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Dza Dza's (grandpa's) little shaper

Holescreek

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#1
I posted a pic in another thread but couldn't remember if I'd ever mentioned the little shaper on this forum before. (I hate being "that guy" that reposts the same pics year after year.) I did a write up for an NEMES group many years ago, here's the text:

This miniature (working) shaper was made by his grandfather (Walter) around the depression era. The story is that he started a washing machine repair business using the shaper and a miniature lathe (which Mike has never seen) to make extra money to get through the depression. Mike’s grandfather made the shaper and lathe strictly by hand. He hack-sawed all CRS material by hand. He drilled the holes with a hand drill. He didn't even have a drill press until he made one. He had a grinder that Mike’s uncle (a retired tool maker) used to crank so he could sharpen his drills. The shaper is fully functional, has 6 speeds and is powered by a Victrola spring winding motor (motorized record playing turn tables weren't yet invented). Mike ran shapers in high school and in his apprenticeship in the tool trade. He says this little shaper has every feature of the big ones. The table actually raises and automatically feeds from side to side in both directions. The stroke is also adjustable.

This little machine has a table cross-feed travel of 4", a table height adjustment of 2", and an adjustable ram stroke of up to 3". It uses a 90-degree gear reduction from its 0.7 amp motor to drive a three-step pulley on the RH side.

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In the photo above, the lever near the rear is a two-speed gear change lever that increases the range to 6 speeds. The same photo shows a knob over the gear cluster on the left that, when rotated to engage gears, determines the direction of the automatic table feed.

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When the cover on the left hand side is removed, you can see the adjustment nut for the ram stroke, as shown in the photo below.

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The toolbit down-feed mechanism is fully adjustable and rotates using radial t-slots similar to the setup on Bridgeport mills. The vise also rotates.

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Walter came to the US from Poland as a young boy. He had no formal education. He is credited with inventing many common items, the most familiar of which is the flaring tool used to flair the ends of tubing. He was in the military at the time and received no patent in accordance with the laws of the time. He was born in Stryj Poland in 1896. He worked at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio twice, once before the war and again after. In his job application for Wright Patt in 1946 he listed patents and patents pending for a scrubbing and polishing machine and a strip of gang lights (used in bomber aircraft). He listed his hobbies as "developing mechanical machines, steam engines, gas engines, electric generating units, and steam turbines." (Mike has some of his engines too.) He retired from the Fabrication and Maintenance Division as a master machinist and certified inventor in 1960, making $3.49/hr.

He died in 1975. Mike inherited the shaper and will display it with his other collectible tools.
The photos of the shaper were taken on a bathroom countertop. Mike is willing to bet none of the members of NEMES has had a shaper in their bathroom yet!

That's the story, I got the details about the shaper from my uncle Ted (now deceased) about how the shaper was made. Here it sits today:

shapertable121911003.jpg
 

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terrywerm

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#2
I would love to have that shaper sitting on and end table in the living room, too, but my wife would go nuts if it dripped any oil!!

Thanks for posting, that is an interesting story! I find it intriguing also when looking at the access hole for the ram stroke adjustment: You can see that a series of holes were drilled around the circumference, followed by cutting with a saw and finishing with a file. That project took real determination to see it through.
 

mattthemuppet

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#6
that's crazy! Not just that someone made a machine tool by hand with basic tools, but that it looks like it was made in a factory. I wonder how long it took him to make?
 

Holescreek

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#7
that's crazy! Not just that someone made a machine tool by hand with basic tools, but that it looks like it was made in a factory. I wonder how long it took him to make?
It never occurred to me to ask that question! Based on the round parts I'm assuming he must've finished the small lathe first. I heard tales (when I was young) that the lathe was every bit as intricate but it was long gone before I was born. Hopefully someone has it preserved somewhere.

This little shaper still runs and cuts, the original leather belt has long ago disintegrated and I use a round rubber vacuum cleaner belt to play with it. I've never cut anything tougher than brass myself.
 

compressorguy

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#9
What a treasure, from a very talented man.

“O brave new world that has such people in it.”


Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
We live in a world where such things have become impossible for the average person to imagine. The creativity that it took to build that shaper was born of necessity. My Mom and Dad were married in 1929 and raised a family through the Great Depression. Dad could build anything from nothing and Mom could pinch a penny until it begged for mercy. They lived a good life by fixing what broke and saving money where they could. When Dad needed a tool he would likely build it. If it broke he figured out how to fix it. Now we just run to the hardware store (or go on line) and buy a new one. The great thing about the internet is more and more people are figuring out that they CAN fix it themselves or BUILD what they need and the knowledge is widely available to help them get the job done. With jobs and the economy such as they are we may see a return to DIY maintenance and self reliant living.
 

brino

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#12
It's perhaps a little late to post now, but I just gotta say...Thanks for sharing the pictures and the story!
-brino
 

Silverbullet

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#13
YUPP thanks, not one thing wrong with homemade . Now the steel to build that would cost ya $500.or more.
 

bobshobby

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#15
A great story about a wonderfull build. I'm sure it must be the smallest actual working shaper ever. It's a great treasure. Keep it safe.
 

terryw123

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#16
About 15-20 years ago here in western Mich, there was a shaper about the same size and looked very simular. Beautiful little machine. It was at an estate sale and I was gonna buy it. Since I already had a bridgeport mill I really didn't need a shaper no matter what size. For what I do, it is way too small so it would be just a converstion piece. They had it working and it worked great so I bid it up to about $250 and it sold for about $350. I wish I would have bid more.
 
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