Shaper Machine and Different Types of Shaper Machine [A Detailed Guide]

There are many cases when you have to use a Shaper Machine in the machine shop. Below I have discussed this machine in detail. I have covered the introduction, working principle, parts, applications, types, advantages and disadvantages of a Shaper Machine in this article.

What is A Shaper Machine

A shaper is a machine tool that produces flat, horizontal and vertical surfaces on the workpiece. It applies a reciprocating motion for various operations. It has a ram that holds the cutting tool. The workpiece is held on a table available in the machine. The tool used to perform various operations in Shaper is generally a single-point cutting tool. A Shaper can also remove material from the surface on an angular plane.

In this machine, the drive used to supply the power produces a rotary motion. The machine converts that motion into a reciprocating motion. The reciprocating motion further performs all cutting operations on the workpiece.

The ram of the machine undergoes two types of strokes while operating and it repeats the stroke-cycle until the operation completes. These two types of strokes are Forward Stroke and Return Stroke. During the forward stroke, the cutting tool held in the ram removes material from the workpiece. But there is no removal of metal during the return stroke.

The machine implements a specific mechanism named as ‘Quick Return Mechanism’. What actually this mechanism does is that it reduces the wastage of time. This is due to this mechanism that the speed of the ram during the return stroke is slower than the speed during the forward stroke. Thus the total machine time is optimized to the best level.

You can define the shaper machine in the following way:

Definition: A Shaper is a machine that uses the reciprocating motion of a single-point cutting tool to perform the various machining operations.

Working Principle of A Shaper Machine

If in one line I have to describe, I will say that a Shaper Machine works on the principle of a Quick Return Mechanism. Now let’s discuss the working in a little bit more detail…

In a Shaper, the workpiece is held in the vice attached to the table. The tool head which holds the cutting tools is mounted on the ram. When you switch on the machine, the ram starts reciprocating. It performs cutting operations during the forward stroke and there is no removal of metal during the return stroke in a Standard Shaper Machine. You can move the single point cutting tool upward or downward in order to adjust the depth of cut.

Parts of Shaper Machine

Most important parts of this machine are as follows:

Parts of Shaper Machine


It is the bottom part of the machine. All of the other parts are mounted on the Base. It is a hollow body made up of CI (cast iron) casting. The Base is a very strong part of the machine which can bear the weight of the whole machine. It also has the strength to tolerate the vibrations produced during the various cutting operations on the machine.


The cover in which the drive mechanism is boxed or hidden is called the Column of the machine. It is mounted on the base. And, two guideways over which the ram reciprocates are there mounted on the column’s top. The column is generally made up of cast iron.


You can move the table of the machine horizontally, vertically or swivel at any angle as well, as per the requirement. The table is attached to the saddle by using a fastener.


It facilitates the vertical movement of the table. You can move the table vertically by lowering or raising the cross-rail. The front surface of the column of the machine is the place where the Cross-Rail is mounted. And, if you want to move the table horizontally, a saddle mounted on the cross-rail is there to facilitate this movement.


Ram is a very important part of this machine. It carries the tool post or tool head which holds the cutting tool. The ram makes reciprocation to perform the machining operations. The tool head mounted on the ram has a facility to be swiveled at an angle so as to perform cutting operations on an inclined surface. In order to avoid the cutting action during the return stroke, the tool head is held in a clapper box. What this clapper box actually does is that it makes the tool perform a sliding action during the return stroke.

Application of Shaper Machine

Some of the most important applications of a Shaper Machine are listed below:

  1. You can use a Shaper Machine for producing flat surfaces.
  2. You can also use the machine for creating keyways in gears or pulleys.
  3. Smooth surfaces can also be produced.
  4. It is also used to produce internal splines.
  5. You can also produce gear teeth on a shaper machine.
  6. With some modern types of Shapers, you can also produce contoured surfaces.

Different Types of Shaper Machine

You can classify the shaper machine on various bases. These bases are listed below:

  • On the basis of the travel of Ram
  • On the basis of the drive mechanism
  • And, on the basis of cutting stroke
  • On the basis of the design of the table

Now let’s discuss all of the types of the shaper machine, one by one, on the various basis mentioned above…

Types of Shaper Machine on The Basis of the Travel of Ram:

1)  Horizontal Shaper

You can use this Shaper for the purpose of producing the flat surface, keyways, etc. In this machine, the Ram which holds the cutting tool moves or reciprocates along the horizontal plane.

2)  Vertical Shaper

In this type of shaper, the ram reciprocates along the vertical plane to perform the cutting operation by using the cutting tool. You can make use of this machine for the purpose of machining slots, keyways, internal surfaces, etc.

Types of Shaper Machine on The Basis of The Drive Mechanism:

1)  Crank Type

This is the type of Shaper which makes use of a Crank Mechanism for converting the drive’s rotary motion into the Ram’s reciprocating motion. Crank Type Shaper Machine is a very common type of Shaper. In this, the workpiece is held in the table and the ram holds the tool head (which carries the cutting tool).

2)  Geared Type

In this type of Shaper, the rack & pinion mechanism performs the task of converting the rotary motion of the drive into the reciprocating motion of the Ram. This kind of Shaper is not used in common.

3)  Hydraulic Type

As the name signifies, the Hydraulic Type Shaper Machine makes use of a hydraulic mechanism to provide a reciprocating motion to the Ram of the machine. Oil at high pressure is applied to the piston which forces it to produce a reciprocating motion. This reciprocating motion is transferred to the machine’s Ram which is connected to the end of the piston rod. This machine creates no noise while operating. And, the cutting speed is constant.

Types of Shaper Machine on The Basis of the Cutting Stroke:

1)  Push Cut Type

Push Cut Shaper Machine is a commonly used type of shaper. In this, the machine performs the cutting action during the forward stroke. And, the return stroke just performs a sliding action and there is no removal of metal during this stroke.

2)  Draw Cut Type

In Draw Cut Shaper Machine, the metal is removed during the return stroke of the Ram. In order to accomplish this cutting action, the tool does not slide during the return stroke; instead, it cuts the metal.

Types of Shaper Machine on The Basis of the Design of Table:

1)  Standard Shaper

In a Standard Shaper Machine, you can feed the table only in two directions: horizontal and vertical. No inclined movement of the table is facilitated in this type of machine.

2)  Universal Shaper

In a Universal Shaper Machine, you can feed the table in all directions. You can move it horizontally, vertically and along an inclined plane also. In this type of machine, you can also swivel the table about its own axis. Due to this universal feature of movement of the table, you can use the machine to perform various types of operations.

Advantages of Shaper Machine

The most important advantage of this Machine is that it is easy to use. Its tooling cost is also very affordable. And, there are some machining operations that cannot be performed on any other machine except the Shaper Machine.

Disadvantages of Shaper Machine

Along with their advantages, shapers have some disadvantages as well. They are very slow in performing machining operations. And, they are not efficient.

So, this is all about the Shaper Machine. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you still have any doubts about the topic, please make use of the comment section given below. I will try my best to assist you to the best level. And, don’t hesitate to share this post with others who are in search of the same kind of knowledge shared in this article.

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