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ALBA 2S NC Shaper FINALLY complete

The shaper is done and tested - seems to work ok...

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Joseph Noci 124/08/2017 18:57:58
628 forum posts
875 photos

This should see the last of my Shaper postings! Thank Goodness, some may say..

It is all together and working - the last bits were some assembly and then belt covers for the stepper motor belts. The main drive V belts still have no cover - I will see if I make a cover later - I quite like the big pulley turning round and round..

The Stepper covers are from Aluminium, the Z axis cover is Tig welded - took a few minutes of practice to get my hand in again for Tig welding Ali...

Powered everything and started testing the software in the controller and that works fine - one or two changes were made, mainly in stepper acceleration and feed speeds. The X Axis feeds when the Ram is at the rear most position - no feed during the rear stroke, so no tool tip rubbing and no clapper action..So the X axis has to accelerate and feed FAST to have stopped feed by the time the tool tip arrives at the workpiece on the forward cutting stroke, especially at maximum ram speeds.... Likewise the Z axis for down feed, although the axis is much lighter and gravity helps a little.

Anyway it all works! I ground up a HSS tool to test and cut some PVC first, then some Aluminium, the latter a 3mm feed and a 4mm deep cut - a 4mmx3mm 'chip' - quite nice and all very new to me!

Tig welding the Z Axis stepper belt cover:




Z Belt cover painted and fitted

z cover fitted.jpg

Belt cover on the X Axis stepper.

x stepper belt cover.jpg




Process is:

Set a feed step size for X and/or Z axis

Set a start point for the tool relative to workpiece

Set an endpoint ( by jogging the axis) for the tool

Set the X axis feed direction (left or right) if feed the table across

Rewind the table to the start of the cut

Set the Z depth of cut by jogging with the DRO

Start the machine.

It will cut, feeding by step size, till the endpoint and stop.

The Ram can be jogged slowly FWD/REV, and a button will feed the move the ram till the rear position and stop it there ( for RAM position setup, etc)

Rewind to start again, feed Z down again using DRO, and start, etc...

A video, hopefully...

Nick_G24/08/2017 19:27:28
1808 forum posts
744 photos


smileysmileysmileysmileysmiley. ......... yes

Neil Wyatt24/08/2017 20:13:02
17698 forum posts
697 photos
77 articles

Tré Cool


John Haine24/08/2017 20:44:26
3000 forum posts
160 photos

Impressive! Is this the world's first CNC shaper? Is the controller hardware/software standard "mill" type or have you had to brew your own?

Andrew Johnston24/08/2017 20:50:18
5398 forum posts
620 photos

Wow smile o


Joseph Noci 124/08/2017 20:51:26
628 forum posts
875 photos

Thank you all!

John, its homebrew SW , not CNC, and not COTS - That will not work on a shaper I fear - there are no CAM processors that I know of that could generate G-Code for a shaper! So this is purely a 'manual' shaper that has the dreary functions automated...I do think it may the the first around!

Now it has to make its own vice some new jaws..and some tooling for itself..


Ady125/08/2017 01:28:57
3639 forum posts
514 photos

Could be the coolest shaper in the world that one

Well done Joe

mechman4825/08/2017 09:10:23
2626 forum posts
407 photos

Well done Joe, that is one impressive set up.


IanT25/08/2017 10:11:48
1497 forum posts
142 photos

Very cool Joseph!

Does your software allow repeat surface cuts e.g. (with a suitable tool) - a right cut, stop, some vertical feed, reverse direction with left cut etc - so you could work down to a calculated depth - or do you have to set each pass manually?



Ian S C25/08/2017 11:24:09
7468 forum posts
230 photos

Might be the start of the return of the shaper.

Ian S C

Clive Hartland25/08/2017 13:50:54
2552 forum posts
40 photos

Gratifying seeing such large chips coming from that machine Joe.

Do not forsake us now you have done that job as I am sure a lot of members of the Forum would like to follow your conservation adventures with, 'Collaring' and tracking. Also details of your Drones etc.


Joseph Noci 125/08/2017 21:06:21
628 forum posts
875 photos

Have to keep thanking everyone for the kind words!

I did enjoy the journey with this machine - it is challenging me at the moment I must say...Send chips far, wide and everywhere and is messy! Certainly can consume oil! And grinding cutters is interesting , similar to but quite different to lathe cutters! Needs some beef behind the edge for sure. And computing the strokes/min speed to use is also not as simple as it seems! Using Surface speeds recommended in Engineering tables for mild steel, etc, my 2S cannot go as fast as computed! Cuts in mild steel are not smooth yet - show signs of tearing, so maybe still cutter geometry/ram speed. etc.. What fun. And Oil...Started making replacement jaws for the shaper's vice, but only material I could get is plane 'iron' plate, 12mm thick, black scale on both faces, flame cut slabs to basic size. No idea what grade it may be, but some sort of mild steel I suppose. Does not machine nicely in the shaper..


The Software cannot do untended repeat surfaces - what I do is set the start and end of , say X axis, feed, set the Z tool height, and start the cut. When the end (final feed past the material) is reached the machine stops automatically. Then a manual process - Press 'HOME" to get ram to the rear position, out of harms way..Press REWIND, moves the X table back to the start of the cut, and press Z 'down' feed button, which feeds the Z axis down by the Feed step size set up in the current job initialisation setup ( where I set the required X and Z axis feed step size). The start the machine again and it cuts the whole surface at the new Z depth again. Or I can jog the Z axis down using the jog wheel, in increments of 0.01mm instead of using the Z button..


I would love to post more about our activities with the Lions - have some wonderful photos and experiences with them, but not sure how that fits in Workshop Columns...Will see..Ditto the drones - quite a different discipline that - also lots of fun.

Thanks fellows!



Meunier25/08/2017 21:20:06
306 forum posts
1 photos

Add my congrats too Joe, have been interested to observe progress. Re lions etc, isn't that just right for the tea-room sub-forum ?

speelwerk25/08/2017 21:32:26
357 forum posts
3 photos
Posted by Joseph Noci 1 on 24/08/2017 18:57:58:

The main drive V belts still have no cover - I will see if I make a cover later - I quite like the big pulley turning round and round..

That is beautiful work but do make that drive belt cover, I still remember when my fingers made a turn between the belt and the pulley of a shaper. Niko.

Ian P25/08/2017 21:58:54
2352 forum posts
98 photos


Its a long, long time since I used a shaper (schooldays!) but I remember getting more or less private grinding 'tuition' from the metalwork teacher who I think liked me because I took a lot of interest (and could file flat).

He said that to get the smoothest finish on a shaper the tool needed some 'skew' so the chips ended up coming off at an angle. Lathe tools similarly sometimes work better with a bit of slicing action. On a lathe though only one point on a sideways sloping top face is at centreline height. Should work better an a shaper.

Ian P

Clive Hartland25/08/2017 22:36:45
2552 forum posts
40 photos

Joe, there are varied interests here on the Forum. I come on about my bee keeping and associated Flora and Fauna so I see no reason why your interests cannot be covered.


thaiguzzi26/08/2017 05:15:21
687 forum posts
131 photos

Super restoration, looks marvelous.

But am I the only one who is the party pooper, who just does not get it?

I'm not at all familiar with CAD, CAM nor CNC, did not do the extra year at college with the above computer stuff, and still have very little interest in it. A DRO is about the limit in my appreciation of the digital age.

Anyhow, I run a shaper, and do more stuff on it than I should, considering there is a vertical mill parked next to it, inc t slots and dovetails. One job before the year is out is a 40T gear.

So, I just don't see the benefit in what Joe has done re the stepper motors et al compared to doing everything manually at the end of each pass or operation. Please explain the advantages.



IanT26/08/2017 09:10:42
1497 forum posts
142 photos

TG (aka Luddite) - I leave my Acorn to work on its own but still have to be mindful when getting near one end of the traverse, so this would help in that area. Although Joseph has not implemented it, his stepper set-up could also (with appropriate s/w) take repeat cuts, allowing the machine to be used virtually unattended. As he says, it's not CNC, more numerical control but I'm sure it would be possible to add a further soft control 'layer' to allow this.

Personally, I'm unlikely to ever 'automate' my Acorn - life being too short and in diminishing supply. But a simple stepper motor set-up on my Adept cross-feed would be useful - rather than the usual mechanical ratchet arrangement some people have added in the past.

But thank you again Joseph - a very interesting project and beautifully implemented.



PS Thai - I use my shapers more than makes good sense too - fun isn't it!

Joseph Noci 126/08/2017 19:43:28
628 forum posts
875 photos

Thai (Luddite..)

Well, there are a number of good reasons for this conversion - the first one, to get it out of the way, is ..because I can..

You may have seen my lathe updates and Electronic Leadscrew adaptations? Well, that sort of stuff interests me and as I seem to have the electronics/mechanical capability, and my Good Wife does have the Software capability, I enjoy adding these things to machines, old and new.

However, the adaptations to the Shaper are not only because I can..This brings a number of useful features and improves, for me, the ease of use no end.

The automated Z axis ( vertical feed..) - I don't have to stand there with my hand on the vertical slide Ball wheel , timing the downfeed to coincide with the backstroke and getting a feed depth increase of size that is more or less anyone's guess...

The graduations on the dial of the vertical feed are also on such a small diameter wheel, and poorly legible, etc - I know I could make a bigger graduated disc, and so on, but, fit a stepper, easy to then display moved distance on a digital readout, and to automate the downfeed, and to set a downfeed amount to accurately move each backstroke, either automatically, or at the press of a button.. Start the machine and it feeds down till the endpoint and stops - you can get on with other stuff in the meantime..

The same applies to the X axis. very easy to set the distance to traverse. Very easy to set the feed step size ( much easier that that oscillating arm, with the sliding screw that gives more-or-less feed increments...)No more winding of handles to get the table back to the start - press the rewind button..Maybe less romance in its use, but then I prefer my romance elsewhere other than the workshop..

While cutting in X ( or Z) I can increase the cut simply by pushing one button, and the depth of cut increases by a set, pre-entered amount - yes, you can do it by turning the X handle and looking at the dial, but Z, while the ram is moving, looking at its dial...

Other niceties - a button gets the ram to move to the rear most position directly, a jog button moves the ram forward or rearward, easing tool positions and zero setpoint setup, etc. Yes, I know there are 'jog' buttons on the old implementations as well, but they are jerky, don't get the ram to where you want easily, etc..

I also do the feed ONLY when the ram is at the rearmost position, so tool cutting point rubbing on workpiece is reduced to a minimum - the clapper simply does no work at all - it does not clap!

I think all of that makes it worthwhile..


Sorry, late edit - forgot an import feature this brings about for me...

I do not do well trying to mentally compute in an Imperial world, and with the X axis leadscrew still original 1/4inch pitch, the software simply manages and displays everything metric for me...So feed steps are in increments of 0.01mm as is DRO display.

Edited By Joseph Noci 1 on 26/08/2017 19:57:22

thaiguzzi27/08/2017 06:21:25
687 forum posts
131 photos

Thank you. Understand.

Parting off or slotting is good fun on a shaper, ie timing downfeed on the Z axis with your hand on the vertical slide...

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