Metal Shapers

by Kay Fisher

Shaper Documentation Resources

This month is supposed to be the 61st shaper column. However it is actually the 2nd shaper column republished and brought up to date.

This is a list of shaper documentation resources (the most frequently asked question).

All prices and availability are current as of Oct 30, 2006. Perhaps 100 years from now your great grandson will read this book and think our prices were “wicked cheap”, perhaps not. In any case, call or write before placing any order.

Books on CD

I believe the most valuable resource is the shaper CD offered by fellow NEMES member, Errol Groff. Below is a copy of his advertisement, from the most recent NEMES gazette:

Shaper Work CD

Shaper Work CD                                     Photo by Kay Fisher

Put out in 1944 by the New York State education Department, this 326 page manual is chock full of valuable tips and information on using the King of Machine tools....The Shaper. Covered is everything you need to know about the care and feeding of the shaper, use of the shaper, even how to sharpen tools for the shaper, scanned and saved in Adobe Acrobat format. The CD now has a lot more info on it, and the price has increased accordingly. $10.00, shipping included.

Errol Groff
180 Middle Road
Preston, CT 06365 8206

Tony Griffith’s web site, mentioned in a few paragraphs, is also available as a set of 3 CDs or one DVD. See the on-line resources section below.


Rudy Video                                              Photo by Kay Fisher

“Operating a Shaper” (2 hours) and “6 Projects for the Shaper” (2 hours, 45 min.) both by Rudy Kouhoupt. These are $58.95 each, post paid, for either VHS or DVD. Available through:

Bay-Com Enterprises
P.O. Box 351
Interlochen, Michigan 49643
Toll Free (888) 452-6947

Operating a Shaper – videotape

If you only purchase one item of reference material for your shaper this would be my first choice. This video by Rudy Kouhoupt is worth watching if for no other reason than his advice on safety precautions. It starts with a description of various types of shapers then quickly gets into the specifics of operating the type of shaper that you are most likely to own. As in all things produced by Rudy, this video has excellent photography. It gets a little slow at times (slow is the nature of shapers) but if you are going to operate a shaper in your workshop, then you owe it to yourself to obtain this video.

Morgan Video                                          Photo by Kay Fisher

If you rebuild a shaper, you may have to scrape it. I have attended a club scraping seminar, read 3 books about scraping, and watched the Michael Morgan “Basic Hand Scraping” video. The video is 54 minutes long and covers the steps taken in scraping a part from a "worn" finish to a flat bearing finish. If you need to learn how to hand scrape, this video is for you. It is available for $45 on-line at:

Note: Michael Morgan’s business went through hard times a few years ago. Even though his website is still up, his book and video may no longer be available. Check before sending money.

On-Line Resources

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend this shaper column, which is available online at:

This is also available reformatted slightly as the metal shaper FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

One problem many first time shaper owners face is identifying a shaper they either just purchased or are considering purchasing. Tony Griffiths has a web site with pictures and descriptions of many shapers. He also sells copies of manuals and catalogues he has obtained over the years.

main page
list of all shapers
list of available manuals
list of available catalogues
UK Phone: 44-1298-871633

If you still have a question about a shaper after consulting Tony’s web site and the shaper FAQ, your next best option is to ask your question in one of the online forums. My favorite is the Yahoo group “Metal_Shapers”. If you have never seen a Yahoo group before go to, click on Groups on the left, then in the search box near the top labeled “Find a Yahoo Group!” enter “Metal_Shapers” and click Search. Currently, this returns a list of 5 groups. All are interesting but you want to click on the Metal_Shapers item. What you see after this will vary. The best advice I can give from here is just to follow your instincts and join the group.

There are many manuals, catalogues, and brochures available in the “Files” section of the Yahoo group Metal_Shapers_Pix and Metal_Shapers. Perhaps the most interesting one is the U.S. Army shaper manual, which covers the South Bend 7” shaper. It is useful as a general shaper manual and is essential if you have a South Bend shaper.

Other interesting shaper related Yahoo groups are: “Metal_Shapers_Pix”, Lewis_Machine_Tool”, LewisMachineTool”, “Gingery_Machines”, and of course “NEMES”.

The “Usenet News Group” rec.crafts.metalworking frequently has shaper related information and questions. Usenet news groups are a lot like Yahoo groups but more globally distributed. The easiest way to view a usenet news group is with software that is called a news group reader. One that nearly every Windows user has is called “Outlook Express” (which is not the same as “Outlook”). Another is Mozilla/Thunderbird. You can also access usenet news groups with Google Group searches There is also a rec.crafts.metalworking “drop box” or archive, with pictures and old articles. This drop box is available through:

The drop box is also a good resource for copies of old manuals, catalogues and brochures.

There is also a metalworking FAQ which has information that has been published in relation to rec.crafts.metalworking. at:

Several catalogues for Ammco, Delta, and Milwaukee shapers are available on Scott Logan’s web site:

He also has the parts list and instructions for the Logan 8" shaper available for $20 as part number PL-40. Because they do not manufacture parts anymore, they also provide the dimensioned drawings for $100 as part number PL-41 at:

Another source for manuals is “Machinery Support On-line”, but they are much more expensive. For example, the Logan manual mentioned above costs $20 from Scott Logan and costs $100 from Machinery Support On-line. But if you can’t find it anywhere else, check here:

For a look at some new Chinese shapers check out:

When your just looking for something on-line don’t forget the these internet search sites: and


P. M. Research Catalogue                      Photo by Kay Fisher

PM Research 1/12 Scale shaper kit.

There is a 1/12 scale shaper kit in this catalogue. I hope to write a shaper column about it in the future. It is available as a set of castings and drawings. It is a 1/12 scale replica of the Figure 850 Crank Shaper Machine found in the Charles A. Strelinger Company catalogue of 1895. The castings are high quality. Many amateur machinists have successfully made this shaper. Warning – these kits can be addictive. You can easily spend two years building an entire miniature workshop. Also available in matching 1/12 scale are the following kits: an engine lathe, a drill press, a bench grinder, and a horizontal milling machine.

$85.00 plus shipping. Catalogue $3.00 post paid from:

PM Research
4110 Niles Hill Road, Department 6C
Wellsville, NY 14895
Phone (800)724-3801

Lindsay Catalogue                                   Photo by Kay Fisher

Lindsay Publications specializes in publishing books that have been out of print for a number of years and frequently with expired copyrights. They fill a critical need for amateur machinists since our shops are filled with old equipment. For an entertaining free catalogue, go on-line or write to Lindsay Publications.

Lindsay Publications Inc.
P.O. Box 538
Bradley, IL 60915
Phone (815)935-5353
Fax (815)935-5477

MSC Catalogue                                      Photo by Kay Fisher

MSC Industrial Supply Co. is a supplier of machinists related tools and material and have a good reputation of quickly shipping quality merchandise. I have used them many times and have never been disappointed. Get their free, huge catalogue.

MSC Industrial Supply Co., Inc.
75 Maxess Road
Melville, New York 11747-3151
Phone (800)645-7270


There are no magazines dedicated to shapers. However there are two magazines that frequently have shaper articles and are always loaded with valuable tips.

Home Shop Machinist                             Photo by Kay Fisher

Machinist Workshop                               Photo by Kay Fisher

“The Home Shop Machinist” magazine and its sister “Machinist’s Workshop” (formerly titled “Projects in Metal”) are bi-monthly publications targeted to the amateur machinist. These issues have run articles related to shapers:

January/February 1998 Readers Forum page 22. This letter and pictures from V. W. Orlovsky of Dresden, Maine describes his home-made shaper from modified Dave Gingery plans. If you’re thinking of building a shaper from scratch, you should look at what Mr. Orlovsky has accomplished. Basically it is a 6-inch shaper with 1/3 horsepower.

Also in this same issue is an article entitled “Making a Clapper” by Rudy Kouhoupt. In this article, Rudy details the construction of a clapper that overcomes tool bounce and reduces surface ripple.

Before speaking to our club, Rudy told me that he believes that the little ripple effect frequently observed on the leading edge of flat surfaces was caused by the clapper design. He thought the clapper geometry, placing the cutting surface out in front of the pivot point of the clapper, was the cause. I was skeptical, but since Rudy has made a replacement clapper with the tool bit held aft of the original position, I am now convinced. If you want to improve the quality of flat surfaces (don’t we all), this should be your first step.

November/December 1994 and January/February 1995. “Reviving a Lunch Break Shaper” by Rudy Kouhoupt is a two-part article that documents rebuilding Rudy’s shaper. This is the same shaper that is featured in Rudy’s video (the first reference in this section). If you enjoyed the video, you may also enjoy reading this article. If you are about to refurbish an existing shaper you may want to read about Rudy’s experience.

Machinist’s Workshop is $26.95 for a one year subscription (6 issues.) Home Shop Machinist is $29.95 for a one-year subscription (6 issues.) Back issues are also available.

Home Shop Machinist Magazine
P.O. Box 629
Dept BC
Traverse City, MI 49685-0629
Phone (800)447-7367


Shaper Books

Stieri Book                                              Photo by Kay Fisher

Shapers by Emanuele Stieri ISBN 1-55918-146-X. This is the single best book that I know of available for shapers. The first quarter of the book is most applicable to us in that it covers column or pillar shapers and their operation. The second quarter of the book covers vertical shapers which are quite enlightening in their capabilities. The third quarter of the book covers modern column or pillar shapers which, although interesting, are machines of a size and complexity that amateur machinist are quite unlikely to own. The remainder of the book covers modern vertical shapers – again a size and type of shaper that is unlikely to be in your basement. $9.95 plus shipping. Part number 21460 from Lindsay Publications Inc. (See above)

Barritt Book                                             Photo by Kay Fisher

Shaper Operations by J. W. Barritt ISBN 1-55918-103-6. This book contains step by step procedures for a variety of shaper operations. It is enlightening in the scope of the operations that can be accomplished. Unlike the previous book, this one is targeted only to the column or pillar shaper, the most likely piece of shaper equipment in the hands of amateur machinists. The art work in the numerous drawings is excellent. Again Lindsay Publications is performing a valuable service in making these hand-etched drawings available long after the original publication has gone out of print. $7.95 plus shipping. Part number 21036 from L indsay Publications Inc. (See above)

American Planer, shaper and slotter builders by Kenneth L. Cope. This book is a great reference manual to look up and identify old shapers. It is great for machine history buffs and a nice coffee table book about shapers for the rest of us shaper enthusiasts. It is 208 pages with many drawings. $19.00 plus shipping from:

The Astragal Press
P.O. Box 239
Mendham, NJ 07945-0239
(866) 543-3045

Books Referencing Shapers

Smith Book                                               Photo by Kay Fisher

Advanced Machine Work by Robert H. Smith ISBN 0-917914-23-6. This book covers more than shaper operations but is well worth its price. I believe it is the most complete coverage of tool and cutter grinders that you can find. Unfortunately the title and even the titles of the chapters within the book would not reveal that. Section 9 entitled “Planing” covers shapers and is 37 pages long. That is not much text on shapers, but it is a large hard cover book of excellent quality, covering much more than shapers. If you are relatively new to amateur machinist work, this is a good book to have. This is also a good guide to using a tool and cutter grinder. $29.95 plus shipping. Part number 4236 from Lindsay Publications Inc. (See above)

The Shop Wisdom of Rudy Kouhoupt - Volume Two. This book includes (amongst many other interesting articles) the complete article about Rudy’s rebuild of his shaper (referred to in the previous reference to Home Shop Machinist magazine). It’s a great book with excellent photographs. I got my copy autographed when Rudy visited NEMES! Volume one and three are also available at the same price. If you only want this for the references to shapers then just get the two copies of Home Shop Machinist referenced above. But if you have a more general interest in amateur machinist work, you may enjoy this book - I did. The two volumes represent many articles that Rudy had published in magazines over the years and can serve as a motivator to get you away from the television and into the workshop. They are a great inspiration to those of us who are working on miniature equipment such as a Sherline or Unimat lathes and mills. $39.00 plus shipping. Available from:

Home Shop Machinist Magazine
P.O. Box 629
Dept BC
Traverse City, MI 49685-0629
Phone (800)447-7367

Colvin & Stanley Book                            Photo by Kay Fisher

Drilling & Surfacing Practice by Colvin & Stanley. The section on planers and shapers is 68 pages long. Although the shaper and shaper tools chapters are only 16 pages long, most of the chapters on planers and slotters can also be applied to shapers. This book shows some enlightening approaches to problems with shapers.

It talks about extending the tool to overcome the tendency of the shaper tool to “lift as it enters the work”. This is the crux of the modified tool holder in Rudy Kouhoupt’s article in the January/February 1998 issue of Home Shop Machinist.

It also shows drawings of a radius cutting device. With a true need and some ambition, you could build this device from scratch. In general it has many interesting ideas applicable to shapers and tells you more than you ever wanted to know about drill bits. $19.95 plus shipping. Part number 21729 from Lindsay Publications Inc. (See above)

Shaper Building Books

Gingery Book                                          Photo by Kay Fisher

Build a Metal Shaper by Dave Gingery. Dave Gingery has authored a series of books which are available both individually and as a set called “Build Your Own Metalworking Shop from Scrap”. The set sells for $59.50 and includes:

  1. The Charcoal Foundry - $7.95
  2. The Metal Lathe - $9.95
  3. The Metal Shaper - $9.95
  4. The Drill Press - $9.95
  5. The Milling Machine - $9.95
  6. Dividing Head & Deluxe Accessories - $9.95
  7. Sheet Metal Brake - $8.95

There are many favorable reviews of the Gingery series of books. Many amateur machinists have successfully built his lathe. I personally have only heard of one person who completed the shaper and that effort is documented in the Home Shop Machinist article referred to earlier. However, if you are considering building your own shaper from scratch, then you owe it to yourself to read Dave Ginger’s shaper book. $9.95 plus shipping. Part number 187 from Lindsay Publications Inc. (See above)

Scraping Books

If you want to return a shaper to “factory new” specifications and excellent accuracy, you may have to do some scraping of the machined surfaces. I believe that hand scraping is something everyone who rebuilds an old machine should learn. If you are lucky enough that your machine does not need scraping then you might want to do decorative scraping on the table and some other shaper parts. I have attended a club scraping seminar, read 3 books about scraping, and watched one video about scraping. Here are some reference books that may help.

Morgan Book                                          Photo by Kay Fisher

Basic Scraping Modern Methods by Michael Morgan. This book compliments Michael Morgan’s video. The book is 170+ pages with 120+ photos and illustrations. I think the book is a good, easy read on scraping. If you need to learn how to hand scrape, this book is for you. It is available for $45 on-line at:

Note: Michael Morgan’s business went through hard times a few years ago. Even though his website is still up, his book and video may no longer be available. Check before sending money.

Connelly Book                                          Photo by Kay Fisher

Machine Tool Reconditioning by E. F. Connelly is the definitive reference to scraping. This is a long, detailed book - not something you will read n front of a warm fire – unless your goal is to take a long winter’s nap. But if you must scrape then you may want to invest the time and money in this book. $92.95 plus $6.75 shipping and handling from:

Machine Tool Publications
935 Holley Ave.
St. Paul Park, Minnesota 55071

Secrets Booklet                                      Photo by Kay Fisher

Secrets of Hand Scraping is the smallest and most inexpensive booklet on scraping that I have found. If you are considering scraping a surface to restore a shaper, you might want to look at this small (15 pages) inexpensive booklet. Although an expert on scraping may dismiss this minor treatment of the subject, it exposes you to scraping without the investment in time or money needed for the above reference. If you are already ordering publications from Lindsay – what the heck – include this in the order. It used to be $3.00 plus shipping. Lindsay has a new title called “Learning the lost art of hand scraping” that is 48 pages long (part number 23225) for $4.95 plus shipping. I believe this replaces the “Secrets” book described above. Available from Lindsay Publications Inc. (See above)

Out of Print Books

The Shaping Machine by Ian Bradley was first published in 1973. It has drawings and photos of a somewhat more sophisticated, but purely mechanical, downfeed mechanism for a 7-inch shaper. I have seen this book on the web for $75 to $191. That’s out of my range – I’ve bought shapers cheaper than that.

Bradley Book                                          Photo by Kay Fisher

The Amateur’s Workshop by Ian Bradley ISBN 0-85242-482-5. This book only has one short chapter on shapers (5 pages) but it is very good. A friend recommended this as a good beginner’s book for starting amateur machine work. I agree. If you’re new to metalworking, this book will teach you more, in less time, than any other single book.

Although they are in England, they are only a phone call away! It is worth a phone call just to get their catalogue. If you have difficulties calling England, ask your operator for help. I have found that you can usually save a lot of money on books and material from England as opposed to paying a local distributor extra. I believe the shipping on this book (from England) was less than $10.00 American.

It used to be available for £8.95($16.90 American) plus shipping but it apparently is now out of print. I would be remiss if I did not recommend books available from:

Tee Publishing
The Fosse, Fosse Way
Radford Semele, Leamington Spa
Warwichshire, CV311XN
phone (011)44-1926-614101

One Last Book Recommendation

Welsch Book                                           Photo by Kay Fisher

Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles by Roger Welsch ISBN 0-7603-0301-0. This book has nothing to do with shapers but it has everything to do with taking on and completing large projects such as rebuilding a shaper, building a shaper kit, or building a shaper from scratch. If you’re hobby work is anything like mine, you have to admit to some spells of procrastination. I got some good ideas for self motivation from this book. As they used to say about the old dime store romance books - it’s a quick read. Here is a quote from the inside cover – “A case study in tractor restoration day by day, mistake by mistake, disaster by disaster, scar by scar. $8.97. Available from:

Motorbooks International
729 Prospect Ave.
P.O. Box 1
Osceola, WI 54020-0001


Order Rudy’s video, purchase both Shaper books from Lindsay Publications, and subscribe to either Home Shop Machinist or Machinist’s Workshop.

Your best resource would be a friend who has a shaper. If you don’t have such a friend – join a nearby club. If you don’t have a nearby club – join ours – the New England Model Engineering Society (NEMES). Currently we have over 125 members and meet on the first Thursday of every month at the Charles River Museum of Industry at 154 Moody Street, Waltham Massachusetts. We have several members from out of state who seldom attend a meeting and a few who join just for the club newsletter (the NEMES Gazette). Dues are $25.00 per year from January 1 to December 31. In addition to the newsletter, they sometimes have group purchases and occasional professional speakers at the meetings. The club has also organized bus trips to the NAMES show in Wyonette Michigan and to the Cabin Fever Expo in Reading Pennsylvania.

Keep sending me email with questions and interesting shaper stories.

My email address is