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Tungsten carbide for shapers

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Steven Volz01/07/2020 15:15:47
11 forum posts
1 photos

Is it a bad idea to use TC inserts/brazed tips on a shaper, due to the intermittent nature of the cut?

Thanks, Steve

Bo'sun01/07/2020 16:52:32
602 forum posts
2 photos

I guess it might ultimately depend on the depth of cut, and the grade of carbide. A brazed tip might be the be the better option, as the tip is usually better supported.

mick01/07/2020 16:56:47
419 forum posts
49 photos

Unless you can lift the tool clear on the return stroke the tip will rub against the work piece and dull the cutting edge. Modern carbide should be able to withstand the initial impact.

Bo'sun01/07/2020 17:08:34
602 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by mick on 01/07/2020 16:56:47:

Unless you can lift the tool clear on the return stroke the tip will rub against the work piece and dull the cutting edge. Modern carbide should be able to withstand the initial impact.

Isn't that the function of the "clapper box"?

Baz01/07/2020 17:34:26
714 forum posts
2 photos

Never had a problem using tungsten carbide on the shaper, clapper box lifts tool on back stroke so no problem there. I find tipped tools great on castings for getting under the skin then change to HSS to get a good finish.

Ady101/07/2020 18:01:39
5071 forum posts
734 photos

I have found carbide prone to chipping while HSS needs a lot of resharpening

Also bought some fancy molybudeneum or sumfink swedish which was not much better than HSS

The good stuff for shapers I have found is cobalt HSS, 5% 10% whatever

It is also extremely good for low speed turning of tuff metal on the backgear which is really just circular shaping


edit: I suppose it's about finding the material that has the maximum hardness, but also has some flexibility to deal with impact resistance

Edited By Ady1 on 01/07/2020 18:05:56

DC31k01/07/2020 18:27:12
662 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by Bo'sun on 01/07/2020 17:08:34:

Isn't that the function of the "clapper box"?

If the clapper box was the complete answer to this issue, why were so many machines (shapers and planers) fitted with tool lifters?

IanT01/07/2020 19:57:39
1989 forum posts
212 photos

I don't use inserted cutters on my shapers Steven, although I know some folk do so. The few times I've broken inserted tools, I've always been taking interrupted cuts with them (e.g. using insert parting blades). So I'm a bit cautious about using inserted or brazed cutters on a shaper.

However, the main reason I don't use inserts on my shaper, is that I don't need to.

I find HHS tools more than adequate on steel and cast iron. On difficult surfaces I might have to think about the tool shape more carefully but generally I can cut things on the shaper with HSS that would just kill a milling cutter dead. Someone was asking about hot rolled steel being "hard" recently. I don't find it particularly so but I've just surfaced (cleaned up) a couple of 300 x 110 x 15mm plates - on all edges - using a roughing tool that was already on the machine and it was still cutting well at the end. They were both spattered with welding slag btw - so not exactly ideal. The finish achieved was quite acceptable for their intended use but if I'd needed a high quality finish, then a HSS 'finishing' tool would have been used to provide it .

I do use insert tooling - especially where a 'shaped' or exact tool profile is useful or required (such as with parting and screw-cutting tools) but for most single point tooling I don't find them necessary (a diamond tool holder is more useful on a lathe in my view) and this is even more so with my shapers. In fact, I use carbon steel tools on my hand shaper for non-ferrous work, simply because of the edge you can put on them.

As always, this is a matter involving a good degree of personal preference. You'll have to try things to find out what you prefer



mgnbuk01/07/2020 20:08:59
1179 forum posts
71 photos

I have mainly used brazed tip carbide tools on my Boxford, as they were the only suitably sized tools I had to hand when I bought the machine. As they have worked well, I have not investigated HSS options until recently, when I bought a length of 1/2" square HSS to play with. Not sure of the provenance of the tools I use, but probably UK made rather than Far Eastern.

Can't say I have had any issues with chipping or dulling on the return stroke. I have been mainly roughing out steel parts to finish off on the lathe or mill, taking 1- 1.5mm DOC with a "couple of clicks" feed. Chips come off hot enough to make you take notice if they go down your shirt.

Turning or milling tools with inserted or brazed carbide tooling frequently encounter & deal with interrupted cuts - don't hear much of major problems in those applications.

Nigel B

Steven Volz02/07/2020 14:08:06
11 forum posts
1 photos

Thanks chaps. A lot of info there.


Cornish Jack02/07/2020 14:21:29
1219 forum posts
171 photos

Don't use my Perfecto much, but the only 'odd' tooling I've used is a 'swan's neck' which, supposedly, has the advantage of 'spring' to ease the cut impact. Got mine ready made, but forging ones from bar stock HSS might be an 'interesting' exercise.



mick02/07/2020 16:47:29
419 forum posts
49 photos

Hi. Bo'sun.

Its the action of the clapper box that drags the tool back along the work piece which has a tendency to dull the cutting edge of a carbide tool. A simple lifting rig with a roller mounted just behind the cutter and clamped in the tool post will , on the back stroke contact the work first lifting the tool clear of the work piece. Your welcome.



John Olsen02/07/2020 22:51:56
1241 forum posts
94 photos
1 articles

I've used carbide quite a lot on my shapers, with very good results. The tips I have used are uncoated triangular inserts with no hole and no chip breaker shaping, brazed onto a key steel shank. I have a diamond wheel tool sharpening machine which I use to sharpen them. The inserts were being given away at the club because they had been found to be unsatisfactory at someones work, but the3y work great for me. They don't seem to mind being dragged backwards along the job. I haven't tried replaceable inserts in a holder.


Nigel Graham 203/07/2020 01:30:01
2056 forum posts
28 photos

A point no-one has mentioned but Cornish Jack approaches, is one made in the old reference books.

It is that the edge of the tool should be under the clapper-box fulcrum. The swan-necked tool Jack describes can help achieve that as well as adding that resilience he mentions.

A tool that is not so located may be one factor in it becoming dulled prematurely, but I don't know if anyone has investigated this.


My shaper is a manual Drummond, not a powered machine, but it's still possible to shock-load the tool and machine by too deep a cut. I always file a small chamfer on the entry edge to ease the tool in a little. I don't know if it actually makes much difference but it doesn't do any harm.

Regarding the impacts, think of a large face-mill with inserted tungsten-carbide shapes: that is often used at high speed but doesn't seem to mind. In fact I worry more about the hammering such operations can give the machine bearings, than the tips themselves.


it was me, by the way, who had asked about hard surfaces on hot-rolled steel. Oddly, some steel I was turning today seemed slightly inhomogenous, indicated by unusual changes in the swarf along the cut. The material was 18mm diameter mild-steel of probably BS Somewhere-Handy spec., as it had been a cable-drum tie-rod so not needing to be anything too particular.

Rik Shaw03/07/2020 01:42:58
1480 forum posts
398 photos

I have tried brazed carbide tip tools on my shaper but the "no lift" clapper box drags the tool on the back stroke and dulls/chips the edge in fairly short order. I read somewhere that if using insert tools on a shaper you should look for "S6" as part of the insert number as it resists "drag" dulling. I have not tried them myself as I get by mostly using HSS.


Rik Shaw03/07/2020 01:42:58
1480 forum posts
398 photos

Duplicate post - how did that happen?

Edited By Rik Shaw on 03/07/2020 01:44:51

Brian Oldford03/07/2020 08:31:23
686 forum posts
18 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 03/07/2020 01:30:01:

A point no-one has mentioned but Cornish Jack approaches, is one made in the old reference books.

It is that the edge of the tool should be under the clapper-box fulcrum.. . . . . . .

How can that be achieved when putting a key-way down a bore? I realise industry would use a broach nowadays but that's might spendy for a one-off.

mick04/07/2020 15:07:40
419 forum posts
49 photos

The old style 'English' type tool holder did put the tip of the cutter directly under the clapper box fulcrum, but this was superseded many moons ago by the now universal American lantern type tool holder, which puts the tip in front of the fulcrum point. Swan neck ( English) and Goose neck ( American ) tooling is designed to avoid tool tip dig in.

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