Setting-up for Cope and Pattern


I realize every shop has their own procedure; but as woodworkers, we are paid for making sawdust, so quick and efficient methods of machine tool setup is money in the pocket. This is my method for setting up the shaper to make frame and panel constructions...
First, the head or split fence of the shaper must be in tune, adjusted for proper function. I do this at the initial setup of a new machine. Usually, the cast-iron head is preassembled, but I take it apart, inspect, and detail the castings with a file. At this point, I've already tossed the auxiliary fence that came with the machine. I place the assembled head face down on the shaper table and adjust the halves to be in plane with each other. Note: On nearly every machine I have owned the halves were askew, not in plane to one another; but this flaw is satisfied later. Once I am satisfied, I lock the halves together. Then, I take a cold chisel and make a perpendicular mark across the halves, adjacent to the locking mechanism. I use this mark as an indexing feature for future setups. I find this to be very useful. I dress a piece of 5/4 poplar to a one-inch dimension that is approximately one-quarter inch taller than the fence, and six to nine inches wider than the shaper table. Shaping is also a joining action, so the extra length never hurts. I do not use a hardwood. Most of my projects are hardwood, and rubbing hardwood to hardwood wears the surface more quickly. This is a known physical property of wood. The carriage bolts that come with the machine, used to attach the auxiliary fence, can be of minimal size and quality; and since they see a lot of use, I replace them. I select a bolt that fits the width of the adjustment slot, with enough length that the nut and washer can remain on the bolt through the various stages of adjustment. Next, lock the head to the table. Center the length of auxiliary fence to the cast-iron head and mark the end of each slot closest to the arbor. I use an adjustable triangle to scribe a line along the length of auxiliary fence that is center to the slot less the dimension that I want for clearance between the auxiliary fence and the table top, something less than a sixteenth of an inch. The marks made at the end of each slot should be along the scribed line. I measure outboard from those marks to a position that will allow the washer and nut to have a firm seat upon the cast iron. That's your point for drilling. I counter bore for the head of the bolt to be one-half inch behind the face, and drill the hole for a snug fit to the threads. Divide the auxiliary fence into halves, back cut leaving one-eighth inch at the butt, and attach to the head. You may note that the halves are no longer in plane to one another. Step to the joiner and dress the face of the auxiliary fence, keeping perpendicular to the cast-iron base...whether you think they are in perfect plane or not. This completes the process of tuning the head.
Secondly, you must know your tooling. I prefer the six-piece cope and pattern sets that are engineered to match for height adjustment. I can change between cope and pattern as often as necessary without readjusting for height. I also prefer to run my material face down, which can present its own problems with the direction of feed. So it is important to know your own capabilities in relationship to the engineering of your tooling. I run my material face down for two reasons; one, I want a consistent cut of my pattern in relationship to the face of the panel; and two, the dimension between table and cutter is consistent, so any imperfection in the dimension of my stock will show up on the back of the panel, where a quick whisk of a belt sander will perfect the frame without sander marks or the possibility of biting into any raise of a panel on the front.
The next step to this process is to construct a sled; and perhaps surprisingly, the sled is the key to the whole process. I use three-quarter high-density particle board for the body and a strip of oak for the runner. I dado the runner into the body and I usually make four or five sleds at a time. The obvious reason is that a sled is disposable, but a shop may have more than one cope and pattern set of different designs, and different diameters. The length of sled should be approximately half the width of the table top. With the runner in the miter slot, the width of the sled should be as wide as possible without hanging over the front of the tabletop to provide a fulcrum, or pivot point; and wide enough in the direction of the arbor to take a full cut of the cope pattern. Install the cope cutter, set for height, and without using the fence, run the sled for a full cut along the entire length. Bring the head forward into contact with the sled and lock it down, adjusting the auxiliary fence in place on either side of the cutter. The sled should run easily but firmly along the entire length of the fence. The fence is now set for cutting the cope, and the sled is used to guide the stock through the cut. If in doubt, verify that the leading edge of the sled is square to the fence. I laminate a light grit of sand paper to the leading edge, and attach a block of wood to the top of the sled to aid holding the stock and guiding the sled through the cut. The sled backs your cut against tear out. To set the fence for the pattern cut, simply unlock the inboard side of the head and back the fence away, eyeballing your index mark, to a dimension that produces a clean cut. You will not experience any snip... The next time you need to run cope and pattern, just install the tooling, set the height, and snug your fence to the sled. This method is quick, easy, and has proven 100% safe through fifteen years of operation.
Now, before the rants begin, I want to reiterate the fact that this is my way of doing, what can prove for many, to be a complex set up. Certainly, there are many other ways. I am completely open to suggestion, and to the inclusion of any step that I may have omitted in writing this instruction. But, if setup is a tedious operation for you, I hope you will try my method. daclark
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hello, this essay was originally posted on a number of sites, and attracted quite a bit of comment. It became too much to track the comments and remember what had been said where, so I've relocate to a central location I have established a new group for the discussion of the craft trades; woodworking, metalworking, sculpture, glassworks, pottery, etcetera; and the topic of apprenticeship in the inherent occupations of man. If you would like to join this group of professionals, as well as novices, in the discussion of the craft trades...use the link below. The site will be moderated to keep the junk out. No off topic postings, no sales gimmicks, and no trashing the other guy's opinion... daclark
http://groups.google.com/group/senior-apprentice
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.