Woodworking Machines - Shapers

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What should you do before using shapers?

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Shapers can be dangerous if not used properly.

  • Read the owner's manual carefully.
  • Make sure you understand instructions before attempting to use any tool or machine. Only trained, experienced personnel should be allowed to operate wood shapers.
  • Learn the applications and limitations before use.
  • Refer to Woodworking Machines - General Safety Tips for general safeguards.

What safety procedures should you follow when using shapers?

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  • Wear safety glasses with side shields or safety goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles).
  • Wear hearing protection that is suitable for the level and frequency of the noise you are exposed to in the woodworking area.
  • Wear protective footwear when required.
  • Wear respiratory protection when required.
  • Use the cutter (and spindle speed / RPM) suited for the job.
  • Use sharp cutters only and keep them clean.
  • Remove all wrenches and tools used in the set up from the table.
  • Check moving parts of the shaper periodically such as belts and pulleys for signs of wear; also check the spindle for burrs or for excessive runout.
  • Make sure all guards are in proper position.
  • Before operating, check that the spindle is square with the shaper table; that the spindle top and knives are correctly adjusted and securely fastened; and that the spindle is free before turning on the power. If in the wrong position, cutters may make a "chattering:" noise or appear loose. Turn off the power, unplug the machine, and correct any issues before continuing.
  • Operate at speeds recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Use jig fixtures, holders, and hold-down push blocks. Fasten the work securely in a jig. When a table guide pin is used, make sure it is adjusted and will not slip.
  • Cut with the grain rather than against it.
  • Remove all other blades when one blade is removed from the shaper spindle. This will prevent the other blades from being hurled from the spindle if the machine is started.


  • Turn off power, and lock out a machine when making any adjustments or changes in the set up..
  • Shape only one piece of stock at a time.
  • Use extra care in machining stock that contains cross grains or knots. These may pull the operator's hands into the knives or may cause kickbacks.
  • Shape stock only if longer than 25 cm (10 in).
  • Support long pieces of wood with extension tables or roller supports.

What should you avoid when using shapers?

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  • Do not leave a shaper machine running. Make sure that the power is shut off and that the cutter head has stopped revolving before leaving the area.
  • Do not rest your hands near the edge of the stock being cut.
  • Do not tamper with the guards or make them inoperative in any way.
  • Do not back up the stock (check to see that the direction of rotation is as expected). Always feed against rotation of the cutter.
  • Do not make deep cuts or feed the stock too rapidly.
  • Do not cut stock that has loose knots, splits, defects or foreign objects (e.g., metal, stone) in it.
  • Do not distract or startle an operator during a shaping operation.
  • Do not remove saw dust or cuttings around knives by hand or with compressed air. Use a stick or brush.
  • Do not clear the table while the cutter is rotating.
  • Do not accumulate stock or finished work on the table.
  • Do not stand in line with the stock being fed.
  • Do not wear loose clothing, work gloves, neckties, rings, bracelets or other jewellery that can become entangled with moving parts.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2019-08-09