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David Edgar

dove tails

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Anybody out there cut tapered dovetails for their dies? I was thinking about buying a milling machine, but this is the only job I have for it at the moment.

Grant mentioned a few years ago that a shaper was a good tool for that job,it would be a lot cheaper.

Does a machinist know the best way to do this? Perhaps I shall just save up my pocket money and buy some dies.

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If you have the cash, buy the mill ... you will not be sorry and you will find hundred more jobs for it. If you don't, you can always sell it.

I once found a brick saw for sale in a pawn shop and bought it thinking in making a pizza oven that needs so many brick cuts. I have so far used the saw for 20 jobs and yet to make the pizza oven  :)

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Shapers do certain jobs really well and faster than a mill, but they take a bit of skill to use. The mill is like a swiss army knife of utility, and you will probably get more general use out of one than a shaper. I use a mill to cut dovetails only because I have a mill and I haven't found a cheap enough shaper in the size I want. A angle vise is what I use to hold the die, with a carbide insert cutter.

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I agree with Marc1, I bought a mill about 5 years ago and wish I had bought it years sooner, not only do I use it for metal work, but wood work too, I even chuck router bits in it, my drill press is only a back up now.  Cutting dovetails on the mill would not require great machinist skills, but a good vise will be needed. 

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Thank you all for your replies. It looks like the mill is favourite but the shaper could do it,  but its use for other jobs would be limited. The taper is the part of the equation which I am struggling to get my head around with a shaper.

Thanks again

David

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I used to use a hand saw and chisels, but that was when I was still a professional woodworker. Wouldn't recommend it for steel.

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6 hours ago, David Edgar said:

Thank you all for your replies. It looks like the mill is favourite but the shaper could do it,  but its use for other jobs would be limited. The taper is the part of the equation which I am struggling to get my head around with a shaper.

Thanks again

David

Not sure what you mean about the taper.  Shapers also work good for internal keyways, roughing stock, and other straight jobs. Some did have the capabilities for following a template. A universal shaper can do some really compound angles. My 16" G&E has a plain table. And a shaper rated at 16" can do a cube 16x16

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Not complicated....you'd very likely set the vise at an angle(or the part at an angle in the vise) if you were to cut a tapered dovetail on a mill...why wouldn't you do the same on a shaper?

 

<===machinist

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The shaper head also tilts side to side. So with the head tilted, and the vise angled it would be a snap. When I had my machine shop shapers were really inexpensive. My G&E had had a full rebuild and I got it for $350 at an auction. We sold our original 16" G&E to the community college for their machine tool technology class. What was nice about a shaper was that to cut a dovetail you popped in a $5 HSS lathe bit instead of a $50+ dovetail cutter. 

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here was  me thinking of shimming it up.

Thank you all for your replies, Sorry for the  late response I got a new computer and it has more foibles than the old one

just have to find a nice shaper with super vice

David

Edited by David Edgar
hit send button prematurely

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To be clear, the shaper Biggun Dr is talking about is not a cabinet mount machine like the collector are all drooling over these days, but rather a massive cast iron machine, heavier than a Bridgeport and requiring every bit as much space.

If there can be only one, choose the mill.

Edit, I once bought a 24" shaper for $25. I backed my truck up to it and took the vise and left the 10,000 plus pound shaper for the scrap guys.

 

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As artfist said, this is NOT the same thing as a woodworking "shaper".  It's a handy tool to have around but rarely used these days because they are too slow and take some thought to set up.  

That being said, don't pass up one of the small units if you run across one at scrap prices.  There are some things they really shine at...especially making ugly stock into something flat and usable.  Once you start "dreaming" of set-ups, all sorts of stuff begin to come to mind.  The machinist brains of 100+ years ago were even cutting things like curved dovetails with them.

Mine is a veeeery old Giddings & Lewis traversing head shaper.  It mostly collects dust but there is nothing like the slow clacking of the clapper as it creeps across work to make for a relaxing afternoon.

This one but motorized.  

shaper.jpg.286148a7aae68ee0e3115ffb1750ccfe.jpg

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Speaking of shapers, I have two great metalworking shapers.  I have both an Adept No. 1 and No. 2 Shaper made in the 1930's in England for modelmakers.  They are hand operated and really good for small keyways and the like.  The No. 1 has a 4-inch stroke and the No. 2 has a 6-1/4 inch stroke.  Here's a picture (not mine) of a No. 1.  The bolt head spacing on the feet is 4 inches to give a size reference.  The hand lever is about two feet long.  They are a lot of fun.  There's a great website that has good info about these and other tools.=> http://www.lathes.co.uk/adeptshaper/index.html 

Brought them both back in my carry on luggage back in the 1990's.  My carry -on bag weighed 83 pounds - I had to hold it like it was light as British Airways had a 10-pound limit at the time.  Oh, I put it under the seat in front of me.  Was scared I would end up with it on top of my head if I put it overhead!

image.thumb.png.f9a65b928a6f814be2dcc0ea6e8d8982.png

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Close; I once flew with a 90# carry on full of scrap metal as there was a weight limit on checked baggage; but nobody checked the carry ons.  Back in a less restrictive day! 

A decade or two later I once brought back 50+ pounds of coal as checked luggage.

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