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Thread: ShopSmith

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Highland MI
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    ShopSmith

    Just curious. Anyone here use a ShopSmith? My uncle had one 50 years ago and I see Jesse on Pure Living for Life bought a used one with all of the attachments and did a YouTube segment on it yesterday. Obviously dedicated machines are the way to go if you can. Just curious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28moKsafMHA
    NOW you tell me...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio
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    You will see people bash them to no end.
    I Purchased one new in 1989. That machine is the way I learned woodworking. I like it. Very well built.
    The change over is not as bad as some make you believe. It is all about being organized.
    Over the years I have upgraded to bigger tools and don't regret it at all. Having said that, As I get older and get less and less time in the Shop I kinda wished I was back down to my Shopsmith and had all the garage room freed up.

    Shopsmith has a forum and a good shopsmith group on Facebook.

    Shopsmith work light.jpg
    Last edited by Dave Lehnert; 11-09-2019 at 12:23 PM.
    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
    - Rick Dale

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
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    422
    I had one from 1984-2018. It was reliable and was still running fine when I sold it last year. I had most of the add on tools, jointer, bandsaw, two belt sanders and all the router and shaper attachments, which I never used.

    I also had their standalone planer and dust vacuum.

    You can do most things on the ShopSmith, where it lacks is in material support and repeatable cuts, if you change tools between cuts. I used the bandsaw the most.

    If your plans are to build smallish type stuff, i.e. no large sheets of plywood, it'll achieve good results.

    Most of the tool changeover is fairly quick. The dust collection, off most of the tools, is so-so.

    There's plenty of them out there used at very affordable prices. If you are limited on space or don't know if you want to start getting into individual machines, it's an easy way to get into woodworking.

    Once I had bought a cabinet saw, I was still used the bandsaw, on the ShopSmith, so I bought an extra set of tubes and cut those down to make a 'Shorty'. I could still use all the tools, I just gap up rip capacity for the saw.

  4. #4
    I bought one in the early 80's and still have it. I built many, many projects using only it. I've since replaced most of its functions with dedicated tools, but still use it for drill press and occasional lathe projects. Its biggest weakness, IMO, was/is always the table saw function, especially on larger pieces or anything that requires tilting the table. I never found the changeovers to be that objectionable; but then I wasn't earning a living with it. I'll keep it around until I really need the space for something else.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Orwell, NY
    Posts
    204
    I bought one a few years ago for $400 and sold off the attachments that I didn't need on eBay for $500. I watched for the right one to buy on Craigslist for several months before I found the price I liked and close to home. The biggest part of my business is building banjos, and I use the Shopsmith for turning, disc sanding and horizontal drilling. I wouldn't want to be without it, I use it every day for one or more of those functions. It's nice for turning since I can make banjo rims up to 16" in diameter, but the speed is a little high and the tool rest is a bit cheesy. I'm thinking of someday getting the Universal Lathe Tool Rest they sell, it's $300 or so but looks like it would be a lot handier to use. I have never used the ShopSmith for the other functions of which it's capable, I have a drill press, routers, band saws, a jointer, a table saw and belt sanders that are better so I just sold off those parts. A year or two ago I removed the metal legs and put it on legs made from 8/4 ash, it runs more smoothly and quietly now as a lathe and I was able to get it more than a foot higher so that I can use it more comfortably without having to bend over constantly.
    Zach

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    2,367
    I have one and use it as a disk sander, drum sander, lathe, horizontal drill press, buffer and lots of utility tasks. It basically is a variable speed motor with tables and such.

    I had my headstock rebuilt two years ago and love the machine.

  7. #7
    I have had one since 1984. Started as a 500, then upgraded to 510, then to 520 and lastly upgraded the head stock to the PowerPro 7 or 8 years ago. I have the SS bandsaw and a ton of Festool stuff. There is no way I could move around in my 16x24 shop if I have the equivalent in stand alone tools.

    Jack

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    San Diego, Ca
    Posts
    1,246
    I had an old Shopsmith 10ER. I always considered it a "jack of all trades, master of none". I ended up using it primarily as a drill press. Occasionally I would use it as a 12" disk sander. I gave it away to a friend who enthusiastically took it home. A win-win.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Greeley, CO
    Posts
    128
    It's a cult. The space savings is real as is the performance. The table saw is small for sheet goods even on the 510 and 520 models but these days a track saw seems to be a better choice. I'm a hybrid machine/hand tool woodworker with 240 ft square and my Shopsmith setup is perfect for me. Fun fact; Shopsmith marketed a wooden woodworker bench back in the early 90s and I bought one. Still have it.

  10. #10
    Well said Eric!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Danstrom View Post
    It's a cult. The space savings is real as is the performance. The table saw is small for sheet goods even on the 510 and 520 models but these days a track saw seems to be a better choice. I'm a hybrid machine/hand tool woodworker with 240 ft square and my Shopsmith setup is perfect for me. Fun fact; Shopsmith marketed a wooden woodworker bench back in the early 90s and I bought one. Still have it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    50,244
    Shopsmith put the "multi" in multifunction machines long before many of us got a hair for Euro type multifunction tools. The level of flexibility and function was totally unmatched by most of the tools available to the "average woodworker" and I have a lot of respect for both the machine and the company. I've never owned one personally, but a high school friend did and built some amazing things with it long before I even through about getting involved with woodworking. The fact that many folks continue to use them, at least for some of the more useful and versatile functions like horizontal boring, etc., says a lot, too.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    536
    They are great machines as stated above by many. It's weakest link, in my opinion, is the table saw set up. I have not used mine for many years - the last time the lathe setup was used to sand finish from stair spindles. I have not sold it but would possibly give it away to someone in need.

    Not to hijack the thread, but do you have ideas on how to find someone who could really use tools we no longer need?
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  13. #13
    Not to hijack the thread, but do you have ideas on how to find someone who could really use tools we no longer need?
    Yes, this has been a problem for me too. I've had a number of outgrown but perfectly usable machines that I've tried to find a good home for without much success. I usually just end up donating them to the Habitat restore. I've reached out a couple of times to a family member who is a high school wood shop teacher (now there's a vanishing breed) and not had any success. Boy, when I was young I would have been delighted to get some free woodworking equipment. Different times now. If you know someone in scouting or a local woodworking club, those would be possibilities. Maker spaces might also be interested.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Greeley, CO
    Posts
    128
    That's because many new woodworkers choose the CNC/laser route over traditional woodworking. Nothing wrong with that but if i had to use a computer to program my tools I wouldn't use them. Nothing wrong with the new ways, just not for me. I'm a hobbyist that enjoys old school woodworking.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    762
    I have three Shopsmith Mark Vs...... At two locations. Home and the house next door I am renovating.

    I really like them for what they are. Horizontal boring, drill press and disk sander are the functions I normally use. Never have and never will use the table saw function. It scares me thinking about it and I have a cabinet saw anyway. I bought them all off Craig’s list cheap.

    For woodworking I find the drill press excellent. Much better than my floor standing drill press I use for metal. I have multiple 12 inch sanding disks, and can swap grits in ten seconds, which I like.

    Horizontal boring is the winning feature for me. Not needed every day but when it is, it is really nice to have.

    When I am done with the renovation next door I plan on setting one of the Shopsmiths up as a permanent drill press. Another one I will keep as original for sanding and horizontal boring. The third one may end up as a double disk sander shortie.

    I do not feel like a member of the cult, but I really do like my Shopmiths. Along with my shop full of stand alone tools of course...

    I bought my first used Shopsmith in 1979. It now resides in my son in law’s garage...if I counted that one I would have four. I think I gave it to him though...anyway, who needs four Shopsmiths?
    Too much to do...Not enough time...life is too short!

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