen, I have been oblivious to this potential issue. I follow your prescription before putting project wood through the shaper. As far as the running a test piece, that is something I like to do also. There are so many surprises that only emerge when wood hits the cutter, it is just smart woodworking to my thinking.

Perhaps a dead horse by now, but I was somewhat surprised by how much better a shaper is than a router table. As you point out, changing bits is much easier, plus dialing in adjustments is easy and accurate, the fence is flat and square to the table, the machine offers the potential to extend capabilities, and it runs quieter. Even though a shaper may stretch the budget a bit over a router table plus router and accessories, it is not much of a budget stretch, and, I think, a much better machine.

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