Shaper Cutter Orientation


Maybe you guys can settle an issue.
I run a Grizzly Shaper for raised panel work. The method I use is the Panel Cutte faces up and I pass the stock over the cutter. Typically I make 2-3 passes raising the cutter on each pass. Issue - I had a visitor who stated that he uses the cutter turned over or facing down. In his work he is passing the stock between the table and the cutter. He also makes multiple passes but is lowering the cutter on each pass.
I thought about his comments and wondered is he correct, - is his method safe?
Any comments TIA
Pete C.
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I did some reading and I think the issue is being discussed her http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/forums/swmf.pl?read@6872
These guys are debating whether the panel should be face up or face down which I believe is the same question I am asking.
Comments please.....Thx

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In my opinion, no. I want wood between me and the action, to include the piece I'm doing and the hold/push devices I'm using. No problem of pinching, either.
Then there's the other issue - whether referencing from the side not visible is going to produce the best result.
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Pete wrote:

Obviously not <as> safe. I recommend against it if hand-feeding.
Some cutters or cuts may require the orientation in which case you can't get away from it, but I avoid it if at all possible.
In addition to the cutter being fully exposed, particularly w/ hand feeding it is susceptible to ruining the work by inadvertently raising it and unless it is a reasonably small piece maintaining perfect hold down is somewhat "iffy" which makes for visible marks in the surface.
So, for at least two reasons I vote "no" unless there's an overriding other consideration (namely, there's no way to make the cut otherwise--which isn't true of a panel-raiser).
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Also dust and chip collection may not be ideal with the cutter head exposed, depending on the design of the machine.
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Shapers are normally reversible.
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George wrote:

Yes they are...
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Pete wrote:

He is crazy. NEVER trap wood between a cutter and something else.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
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Hi Pete,
I have the Grizzly 1.5 HP shaper. I have raised maybe 100 panels over the last few years for various projects - wainscoting, doors etc. I always did it face up (use a 5 inch MLCS bit). I usually take 5 or 6 passes, the last one or two very light.
I often thought about the face down method because it seems safer in some respects. On the other hand, I use push blocks and keep far away from the cutter.
Another consideration is panel size. I have made small (around 4 inch wide or so) panels on several projects. In those cases, I think having more material on the table is better since field of the finished panels winds up to be just a few inched wide. Don't like doing those in any case.
Maybe I do it face up because that's what I'm used to doing - I can see what's happening.
I'll think about it again next time.
Lou
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I run my cutter underneath. That being said, I have a good friend I stop and see often who has had a cabinet shop for the best part of 40 years. He does nothing but millwork and RP Doors. Last time I was there he had about 12 - 15 shapers all set up for the production of doors. He has always run his RP cutters on top. He has used feeders off and on in the past but last trip I didn't see feeders on any machines, large or small. He's also missing 1/2 of two fingers on one hand. Like most have said, I guess it's preference, but the idea of a fence slipping back (what happened to my friend), or an end cut splitting, concerns me enough that I don't care to see the cutter spinning.
jim

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Forgot to mention - he runs everything in 1 pass - always. His door work is actully lovely. Keeps his cutters real sharp.

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I have seen the top cutter approach in a factory situation using powered feeders. It allows an operator to see the quality of the work at each pass without much handling of the piece.
I would not consider it for home use or hand fed machines. Face down with a pushblock is the safest.
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Nope, very real chance of the bit grabing the wood and accelerating it and throwing it at speed into the workshop
General rule of thumb, DON'T trap a workpiece between the cutter and the table or fence
Not saying it cannot be done, but it is MUCH riskier than the way you are doing it
John

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Thanks for all the comments - seems like he is not dead wrong as I thought he was - learn smething new everyday.

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You might want to read your shaper manual, which might say something like
4. BLIND CUT WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
This keeps the cutter on the underside of the workpiece and provides a distance guard for the operator.
.. and somewhat related
7. KEEP ANY UNUSED PORTION OF THE CUTER BELOW THE TABLE SUR- FACE.

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