Everything you need to know about shaping machine

Just like other machine tools, a shaping machine is another important tool that must be found in a workshop. it is designed for giving desired shapes on projects that have horizontal, vertical, and flat surfaces. A shaping tool is used to cut in curves, different angles, and other shapes.

Forward stroke of shaper

This machine is good at making internal keyways, making slots and grooves as well as producing contour of concave or convex. A disc is use as a tool in order to obtain forward and backward rotary movement in some type. The cutting tool is used to give the shape to the hard surface of metal by scraping off the unwanted parts.

Today we’ll be looking deep into the definition, working principle and mechanism, types, parts, applications, advantages and disadvantages of shaper machine.

Shaping Machine Definition:

The shaper machine is a reciprocating machine tool used for producing horizontal, vertical or inclined flat surfaces. This is achieved by the means of straight-line reciprocating single-point cutting tools.

Read: Everything you need to know about drilling machine

Working principle of a shaping machine:

The reciprocating shaper machine working is achieved by fixing the workpiece on the machine table. The cutting tool is fixed on the ram which moves forward and backward in a slider (reciprocating movement) form. The forward strokes toward the workpiece take the cut and the backward movement set the ram for another cutting action.

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The video below contains the working of a shaper machine:

Complete diagram of a shaper machine:

Forward stroke of shaper

Applications of shaping machine:

The following stated below are the areas where shaping machine is used:

  • Shaper machine is used to generate smooth rough surfaces.
  • It is used on applications on part that needed a dovetail slide.
  • Straight and flat surfaces can also be created.
  • Gear teeth and internal splines can be produce with shaper machine.

Advantages and disadvantages of shaping machine:


The following represent the benefits of a shaper machine:

  • The shaper tool is inexpensive. That is, it has a low tooling cost.
  • Workpiece can be easily held on a shaper machines.
  • The cutting stroke have a definite stopping point.
  • The setup is fast and easy, making the changing from one job to another easier.
  • Bench vise is use to hold the workpiece.


Despite the great advantages of a shaper machine, some limitations still occur. The following stated below are disadvantages of a shaper machine:

  • The process is slow due to the straight-line forward and backward movement for a stroke to be completed.
  • The cutting speed is slow
  • Cutting tools might break during the cutting

Read: Understanding lathe machine

The various types of shaping machines:

Various types of shaping machines are classified into four such as motion type (driving mechanism), ram travel, table design, and the type of cutting stroke:

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Types of shaping machine base on driving mechanism:

  • Crank type e.g. quick return motion mechanism
  • Geared shaping type
  • Hydraulic type

Based on ram travel:

  • Horizontal shaping
  • Vertical shaping

Based on table design:

  • Standard or plain shaping
  • Universal shaping

Types of shaping machine based on the cutting stroke:

  • Push and draw type of shaping machine

The specification of a shaping machine:

The following represent the specification of a shaper machine:

  • The maximum length of stroke ram.
  • The power input of the machine.
  • Feed
  • The drive type (crank, gear, or hydraulic type)
  • Weight of the machine in ton.
  • The cutting to return stroke ratio. Finally,
  • The angular movement of the table.

The four common types of shaping machine operations:

the following are the basic operations performed on a shaper machine:

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

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Shaping machine parts:

the following stated below are the parts of a shaping machine

  • Base
  • Body
  • Cross ways
  • Stroke adjuster
  • Cross rail
  • Ram
  • Table
  • Clapper box
  • Saddle
  • Tool head

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That’s it for this article, shaper machines. I hope you enjoy the reading, if so, kindly comment and share with your friends on social media. thanks!

— Update: 17-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Shaper Machine: Types, Parts, Working with [PDF] from the website www.theengineerspost.com for the keyword forward stroke of shaper.

In this article, I’ll explain What is shaper machine? and types of shaper machines with their parts and working priciple. Also, download the PDF file of this article at the end.

Shaper and Types of Shaper Machines

The shaper machine is a reciprocating type of machine basically used for producing the horizontal, vertical or flat surfaces. The shaper holds the single point cutting tool in ram and the workpiece is fixed in the table.

During the forward stroke, the ram is holding the tool is reciprocating over the workpiece to cut into the required shape. During the return stroke, No metal is cutting. In the shaper machine, the rotary motion of the drive is converted into the reciprocating motion of the ram holding the tool.

Therefore in order to reduce the total machine time, It allows the ram holding the tool should move slower during forwarding cutting stroke and it comes faster in return stroke. This can be achieved by a mechanism called a quick return mechanism. If you haven’t read about the shaper machine mechanism you can read it from here.

Shaper Machine Process

The shaper process can be defined as a process for removing metal from the surface in horizontal, vertical and angular planes by the use of a single-point cutting tool held in a ram that reciprocates the tool in a linear direction across the workpiece held on the table of the machine. The work is fed at right angles to the direction of the ram in small increments, at the end of the return stroke.

Parts of Shaper Machine

The following are the main parts of the shaper machine:

  • Base
  • Column
  • Cross-rail
  • Table
  • Ram
Forward stroke of shaper

The arrangement of the shaper machine is made as shown in the figure. It consists of the following parts.

1. Base

  • The base is the necessary bed or support required for all machines tools.
  • The base is hollow casting made of cast iron to resist vibration and on which all parts of the shaper are mounted.
  • It is so designed that is can take up the entire load of the machine and the forces set up by cutting tool over the work.

2. Column

  • This is made of cast iron, which is a box-like and is mounted on the base.
  • two accurately machined guideways are provided on the top of the column on which the ram reciprocates.
  • The column acts as a cover to the drive mechanism and also supports the reciprocating ram and the worktable.

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3. Cross-rail

  • Cross rail is mounted on the front vertical surface of the column on which saddle is mounted.
  • The vertical movement is given to the table by raising or lowering the cross rail using the elevating screw.
  • The horizontal movement is given to the table by moving the saddle using the crossfeed screw.

4. Table

  • The table is bolted to the saddle and receives crosswise and vertical movements from saddle cross rail.
  • T-bolts are used for clamping on top and sides.
  • The table can be swiveled at any required angle.
  • In a universal shaper, the table may be swiveled on a horizontal axis and the upper part of the table may be fitted up or down.
  • In heavier type shaper the table clamped with table support to make it more rigid.

5. Ram

  • The ram reciprocates on the column guideways and carries the tool head with a single-point cutting tool.
  • the tool head is in the clapper box, which causes cutting action only in a forward stroke of the ram and sliding movement of the tool in the reverse stroke of the ram.
  • the depth of cut or feed of the tool is given by down feed screw.
  • The tool head has swivel base degree graduations, which helps to move the tool head to any desired inclination for machining inclined surfaces on the workpieces.

Types of Shaper Machines

Following are the different types of shaper machines.

  1. Based on the type of driving mechanism.
    1. Crank type shaper.
    2. Geared type shaper.
    3. Hydraulic type shaper.
  2. Based on ram travel.
    1. Horizontal shaper
    2. Vertical shaper.
  3. Based on the table design.
    1. Standard shaper.
    2. Universal shaper.
  4. Based on cutting stroke.
    1. Push cut type
    2. Draw cut type

1. Bases on The Type of Driving Mechanism

Following are the different types of shaper machines based on the type of driving mechanism

1.1 Crank Type Shaper Machine

These are very common types of shaper machines, which is using to hold the workpiece on the table. The tool is reciprocating in motion equal to the length of the stroke desired while the work is clamped in position on an adjustable table.

Forward stroke of shaper

In construction, the crank shaper employs a crank mechanism to change the circular motion of a large gear called “bull gear” incorporated in the machine to the reciprocation motion of the ram.

It uses a crank mechanism to convert the circular motion of the bull gear into the reciprocating motion of the ram. The ram carries a tool head at its end & provides the cutting action.

1.2 Gear Type Shaper Machine

In these types of shaper machines, the ram is reciprocating. The ram is affecting due to reciprocating motion with the rack and pinion. The rack teeth are cut directly below the ram mesh with the spur gear.

Forward stroke of shaper

The speed and the direction in which the machine will traverse depend on the number of gears in the gear train. This type of shaper machine is not widely using in any industry.

1.3 Hydraulic Shaper Machine

In these types of shaper machines, the reciprocating motion of the ram is provided by the hydraulic mechanism. The Hydraulic shaper uses the oil under high pressure. The end of the piston rod is connected to the ram.

Forward stroke of shaper

The high-pressure oil first acts on one side of the piston and then on the other causing the piston to reciprocating and the motion is transmitted to the ram. The main advantages of this type of shaper machine are that the cutting speed and force of the ram drive are constant. From start to end of the cut without making noise and operates quietly.

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2. Based on Ram Travel

Following are the different types of shaper machines based on ram travel.

2.1 Horizontal Shaper Machine

Forward stroke of shaper

In these types of shaper machines, the ram is reciprocating. The ram holding the tool on a horizontal axis and reciprocate. This type of shaper is using for the production of flat surfaces, external grooves, keyways, etc.

2.2 Vertical Shaper Machine

In these types of shaper machines, the ram reciprocating in the verticle plane. In this, the table holds the workpiece. Verticle shapers maybe crank driven, rack-driven, screw-driven, or hydraulic power-driven.

Forward stroke of shaper

The vertical shaper is very convenient for machining internal surfaces, keyways, slots, or grooves. The workpiece can move in any given direction such as the cross, longitudinal or rotary movements. This type of shaper is suitable for machining internal surfaces, slots & keyways.

3. Based on The Table Design

Following are the different types of shaper machines based on the table design.

3.1 Standard Shaper Machine

In this type of shaper machine, the table has only two movements, vertical and horizontal, to give the feed. That’s why it is known as a standard shaper machine. Here the table is not supporting at the outer end.

3.2 Universal Shaper Machine

In these types of shaper machines, in addition to the two moments i.e. vertical and horizontal, the table can be moving on an inclined axis, and also it can swivel on its own axis.

Since the workpiece mounted on the can be adjusted in different planes, the shaper is suitable for a different type of operations and is given the name “Universal”. This type of shaper is commonly using the tool room works.

4. Based on Cutting Stroke

Following are the different types of shaper machines based on cutting stroke.

4.1 Push cut Shaper Machine

In these types of shaper machines, the metal is removed in the forward motion of the ram. These are commonly used types of shaper machines.

4.2 Draw cut Shaper Machine

In these types of shaper machines, the metal is removed in the backward motion of the ram. In this shaper, the tool is fixed in the tool head in the reverse direction so that it provides the cutting action in the reverse stroke of the ram.

Application of Shaper Machine

Following are the applications of shaper machines:

  1. To produce the straight and flat surfaces on the workpiece.
  2. To smooth the rough surfaces.
  3. It is used to create an internal partition or splines.
  4. Used in making of gear teeth.
  5. Shaper is used to make dovetail slides.
  6. To produce keyways in pulleys or gears.

Difference Between Shaper and Planer

  1. In a shaper machine, the work is kept constant and the cutting tool on the RAM is moved back and forth during the work. Whereas in the planer machine, the equipment is stationary and the workpiece travels back and forth under the tool.
  2. A planner is a large machine and can have heavy and large jobs. Whereas a shaper is traditionally a small machine and is preferred for small jobs.
  3. The planer can employ heavy cuts and rough feeds. Whereas a shaper light may employ cut and fine feed.
  4. The planer uses different tools for cutting simultaneously. Whereas a shaper uses one cutting tool at a time.

That’s it. Thanks for reading. If you have any questions about shaper machines and types of shaper machines please leave a comment and I’ll respond.

Download the PDF of this article

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About the Author: Tung Chi