I used PC biscuits and PC cutter and found and had the same problem.
It's back in the box with just a little dust on it.
I've heard these complaints and while I don't use it a lot, when I hae
it's done all I'd expect it to do...it's critical to always work from
the same face and to ensure the fence is aligned and all, but if done
that, I've never had any alignment issues..
Last task for it was six hexagonal window frames for a friends
kiddy-house...they went together with no gap and no mismatch on any of
the edges "first time, every time" after the setup trial run...that took
a few adjustments, but not tremendous.
I think they're very useful for certain tasks...but it's so much faster
to run a glue joint on the shaper if one really wants precise alignment
for glue-ups, etc., ...
I actually went through 2 PC plate joiners, a 556 which I bought around
1990 and much later replaced it with a 557. I literally used a few
thousand biscuits with the 556. Not so much with the 557 for the same
reasons. While the 557 looked like a Ferrari compared to the 556 it had
QC problems IMHO. It is a shame that the design was not implemented well.
Absolutely! And also important to use the fence as a reference vs. using
the bottom of the tool on a work surface.
IIRC I used mine to cut a slot for a desk lock arm to engage when in the
The concept is very good, Festool capitalized on the concept and built
in precision fit along with a much better quality type of biscuit/Domino
as the floating tenon.
I never dreamed that I would use the Domino more than the Plate Joiner
but I have bought 7 times more Domino tenons as I did flat footballs.
It will be great for the common woodworker in 10~12 years when he or she
will be able to afford a version of the Festool Domino, very much like
when Fein no longer controlled the market with the Multimaster.
I sure wish I had room in my shop for a shaper. ;~)
The one I have is Ryobi iirc; wife bought it as a gift; I didn't have
one even on the radar at the time...
It's not the most sturdy thing in the world by any stretch and it does
take some tinkering w/ the fence to actually get it aligned, but the
thing is one doesn't need to be precisely centered; only use the same
The noise isn't any worse than any router, less than many and for an
inexpensive tool it has very little runout. I've just never found the
biscuits to be loose in a slot; it takes pliers to get one out even
I don't suppose I've used a bag of biscuits in the 20 yr had the tool,
but again for the occasion it works very well imo...
Would never be without it...or actually, "them"... :)
But I don't have the tilting, multi-spindle version (yet...) :)
In _some_ justification, I started out with a used Craftsman (the 1/2"
spindle open grid model), eventually got the similar but solid table
small Delta and finally many years later the old Rockwell-Delta
(Milwaukee vintage) heavy-duty model with 3/4" and 1" spindles that can
take the larger panel-raising cutters, etc. And, of course, when that
journey began, the router wasn't what it is today or even close and the
availability of router bits was even more extremely limited as
well...now, excepting for the really large commercial enterprises, the
situation is mostly reversed; there are far more router-bit profiles
available easily than shaper cutters in the 1/2" and lesser sizes, Delta
quit making them entirely a number of years ago, and the stub spindle is
almost unheard of any longer for things like the coping cut on
window/door rails to allow the full-length tenon instead just the stub.
I complained to Lonnie Bird at one of his workshops in Knoxville
a number of years ago when Delta discontinued them and he had enoough
name recognition eventually CMT produced a set with his name...that
arrangement no longer seems to be in effect and since left TN I haven't
seen him in almost 20 year now. I think maybe at one time he had a deal
with Amana Tool, but I don't see that in their catalog now, either. I
guess nobody at home makes old-style architectural stuff any more except
One of the currently available Amana sets; better than nothing altho w/
just 1/4" shank is a little puny for more than just the occasional door
or two. When needing to produce 20 or so, not so much...
Couldn't find picture of the stub spindle for the LD or HD shaper
off-hand, here's a listing of the double-ended one for the old 43-355
that has good picture of the stub end...
Yeah, a slippery slope. I think the expense of the shaper cutters is
what held my back over my router table set up.
Now, in the last 6 years I think a shaper may have served me well for
other uses that are not quite right for a router table set up.
Hey, "it's only money and last I heard they _still_ won't let you take
it with you..." <vbg>
The larger table for one, although one can always build extensions, to
make them rigid and level w/o any catch-lines, etc., and the miter
slots, etc., etc., etc., ... while doable takes a fair amount of effort.
Pattern shaping and the larger panel-raising or similar are the real
advantages for me; plus simply the bulk makes a much more enjoyable tool
to use; it's like a SawStop Pro or PM66/2000 vis a vis the contractor
saw--the little guy can get the job done, but the heft simply makes
things better, particularly if the workpieces get larger or the numbers
get up there, both of which occur regularly in architectural work which
what I've mostly done, particularly over last number of years vis a vis
cabinet or furniture...
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The large raised panels are what I would be thinking.
I do have a question, the last two jobs I had involved 14 raised panel
drawer fronts made out of red oak.
While my router table had no issue with spinning a 3+" raised panel bit,
I did this in about 3 passes, I wanted to take a very lite final pass.
Do you get better cuts across grain with raised panel tooling on a
shaper or is this mostly dependent on how sharp your cutters are? Or is
the angle of attack much different on the cutting edge of a shaper
cutter vs. a router bit?
I'm too chicken to spin a 3" cutter on only a 1/2" arbor at router
speeds so I can't really comment that much on the geometry question, Leon.
Sharp is key, of course, as well as what actual tip speed is. I
generally only take two passes and am also, as a general rule, satisfied
with the cut. On really aggressive profiles I make make a clearance cut
using an angle on the TS with the panel upright to remove what extra
material can be; presuming the panel isn't _too_ tall, of course.
Oh, and on the question of sharp, there's where there can be a _major_
difference between the top-dollar "name" cutters vis a vis Grizz or
other generics...Amana is, in my book the blue standard against which to
judge all else in the consumer-priced category. There are, of course,
in the shaper market, the manufacturers for the commercial shops but you
don't even want to hear what a set is from one of them... but the $300
neighborhood doesn't even get you more than a look-see...
I've got to get back to the hay fields right now, while mowing I'll
think a little more on the subject and see if have any further to add...
Well unlike a shaper cutter my raised panel bits be gin cutting very
close to the shank so they don t reach too far out from the center of
rotation. And the cutting edges are about 90 degrees out from the
shank. I was thinkin that if the angle of attack on the cutting edge
was freater there might be more of a shear action.
I crank my router down to about 8K rpm and put the fence even with the
front of the pilot bearing so about 1.5~1.75" sticks out. And it is
under the piece I am working on. I absolutely use a backer board to
push and cover the bit when it exits the work.
It really seems kinda slow paced. Nothing really exciting.
The operation isn't what scares me...it's the part about "crank my
router down to about 8K rpm".
Does your router (or any, for that matter) have any feedback control
that prevents it starting at high speed with a cutter above certain
diameter or mass?
I was permanently scarred many years ago by witnessing the result of "I
was _sure_ I turned it down!" and a large bit like you're describing
taking off across the shop and embedding in a solid 6x8 column to the
full depth of a cutter wing. Fortunately, the operator first hit the
switch while holding the router in front of him and to the side and the
trajectory happened to miss the rest of us in the shop, but I was
"cured-for-life" of using such bits where the mistake could be so
serious or fatal so quick...
Agreed...far better chances. A small one is bad enough but those
monsters are something else again...I see 'em in the catalogs and the
shank just doesn't look like enough bulk to my eye...I know they test
and all but... :)
Also, I'd surely recommend sticking with the way you're using them;
_very_ light cuts.
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