Shaper Makes Perfect Wood Cuts

A hand-held router with computer-aided precision

Shaper

Shaper

The company estimates that Shaper will sell for about $1,500 when it hits the marketCourtesy Shaper

It can be hard to follow guidelines precisely when cutting wood, especially if you’re tracing a perfect circle or punching unsightly knots out of a floorboard. You could solve the problem with a $10,000 CNC machine, a large device with range limitations. You could risk steering a router by hand. Or you could use the newly developed Shaper, which combines the two tools to cut precise right angles and curves.

A would-be carpenter first draws the shape he wants to cut in third-party graphics software. Then he pushes Shaper over the wood. The tool automatically adjusts the path of the cutting bit to match the digital image, amending the line to within a hundredth of an inch. "You can think of it as autocorrect for your hands," says Matty Martin, the designer who created the latest prototype. Shaper has been in development for a few years now, and the Shaper company most recently demonstrated its machines at Maker Faire in May. Beta testing will finally begin this summer, through the company's website.

$1500: Estimated price of Shaper when it hits the market

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Popular Science.