||George L. Kelley
|| USPTO |
|Aug. 17, 1909
||William H. Ahlers
||Guide device for
|| USPTO |
|Oct. 22, 1912
||George L. Kelley
||Guide device for
woodworking or routing machines |
Although the Kelley
router is very crude and heavy, it becomes the revolutionary
development for the wood-working trades -- especially the
furniture and architectural millwork industries. The router eliminates tedious hand carving and makes correct geometrical cuts.
cited from Patrick Spielman, a letter in an early Kelley Electric
Machine Catalog from a user of the Kelley
... for fluting
columns and pilasters (Kelley's) machine cannot be beat.
advertising motto boldly reads,
Clean finished cuts in straight or cross grain.
The 1920s "revolution" in the Shaper
Portents that show us that, indeed a
"revolution in shapers" did occur.
In the 1900s, as we've seen above, we had the Kelley
In the 1920s, Ray L Carter worked on a "portable shaper".
(click here to go to the text on the router page.) For a shaper for the period -- of possible use by woodworkers outside
industrial settings? -- Charles G Wheeler, in a 1926 woodworker's manual
dedicated to the Boy Scouts, Woodworking: A Handbook for Beginners in Home and School, Treating of Tools and Operations shows a Baxter Whitney and Sons "two
vertical spindles" model.
Sketch on the
left is a "double spindle shaper", as reproduced in Wheeler's 1926 manual
-- below is descriptive text of shapers from Wheeler's manual.
The extract from Baxter D. Whitey and Son catalog -- especially the
note about "vibration" -- reveals "truths" about shapers in the
"folklore" of woodworking. Shapers, deservedly for the era, have a
reputation for being "dangerous to operators". For Wheeler, his position about power machinery in 1926 constrasts sharply with his position about power machinery in 1899. In 1899, he wrote a well-received manual Woodworking for Beginners. Subtitled "A Manual for Amateurs", this manual was alos published by the mainline publisher, G P Putnam's Sons. The 1899 manual does not mention power machinery, even though industruial arts classrooms were typically fitted out with a full compliment power tools, all driven with line-shafts and pulleys, and typically considered dangerous to operate.
What happened? Well, in the quarter century between 1899 and 1926, here are a few things: electrification of cities, fractional horse-power motors, some small scale power tools, such as Delta's initial scroll saw, and the J D Wallace jointer.
The Shaper or irregular moulder
cuts the edge of the wood into any desired shape for which cutters can
A first-class shaper will mould the wood in any
direction of the grain and leave the surface so smooth that no
further finishing is required. The shaper has always been regarded as a dangerous machine
- one with which the novice should not experiment. It has two vertical
spindles (or sometimes only one) with collars which hold cutting
knives of whatever shape may be required. These knives revolve rapidly
with the spindle like the cutters of the Planer or Jointer, and cut the
wood as the operator passes it by them. The form into which the wood is
cut is of course the reverse of the shape of the cutting-knives. The
two spindles revolve in opposite directions, so that the operator
can cut according to the direction of the grain. If there is but one
spindle, the direction can be reversed. Safety guards can be used.
The essential features of a successful shaper are primarily the design and construction of the frame and table, the extent to which all vibration is eliminated,
the type and arrangement of spindle and boxes. The machine must be so
made that the spindle can be run at the highest practical spas with
perfect steadiness, as the lightest vibration or chatter will produce
imperfect work."-Baxter D. Whitney and Son, Inc.
Source: Charles G Wheeler, Woodworking : A Handbook for Beginners in Home and School. NY: G P Putnam's Sons, 1926, page 334 (Click here for more on Wheeler's contributions.)
Two 1930s woodworker's manuals, one by Arthur
Wakeling, the other by Herbert Tautz, do not show a shaper. (Wakeling is assisted in this venture by
several prominent Industrial Arts figures such as Herman Hjorth.) On Wakeling's manual and its impact, read more here
In 1932, however, several significant events occur: the Stanley-Carter
domed top router is on the market, and sigificantly, I think, called a "portable
shaper" and the J D Wallace. And if the Delta
shaper was on the drawing board, Tautz and Fruits didn't mention it.
Scaled-Down Shapers Take off Early
Did Routers Start Out as Stationary
"The modern router", claims Anthony Bailey, Routing For Beginners,
1999, page 4, "descended for the fixed-head machines". With this claim,
I think that Bailey is, in the idiom of today, "onto something",
although in his book he doesn't elaborate on the point. Nonetheless,
his statement stimulates our thinking on the matter, especially when
you consider the Workace "shaper" introduced in 1929 by the J D
For example, check out my post on the "royal-treatment" given the
Boice-Crane floor shaper
in Popular Homecraft in November, 1930. For
me, side-by-side, the two images have remarkable similarities. Yes, one
is floor-standing, the other bench-top, comparison that is --perhaps --
a "stretch", but -- taken together -- the round cast-iron tables on
both models, the fact that Popular Homecraft sees the B-C shaper as
appropriate for home workshops, make the analogy seem reasonable.
(Puzzling, though, is why, in the 1935 Boice-Crane catalog, the floor shaper is
absent, suggesting that it had a short-life span.)
This "Smoking-gun" evidence about the truth of Bailey's claim about a
linkage between the modern router and the shaper is available, but
more evidence -- I hold back about drawing any firm conclusions.
Below, for example, is a digitized reprinting of the page from the 1932
J D Wallace Woodworking Tools catalog.
But, strangely, this shaper is not in the 1933 J D Wallace catalog.
Thousands of Workace Electric
Shapers are in service -- in large plants and small
shops-schools and hobby shops, maintenance departments, pattern and
cabinet shops and furniture repair departments, etc.
In the large plants the Workace Electric Shaper supplements the larger
equipment -- handles all the lighter work and short runs at an enormous
saving in set up time, power and in-vestment. It is portable, can be
taken to a job -- saves steps.
off light circuit, can be economically run at any time independently of
the other plant equipment -- that is a decided advantage in equipment
of the Wallace and Workace type.
The capacity of
Electric Shaper, the speed and precision with which it operates, the
small investment and low operating and maintenance cost, places the
small shop, pattern shop or cabinet shop, furniture repair departments.
schools and hobby shops in a position to do all kinds of shaping
efficiently and economically, to handle long runs or short runs,
specials and repairs; any type of moulding, grooving, beading, shaping
Electric Shaper comes complete as illustrated above including two steel
shaper collars 2" dia., 3/8" thick bevel grooved for knives; four
spacing collars 1/3" thick; locking pin. 10 ft. lamp cord and separable
Motor to operate on 110 or 220 volts DC
and AC, 25
to 60 cycle, single phase, or 220 volts, AC. 120 cycle, three phase
(7200 RPM) 1 HP., or 220 volts, AC.. 180 cycle three phase, 1 HP.
Set ups for any shape are quickly
made on the
Workace Electric Shaper. To facilitate short runs we have worked out a
set of cutters in Nos. 2757, 2758 and 2759 which, in various
combinations, make it possible to cut practically any shape. Knives and
solid cutters, of course, are avail-able for long runs or shapes often
The Workace Electric Shaper operates
electric lighting circuit, also available for 120 or 180 cycle, three
phase. It is direct motor driven-direct, positive, powerful
economical drive; no belts to dissipate power. High speed, 10,000
R.P.M. (no load speed). Works with or against the grain;
easily taken to the job, saves steps. Precision ball bearing, air
We will gladly submit the Workace Shaper
to you so
that you may try not what we claim to be the biggest value in
woodworking equipment -- a high speed, powerful, accurate tool at a
very modest price -- the Workace Electric Shaper.
or four wing cutters for cuts used frequently, saves set-up time,
quotation on request. Knives are available in shapes shown on opposite
page. For quick set up on short runs of various shapes we suggest
cutters Nos. 2757, 2758 and 2759 illustrated on opposite page. Guard
No. 2714 and Fence No. 2713. These items are optional and available at
a small extra cost.
D Wallace Woodworking Tools Catalog
Below, the shaded box reprints the brief piece by the editor
of Industrial Arts Magazine,
suggesting that the Wallace high-speed shaper was introduced in 1929.
NEW WORKACE ELECTRIC SHAPER
J. D. Wallace Company, 134 So. California Ave., Chicago, Ill., has
announced a new Workace electric shaper, something entirely new in the
popular priced and portable line of shapers.
Workace shaper is equipped with ball bearings. It is motor driven, and
adequate means for lubrication are provided. In this machine, the belt
has been eliminated, thus slipping, slowing down of operations, and
loss of power is avoided. The shaper is mounted on a table with a screw
arrangement, which permits it to be raised or lowered. It can be locked
securely in any position by a handwheel. The spindle is a steel shaft
in. in diameter, which extends 3 5/8 in. above the table top, and
provides a capacity of 2 1/2 in. between two steel shaper collars, or 3
1/4 in. when using solid cutters. The machine is provided with a
General Electric Universal motor, which can be used
on an ordinary
lighting circuit, 110 or 220 volts, d.c., or 25 to 60 cycle a.c. It
weighs only 42 pounds and stands firmly on its own
Industrial Arts Magazine 18
September 1929, page 31A
With the text and image of
the J D Wallace Workace shaper (above), including its direct-drive
universal motor and 47 pounds, we have the
ideal setting for another breakthrough in the development of the
hand-held high-speed router. However, until I find more conclusive
evidence, I remain skeptical. I think that perhaps the speed of the
spindle rotation -- 13,000 rpm -- was too fast for the cutters that
existed in the late 1920s.
spindles on shapers operated by amateur woodworkers rotate at two
speeds -- governed by the two-stage pulleys on the spindle's end, below
the shaper's table
surface, that are belted to the motor. Operating the machine at higher
speeds -- especially with larger diameter cutters, raises the danger of
the machine causing problems, including injury to the operator.)
The Stanley Electric Bench Top Shaper 1930s
entry on this machine by Dave Potts on
top of this machine measures 12 inches square and has a round
throat/hole with a shoulder to permit the use of smaller throat plates.
The router motor included is one of Stanley's smallest types-- the hand
shaper model, and is held in place with a pivoting bracket that permits
tilting the router bit. The two leg brackets that are bolted to the
3/8" plate-steel top are identical, and are marked with casting number
C 1780. The unit weighs close to 50 pounds.
no fence is shown with the machine, Dave Potts, who owns the machine,
notes that there appears to be remnants of a guard that mounted from
below the table.
Two patent numbers are stamped into a plate
mounted on the machine, both assigned to Ray L. Carter c. 1925.
# 1532683 was for a portable shaper and mortising machine, and number
1566824 was for a portable wood shaper
As a disclaimer, Potts notes that neither of the patents in the links
above describe the machine pictured.
For the sake of perspective, the picture above is "with this router
table placed on top of a floor-standing Stanley Router/Shaper table S5A
that I recently restored and use on a regular basis".
Walker-Turner's 1930s Bench Top
THIS machine is a unique creative machine in itself. The highspeed
vertical shaper is indispensable in planing mills, furniture factories,
carpenter shops, etc.
For the home craftsman it serves many different purposes-enabling him
to cut almost innumerable kinds of mouldings, put fancy edges on table
tops, cabinet panels, etc. The cutters which are supplied can be used
singly or in combination as two can be mounted together. Further varied
cuts are obtained by simply tilting, raising or lowering the head stock
to expose the cutters at various angles and heights.
An advantage of this type shaper is that by removing the guard and
guides the interior edges of work such as small picture frames and
panels may be done very easily. This operation is not possible with
other types which employ large cutter heads with removable blades.
Provision is also made for dadoing or grooving, and for raising panels
with this machine. Head stock is inverted and these accessories
attached to end of spindle 1/W" in diameter.
Without doubt, the shaper shown here is the safest
to operate. The small cutters and effective guards practically
eliminate the hazards ordinarily associated with high speed shapers.
Handbook: A Practical Manual for Guidance in Planning, Installing and
Operating Power Workshops Plainfield, NJ:
Walker-Turner, 1932 127 pages.
(Note: The Preface of this
woodworker's manual claims that this is the third edition of W-T's Driver
Manual. Included is a folded set of plans for workshop layouts
in pocket glued to inside back cover. The link leads to a book not
available "full text", and while the date is 1932, pagination is
recorded as 121 pages, not 127 of my, s0-called third edtion copy.)
Delta's 1180 "Light-Duty Benchtop
Delta Manufacturing was
marketing a shaper -- the benchtop "light-duty" -- for the home
craftsman in the 1930s. That shaper was
Sam Brown's Getting the most
out of your shaper: complete handbook covering all branches of shaper
operation in the home workshop, with over two
hundred photographic illustrations and line drawings. Milwaukee, Wis.,
Delta Manufacturing Division, Rockwell Manufacturing Co.,1936 (12th ed.
48 pages. Delta-craft publication Book no. 4535.)
Shapers Reviewed in 1930s Woodworking Periodicals
The arrival on the market of shapers designed for the home workshop
market was recognized by the periodicals that covered woodworking. Popular
Homecraft, as one example, published at least four
articles, authored by an "F. Culhane", in the magazine's series, Care
and Use of Power Mahhinery.
(Mysteriously, F. Culhane's
credentials are not laid out, nor are his connections to the magazine
as a PH contributor disclosed. Further, my
searches -- (1) Worldcat book database, (2) Retrospective Reader's Guide to
Periodical Literature, and (3) Newspaperarchive.com -- for something
more about Culhane all failed.)
However, the gist of the articles are
all down-to-earth and fundamental: safety, utility, and the like,
definitely no hyperbole. (All articles single column text, with photos
December, 1936; "The Shaper: The
Fence as a Guide" pages 478-482 -- an earlier article is mentioned --
probably November 1936 -- but unfortunately I don't have the issue
June-July, 1937; "Shaping Irregular Curves", pages 152-158
November, 1937; "The Application of Straight Edged Shaper Cutters",
March, 1937;"Use of Hold-Down and Hold-Over Springs on the Shaper"
December, 1937; "Mortise-Tenon and Matched Joints with Straight Edge
Cutters", pages 478-481
January-February, 1938; "Application of Straight Edge Cutters on
Matched Joints" pages 558-561. Demonstrates how, among other things,
amateur woodworkers with shapers in their shops can make their own
September-October, 1938; "Portable Shapers", pages 234-237. This
article focuses on the Carter-Stanley "router-shaper", introduced in
1931. (In the 1930s, obviously, the router -- as it is called today --
was not yet the name used to identify this power tool. For more discussion, click here and
Twenty years later,
Getting the Most of of your shaper was expanded to 108
In 1947, A New Manufacturer Launches a Line of Floor-Standing Shapers
McCartney -Manufacturing Company, Makers of Precision Tools, to Move From Joplin.
Baxter Springs, Kan., Sept. 20.— A new industry for Baxter Springs has been obtained, largely through the efforts ol the Industrial committee of
the Chamber of Commerce.
The new firm is the McCartney Manufacturing Company, now located in Joplin. Joe McCartney is owner of the firm, which manufacturer precision machine tools.
It is hoped the firm can begin operations here within 30 days. The plant will be at Twelfth street and Park avenue, and an extension will be built on the north end of
the building, which will extend east to the alley. The company plans to build within a year.
The company manufactures spindle shapers and lathes for wood turning. Two spindle shapers, known as models 100 and 107, are being produced.
The shaper is a machine tool used in woodworking and also in the plastic industry for forming special designs and molding. It also is being used in the aluminum and
magnesium industries. The firm employs seven persons at present but under an expansion program several times that number will be employed.
Source: Joplin (Missouri) Globe Sunday, Sept 21, 1947, p 6 B
Post WW-II Shapers Target GI Joes
Set off in white, below, are
quotes from an article by Herman Hjorth in the Home
Craftsman 17 November-December 1948, pages 20-22,
42-45. Hjorth's article features the Atlas Shaper.
(We know this because one
photo in the Home Craftsman
article shows a shaper with the Atlas logo. That same shaper is
featured in an
undated instruction-in-use manual by Mechanix illustrated on
the Old Woodworking Machines website. Hjorth himself was a very
prominent figure in Industrial Arts circles in the first half the 20th
century; later, in the narrative chapters, I will try to include more
on Hjorth and other figures in Industrial Arts of that era.).
the article, Hjorth gives
what today we would consider a fairly standard accounting of what
amateur woodworkers can do with a small shaper. In 1948, however, I can
imagine how electrifying this would be for dedicated amateur
(Shapers of this size came on
to the market in the 1930s. I have one of this vintage, although its
manufacturer is not identified. The spindles range from 1/4" to 3/4",
and, with two speeds, it is powered by a 2 hp Baldor reversible motor.)
I'll have more to say later about the shaper in both pre-WW II and
post-WW II eras.)
shaper is a machine
on which moldings, grooves, flutes, beads and the like are cut on both
straight and curved work. It is therefore a power tool that
is indispensable to the modern cabinetmaker.
It used to be one of the most dangerous
woodworking machines, but modern engineering has fortunately eliminated
most of the dangers, especially on the smaller bench machine
modern high-speed woodworking shaper opens a whole new world to
the amateur craftsman.
With it he can duplicate the delicately shaped edges,
moldings, reeds and flutes that are found on period furniture.
He can also cut all sorts of grooves and rabbets, make
professional-looking sash and doors and turn out shaped table tops and
other curved and irregular parts on a profitable production basis.
Should the amateur craftsman buy a woodworking shaper?
Will he get enough use out of it to be worth while?
While both the circular saw and drill press can be used for shaping,
sooner or later a home-workshop enthusiast feels the need of a machine
designed especially for this work. A shaper is more convenient, does
better and faster work, and handles a wider variety of jobs.
How large a shaper does the home woodshop need?
Obviously, it should be large and complete enough to do the work better
than an adapted machine. A popular bench machine has a table 18" by
151/2". Floor models have tables about 20" by 27". Such shapers use
from two to four sizes of cutters, ranging from 5/16' to 3/4" in bore.
What accessories are there?
There is a two-section At right, spring hold-downs. In circle below, a
depth collar guides edge of work
fence, special cutting heads, stub spindles for cope cuts where one
molded edge intersects another, and
P£ sets for making lock joints, box corners, and the like.
How is the machine guarded for safety?
The fence gives much protection. Spring hold-downs help keep fingers
from the knives, and push sticks are handy. For free-hand work, a
tapered pin inserted in a hole in the table steadies the start of the
cut. A ring or cup-shaped
guard can be placed over the cut- ter.
How are cutters mounted?
Two or more threaded arbors are supplied.
These are tapered or fitted with cone nuts to bolt rigidly into the
machine spindle. Sometimes the spindle itself has
an arbor at each end, and needs only to be cranked out of the quill and
inserted with the proper end up.
This gives freedom from vibration at
the high speeds used--7,000 r.p.m. or more. The cutter is clamped on
the arbor with a nut and keyed washer.
How are adjustments made?
Depth collars below or above the cutter roughly adjust for height.
Finer adjustment is obtained with a worm-wheel turning on a threaded
upright rod, or some such device, or by a handle fitted with a cone
that slides in a helical slot having tapered sides, so that backlash is
eliminated. Clamps lock the spindle in position.
What drives are used?
A V-belt drive with high-speed motor is common, but gears, protected
from shock by a clutch, are also used. Belt tension is usually adjusted
by shifting the motor a little.
Sources: (not nearly complete -- just be patient, please.)
Kenneth L. Cope, American Planer, Shaper, and Slotter Builders Mendham, NJ: Astragal Press, 2002. (Note: Kenneth L. Cope's American Planer, Shaper, and Slotter Builders (Mendham, NJ: Astragal Press, 2002) is not intended to be a history. Instead the book seeks to identify over 300 American manufacturers of power planers, shapers and slotters of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Cope includes over 1000 illustrations -- from original catalogs and contemporary periodicals - that show these machines developed. Cope's collection begins in the early 1800's -- as crude, hand-built copies of English machines - and then, over the course of a century, develop into monster machines, "unmatched elsewhere in the world". Along with these planers, shapers and slotters are images identify and illustrate such accessories as chucks, dividing heads, milling attachments and keyseating attachments. Cope's compendium also includes a glossary of terms that describe types of planers, shapers and slotters. Separate illustrations help identify the individual parts of the machines. Many of the builders listed are well known, and some are still operating. Most of others are obscure, known only from advertisement placed in contemporary magazines. Information and illustrations come from such city directories, records of sales to the U.S. government, contemporary publications including American Artisan, American Machinist, American Manufacturer, Iron Age, Machinery, Mechanics, and Scientific American and countless catalogs issued by planer, shaper and slotter builders and dealers.