The shaping machine differs from the planer in that the tool post moves while the work is stationary. Both machines are used for planing flat, level, and oval surfaces but the shaper is nicely adapted for cutting grooves, slots, and dovetails, and for work on small pieces and short travels.

Shaping machines are designated by the length of their stroke in inches or by the extreme length they will plane. A vise is attached on the shaper to hold the work, and on 12-in. shapers four cone speeds are usually provided for changes in speeds. The round-nose, diamond-point, cut-ting-off or parting tools, and the side-shearing tools are the ones most commonly used. Shapers are of three types: (1) crank, (2) back or geared, and (3) friction, the crank and geared types being the more common.

The shear, clearance, and cutting edge of shaper tools should be in good condition. Shear is the angle given to the face of a tool, which throws its cutting edge forward into the metal. Tools without clearance drag and pull heavily through the metal. The important features of a shaper are its column, ram, head, stroke, index, table, cross-feed, cross-rail, vise (swiveled and graduated), and driving cone centers. When working on the shaper, the small try-square and the surface block are constantly in use to show when the finished pieces are square with the shaping machine vise, and when one cut is square with another. A graduated universal bevel or a bevel protractor is also employed to lay out angles for planing. A scriber and a 4-in. outside caliper enable the beginner to grasp the first operations of shaping and planing. Cast iron is planed dry, as are steel and wrought iron unless the work is a key-seat, or requires a thin or delicate tool. In this latter case, lard oil is fed to the tool.

Before starting the planer the ram should be adjusted to the proper length of the stroke. If a piece of work which measures 2 3/4 in. is to be placed on the machine, the ram should not be set to a 3 1/2 in. stroke. A sufficient cut for the tool is 1/4 in., and 1/8 in. is even more than enough to allow the head to overreach. These additions then give us a total stroke of 3 1/8 in. and any over this means time lost and unnecessary wear on the machine.