The shaper took about six months to build. Some of the castings really push the capacity of the furnace, but all can be cast with one crucible full of aluminum. Shapers were used extensively until the mill was invented. A mill can do the same operations that a shaper can, which makes it a bit of a novelty. As far as I can tell, metals shapers aren't manufactured commercially anymore. Sometimes you can find them for sale. Building mine cost about $250.
This is a view of the rear of the shaper. The motor stand (not shown) is similar to the one used on the lathe. The step pulley is mounted on a shaft that has a chain gear on it also. A chain is used to turn another chain gear inside the housing.
In the center of the shaper's side can be seen the yoke. By adjusting the bolt on the chain sprocket, the length of the stroke of the ram (on top) is changed. Setting the bolt toward theoutside causes the stroke to be longer.
In this veiw of the shaper you can see the adjustment for the table feed. As the chain sprocket turns, the end of the shaft (through the upright on this side) turns. The rod on the end pushes forward and a pawl on the end engages a handmade gear on the end of the leadscrew that is attached to the table. As the shaft turns more, the rod is pulled back, which turns the gear and leadscrew. This pulls the table in one direction.
So, what does it do?
On the front of the ram is an assembly that holds a tool ground like a tool for a lathe. The tool is held in a part called a clapper block (I'll explain in a minute). When the ram pushes forward it cuts some material off of the top of the piece. After the cut, the tool must ride back over the piece, but not dig in. The clapper allows the tool to do this. When the return stroke is finished the clapper falls back into place, and when it does so, it claps.
When the ram is returning, the table is also advanced one way or the other. This lines the piece up for the next cut. Also, radii can be cut in parts by setting the table up to remain stationary, and moving the clapper assembly as the ram is moving. This was primarily done on the big machines, but this one can be set up to do the same.