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Forum topic by tr888 posted 11-16-2013 05:59 PM 1420 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View tr888's profile


6 posts in 2655 days

11-16-2013 05:59 PM

I am a newbie woodworker just getting comfortable with the power tools. I’ve managed to get decent repeatable results when jointing and thickness planing, and now I’m ready to try to make a simple bathroom vanity that needs some tongue-and-groove cuts on stiles and simple round-overs on edges of the legs.

I have an old 1930s-era spindle shaper. It’s a very small benchtop model with a cast-iron table, about 10×12.

The threaded spindle has a keyed washer that fits into a groove in the spindle, and a lock nut.

My question concerns combination roundover cutters like the one in the picture attached. It seems to me, the cutter is designed to be flipped over, and that when you flip it, the stock would have to be fed from the opposite direction, and this in turn would require a motor whose direction of rotation could be reversed.

Am I understanding this correctly?

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10250 posts in 3611 days

#1 posted 11-16-2013 06:03 PM

You are correct. Usually a shaper motor is wired with
a reverse switch. Reverse is used when you want to
flip a cutter over, like you’ve observed, or perhaps for
climb cutting in special situations.

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2830 days

#2 posted 11-16-2013 06:05 PM

A lot of shapers are reversible and are equipped with a reversible switch.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Texcaster's profile


1273 posts in 1637 days

#3 posted 11-16-2013 06:26 PM

If you can, get an old shaper/spindle man to show you the ropes. Your machine probably has compression collars ( the knives are loose in the collars and held in place by a nut at the top of the spindle). If you run in reverse you lose the thread, counter to rotation advantage. There are many solid cutter blocks and safety blocks that take serrated knives. Even with modern tooling and a power feed…. Have a lot of respect, it’s more than just a glorified router.
I trained on slip collars in the 70s. My 1st spindle came with a lot of the old tooling, I upgraded as soon as I could.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Jim Baldwin's profile

Jim Baldwin

56 posts in 2322 days

#4 posted 11-16-2013 08:21 PM

Are we talking about a single knife or a matched pair? Since the knife doesn’t appear to have beveled edges for the collars, I’m wondering if you might have a knife for a french spindle? (A slotted spindle for a single knife).

A small single knife with a profile ground on both cutting edges and without collar bevels, is a french spindle knife and not intended to be set in collars and run backwards. Reversing the rotation of the spindle should never be done anyway with any loose-knife set-up. Shapers equipped and intended to run in either direction usually have a locking spindle nut.

You should be aware that the use and production of loose shaper knives with straight beveled edges and accompanying collars, was discontinued years ago. The french spindle likewise was abandoned and even outlawed more than a generation ago. (These set-ups killed people)

-- Jim Baldwin/

View tr888's profile


6 posts in 2655 days

#5 posted 11-16-2013 09:27 PM

Thanks everyone for the info, warnings, etc. I have more than respect for the machine. Something resembling fear.

I spent the past hour or so using a non-flippable single radius roundover cutter and it worked out pretty well.

This machine does have compression collars; the cutter will simple spin on the spindle unless the collars are used and the nut is tightened down. The slot is definitely for the keyed washer, not a single knife.

A question for Jim Baldwin: when you say “loose shaper knives with straight beveled edges and accompanying collars” do you mean the ones as in this picture, which are held in place in a kind of puck-shaped device with a set screw? That is not the kind of machine I have.

View Jim Baldwin's profile

Jim Baldwin

56 posts in 2322 days

#6 posted 11-16-2013 11:26 PM

No, the ones in your picture fit into a molding head. These are OK. Shaper steel used to come without the serrated safety edge and the collars without the safety screw. If you have some of these, they should be discarded.

-- Jim Baldwin/

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15280 posts in 2582 days

#7 posted 11-17-2013 12:09 AM

TR – I have a shaper with the “Rockwell-type” cutters you pictured initially above. I’m able to the use upper half of the cutter with a 3/4” slab of plywood added to the top, the flipping the stuff being shaped upside down. I’d post a a picture, but the shaper is stowed away at the moment.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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