Shaper Machine Working, Types, Specs, Pros & Cons, Apps [PDF]

In this article, we will learn how a shaper machine works and also learn about the parts, types, operations, specifications, advantages disadvantages, and applications of a shaper machine. We have provided a PDF download link for the same.

Shaper Machine Definition

The Shaper Machine is a reciprocating machine tool used to produce Horizontal, Vertical, or Inclined flat surfaces using straight-line reciprocating single-point cutting tools similar to those which are used in wood lathe machines. The flat surface produced may be horizontal, vertical, or inclined at an angle

Shaper Machine Diagram
Photo by ExtruDesign Shaper Machine Diagram

Working Principle of Shaper Machine

Key Shaper Machine
Photo By Adobe Stock

A shaper machine is working on the following principle

  • A shaper machine holds the Single point cutting tool in ram and the workpiece is fixed over the table.
  • The ram holding the tool reciprocates over the workpiece and metal is cut during the forward stroke called a cutting stroke
  • No metal is cut during its return stroke is called an Idle stroke.
  • The feed is given at the end of the cutting stroke.
  • Generally, the cutting stroke is carried out at a slow speed and the idle stroke is carried out at a high speed with the help of a quick return mechanism.
  • In the shaper machine, there is another mechanism called the Quick return Motion Mechanism.

quick return motion mechanism

For the Quick return mechanism, In the forward stroke, the Slider moves fast and removes the material from the workpiece.

Whereas in the return stroke, the Slider moves faster than the forward stroke which means Quick return, it takes less time to return, called a return stroke.

quick return motion mechanism

Types of Shaper Machines

Horizontal Shaper Machine
Photo By AliBaba

Based on the type of driving mechanism

  • Crank type (Example: Quick return Motion Mechanism)
  • Geared type shaper
  • Hydraulic type

Based on ram travel

  • Horizontal Shaper
  • Vertical Shaper

Based on the table design

  • Standard or Plain Shaper
  • Universal shaper

Standard or Plain Shaper

In this machine, the table has only two motions: crosswise in the horizontal plane and vertical movement (up and down). The table is not provided with a swiveling motion.

Universal shaper

This machine is similar to a plain shaper except that the table can be tilted at various angles, making it possible to inclined flat surfaces. The table can be swiveled about 360 degrees about a central axis parallel to the cutting stroke direction and also perpendicular to it, that is, around two horizontal axes. The table also has a movement in the horizontal plane and vertical direction (up and down ) as in plain shaper.

Vertical Shaper Machine
Photo By Zaozhuang Tok Machinery

Based on cutting stroke

  • Push-type shaper machine
  • Draw-type shaper machine

Operations Performed on Shaper Machine

Shaper Machine operations
Photo By Dreamstime

There are 4-types of operations performed in a shaper machine which are as folowing

  • Horizontal cutting
  • Vertical cutting
  • Inclined cutting
  • Irregular cutting

Horizontal cutting

Horizontal surfaces are machined by moving the work mounted on the machine table in a cross direction concerning the ram movement. The clapper box can be set vertically or slightly inclined towards the uncut surface. This arrangement enables the tool to lift automatically during the return stroke. The tool will not drag on the machined surface. 

Vertical cutting

A vertical cut is made while machining the end of a workpiece, squaring up a block, or machining a shoulder. The feed is given to the tool by rotating the down feed screw of the vertical slide. The table is not moved vertically for this purpose. The apron is swiveled away from the vertical surface being machined.

Inclined cutting

An angular cut is done at any angle other than a right angle to the horizontal or vertical plane. The work is set on the table and the vertical slide of the tooth head is swiveled to the required angle either towards the left or towards the right from the vertical position.

Irregular cutting

A round-nose tool is used for this operation. For a shallow cut, the apron may be set vertically but if the curve is quite sharp, the apron is swiveled towards the right or left away from the surface to be cut.

Parts of a Shaper Machine with Function

The Different parts and their functions of the shaper machine are as follows

Shaper Machine parts and functions
Photo By Technology Student


The Base is designed to take the entire load of the machine tool and it is bolted to the floor of the shop. This is made of grey cast iron to resist vibration and to take the compressive load.


The column is a Box like casting made up of cast iron and mounted on a base. It is provided with accurately machined guideways on the top on which the ram reciprocates. The guideways are also provided on the front vertical face for the movement of the cross rail. The column encloses the ram-driving mechanism.


The crossrail is mounted on the ground vertical guideways of the column. It consists of two parallel guideways on its top perpendicular to the ram axis is called a saddle to move the table in a crosswise direction using a feed screw. The table can be raised or lowered to accommodate different sizes of the job by rotating elevating screw which causes the cross rail to slide up and down on the vertical face of the column.


It is mounted on the cross rail to hold the table firmly on its top. The crosswise movement of the saddle causes the table to move crosswise direction by rotating the cross-feed screw.


It is mounted on the saddle. It can be moved crosswise by rotating the cross-feed rod and vertically by rotating the elevating screw. The table is a box-like casting with accurately machined top and side surfaces. These surfaces have t-slots for clamping the work.

In Universal Shaper, the table may be swiveled on a horizontal axis and its upper part may be tilted up or down. In heavy Shaper, the front face of the table is supported by adjustable table support to give more rigidity.


It is a reciprocating member of the shaper which holds the tool and reciprocates on the guideways on the top of the column using a quick return motion mechanism. It houses the screwed shaft for altering the position of the RAM concerning the work. The RAM is in semi-cylindrical form and heavily ribbed inside to make it more rigid.

Tool Head

The tool head holds the cutting tool firmly and provides both vertical and angular movement to the tool with the help of a down-feed screw handle. The head allows the tool to have automatic relief during the return stroke.

The vertical slide of a tool head consists of a swivel base which is graduated in degrees. So, the vertical slide can be set at any angle with the work surface. The amount of feed or depth of cut may be adjusted by a micrometer dial on top of the down feed screw.

A tool head again consists of

  • Apron
  • Clapper box and clapper block

An Apron consisting of a clapper box and tool post is clamped on the vertical slide by the screw. The apron Can be swiveled upon the apron swivel pin towards left or right. The clapper box houses the clapper block using a hinge pin. The tool post is mounted on the clapper block.

During the forwarding cutting stroke, the clapper block keeps the rigid support to the tool by fitting securely into the clapper box and while returning stroke the tools slide over the work by lifting, the block out of the clapper boxes shown in the above figure

Working of Shaper Machine
Photo by shandong luzhong machine tool

Specification of Shaper Machine

  • The maximum length of stroke ram.
  • Types of the drive ( Crank, Gear, and Hydraulic type)
  • Power input of the machine
  • Floor space required to establish the machine
  • Weight of the machine in a tones.
  • Feed
  • Cutting to return stroke ratio.
  • Angular movement of the table.
Hydraulic Hsaper Machine

Advantages of Shaper Machine

  • The single point tool used is inexpensive or we can say low tooling cost.
  • The cutting stroke has a definite stopping point.
  • The work can be held easily in the shaper machine.
  • The setup is very quick and easy and also can be readily changed from one job to another job.

Disadvantages of Shaper Machine

  • By nature, it is a slow machine because of its straight-line forward and returns strokes the single point cutting tool requires Several strokes to complete a work. (They are slow)
  • The cutting speed is not usually a very high speed of reciprocating motion due to the high inertia force developed in the motion of the units and components of the machine.
Parts of Shaper Machine
Photo By Turbo Squid

Applications of Shaper Machine

  • To generate straight and flat surfaces.
  • Smooth surface texture.
  • Make internal splines.
  • Make gear teeth.
  • To make dovetail slides.
  • Make key ways in pullies or gears.
  • Machining of die, punches, and straight and curved slots.
Applications of Shaper Machine
Photo By shandong luzhong machine tool

Hydraulic Shaper Mechanism in Shaper Machine

In a hydraulic shaper machine, a constant-speed motor drives a hydraulic pump that delivers oil at a constant pressure to the line. A regulating valve admits oil under pressure to each end of the piston alternately. At the same time allowing oil from the opposite end of the piston to return to the reservoir. The piston is pushed by the oil and is connected to the ram by a piston rod, pushing the ram carrying the tool.

The admission of oil to each end of the piston, alternately, is accomplished with the help of trip dogs and pilot valves. As the ram moves and completes its stroke (Forward and Return) a trip dog will trip the pilot valve which operates the regulating valve. The regulating valve will admit the oil to the other side of the piston and the motion of the ram will get reversed. The length of the ram stroke will depend upon the position of trip dogs. The length of the ram stroke can be changed by unclamping and moving the trip dogs to the desired position.

Hydraulic Shaper Machine
Photo By Yogi Machine Tools

The difference between Shaper and Planner Machine

Shaper MachinePlaner Machine
They are lighter, smaller and cheaper.They are heavier, larger and costlier.
The reciprocating ram holds the tool while the workpiece is mounted on the stationary table and receives the feed.The workpiece is secured onto a reciprocating table while the tool is held by the machine frame and introduced into the workpiece
It is intended for small jobs.It is intended for large jobs.
Low machining accuracy.High machining accuracy.
Simple in construction.It has a robust construction.
Deep cuts and Heavy feeds are impossibleDeep cuts and Heavy feeds are possible
It has a low rate of power consumption.It has a high rate of power consumption.
Suitable for machining small and medium-sized work, one or a few at a time.Not suitable for machining small and medium-sized work, one or a few at a time.
Usually, only one tool is used on a shaper.Multiple tooling permits the machining of more than one surface at a time.
Cutting and return speeds vary throughout the strokes.Cutting and return speeds are uniform throughout the strokes.
Work setting requires less skill and less time.Work setting requires more skill and more time.
Tools used are lighter and smaller.Tools used are heavier, stronger and larger.
Limited cutting and return speeds are available.A wide range of cutting and return speeds are available.
It requires less floor space.It requires a large floor space.

Video lecture on Shaping Machine

Video by VincentRyan


What Is Shaper Machine Used For

Uses of shaper machine are as follows

  • Shaping and cutting flat and angular surfaces on metals and other materials.
  • Creating grooves, slots, and other complex shapes.
  • Producing precision parts and components for various applications.
  • Repairing or restoring damaged parts.
  • Making tools, jigs and fixtures used in manufacturing.
  • Producing gears, sprockets, and other types of mechanical components.
  • Manufacturing parts for engines, turbines, and other machinery.
  • Fabricating molds and dies for injection molding and other processes.
  • Producing prototypes and one-off parts.

Which Cutting Tool are Used in shaper machine

These are some cutting tools that can be used in shaper machines

  • Single-point cutting tool
  • Straight tool
  • Round nose tool
  • Diamond tool
  • Square tool
  • Parting tool
  • V-shaped tool
  • Knurling tool
  • Side and face cutter
  • Slitting saw

Which Mechanism Is Used In The Shaper Machine

Shaper machines operate on a reciprocating mechanism that drives a single-point cutting tool in a back-and-forth motion across the workpiece. This mechanism is commonly known as the crank and slider mechanism, which converts rotary motion into linear motion. It drives the cutting tool forward during the cutting stroke and returns it to its starting position during the return stroke. It is crucial to ensure that any content related to shaper machines is original and plagiarism-free.

Why The Clapper Box Is Used In The Shaper

Clapper Box is used here for tool holder work. Also To reduce chatter and vibrations.

difference between shaper machine and planer machine

Shaper and planer machines are used for machining flat surfaces but differ in the method of operation. Shapers use a single-point cutting tool while planers use multiple cutting tools mounted on a reciprocating bed. Shapers are ideal for small workpieces, while planers are better for larger ones.

What is the price of shaper machine

The price of a shaper machine varies depending on several factors such as the size, brand, and features. A basic model may cost around $2,000, while a larger and more advanced model could cost up to $15,000 or more. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with shipping, installation, and training. It is important to research and compares different models to find one that meets your specific needs and budget.

What are CNC Shaper Machine

CNC Shaper Machines are modern manufacturing tools that rely on computer numerical control (CNC) technology to shape metals and other materials with great accuracy and efficiency. They can produce intricate parts and components used in diverse sectors, such as aerospace, automotive, and engineering. .

Shaper Machine Price
Photo By Dreamstime


In conclusion, a shaper machine is a versatile tool used in shaping and machining various workpieces. Its working principle involves a reciprocating motion to create linear and flat surfaces. There are different types of shaper machines, each with unique specifications and operations. Despite their advantages in shaping intricate parts, shaper machines have certain limitations and disadvantages. Nevertheless, they remain crucial in various industries, such as automotive and aerospace, for producing high-quality and precision parts.


More Resources

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment