What can I do with this vinatge craftsman 103.23940 shaper?

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Forum topic by comboprof posted 05-28-2014 01:31 AM 2691 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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277 posts in 1756 days

05-28-2014 01:31 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question shaper

I was given this shaper:

I built the little base and added casters so that I could roll it out of the way. I’ll do a full restoration later, but I have loosened all the controls and it works. Here is a close up view:
It came with these 5 cutters some spacers and nothing else:
I have 3 questions:
  1. What can I use it for? I know it is probably for making doors, molding, windows, raised panels, etc. But I basically craft smaller things for example, boxes, cutting boards, shelving, “arts and craft show items”.
  2. What are the five cutters for?
  3. What cutters or other accessories should I purchase to make it more useful?
    By the way it has the original 1/2 horsepower motor which according to the manual turns the spindle at 9000 rpm.

-- -- Cheers, Don K. (Michgan's Kewenaw peninsula)

4 replies so far

View runswithscissors's profile


2762 posts in 2047 days

#1 posted 05-28-2014 07:24 AM

The cutters of course make the shapes of their profile. They look as if they’re steel, not carbide, which means they are probably dull. But steel cutters can be sharpened, if you have the patience. Your little shaper won’t cut raised panels except with a vertical panel bit (not enough power, nor a big enough spindle). See if you can find a spindle with a router chuck (ideally, 1/2” with a 1/4” adaptor sleeve). Then you can use most router bits, except the big panel bits. There are also vertical raised panel router bits, should you need to make that kind of cut. Router bits are quite a bit cheaper than shaper cutters, by the way.

Many shapers have 2 or even 3 spindle speeds, changed by shifting belts between pulleys. Faster speeds are better with smaller diameter bits. 9000 isn’t bad, but most 2 speed shapers have about 11000 rpm as their top speed.

Have fun figuring out what you can do with that thing.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2657 posts in 2944 days

#2 posted 05-28-2014 12:14 PM

I was given one of those over a year ago. I ran some wood through it and it scared me. I kept it for about a year but never used it again. I finally sold it on creigs list for $50 along with 20 cutters.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View comboprof's profile


277 posts in 1756 days

#3 posted 05-28-2014 12:35 PM

runswithscissors So far the only new replacement shaper spindles I can find would cost as much or more than a good router or a router table with a good lift. Even among those it is not clear that they could be mounted in this vinatage shaper but I’ll keep looking. I wonder if I could disassemble a dead-router to get its spindle and chuck and build something. Grizzly sells some reasonably priced 1/2 inch bore cutters and I understand with an added bushing I could use a 3/4 inch bore cutter. Probably buying some cutters is the best option. I think I could turn it into an edge sander with out much effort. Your point on the spindle speeds just means I think interchanging some pulleys or getting a step pulley. But with large cutters you want to be running at the slower speed don’t you. So in summary I suspect use router bits on the router table and use shaper bore cutters on the shaper is the right option. On the other hand I really don’t know much about shapers. It still all a mystery to what I will do with it.

-- -- Cheers, Don K. (Michgan's Kewenaw peninsula)

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 1571 days

#4 posted 05-28-2014 12:40 PM

What you have is a mid 1950’s Pedestal shaper. Many collect the pedestal Craftsman machines. I had the 1990 version of your machine and enjoyed it while I had it. I made a lot of trim/moulding with it. Just stay focused and you’ll be fine. Use feather boards.

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