Shaper Origin Investors?

A few of us are interested in getting a Shaper Origin for the shop. However, this effort is going to require some upfront contributions from the membership.
First of all, here’s a short video on the Shaper Origin:

The total package is around $3000
One extremely generous member is willing to put up $1000 towards the machine. We need about 7 more people, at $300 each to go ahead and purchase the machine.
The funds will be donated to ASMBLY, and ASMBLY will purchase the machine.
The Shaper will be kept locked up when not in use.
Early on, usage will be limited to the donating members, but classes will be offered, like other shop classes, and those that take the class will have access to the machine.

The purchase will be for the Shaper Origin and the worktable. While it will come with bits and some Shaper tape, users will be expected to provide their own, once the initial bits break or tape runs out. To be clear, this purchase is not coming from the ASMBLY budget. It is coming from funds donated specifically for the Shaper Origin.

Inlays, profile cutouts, dovetail drawers? All possible. Yes, there is definitely some overlap with the large CNC, but this tool offers other capabilities as well. Not the least of which is a well developed interface and an online user community.

If you are intested and can contribute $300, please let me know. You can email me directly at

Once we reach a total funds needed, we’ll be closing of the list.



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That’s an incredibly cool tool!

Unfortunately I don’t have the disposable income to help out with this right now. If ASMBLY purchases it though, hopefully I’ll be able to try it out in the future (once it’s available to everyone)

Can you provide some more details? How long do you think it will be until other members can use it? Does this type of ownership and usage have approval from the board (I’m not sure if that’s what we call the governing structure of ASMBLY). Is it possible to acquire the tool using ASMBLY funds instead?
I’m asking because this seems like a tricky precedent to set, where resources of the shop’s space and storage are used by a few who can afford a specific tool. I realize you said eventually other members can be trained to use the tool, and that’s a generous plan. My questions are meant as a challenge to this tool specifically. I’m wondering about process and policy, two words that can make me cringe, but are important, especially with a 501c organization.

Sure, good questions.

Asmbly isn’t entertaining a proposal to buy this tool with organization funds because we have a lot of higher-priority needs. Dust collection and lasers come immediately to mind, but there are probably others.

If this proposal is funded by donors, the tool will be owned by Asmbly. The financial logistics are that the Shaper Origin donors are making cash donations to Asmbly earmarked for this project. That’s a very typical and accepted thing in (c)(3) land - just look a all the named scholarships floating around :slight_smile: Charlie is running point on the project as… well… Charlie. (Chief Steward? Woodshop Lead? Do we need to give you a title?) He’s been delegated a lot of authority over operational stuff and he’s been indispensable keeping the wheels turning.

The actual written condition on these donations will just be that they go toward the purchase of the specified equipment, so once it’s purchased the condition is fulfilled; everything that happens after that point is a question of Asmbly policy/procedure.

The Asmbly board has adopted the proposed policy that the donors will be the initial stewards of the Shaper Origin. As such, it’ll be their responsibility to “beta test” – figure out any necessary policies, develop a curriculum, and roll out classes to the organization. @TravisGood has already taught a Shaper Origin class at another organization so we have every expectation of a speedy rollout at Asmbly, but if for some reason it gets dragged out the board will put somebody else in charge.

I expect the whole acquisition and rollout process will go more smoothly than with a hosted tool because Asmbly will be the tool owner and have ultimate say on every step of the process. If this were a hosted woodshop tool Charlie would have point on this stuff anyway, so I expect the board would only step in if something goes totally off the rails or somebody wants to appeal a steward’s decision.


As for the length of exclusive use time, we are looking at 3 to 6 months, after the tool lands and is up and running. This is also potentially a model for other acquisitions. Donor based aquisitions would still need to be approved by the board, considerations being a good fit with the space, potential interest to the ASMBLY community and mission, etc… Being a first effort at something like this, we don’t have a process yet.

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Charlie and Jon,

Thanks for the quick response. I appreciate y’all explaining the details. I’ve been a member for a while, but don’t know much about this the sausage is made. . :slight_smile:

I’d say this is a new process for the sausage making so excellent clarifying questions to ask :blush:

I think this model could work really well for this and future specialty tools that we don’t have the funds budgeted for. It sets a small group of members up to be experts/stewards/teachers for the specialty tool, gives a modest incentive to the initial donors, and also gives the full community the same sort of access as any other specialty tool in the shop that requires training.

The OpenPath locker system we are looking at building out down the line will also give us really good accountability for tools like this with a clear log of who checked what out. Not quite the “swiping at machines for them to turn on” that has been discussed in the past, but probably as close as we’ll get to that in the near future.

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This sounds like it’s well thought out, and from what I’ve seen and experienced in my last year or so at ASMBLY, that will continue. I just sent Charlie an email to donate the money and join the early users list for this tool. Looking forward to learning it!


While I don’t have any short term need for a tool like this, it looks great. Also, it seems nifty enough that might inspire me to figure out some projects just for it. In a broader sense, I think a tool like this is more likely to be useful to me than the large CNC.

I really do think this is a worthwhile investment, and I hope this whole process works out really well. Thanks @cfstaley for leading, and to all the initial donors.

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If you follow Phillip Morley, you may be aware that he uses a Shaper Origin. He is included on the Shaper Origin website for how he uses the machine. Making jigs and fixtures (Morley Mortisser, anyone?) . If you’ve seen and admired Phillip’s furniture, The Shaper one of his go to devices to help him build.

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@stepho Do you think this may be a better option than adding a jig area through the CNC? That is a bit awkward and limited- a vertically mounted board needing a tenon or box joint would have a hard limit on the length of the board since that will hit the floor after 30" or so.

Do you think the Shaper Origin can do what you need in this regard? Just wondering if we can take that CNC modification off the to-do list.

@dannym - at present I don’t have enough information about either to have enough knowledge to express an opinion on that. I suppose I’d look to you and others who use the CNC a lot on whether you feel it serves the same purpose. If it does, then put a pause on that to-do.

One of the benefits of the Shaper is that it can actually touch the edges of a board, giving you precise registration. For a few pieces at a time, that works great. If you’re running volume, you can zero out a jig on the big CNC. As far as length, I suppose you could elevate the worktable for the Shaper, and access longer boards. For furniture, the Shaper is ideal. Depending the the shape of your part, you can access any axis for milling. It also allows you to go back and relief cut any geometries after a test fit (you need to leave the piece in the fixture). That way you can walk up on a joint for a tight fit. Registering the edges of both mating pieces makes sure that the joint is aligned properly.

@dannym did you mean to tag @Mollie? I think she’s one of the people who has been interested in the CNC mod. She uses the CNC a lot.

@valerie @dannym the lateral jig in the cnc could still be useful for anyone doing production in future. But if Steph wants to use the Shaper Origin instead, I’d rather work on the 4th axis mod.

If anyone is curious about a Shaper Origin class Jon references then read this article:

New Classes for Shaper Origin – San Diego Fine Woodworkers

Hey everybody!
We’re about to wrap this up. If you’re on the fence, it’s time to choose!

I’m interested in helping out. LMK where we’re at.

Jon Lee

Wow, that’s a neat tool!