|"A Big American Motor Spindle Shaper",
The Wood-Worker. Vol. XXXIX, No. 8, Oct. 1920.
Pg. 111. Source: Old
A shaping or molding machine uses metal cutters to shave the
surface of a board or timber to produce a contoured edge. Typically,
the work had been done by hand planes that were run with or
across the grain of a piece of dressed lumber. The earliest
machines employed a cutter fixed into a workbench with a fence
for guiding the piece as it was passed over the cutter. However,
as early as 1793, Samuel Bentham patented a shaping machine
with various contoured cutters that revolved on a vertical shaft
above a table. The machine could be cranked by hand or driven
by belts as the workpiece was secured to a carriage and passed
underneath the cutter. The principle resembled that of planing
machines also designed by Bentham.
Molding machines developed more slowly than planing machines,
for they produced articles less in demand than the simple floorboards,
joists, sheathing, and dressed lumber made by planing machines.
In addition, moldings had to be planed to a more precise finish
than common building materials. Among early machines, only one
end of the axle for the cutter was supported. Consequently,
the machines vibrated to a considerable degree, which resulted
in an inferior, wavy surface. Also, cutters were difficult to
change and sharpen. Consequently, molding produced with a hand
plane remained a far superior product until the 1870s. Until
then, molding machines produced only cheap, simple goods that
could be produced in large batches.
Molding machines improved considerably after 1860. Larger,
heavier, cast-iron frames replaced earlier wooden frames, increasing
substantially the cost of the machine but reducing vibration.
Feed rolls provided a faster and more compact method of bringing
the piece to the cutters than the older method of using carriages.
Improvements in tool steel improved the quality of the cut and
increased the time the machine could operate without the need
for sharpening the cutters. Some machines made complex cuts
using multiple heads and cutters. Increasingly, factory-produced
molding supplied a tremendous demand for door panels, stair
stringers, window sash, trim, furniture, and plow handles.
By the 1880s, variety molders were essential machines in most
small- to medium-sized woodworking shops. Sometimes called paneling
and recessing machines, they functioned like the modern router
and were remarkably versatile shaping tools. Most often, two
spindles projected above the surface of a table. When necessary,
fences guided the work. The spindles rotated at high speeds
in opposite directions, allowing the woodworker to cut with
the grain without having to stop in order to reverse the spindle."
Machines, Facts On File,
A patent for shaping irregular forms in wood by means of a
cutter block fixed on a spindle revolving vertically was invented
by Mr. Andrew S. Gear, of Jamesville, Ohio, in 1853. Gear later
removed to Boston, where he developed a considerable demand
for his machines. This was a two-spindle machine with a wooden
table, very similar to our machine of today.
Jones, Chandles. Milestones
in Machining of Wood, Industrial Strength Woodworking.