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What are Shaper Bits?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Shaper bits are attachments for a shaper, a woodworking tool that allows people to cut various shapes like grooves and profiles into wood projects. Shapers are very similar to routers, but can be more suitable for large scale projects or situations where people need mass production ability. Woodworking suppliers carry shapers and bits along with accessories like oil to maintain the parts. The cost of a set of shaper bits can vary depending on their quality and how many are included.

The shaper is a fixed piece of woodworking equipment that turns a spindle at a high rate of speed. The spindle may cut into the side or bottom of wood pieces, depending on its position. People use shapers to make molding, tongue and groove, and a variety of other cuts in woodworking projects. The tool creates a very clean, crisp cut with a smooth surface and even appearance. As long as the user maintains control over the wood as he moves it across the shaper, the cuts will stay consistent.

The shaper bits allow users to determine the characteristics of the cut. They can create shallow or deep cuts and curves at varying angles. For activities like making molding, the shaper bits may create a curved cut, while tongue and groove cuts are straight. The size determines the ultimate size of the cut, ranging from very small detailing on small projects like wooden boxes to larger cuts on crown molding and large projects like bedsteads.

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When selecting shaper bits, people can choose from a variety of materials. It is important to purchase bits made from durable, strong materials. As they start to dull, the wood will splinter and gouge, rather than cutting cleanly. Poor quality bits can ruin a project or create a mess that the woodworker will need to clean up by hand. Some have features like diamond blades for working with very hard woods.

The shaper bits should be carefully stored. When not in use, they can go into a storage case to prevent dulling and protect them from oxidation. The bits may come with slipcovers or oil to maintain the surface, and they should always be wiped down after use to remove sawdust and other detritus. Many manufacturers offer a guarantee and will sharpen or replace bits that dull down too quickly. For this reason, it is advisable to maintain the receipt and manufacturer's documentation in the event that it becomes necessary to make a claim.

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