Old Sears Craftsman Shaper

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Blog entry by Bluepine38 posted 10-10-2010 11:59 PM 16787 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I found this Sears Craftsman Shaper Model No. 103.23920 at a garage sale for $50.00. My first thought was,
even if I can not fix it the 1 HP motor is worth more than that on Ebay. It was made for Sears by the
King-Seeley Corp about 1953 and came complete with rust and 5 sets of cutter heads that needed sharpening.


The shaper was made to use either a 1/2 or 3/4 HP electric motor, the original misguided owner decided to make
it heavy duty by using a 1 HP motor. The base of the motor was too big for the shaper motor mount, so Rube
Goldberg just bought some longer bolts and bolted it on with the drive shaft setting at about 10 degrees from
being parallel with the driven shaft. This resulted in the height adjustment on the spindle being unusable and
the spindle rusting in place. I pressed the Spindle out of the mount, cleaned it up and rebuilt the badly chewed
up end and turned it down to hold a new driven pulley that I drilled and tapped to hold two extra set screws in
the bottom of the v groove. The set screws are equally spaced 1/3 of the diameter around the pulley. Here is
a picture of adapter plated that I bolted to the mount and motor to get the two shafts parallel. I always knew that building adapter plates to bolt a 33 Ford Sedan transmission to a J27 Oldsmobile V8 with a
tri carb set up would help me in the future.

shaper mounting plate

The large flat drive pulley allows the belt to ride up and down on the pulley as you raise and lower the spindle
with the cutting heads to adjust your cutting height. I built a dust collection chute to hook up to my
home built dust collection system on the 4” connection. I left the original switch on the motor, just added a
new three wire cord to replace old two wire relic.


I took the old stand apart and repainted it, used new fasteners and used some laminated lumber I had
for a shaper mounting base and made a shelf out of plywood edged with some two by four pine I had
laying around. I added wheels to make it movable and have not added the levelling feet yet. The wood
is finished in BLO. I put new bearings in the spindle and refinished the two faces on the individually
adjusted halves of the fence with BLO. I have sharpened the cutting heads, and may add a few more and
use it to replace some of my router table tasks. I spent about $75.00 total and about 40 hours of play
on this project and since my better half has informed me I have spent more time working on tools than
using them, and have not done much except tear out my old cast iron fireplace and 5 X 6 foot rock hearth,
with the 6 X 8 FT back wall and 3 ft dividing wall and replace it with a new built in fireplace with cherry
mantle. I should maybe quit playing and go back to work.

As ever, Gus the 71 year young laborer trying to become an apprentice carpenter.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

9 comments so far

View Rustic's profile


3256 posts in 4515 days

#1 posted 10-11-2010 04:01 AM

if the motor runs it is well worth the 50 bucks

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3916 days

#2 posted 10-11-2010 04:11 AM

Good Find.
Nice retoration job. Another Happy old tool !
I have 2 NEW cutters in my tool box. Always thinking that ONE day I would own a shaper. I found one similar to yours last fall at an auction. NO motor, no stand. I have it in storage, haven’t made the time to do what you did YET ! (Thanks for the inspiration) perhaps I need to start working on mine.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Joe's profile


24 posts in 3610 days

#3 posted 01-13-2011 06:30 PM

Great job! I’m glad I’m not the only one that’ll spend 40 hours resurrecting an old tool. I just bought a slightly newer version of this shaper and replaced the non original 1/2 hp 1725 rpm motor with a 3/4 hp 3450 ($50 on eBay). I’m in the process of adding dust collection and would appreciate some better photos your your set up. The back of mine has a rectangular opening with radiused top corners and the bottom edge can move independently of the other three. Tricky stuff.

-- Joe

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3699 days

#4 posted 01-13-2011 07:26 PM

Beauty ! Now you’ll have the ability to make patterns for your
next tranny work !
But seriously a very nice piece of resto rodding.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View Poundfl94's profile


2 posts in 684 days

#5 posted 01-16-2019 04:50 PM

Nice Job! I picked up the same shaper last week. I have my castings all cleaned up and repainted. I would like to replace the spindle bearings, but have not figured out how to get the upper bearing off the spindle shaft. There is a dust shield attached to the section with the Acme thread, then the bearing, then a large step in the shaft which holds the bearing in place. Is the shaft two pieces? if so, how do they go together?

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 4004 days

#6 posted 01-16-2019 05:58 PM

It has been 9 years since I rebuilt this shaper and can not remember exactly how the bearings came off. I
went out to the shop to try to refresh my memory and that did not work. I double checked my operating
instructions and parts list for the shaper, and it does not even show the bearings. Sorry I could not help
you, but when you get the shaper finished, Grizzly tools still sells cutters that will fit it.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Poundfl94's profile


2 posts in 684 days

#7 posted 01-16-2019 06:43 PM

Thanks for checking…hopefully I can get it figured out!

View CarolH's profile


10 posts in 2087 days

#8 posted 08-19-2019 02:42 PM

Hey Gus,
Congrats on you upgrade from laborer to full fledged apprentice carpenter over the past few years! ;)
I just bought this same machine from craigslist, as I LOVE the older machines. They just make me happier than the nasty tin things we have now. Unfortunately, it was sold without any cutterheads. You said that Grizzly sells ones that fit. All I am seeing is what looks to be “smooth bore” cutterheads. Any idea what I need to specify in my search? I am an old hand at routers, but I’m brand new to actual shapers in general, so any help you can give is appreciated!

- Carol

-- Count your fingers before and after every cut. If the numbers don't match, you may have a problem.

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 4004 days

#9 posted 08-19-2019 07:05 PM

The cutterheads that will fit the Sears shaper made by King Seely are the 1/2” smooth bore cutters, the
3/4” bore can be used if you buy the 1/2” to 3/4” adapter. They sold two versions of this machine one has
reverse switch so the machine can be used with the cutter heads set to cut backwards. These machines
usually have two lock nuts to securely hold the cutterheads. With the small slhaft and thin nut, I would not
want to operate this shapaer in reverse too much without the second locking nut. It is a great machine
and should give you good service.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

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