Friday, August 22, 2014

Aigner

I have always found shapers a little bit breath taking, if not a bit on the scary side. When wind comes off a spinning cutter and hits you in the face, you tend to respect the potential inherent in that, recognizing what 11 horsepower and a mass of knives whirling at 4000 rpm might do to your arm or finger if things went awry. Or, the simple fact that if things did go off track, even if there is no bodily injury it takes but a blink to annihilate your carefully crafted piece of wood.

I've been gradually acquiring over the past several months pieces of equipment which make the shaper safer to operate. The equipment in question is made by the German company Aigner, and thanks to a friend i have in Germany, I've been able to purchase several Aigner pieces without having to suffer the insanely high prices charged in North America for the same items.

I wanted to show some of that today, as I suspect many out there are unfamiliar with Aigner and what they do. Here's my basic set up to template shape some reclaimed Burmese teak:


Mounted to the grey BowMould master is an Aigner spanning bar which allows an Aigner pressure module to be fitted, in this case with a single sprung roller wheel. Everything mounts together seamlessly and is made of quality materials. The bar doesn't flex. When the BowMould Master is fastened down, it isn't going anywhere.

The fence is unbolted from the table and cranked up to clear using a hand wheel, then swung out to the rear - a nice feature on Martin shapers:


From the other side the cranking mechanism is clearer to view:


It's much nicer to do things this way than to try and lift the heavy fence off the machine and put in on the floor.

The cutter head is a Byrd Shelix® with a rub bearing below, and it is enclosed within the Aigner BowMould Master:


The polycarbonate shield and 4" dust port makes the cutting very clean and safe.

Another view:


There are numerous types of wheels which can be fitted, single, double, quadruple, paired, pressure bar ski, etc. The pressure module can also be mounted on the front table edge to push the roller horizontally instead of vertically. It's a very versatile set up.

Working my way through the cut - chip collection is excellent:


On to the other side now:


The finish produced by the cutter is quite good, and will require only minimal clean up afterward:


The shaper runs so smoothly and quietly and with the Aigner stuff in place, the whole operation was so much more comfortable and confidence inspiring than my experiences with previous machines and cobbled together set ups.

If anyone is interested I can do more posts like these as I put other pieces of Aigner gear (i.e.,  not shown above) into use.

All for today -thanks for swinging on by. Hope things shape up well for you too!

9 comments:

  1. Hi Chris, nice set up, I would like to see more just for the drool factor. I like how those machines run so quietly compared to their lighter, weaker cousins. Two features I like on Martins is the slat fence that makes quick and easy to support work across the gap. I also like the combination hold down/finger guard that flips down from above. Its actually easier to use than to do without, greatly improving general safety of average users.

    Peace,
    Harlan Barnhart

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    1. Harlan,

      thanks for your appreciative comment. I also like how quietly the machine runs. If I could put the dust collector outside the room i wouldn't need to wear any ear protection at all when the shaper is running.

      The fence you refer to is also made by Aigner, and is found on other brands of shapers as well. They also make the fence for the Martin jointer. Like other Aigner products, it is well thought out and robust in construction.

      ~C

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  2. Chris,
    I would like to see some video footage to help explain things a bit more.

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    1. Cole,

      thanks - will try to oblige in a future post.

      ~C

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  3. Had you asked me to process the parts on this setup, I would have kindly asked, "can we get me a starting pin of some type, and can we have a longer pattern so I am on the pattern before cutter contact.

    Yes, further posts would provide a great discussion.. I agree the Aigner products are very good. However, I think they are lacking when the wood, depth of cuts, and part geometry become unfriendly. One example is, of a friend trying to machine lock miters on fine grain Doug fir only to have breakage at the cutter exit. This can really only be solved by cutting into a wood face by the cutter and providing a chip breaker. Climb cutting helped him, but still had difficulty with some wood. All he could do was provide numerous extras............................Jack

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    1. Jack,

      you are correct that it would have been better to have an extended template and a starter pin. The original template for that part was extended sufficiently, however the part got revised and made fatter in one area, necessitating a new template. I didn't quite have enough length of material unfortunately to make the new template as long as the original. It was only just long enough, plus I had a few extra cm of material on both ends of the stick where I could have cut closer to the line. The BowMould Master also has a sprung finger which can be placed against the bearing to act as a guide-in, however I elected not to put it in place. With the stock engaged under the roller wheel the work holding seemed pretty secure.

      As for Aigner lacking in certain circumstances, I'm sure there will be occasions with oddball set ups where they do not provide an idea solution, however what other commercial product does? They are pretty much alone in the field of providing those sort of accessories, and given the nearly infinite number of way in which a shaper could be used to process cuts, it seems unlikely they could answer for every occasion. I think for 95% of the tasks employing the shaper, they provide useful accessories which improve work-holding and operator safety, and for those few cases where they don't have just the right thing, then you rig something up yourself of course. I not clear at all as to how Aigner is to blame for your friend's cutting problems. Why didn't he simply put a sacrificial block in behind the piece and cut through?

      Thanks for your comment!

      ~C

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  4. I understand and have worked the same way. I am also one of the many that has very stupidly encountered a three-wing cutter on five digits of my right hand. Worker Compensation categorized me as coming away from the incident a 75% of a total man. I do not agree with them. My own take is maybe 85%. So . . . I am perhaps a bit "spooky."

    The parts my friend was making were column wraps, so the machining was longitudinal with a power feed. The shaper he has is a 8-hp Felder with their Aigner type fence. He does have several Aigner devices, and like I wrote the devices are clever about solving many problems. His problem was the open area between fences with no support. Not all woods need the support fir requires. I do think all spindle work benefits from large dia. tooling, and very close support of the exit cut.

    Two shapers are in my shop, both have been adapted with extension tables that carry Oliver rack/pinion type E & F fences. Both have split fences as well. This method allows me to find the cutting circle, then advance the fence section to the proper depth with very good precision, via counting turns and referencing knob divisions. The wooden fences start at about 14" long. They are grooved in the back face for a dovetail trough. Each fence holds a six inch long aluminum dovetail clamp. Essentially they are dovetail T-Slots. Once the cutter / fences are positioned the wooden fence is sent into the cutter to providing a chip breaker. The end result is a completely closed throat. They can be noisy to the max, but I so like the results. I will try to take some fence images and post them on my Pinterest site.

    What is this project as well.....................................Jack

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    1. Jack,

      thanks for the detailed explanation.

      Here's the thing - the open area between the Aigner shaper fences, normally filled with the metal 'fingers', can also be filled with a wooden insert. You simply unscrew the lock knobs and remove the finger clusters from the fence halves. There is a 20mm recess left behind with the finger units removed to which a sacrificial wood fence can be fitted. That would have provided the close support for the material required in that operation. Perhaps your friend was unaware of this feature? You did mention it was an 'Aigner type' of fence from Felder, so if it isn't the genuine article perhaps it lacks this feature.

      The project is the Chinese wheelbarrow (set of 4) for the client in New York.

      ~C

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    2. Rereading your comment Jack...

      Sorry to hear about your past run in with a 3-wing cutter. I have a certain degree of caution with all power tools as it only takes a blink of an eye of serious injury to occur.

      I can add that one could, as you do with your own shaper fence, fit individual wooden fences to the Aigner fence sides and then bury them separately into the cutter to achieve the closed throat. I haven't tried that yet with my Aigner fence, so I only speak from an academic standpoint.

      At this point, the shaper is a new machine in my shop and I have just a few cutters.

      ~C

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