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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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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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