Jesada Millennium Shaper Cutters
By Paul Jordan
Shaper cutter

This review covers the following 3/4" bore cutters:

  • Combination Rail and Stile (CIT-107, shown above)
  • Door Edge (CIT-251)
  • Double Rail and Stile (CIT-221)
  • Multiple Profile (CIT-263)

These cutters are fairly new items from Jesada (as of this writing) and utilize insert tooling, meaning you can replace the cutting knives (or in some instances use different knife profiles with the same cutter body). For further information, please see Jesada@Badger Pond's web site. Please note this review was produced after approximately eight hours of "shop time" with the cutters.

Executive Summary

Overall fit and finish of the tooling is superb and the resulting cuts are first-rate. I simply could not get cherry nor maple to burn, even with a pretty good range of feed rates (I feed by hand and my shaper runs at 6000 rpm). I also felt more in control with these cutters than three-wing cutters. The resulting surfaces are downright silky. When you combine this performance with replaceable knives and the versatility of the designs, my take is that that these are outstanding products. As for permanent-knife shaper cutters (or even router bits for that matter), I've always worried about sharpening when that time comes - can you find a reliable service or reliably do it yourself? In this respect I really feel like the Millennium shaper cutters are "lifetime" tools - replace the knives and off you go. I am a huge fan of this type of setup (which is one of the main reasons I installed the Esta disposable blades in my jointer/planer last year).

The Specifics

The only issues I ran into were very minor, and fell into two categories:

Use on the Robland X31 Shaper:

First, my Robland X31 shaper has a staggered spindle (it has a 1.25" section and a 3/4" section). I did not think to actually measure my 3/4" spindle length before contemplating the 3/4" spindle cutters. That may have been stupid on my part, but it's something I could have easily overlooked - some of these cutters have decent height to them. You may want to consider a kind warning to check your spindle lengths first to make sure the taller cutters will fit properly.

As it turns out, I only had one or two minor issues in this regard. Due to the size of the stock spacers Robland provides, the 3/4" bore door edge CIT-251 should really use a 6mm spacer (the Robland has two inches of the 3/4" spindle) so it can be tightened properly. I say "properly" because it can be tightened and used with the stock spacers (this is hard to explain!) but the bottom of the cutter has to ride on the larger Robland-supplied 1.25" spacer, meaning there is not much spacer-to-cutter surface being clamped below the cutter. I resolved this by making a 6mm spacer, but Jesada offers a 6.3mm spacer which will work just fine.

The combination rail and stile CIT-107, double rail and stile CIT-221 and multiple profile CIT-264 all stack fine on the X31, although I made a tapered spacer for the CIT-107 since I was not overly pleased with the way the stock Robland spacer fit on top (although it probably could be used).

Specific to the Jesada Cutters:

I ended up playing with the CIT-263 cutter for a solid hour - nice range of profiles on this cutter! I tried this bit and the rail and stile bits on endgrain - I was really impressed with the cut - I honestly could not tell the difference in quality of cut between long grain and end grain. At some point I will probably be ordering the CIT-101 raised panel cutter based on this.

When I initially fired up the combination rail and stile CIT-107 I noticed my panel grooves (which are supposed to be on or around 0.250"+) were about 0.260" and the panel tongues were down to 0.231". Then it dawned on me that I had not checked the knife alignment yet, and sure enough they were not in line with each other - one was not butted up against the stop screw head (since Carlo had my cutters spread over his desk before he sent them out - I blame him for this one!). Less than 15 seconds later and the knives were dead nuts again. Obviously having the knives butt up against a stop screw (see above photo) for alignment is a very nice feature. Lesson learned - check your knives before firing these cutters up!

As a side-note on the combination rail and stile - make sure your shaper spindle does not have excessive runout or it might cause problems using this bit. Fortunately I do not have this problem. I believe Jesada mentions this at the time of order entry as well.

BTW, I checked the actual knives on the combination rail and stile cutter with digital calipers. Both panel groove knives were (consistently) 0.251" wide and the distance between the cutting surfaces for the panel tongue were both 0.250". Impressive!

Conclusion

I am really impressed with this line. Two things I always strive for in tool purchases are longevity (I hope my children want to/get to use my tools) and versatility (you never know when you'll need that one special feature, and even something like the groove cutters in the CIT-221 set are very useful on their own). In my opinion the Millennium shaper cutters fit both of these requirements wonderfully.

Paul Jordan


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© 2003 by Ellis Walentine by special arrangement with Wayne Miller of Badger Pond. All rights reserved.
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