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The ShopSmith Mark V 5-in-1 woodworking system has been around since the ’50s — and hasn’t changed much since then. Recently I had a chance to work with one, and the results were surprising. It’s obviously not built for pros, but it’s simple to use and can handle almost any basic function — like cutting, sanding, or turning — in a multitude of formats. I can’t fault it for being what it is: a good starting point for hobbyists who don’t have a great deal of space and want a shop.

They are a bit pricey, but this, too, is mitigated by their longevity. My dad, for example, has had his for almost 30 years, and it’s never broken once — even after helping us build countless projects with values far outweighing the $2,000 he shelled out for it back in the day.

So is the hardy shop-in-a-box method worth it for the home hobbyist, or is it just better to save up and buy what you need in pieces? Let us know what you think in comments.

Mark V [ShopSmith]
Street Pricing [Google Product Search]

 

148 Responses to Hot or Not? The ShopSmith Mark V

  1. Rembret says:

    Not. For the same money you can buy good quality stand-alone versions of all the incorporated tools. They may save a little shop space, but I don’t have time to be constantly changing over from one tool to another.

    • TEON says:

      You’d be hard pressed to go out and purchase ALL seven of the machining functions offered by the Mark VII! Go ahead and price it out. Oh, and by the way – good luck FINDING and AFFORDING a Horizontal Boring Machine with samethe Shopsmith’s capablities (bring a real FAT wallet)!I priced out all the free standing machines a local store carried in stock and I well exceeded the purchase price of the brand new MK VII! Keep in ming that this particular store DID NOT carry any “shapers” OR “horizontal boring machines”!

      As far as wasting time in change overs, I’ve timed myself often, going from table saw over to drill press mode (doing this change over at a slow pace, which after some experience these change over become more intuitive) and the average time required for this, the longest change over was: 1:40!! Yea, that’s crazy – go buy all free standing tools after you build a free standing work shop!

      Look, for a home hobbist (even a serious one) you can beat this high quality machine. It’s made IN America, BY Americans, FOR Americans!! I’ve owned my old Mark 510 now for 26 YEARS and it’s run thousands of hours and cranked out small and LARGE projects alike with little to NO significant repairs needed!

      I would consider myself a subject matter expert when it comes to this fine woodworking system!

    • Don Jones says:

      I agree Bought a 501 recently and couldn’t wait to get rid of it As a table saw I found table way too small so wings have to be added and fence bumps over joints To change blade height takes too long considering readjusting the wings It is well made and impressive looking but the “hots”
      Seem to be in denial This tool’s time has come and gone

  2. Kurt says:

    I was talking about this just last week. I’m dying to hear what folks say. From what I’ve gathered, is that those that have seen it in action, think it’s a lot better than those that just read the price tag and features.

    I know it’s priced out of my range, but I met a guy with one that makes musical instruments and he swears by it. And his stuff looks great and is tuned professionally. I know I wouldn’t turn one down.

  3. TimW says:

    Hot. Space saving, outlet saving, and for the guy with only a garage available part time for a shop, it is easy to get out, use, clean up, and put away. And I inherited mine from my dad.
    With a little planning you don’t have to change and change the tools back and forth.

  4. Dave says:

    HOT – Not only is this machine capable of doing everything I need it to…the company provides excellent customer service, plus it is made in the U.S.A. and is built like a train!

  5. Bob says:

    HOT – I’ve had mine since 83 and love it. It is built like a tank and Shopsmith has provided upgrades to the existing machine over all these years. The machine I have now is substantially different and better than it was in 83. I’m not a professional and don’t have a lot of space and I really appreciate the quality and continued support that I continue to get from the factory both in terms of parts, improvements and continued training.

  6. Chris says:

    HOT – I got into the Shopsmith early this year. Quality is outstanding and the system’s versatility is limited only by the imagination. Once you are an owner and get on the company e-mail distributions, sale prices do come along on accessories.

  7. Paul says:

    Hot. How many of us have a huge shop? Rembret says it “may save a little shop space”. Folks, it saves one hell of a lot of shop space.

    Plus is is made in America and the quality is oustanding. So is the after purchase support. Ever try to get support from the other brand names?

    • Bob says:

      Paul–
      Yes! What people forget is that you really need a space about 8 feet by 8 feet around EACH of your power tools to use them effectively. You would need a HUGE clear basement or garage area for the workspace needed for individual tools.

  8. Ed says:

    HOT- I got my first one in 1976 added a second used one a few years back. They are upgradeable to the current version (520) and just keep working.

    I have had zero downtime but added a second machine as a back up thinking that on a 30 plus years old machine something might fail…. but even if something does fail I can still just order the parts and how many tools do you own that you can say that about??

    Change overs for the most part can be done in a minute…. faster then you can drink a hot cup of coffee for sure.

    Alignment once done stays that way, it has been almost 3 years since I did my last one and while I check it often it doesn’t require redoing very often (I only did that one because of the major upgrade I did.) I love my shopsmith!

  9. Blane says:

    Hot. Upgrades and conversions are easy to do. The MarkV does a lot in a little footprint in the shop. This tool gives professional looking results. For exaxample the time it takes to convert from tablesaw mode to drill press only takes a couple of minutes, tops. This is a great tool to learn and grow with. I purchased mine as a 50th Anniversary edition. It has the capability to grow with you as your woodworking skills improve. With retractable casters it is easy to move the Mark V within the shop to rip or crosscut larger stock. My grandfather had a Mark V he purchased in the 1950s and used it to build his home. it was given to my uncle and he used it to build his home. The turning capabilities are awesome. With a movable headstock you can turn anything from pens to bowls to baseball bats. I wouldn’t have any other tool. You can’t beat the quality.

  10. Gary says:

    HOT- Great customer support and focus on training, plus access to loads of other Shopsmith users who are great about offering advice and support. The Mark 5 is solidly built and, on the few occasions when something breaks or wears out, replacement parts are easily available and will still be available 50 years from now! Sure, I’d like to have a 2000 sq. ft. shop filled with top-end standalone tools, but I don’t. As it is, with my Shopsmith I can do my woodworking, clean up, then roll the Shopsmith into the corner and put the car back in the garage.

  11. Nick Carter says:

    Home Shop Machinist recently had a multi part series about modding the Shopsmith for metalwork and tool sharpening – well worth a gander.

  12. T says:

    Anybody got thoughts on the Smithy SuperShop? Same idea, different manufacturer.

  13. Paul says:

    HOT – For all the reasons already stated: size, quality, reliability, versatility, expandability, customer service, etc. It is simply a quality, all-around tool suitable for woodworkers of almost any skill level.

  14. jim says:

    HOT I bought my shopsmith used model 500. I had some woodworking tools but needed more as I got better into woodworking. All of my SS accessories I bought for it are at least 20 yrs old and they all still work. I can get parts if I need them from right here in the US of A. By owning one I am preserving jobs in the good ole U S of A. I could have bought stand alone tools to do the same job as I can do with my shopsmith. I like the fact that I have only one headstock to keep clean instead of a bunch of stand alone equipment. So clean up is a breeze and alignment on one tool is a breeze. By having sharp chisels, drill bits, saw blades I can do anything with my shopsmith just as good as an expensive standalone unit. Go figure to each their own.

  15. Swedish Bob says:

    Just a quick aside,
    Would it be possible to re-order the above posts?
    I nearly (and quite often do) only just read the first comment.
    That would have been a real shame.

  16. Paul Cohen says:

    HOT, I purchased mine in 1978 new as a 500, today I have upgraded it to a 520 with rip scale (state of the art by any measure). I has never broken, I can operate the lathe continuously all day without overheating. I have just added a Kreg fence to the Band-saw and a Ring Master to the lathe (remember this could be a 50 year old machine). My whole shop is a corner of a 1 car garage, when I use the tool I roll it to the center. With the 520 I have a very large table top with auxiliary tables it extends up to 8 feet wide. I also have the mortising tool and biscuit jointer and both use the fence or mitre gauge from the table saw. The disk sander also can use the setup from the table saw. Most of the time the setting from one tool carry on the the next, changing between tools takes less time than getting a standalone tool down from the shelf or out of the box.

    How many standalone tools can make the claim they have been available for 50+ years and still has parts available and can be upgraded to the latest features.

  17. John Casey says:

    Definitely Hot! I am SS owner for over 30 years! Name one tool company that stands with you and by you each and every year, that offers excellent tech support, that employs people that are down to earth, and provides Traveling Academy classes to increase your skills. Yes, it is a big space saver! Anyone that says stand alone tools are better, or does not like having to switch over to change tools, has never really worked on a ShopSmith. Switching over takes only a couple of minutes in most cases. This is a precision tool that holds its alignment, and is not just for the hobby type woodworker. The ShopSmith Bandsaw, lathe, biscuit and router setups are top notch. A person interested in wood working can grow with the SS, as his abilities increase. Yes, the initial price may sound high, but the five tools (basic SS) come close to what five stand alone tools would cost you, and can do more, takes up very little space. Any SS owner, that knows how to work the unit, sings the praises of the machine.

  18. Jim Miller says:

    It’s hot, I have a small area for a shop and could not fit separate tools in it that would allow me to make what I can on the Shopsmith. My Shopsmith is upgraded to the 520 model and I have the Incra miter 5000 and TS III with attachments for a router table. I can make precision joints and build most anything I want with the Shopsmith. If I had the room and money a cabinet saw or euro-saw would be real nice as well as an 8″ long bed jointer and an 18″ planer. I have to be realistic and use the space and money I have, so the Shopsmith works out very well.

  19. Nick Engler says:

    No need to chime in about the Shopsmith’s capability. If the ump-teen posts above mine didn’t convince you it’s a verstaile tool capable of helping you build anything short of a nuclear aircrat carrier, my two cents won’t do any good.

    But I did want to say something about Shopsmith’s educational value. I work with kids, teaching them shop skills and getting them interested in engineering as we build airplanes. We have two Shopsmith Mark Vs in our middle-school shop (both donated by Shopsmith) and in this environment, I’ve found that the Shopsmith’s multipurpose design is in itself an important teaching tool. Because the students must go from mode to mode (rather than walking from machine to machine) they glean a much deeper understanding of what each tool does and how to set it up safely. Just as important, they learn to think through a project before they start. About the third time that they have to go back to the drill mode becasue they forgot to drill a hole they should have foreseen, they suddenly start studying the plans with a new-found fervor.

    Shopsmith has always pitched its tools at beginners and it’s a very good fit. It teaches tool savvy, good work habits, problem solving, and the type of creativity you can only excercise when your central tool is a giant jig that you can configure in a hundred different ways. Over the 60 years since it appeared in 1948, it’s estimated that the Shopsmith has introduced at least 300,000 men and women to the joys of craftsmanship.

    Furthermore, it’s a tool you don’t easily outgrow. Of the five modes of the basic unit, it does four of them as well as or better than anything on the market — sanding, drilling/boring, and turning. Even though I have a better-than-average selection of stand-alone tools in my personal shop, I have kept my Shopsmith because there are things you can do on it that you just can’t do as well (or at all!) on conventional tools.

    With all good wishes,
    Nick Engler
    Author of “Woodworking Wisdom” and the “Workshop Companion” series
    Host of Hands Online “Sawdust Sessions”

  20. Berry Conway says:

    Hot. Got mine in ’82 and I love it! I could never get all the stand alone tools to do what my Shopsmith can do in my 12 x 14 shop.

  21. Eric Dykstra says:

    I wonder how many of these sit abandoned in basements? While they are very versatile i think i lot of people have bought these with the best of intentions but never got around to using them.

    How difficult is the changeover from tool to tool?

    • Ed Gaglio says:

      Set up from tool to tool is less than if you had
      break down tool one and unpack tool two and set. I have all my accessories set on a shelf above where I store my Mark V and accessory power unit. All I have to do is loosen the hex screws release
      the tool put it on the shelf take the next tool the the unit tighten the screws alining the head stock make the necessary adjustment and start working

  22. Roy @ OKC says:

    Hot.

    I bought an ’83 lightly used 500 about a year ago. I’ve primarily used it to learn woodturning, horizontal boring, sharpening lathe chisels, bandsaw work, and a bit on the jointer. I’v had a Ryobi BT 5000 table saw for 10-12 years and would hate to rely solely on the 500 for any but basic table work. Although I’ve only cut one piece of scrap on it as a test so far, I foresee using the 500 as a second saw at some point on some project where I don’t want to change the Ryobi’s setup. I also have a floor standing drill press so it is easier to use that than converting the 500, but I’ve had occasion where I’ve used both. I definitely could not get all this functionality via individual tools in my 11X17 shop.

    What I think really makes the SS great is the user community and the company. There are a few great sites that have some good ideas about how to get more out of the SS, from aligning and maintaining for beginners to building new add-ons to general techniques.

    Eric: changeover time depends on what you’re doing, but most are pretty quick. I’m no speed demon, but would be surprised if it took me more than 90 seconds to swap from the bandsaw to the jointer; a little longer to put the table on and adjust the height precisely.

  23. tbirdsaw says:

    Hot. My grandfather had a very old one… probably over 40 years old. It was still running when we finally sold it (no space at the time to keep it!) He made dozens of toys on it for us kids.

  24. Mike Lee says:

    Not. For the money you pay for this machine, you can buy a lot of tools. Don’t worry, I would found a place for them like in the bedroom, spare room or the shed.

  25. Al S. says:

    Hot! My Mark V was made in 1960 and is still making sawdust. Fantastic customer service from a company that is interested in EDUCATING and SATISFYING their customers, not just taking their hard earned money. A dependable, accurate, well made, heavy-duty, USA built, multi-function, super versatile power tool with a manufacturer that stands behind it 100 percent. Buy a Shopsmith and you become part of a family of satisfied owners and enthusiasts. Thank you Shopsmith!!

  26. Ralph Livingston says:

    Very Hot:

    I purchased my Shopsmith 500 in ’83, upgraded to 510 in ’90 and again to the latest 520 version in ’99. This says a lot for a company’s interest in it’s products and customers – to make a product that is upgradeable.

    The advantage of stand alone tools is overstated. They require more space and electrical capacity than most people have. If you wish to place your shop in a garage or basement the Shopsmith is definitely superior It can be operated on a standard 15 amp circuit, and moved out of the way if a space must serve multiple purposes.

    My Shopsmith has over 50 inches of ripping capacity. I can trim 1/16 inch of the 8′ edge of a sheet of plywood. A stand alone saw that can do the same will cost several thousand dollars and weigh over 900 lbs. Even at that, you would probably have to order an expensive aftermarket fence to equal the quality of the fence that is standard on the 520.

    Yes. You can go the one of the big box retailers and find cheaper stand alone tools. However you will end up with a lot of machines powered with noisy short life universal type motors.

    If you buy Shopsmith you will have a quality machine that is built to last through several generations.

  27. Rick says:

    Hot.

    I bought my 500 as a package along with the bandsaw and jointer in 1982. I was not a newcomer to woodworking but the jointer didn’t get used for nearly a year. I had heard so many horror stories about jointers that I was basically afraid of it. Until, that is, both my wife and I attended a 3 day class at Shopsmith. Since then, I only have respect for, rather than fear of, the jointer. Yes, there are a few suppliers that offer classes but how many manufacturers educate their owners?

    I would not have the capability that I have today if I would have had to buy separate tools because of both space and cost. Sure, separate tools are possible for less money… and less quality. Shopsmith doesn’t make tools with the “throw it away in a year or two and get ‘em to buy a new one” attitude.

    Oh, and most guys that complain about the change-over time have never even touched a Shopsmith.

  28. Kurt Schwind says:

    I have to admit, I knew this was going to be a popular thread, but I really didn’t think it was going to be so lopsided in favor of ‘hot’. Did we get a rash of new users at toolmonger recently from another site? Or are these long time toolmongers that all happen to have a Shopsmith? What about accuracy in the shopsmith? I don’t see a lot of guages, what do you use to line up the fence to the right distance? A tape measure?

    Like I said early on, this thread really interests me, I even just recently sent for and received the DVD from the shopsmith site. I won’t be getting a unit, but that’s mostly because of cost. I just can’t swing $3k right now. Heck, I’m still saving up for a $250 planer.

  29. confused says:

    I wonder how many of these sit abandoned in basements? While they are very versatile i think i lot of people have bought these with the best of intentions but never got around to using them.

    That’s kind of an unfair jab. The same could be said of $15,000 worth of stand-alone tools. That has nothing to do with the tool at all, just the owner. (Though this is often-used accusation that the Shopsmith is not worth owning?!)

  30. Nick Enfler says:

    Kurt, the Shopsmith Model 520 has a built-in indeable magnetic rule that is accurate to 1/64″. I teach my students to use a dial indicator to set the fence when greater accuracy is required. An adjustable stop collar lets you adjust the table/blade height to the nearest 1/128″. The onboard radial measuring devices read to the nearest 1 degree and the degree markings are far enough apart to estimate to the nearest 1/4 degree with reasonable accuracy. With a good inclinometer (such as a Wixey), you can set the miter gauge and the table/blade angle to the nearest 1/100 of a degree. All together, the accuracy and repeatability of the Shopsmith is easy to hold to .005″ and .01 degree if you know what you’re doing. Good enough for government work, as the saying goes.

    With all good wishes,
    Nick

  31. Chuck says:

    This is HOT! I’ve used various woodworking tools for over 50 years. Sold a Radial arm saw about 10 years ago and bought a Shopsmith modle 510. Best thing I ever did! Not only is the Mark V stable and precision accurate – it is very versitile. Ever need a horizontal drill, because your drill press won’t extend far enough? The Mark V has it. In addition to the mark V itself – there are two additional features that are available, comming with the Shopsmith Mark V.

    First there are the assessory tools that can be added. How about a bandsaw, a jointer, a belt sander, a thickness planer and one of the newest best tools to come across the market since they first sliced bread. This is the Overhead Pin Router attachment. With this attachment you can not only do pin routing (eg. making inlaid abolone inserts in a guitar fret board) but you can also make all types of joints, dados, rabets and edge routing.

    Second you get the really outstanding service of the Shopsmith Company. Every phone answerer is trained and knowledgable about all parts of any machine they make. The service and support are unequaled by any other manufacturer I have ever contacted. What other company have you ever heared of that fully suports machines they made 30 to 40 years ago? What other company has the need to give this type of support? The answer is none, because if someone elses machines are still running – they have been repaired or modified by the ingeneuity of the user(s). There just is no company support unless you want to buy new!

    Yes, this is a beginner’s machine. BUT, it is also a MASTER CRAFTSMAN’S machine. For a beginner, the Mark V comes with a complete manual and self taught woodworking course including sawing, turning, drilling, joint making and safety. If someone has one of these machines just sitting in a corner catching dust – it is truly the problem of the owner.

  32. Richard Wagner says:

    HOT, HOT, HOT

    I have had my Shopsmith for twenty five years. That’s a long time for a machine that is used as much as mine is. It is still in excellent condition. Oh, it’s a little scratched and dented from having been moved six times but it still gives me the accuracy that I demand. I can still change from one mode to another and still get 1/64″ accuracy, repeatably.

    Yes, I take care of this baby. It gets lubricated, cleaned and waxed on schedule. But it has to be that way. I work it hard and I don’t want down time.

    I have a table saw, a drill press, a horizontal boring machine, a disk sander, a belt sander, a lathe, a router, a shaper, a jointer, a band saw, a jigsaw. I have all of these tools in a garage. Thery are not stored there, they are used – almost daily.

    This is what brought me to Shopsmith and this is what keeps me using my Shopsmith. I can have a full function woodshop in less space that many people use to park their two cars. I needed that because I did not have a large space in which to work but I would not give up woodworking just because I relocated frequently.

    That is another point. This Shopsmith has been torn down, relocated and set back up six times. It is none the worse for wear. It is still accurate in all of its many functions. I do alignments with a good quality steel rule, engineer’s square and a good level. I couldn’t ask for more and this machine is twenty+ years old. I recheck occasionally with a dial gauge and a wixey but that is all I do, recheck.

    Customer service plays a big part in this. Shopsmith still provides technical support and logistical support for nearly all of the machines that have been manufactured by them. You will never find a company that is more ready and able to support their product line than Shopsmith.

    Yes, I would say it is HOT, HOT, HOT.

  33. Ed says:

    Hot.

    The only thing I can add is that my machine was made in 1954 and still gets used almost daily. Only thing I had to replace was the drill chuck which seems to have walked away one day. 53 years later I can still get parts.

  34. Rembret says:

    I agree with Eric Dykstra. These seem to be very popular with those who are just getting into woodworking. Shopsmith does a great job selling them on the versatility of the tool at their shopping mall demos. They buy them – then get bored or disenchanted and the tools just collect dust. I personally know of two instances where this has happened.

    Fine Woodworking did an article a couple of years ago about how novices could deliberately build a collection of tools (both power and hand) in steps as their skills grow. It’s worth reading if you are just getting into woodworking.

    I am also surprised at the overwhelming number of positive posts showing up here. Did someone place a link at the Shopsmith User Group site? … to each his own.

  35. confused says:

    I agree with Eric Dykstra. These seem to be very popular with those who are just getting into woodworking. Shopsmith does a great job selling them on the versatility of the tool at their shopping mall demos. They buy them – then get bored or disenchanted and the tools just collect dust. I personally know of two instances where this has happened.

    Yet again… this has nothing to do with the tool. Example: I easily have about $1000 worth of very expensive fishing equipment – by the above comments and reasoning, then I guess it must have been no good to begin with since it is just sitting in the corner not being used. (Matter of fact, I simply lost interest in it, not because the gear/tackle isn’t any good.)

    Please review the tool based on its merits or weaknesses and not the ineptitude of its owner/user.

  36. Kaden says:

    About 6 months ago I was foraging at one of my regular scrapyards when one came through the gates as salvage from a defunct boatmaker on the north shore. It had seen a lotta use, but was obviously well loved, and came with a big-ass custom built anvil style case for the attachements (of which there seemed to be every freakin’ one of ‘em). The assembled multitude of contractors, foragers and yard grunts did a collective jaw-drop, followed by a frenzy of wallet checking and cel phone fumbling that was over-the-top frantic. It sold less than 10 minutes after it came off the scale for $1500 Cdn. (No ‘by the pound commodity metal’ pricing on this one).

  37. Idaho Ed says:

    HOT

    As a long-time user (Dad brought one home in 1957 and there has been one in my life ever since) I can say the Shopsmith has made it possible for me to build furniture, canoes, sheds, toys and more in shops that have never been larger than a single car garage and most were much smaller. The machine is accurate and versatile, parts are easy to get, upgrades come along regularly and customer service is second to none. My current Shopsmith was built in 1954; I swapped out the headstock for a newer one, upgraded the saw fence and a few small items and its still going strong.

    People who have heard of but never actually used the machine tend to believe that there are three problems with the Shopsmith, namely: the tilting saw table, the trouble of changing modes and the price. People who use the machine for even a short time realize that all these issues are really “non-issues.” I love the tilting table, especially when disk sanding and in drill press mode; change-overs are actually quite simple and the price is well in line with stand-alone tools of comparable quality.

    Unless a user is setting up a production shop with dedicated machines, the Shopsmith definitely holds its own against the stand-alone machines.

  38. Rembret says:

    @confused: point taken. I’ll concede that that the Shopsmith is well made, cleverly designed and well supported by the factory. My issue should be directed at how they are marketed. Which in my experience is toward the novice woodworking crowd as the only tool they’ll ever need. I have never seen a Shopsmith in any professional woodworking shop and that’s the most telling indictment for me.

  39. Blane says:

    Rembret, you get what you pay for. Did I buy my machine as a novice woodworker? Yes. Have I seen it in professional woodworking shops being used? Yes and their work is outstanding.. Could I have purchased stand alone tools? Yes. Why didn’t I do this? Because of a lack of space. This system has grown over the years and has greatly exceeded my expectations. Shopsmith takes the time to answer woodworking questions and set up concerning their machine, something I have yet to experience form other manufacturers and retailers. You get fast, friendly customer service long after the sale. With the number of machines that Shopsmith has sold over the years, sure you’re going to find some gathering dust, but I’m sure you can make the same statement about any other tool that is sols today.

    I made my purchase after having puchased other stand alone tools. If I had to do it over again, I would rather purchase the Shopsmith attachments in order to have more space in my workshop. My first tablesaw, made by Delta burned out after two years of work. I never have had any trouble using the Shopsmith. I also like the fact it is made here in the U.S. and that my dollar is helping a true domestic industry rather than a corporation who has decide to move their production overseas.

  40. Deathwish says:

    HOT! I’m a big fan.

    I bought mine several years ago for $500 used, it’s a 1983 model 500. I already had a Delta Contractor style table saw, and I’ve only ever tried once to use the Mark V as a table saw

    As my tool arsenal has expanded, I’ve used it less and less. As of late, it gets used mostly as a variable speed lathe and disc sander . . . at both of those it is excellent!

    It’s also nice having a second drill press when I need it . . . while working on a recent project, I had people over working with me, I set up the mark V to drill and used my Delta Drill press as a spindle sander to finish off the holes. Redundancy is not a bad thing.

    All that said, yes, a lot of these comments are coming in via a link at another site . . . when I saw the comment above, I figured I knew where . . . and here it is . . .

    http://www.shopsmith.net/forums/showthread.htm?t=905

  41. confused says:

    I have never seen a Shopsmith in any professional woodworking shop and that’s the most telling indictment for me.

    Not to beleaguer the issue, but the above is a bit of an odd statement. Example: I think most guys who have a Tormek sharpening system say it is a very good, very solid machine. I’ve seen quite a few professional cabinetry shops and other prof. woodworking shops all across the MidWest. …Never once have I seen a Tormek sharpening system, though. Now I guess I’ll have to question all of the reviews I’ve read that say it is a great sharpening system because a tool is only as good as the number of times it is seen in professional use.

  42. Rembret says:

    Thanks Deathwish. I REALLY don’t have an ax to grind with Shopsmith, but for the sake of full disclosure, everyone should know that the Shopsmith webmaster has encouraged his ‘posters’ to link over here and ‘brag’ about SS. I would not consider this an objective discussion if I was considering a purchase. Do your own research before spending your hard earned money.

    • videobear says:

      Well, I stumbled on this discussion several years after the fact…no webmaster sent me, a search turned it up.

      And I agree with the Shopsmith boosters. I love mine! I am an occasional user; I would never have laid out the money or dedicated the space to all the separate tools needed to equal the Shopsmith’s capability.

      I would suggest buying a used one…it will save you money, and the things last forever. Mine started out as a basic Mark V, and has been upgraded over the years to the latest Mark 7.

      Most reviews list the saw function as the Shopsmith’s weakest point, and the older models definitely were underpowered. The new Mark 7′s motor develops up to 2 HP, almost double the old motor’s power, and it has electronic rather than the somewhat clunky mechanical speed control. The rpm can be adjusted from 250 rpm all the way to 20,000…you can do anything from metal drilling to routing.

      The Shopsmith is pretty accurate all by itself, but you can buy an Incra rip fence for it that is capable of repeatable 0.001″ accuracy.

      The Shopsmith and its accessories are pretty high priced…but you don’t see this kind of quality in tools you can buy down at Sears or Lowes. Support is beyond outstanding; I attended one of their one day classes and learned a ton.

      Unless you are doing woodworking for your living, a Shopsmith is a great choice…and hey, maybe even then, as a backup or for doing those few things that no other tool can do.

  43. Ed says:

    Hot! Hot! Hot! Not only do you get an excellent machine you get manufacture support. Name another machine sold that comes with a complete maintaince manual, self study wood working course, a book filled with techniques, shortcuts and hints written specifically for the Shopsmith. Add to that online video training, weekly emails of woodworking tips and time saving ideas. Finally add in a customer service group that knows woodworking and the tools they sale well enough to suggest ways to increase your woodworking skills.

    The machine is made in America, accurate to 1/64 or better and has built in repeatability, has an excellent service history, saves space and resources and is versatile. What more could anyone want?

  44. Nick Engler says:

    “I have never seen a Shopsmith in any professional woodworking shop and that’s the most telling indictment for me.”

    I’ve written 53 books on woodworking and more magazine articles than I can remember. I’ve taught wood technology at the University of Cincinnati and am presently a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking. I’ve had a Shopsmith in my shop since 1979. That count?

  45. Nick Engler says:

    “…for the sake of full disclosure, everyone should know that the Shopsmith webmaster has encouraged his ‘posters’ to link over here and ‘brag’ about SS. I would not consider this an objective discussion if I was considering a purchase.”

    Owning a Shopsmith in a stand-alone tool world is a lot like owning an Apple in a PC world. Apple owners bond and react more passionately when you ask about their brand choice because they are in a minority. They oftentimes listen to people who have no experience with their chosen brand spout myths and misconceptions as if they were infallible truths. It’s no wonder people in this situation would seize upon an opportunity to tell their side of the story. But what you are suggesting — and rightly so — is that someone who considering a major purchase should seek evenhanded information from someone who understands and has experience with both multipurpose and stand-alone woodworking tools.

    Several people who have written in here obviously fall into that category, and I am one of them. Over the thirty-some years that I have been writing and editing woodworking information, I have tested many, many tools. I have used both multipurpose tools and stand-alone tools on a continuing basis for all that time. Shopsmith, like every other tool in my shop, has it’s strengths and weaknesses. But I can say with confidence and years of experience to back it up, it will produce high-calibur craftsmanship in the hands of a good craftsman. I wouldn’t recommend it for production woodworking not because it couldn’t be adapted to the task but because it’s overqualified for the job.

    I would also caution that it’s not a machine for dummies. It’s a thinking man’s tool, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. To those who say that it’s complexity discourages beginners, I would have to agree somewhat. Students with rigid minds and little creativity have trouble warming to the Shopsmith. But I’ve found that teaching good craftsmanship is all about problem solving. And for those folks with the mental accuity to grasp a woodworking problem and solve it, this machine gives them a lot to work with.

    Finally, for those people who are considering a purchase, I would not necessarily dismiss what has been going on in this blog as “bragging.” This is nothing less than an expression of passion and community. The fact that so many people from the Shopsmith forum have wandered over here to express their opinions should be chalked up in the “Pro” column. It’s certainly not a “Con.” I, for one, like being part of a supportive community that’s passionate about their tools and their craftsmanship.

    With all good wishes,
    Nick

  46. Mike says:

    I have 3. My fathers old 10ER. Still runs great. The one I purchased (500)in 1972, that I use every day and is still in great shape, my fathers new machine (also a 500) he got in 1995. ( In storage for my kids). Sure you can get good full size machines but they have served well and are perfect for the small shop. I would not be without one. No I did not come from the shopsmith site, but think I will visit it now.

    Good Luck

  47. Ralph Livingston says:

    So what if some of us came over from a Shopsmith oriented forum. The purpose of the Toolmonger reviews is to obtain opinions from experienced users of a particular tool. What good is a review of a tool by someone who has never used it?

    Tons of experience is exactly what you find in these reviews of the Shopsmith. Several respondents have used this machine for 25 years, and in some cases, other family members used it even earlier. Obviously Shopsmith owners are very satisfied with the product. Name me just one other brand of woodworking tool that has created so many satisfied customers through this kind of time period.

    A review should be judged on it’s merits – not from where the reviewer came from.

  48. Guys, guys, if I owned 8 bazillion dollars worth of stand alone tools, would I be reading a thread on the pros and cons of owning a shopsmith? Don’t think so, so… if you need a shopsmith (space reasons…) but can’t afford one, then look on Ebay or check your local classifieds because you can get one for quite a discount (I did) and do the same for the accessories, because when you get down to it, even if it is 50 years old, it is just a click away to get a part or kit to repair it or upgrade it and it will be as they say above, good as new and last as long as you want to keep it.

    The feeling I got when I finally purchased one used and went and logged onto the owners website was that I was being adopted into a family and if you don’t feel that way then let down your guard because that is exactly what happened.

    Yeah, I’d love to have the shop Marc Spagnuolo (sp? The Wood Whisperer) has full of top of the line powermatic’s, but I’d also like to win the lottery and then marry Jennifer Aniston but unfortunately for Jen, I live in the real world (and actually am married to my best friend and the greatest woman in the world, sorry Jen) and have the space and fortunately the money for a shopsmith and could NEVER do in my “shop” space with stand alone tools, what I do with my shopsmith. Talk about change over time from tool to tool. I don’t even want to think about putting up my contractor saw somewhere and having to drag out my drill press… nah… getting nauseated just thinking about it… I’ll keep my SS!!! Thanks…

  49. Ed says:

    I think it is great that this site is getting a lot of new visitors from the Shopsmith forum. This is an interesting site that I visit daily. I bet a lot of the new visitors become regulars.

  50. Paul says:

    Has anyone ever heard a negative review from an atual owner? The only people whom I’ve ever heard give Shopsmiths a negative review are people who actually never bought or used one. How strange is that?

    • Doug Angel says:

      NOT I have owned a SS MK5 since 1997( bought used. Without a doubt SS has the best variable speed motor I have ever had the pleasure to own. The table saw is disappointing, move the table to change blade height, what’s up with that? Jointer is ok, scroll saw broke on first use, lathe is ok, never bothered with the shaper, ( table router is a lot safer, drill press ok. I had wanted one of these machines since I was a boy. Got the used one with most of the available attachments, and WAS NOT IMPRESSED. I still have mine, and use it to polish metals works great. I respect others opinions, but it’s NOT FOR ME.

  51. Ruggs59 says:

    It’s Hot! And there’s a ton of the used machines to be had at very reasonable prices. As many above had said it is supported by the company very well. Customer service is excellent. And they are very well made. There are many 50 plus year machines still in service. Although i do belive the prices for new equipment is a bit on the expensive side, however they do last with some care and maintence. And of course they are made in The USA. Need parts or accessorys for these machines? Email me at Ruggy2@hotmail.com

  52. MDWine says:

    HOT HOT… Had mine since 80 (or there ’bouts);

    It is accurate, versitile, easy to use. There are trade-offs to stand alones, but for me, it works. Setup doesn’t take that much time, and it makes you think about your work more, IMHO.

    Yeah… HOT!

  53. Paul Cohen says:

    Hot! One point to note, most complains you hear from none users is the small size of the table, generally these people are referring to the model 500, how many people have a table top the size of the one pictured above and that is on a 20+ year old model. The latest 520 has a much more substantial fence that locks front and rear and can support very large lumber (or sheet goods) by rearranging the table extensions and legs.

    Of course it you purchase a 500 in 1950 you could easily upgrade it to a 520. Find another 60 year old tool (or anything else) that you can do that with.

  54. George K. says:

    Hot…
    I am NOT an owner, but I have wanted one for a long time.
    Multi-use machines do have their pros and cons, just bring up the topic of lathe/mill combos with machinists if you want hours of arguing. But for my wants and needs, I know that I’ll be a happy man when I finally get a Shopsmith.

    • Pecan Man says:

      I recently found a 500 on cragslist. The quality is renowned and a lot of support is offered for ss products. I cant say that for any other tool product I see these days. I wanted to get to 520 fro fence upgrade, and it is a chunk of change. hope it is worth it.

  55. Kurt says:

    Like several others, I’m delighted to see some more of folks on here. Welcome to toolmonger, Shopsmith folks.

    I’m happy to hear from current, happy owners. I guess what I’d honestly like to hear from is from someone who had one and then for some reason, opted to sell it and go with stand-alone units. I’m sure someone out there has done that and I’d like to know why. Every tool has its advantages and disadvantages.

    I certainly don’t think that I’d exclude the opinion of current enthusiastic owners in my decision, but I do like to hear some differing opinions.

  56. Gord - Woodmantra says:

    Hot! -But not for the same reasons as most of the the other contributors. I’ve owned an old Shopsmith 10ER for about 12 years. The 10ER predates the Mark V and I think that mine was manufacured in the early ’50s. I paid $850 CDN for it, which was a rip-off for that model, but I didn’t know any better at the time. I’ve since bought a used Mark V for $250! -There are deals out there.

    I’m not totally sold on the multi-tool idea and would prefer stationary tools, but in my small shop the Shopsmith makes a lot of sense. What I really like about the Shopsmith though is it’s incredible adaptability. Because it was built as a multi-tool, it also lends itself very well to adaptation. I’ve built a number of specialized attachments for mine for doing production work.

    To see how adaptable this machine is to specialty applications, check out the great series of articles starting in the May/June addition of “The Home Shop Machinist” (published by Village Press) , describing how to convert a Mark V for doing precision metal work including lathing, horizontal and verticle milling and gear cutting. Maybe a little over the top, but it sure shows how versatile a machine this really is.

    Even if I had a shop as big as Norm’s (or even Mark’s) with all the stationary tools I could wish for, I would never part with my Shopsmith.

  57. Gordon says:

    For a very long time, I was one of those Apple computer users. I loved it, and I was a PC holdout!! Until my Apple died .. .. .. then my son convinced me to convert to a PC. Am I glad I did!!

    Likewise, with Shopsmith. I drooled for one for the first 30 years of my marriage and bought my machine in 1981. As Nick Engler has said, it is a great system to start on, and learn on, but after a while, changing modes becomes not just a drag, but as you get older, so do your bones, and some physical strength limitations, along with the opportunity to buy single purpose tools at a considerable savings were the turning point fpr me.

    I will never be sorry that I owned a ShopSmith, but am now very happy with my complement of single-purpose tools which will occupy a new shop, hopefully, by next spring.

    One of the earlier posters also made the point that for not much more than the price of a fully enhanced ShopSmith system you can purchase a complete shop, with individual tools. What nobody [unless i Imissed it] has said, is that if you lose a motor on a single purpose tool, only that tool is out of commission. If the motor goes or there is a drive problem with the ShopSmith, you are totally out of business.

    Just my $0.02.

    s/gordon

  58. Dusty says:

    Congratulations, Gordon, on your new shop space and your new equipment. I am sure that you will get a great deal of satisfaction from your new shop environment.

    If I could have “my choice” of standalone equipment and I could house it in an appropriately sized shop, I would probably do just what you have done. However, I would still have my Shopsmith somewhere in that new scheme of things.

    Yes, if the motor fails, your entire Shopsmith is down. But in any typical wood shop, if you lose a motor, the natural flow through that shop has been disrupted. Example, when the motor on your jointer goes down you can no longer prep materials for edge jointing thus glue up stops and the shop comes to a halt. To solve that problem (at least minimize it) all you need is a spare motor. Thirty minutes later (or less) your entire shop is back in service.

    I do so hope that you have made good decisions on the standalone tools that you have purchased. I also hope that you don’t need customer support for a long time because customer support from many of the current manufacturers of shop equipment is hard to find (if it exists at all). In my opinion, “customer service after the sale” is a thing of the past.

    Good luck in your new shop. Make your sawdust “safely”.

  59. Bill says:

    Smokin hot!

    I have one as does my Dad. He is a master woodworker and has had one for 20 plus years. The one I have I inherited and upgraded to a model 520. It was manufactured in 91 and still going strong. Can you say that about other tools? A superb woodworking tool, I can do more in my garage then most can do in their workshop!

  60. Kurt Schwind says:

    While I appreciate all the comments about the longevity of the Shopsmith, I will say that my table saw is a craftsman from 1960 and it works just great. Also, I plan on inheriting a drill press from my dad (he still uses it) that’s from the late 40s or early 50s.

    I’d EXPECT a $3,000 tool to be built like a tank. Power handtools are entirely different, especially the cordless variety.

    Some tools though, last a long time. Big jointers. Table Saws. Drill Presses.

  61. Ralph Livingston says:

    Gordon:

    I’m glad you brought up the subject of motors, and how it can be a nuisance when they fail.

    Traditionally. stationary tools were powered with induction motors, and hand tools, routers, and shop vacs were powered by universal motors. However, because they are cheaper and smaller, universal motors are now being used in some stationary tools such as table saws and planers.

    Without getting involved in electrical theory, universal motors have brushes, are noisy, less efficient and shorter life than induction motors, and operate at very high speeds, 10,000 rpm or higher. If your induction motor fails, you can take it to your local electric motor shop and they can repair it or replace it from stock, because induction motors are standardized. If your universal motor fails, you have to contact the manufacturer of the tool and hope that it can be replaced. You will likely have significant down time, maybe even have to purchase a new tool.

    When considering the purchase of new tools a wise shopper will want to know what type of motor provides the power.

  62. NVDon says:

    HOT! I have owned my SS for a little over two-years. It has not needed any realignment since initially setup in 2005. I do check it periodically but everything is still in alignment. Expensive, yes BUT, you get what you pay for!

    I had my eyes on a SS since the 70′s when my brother-in-law bought his. He used it to make models and wooden toys for his kids. He then expanded his usage by building three homes over the years. The SS was his primary tool used for construction. It even rolled off of his pickup truck. He did have to replace one of the way tubes and repaint a few dings but otherwise it survived and went on to be used bulding a barn and several other out buldings on his farm in North Carolina. He loves his SS and intends to keep using it as long as he can. I’m sure the SS will outlive him.

    Shopsmith owners are really pationate about their investments…

  63. Cike says:

    I could tell within the first few comments that many were written by people that hadn’t frequented Toolmonger in the past–because of their apparent age. In my experience, the Toolmonger audience tends to be in the 20 to 40 year old range, but given that so many of the posters here bought their Shopsmiths in the 70s, I’d say most are over 50 years old.

    This isn’t a jab, at all (I’ll be in that age range before I know it), but it does make me curious–why does it seem that the Shopsmith was much more popular decades ago and not so much today?

    Maybe I’ll ask on their forum.

    C

  64. Ralph, thank you! That was good info, and it’s something I never considered. I consider myself a bit of an electronics geek, but I never got much into AC or motors, so your point completely took me by surprise. Induction motors are a good bit larger and heavier for the same horsepower, right?

  65. [...] Hot or Not? The ShopSmith Mark V Don’t miss out on the single most hotly-debated hot or not post on Toolmonger. Lots of ShopSmith fans check in to defend this all-in-one wonder, but a few dissenters aren’t buying it. Here’s our take: if you enjoy using it to successfully make cool things, it’s OK by us! [...]

  66. Everett G. says:

    Hot…. I am 45 years old and have drooled over SS for 20 years and finally ran across a 1984 Model 500 3 years ago. I have not been disappointed. It does everything I need to do (kitchen cabinets for the wife) and cabinets for my garage (1st). Last week I bought a model 510 upgrade kit, it was a cinch and alignment was a snap. I would recommend SS to anyone that does woodworking.

  67. Warajikraut says:

    There is nothing like stand-alone cast iron, (Which I Love) but also there is nothing like Shopsmith. Hot or Not ? It depends on your needs, and space, and personality.

    One interesting thing I note is that for someone who has very little space, stand-alones are not an option. Yet, If you have lots of space, a Shopsmith could be a nice additional tool to have. Turn it into that second drill press, with a setup or jig that you don’t want to disturb. Turn it into a table saw with a dado or moulder blade for the span of one project. I know of a farmer who has a small herd of Shopsmiths.

    Some people cut down a set of way tubes and make a shorty version for smaller footprint. (and if you have and extra set of way tubes then even this is reversible) Others have made a dedicated upright versions taking up even less footprint.

    700 to 5200 rpm variable speed available for every operation.

    Consider it the transformable jig/machine, whereas the cast iron we don’t like to move it around too much. It is the transformer machine that is Made in USA ~ and there is still something good about that !

    Something must be said for a company in this day and age that continues with customer care. Really. Truly Priceless. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till its gone ?”

    Also I want to mention that the original maker of the Mark V, Magna Engineering, first started out with their cast iron model the Shopsmith 10 (10E and 10ER) which they sold over 125,000 of over six years. Almost every single part on that original model went through 2,3 or more design changes during that experimental period. My point is that there is more experience behind what has made the Shopsmith machine what it is today than some Shopsmith detractors realize.

    I say Hot, because Shopsmith has an appropriate use in a small or large shop,
    whereas stand-alones are not appropriate in a small shop.

    ~John

  68. Ralph Livingston says:

    Nate:

    Induction motors are wound around an even number of poles and have no brushes. Most induction motors used in machinery have speeds of 3600, 1800, or 900 rpm. Their performance and frame sizes have been standardized since 1938.

    Universal motors can be designed to operate on AC or DC power. Electrical current is directly applied to both rotor and field. Speeds are very high, thus they can develop a lot of HP in a relatively small and light package. This also relates to lower cost. They are not as electrically efficient as induction motors and can be very noisy as you may have already experienced with a router or shop vacuum. Universal motors are usually designed into an application and without standards, repair and replacement can be a problem.

    The induction motor produces higher torque at a lower speed. The amount of copper and iron in a motor, and it’s cost, is basically dependent on the torque produced. The universal motor gets it’s HP rating from the high speed, thus it is smaller, and cheaper, than an induction motor.

    I apologize for deviating from the subject of this posting. If you are interested, the Shopsmith is powered by a 1 1/8 HP, 3600 rpm induction motor. Output speed is varied with a variable pitch pulley mechanism, activated by a hand crank. The output speed can be varied from 700 to 5200 rpm.

  69. Huet says:

    HOT.
    I’ve been doing woodworking for 35+ years, with many types of tools. The ONLY reason I would give up my Shopsmith would be if I were to have the space and money to buy ALL of the separate units. I bought my Mark V used for $1800 13 years ago and have saved several times that amount in furniture built for myself and others.

    I’ve carried it through several house changes, with fewer adjustment issues than my former separate units had. Without the ultra-precision table upgrades, it is less precise than pro tools, but a little care and practice give great results !

  70. kvc says:

    Though, obviously highly favored by the majority of posters on the subject, you will seldom, if ever, find one in a professional work shop. However, I would consider buying one, if it were cheap and I planed on leaving it dedicated to a specific task.

    I opted for a component stereo, as opposed to a console, many years ago. I did so for all the obvious reasons: I can update a given component without having to replace the entire system and, if the power supply dies, the entire system is not down. It is for the same reason I have a Unisaw, a Powermatic band saw, a Delta planer and so forth.

    All that said, if you are not a frequent worker of wood and can deal with table size limitations and conversion procedures that require careful planning or down time, this is a wonderful bet.

  71. shawn says:

    I saw a demonstration at the local home improvement store I can’t remember. But what I do remember is that the guy demonstrating the unit was very proficient at changing the setup of the machine. None of the setup changes took more than a few seconds. Most time will be spent actually making your measurements, as you would need to do with any machine. I really liked some of the features the shopsmith had. Since I only have a one car garage I feel that it is much better fit for my situation. That being said I was shocked when I saw the price of the unit. But it is made in the US. Not china. It is a heavy piece of machinery, that took a lot of engineering. I was impressed with the quality of the machine also. I am hoping to buy a used shopsmith sometime in the future, as I cannot afford a new one.

  72. SteveG says:

    “It’s obviously not built for pros” — I do love blanket statements like that since you of course have been in “every” pro’s shop. I build short run production furniture for a living, have for many years. I have two machines both multi-function combo machines. A Minimax and yes a SS-520. The 520 my friend is as “PRO” a wood working machine as one could ever own. The one consistent observation from non-owners of a SS seems to be I can’t be constantly changing modes to do one thing. My guess is if you are constantly having to go back and make changes to the project your working on ….. working with wood may not be your forte’. SteveG

  73. Ben says:

    My dad was given a Mark V in 1965 from his father in law. I think it was a wedding gift. He was never much of a woodworker, but he used it all the time to rough cut lumber and sheets for framing, roofing, remodeling, fencing, retaining walls and so on. He used the drill press some, but a handheld drill was enough for most his work. Over the years and after several moves it was stored outside a lot and never received any kind of maintenance. I believe every part on it is from 1965. It’s rusted now but it still works despite the abuse.

    I just got married last year but I didn’t receive a Shopsmith for my wedding. I’m setting up a woodshop in my garage, and even if I didn’t plan on doing furniture and finer work, I have plenty of experience that a Shopsmith is a useful tool for a homeowner. My dad’s now abused saw is not going to work for my plans, but the 42 years of service it has done gives me some confidence Shopsmith is a good choice.

    I am not trying to save space. I have a three car garage to expand into if I want. I am not trying to save money. I have it. I am choosing a Shopsmith because I know if one of my sons gets married thirty years from now, it will be a good gift to him. I’ll have taught him how to use it by then, and I can buy another new one for myself.

  74. Greg says:

    Hot definitely.

    I just bought a very used Shopsmith Mark V that was built in the 1960s for $175 on my local Craigslist. It has the 3/4 HP motor and ran fine when I got it. I took it completely apart to lube everything and check for wear and tear. The belts were still in decent condition, probably from being replaced at some point, but the replacement power cord had been attached incorrectly inside. When the previous owner replaced the power cord, they connected cord/hot to motor/neutral, cord/ground to motor/hot, and cord/neutral disconnected internally, which should not make much difference to the motor or the user as long as the chassis is not connected to motor/neutral. It is also a very bad idea to use the normally smaller ground wire for carrying normal power. This older Shopsmith also did not have an internal chassis connection for a ground safety wire, so I added a bolt location for that and properly rewired everything. I used a combination of 10W30 and white Lithium grease to lubricate everything and now everyting from the speed control to the drill press quill seems to be as smooth as new.

    The used unit I bought came with the drill chuck, main table, saw blade, saw blade arbor, and shaper knives. I bought about $100 worth of accessories on EBay including router bit and shaper knife arbors, lathe tailstock and arbor, end table, and rip fence. I would still like to get the sanding disk and lathe tool holder, but I can probably stick a sanding disk on the side of an old dull saw blade for the time being and use some clamps and the main table as a lathe tool rest. Less than $300 invested so far and it works great.

    My wife and I have a 2-car garage and we enjoy parking in it. We do not have the time, space, or money to build a separate workshop, so I would not trade the size or functionality of the Shopsmith for anything else. I agree that a stand-alone table saw with a tilting shaft/arbor/blade is better, but the tilting table on the Shopsmith works just fine for angled cuts with a little planning and rigging. The table saw works the same as every other one for flat cuts, except for some differences in fence systems. The drill press is great with no deficiencies that I am aware of. I have not used the sander or lathe yet.

    I wish I would have bought one many years ago.

  75. Sisyphus says:

    I sure would like to do an IP trace of all the posters in this thread. I have a feeling they will all point back to the ShopSmith site.

    People in general do not talk or comment on-line in this manner. These posts are PR marketing.

    I have no feelings about this product one way or another, just surveying it since one is for sale locally to me.

    After all the misleading marketing and disingenuous postings like, “Not. For the money you pay for this machine, you can buy a lot of tools. Don’t worry, I would found a place for them like in the bedroom, spare room or the shed.”, I will avoid this product. A posting like the aforementioned is essentially reverse psychology. The poster is inarticulate compared to others championing the product and speaks to how buying all the other tools will displace him.

    Well, I question whether this post will make it over the next 24 hours or somehow disappear into the void. Time will tell.

    Think independently.

  76. Zathrus says:

    Sisyphus — if you actually bothered to read the thread (or listen to the podcast from the week it was posted) you’d see that the majority of the posters did come from a ShopSmith forum (but not ShopSmith themselves), which linked to this “Hot or Not”.

    As for “reverse psychology” — whatever; you’ve clearly made up your mind already if you’re going to suggest such things. I think the

    And no, I don’t own one, nor did I come here from a Shop Smith forum. I’m vaguely interested in one, but I’m far more likely to just get a table saw since that’s really the only bit I’d really use.

    And as for your allegations on the post — get a clue. Seriously.

  77. Winifred says:

    My 82 year old father had one and made beautiful furniture with it. When he moved to a retirement home I didn’t have anyplace to put it but I would have given an arm and a leg to have gotten it. I’m looking for a used one to get sometime in the near future when i begin to remodel my kitchen. So women woodworkers like them, too.

  78. Ralph Livingston says:

    I have finally gotten a chance to re-align my Shopsmith 520 after moving to Gainesville. Using a dial indicator gauge and a Wixey digital angle gauge, I have been able to get the Miter slots, extension table, and fence, parallel to the blade within .002 inches. With the Wixey I have the blade “dead on” at 90 degrees to the table. Many have criticized the Shopsmith because the table tilts to cut bevels. However, according to the Wixey, the table returns to level within 1/10 of a degree, repeatedly, time after time.

    Detractors of the Shopsmith certainly cannot criticize it from the standpoint of precision. While the Shopsmith is not a cabinet saw, it is clearly superior to a contractor’s saw, and will stack up very well against any of the new hybrid saws.

  79. Sam Warden says:

    This post is old, but I thought maybe if someone like me was interested enough to read all the way to this point I could leave my opinion as well.

    The Shopsmith is awesome. Period, and for a multitude of reasons.

    I bought my Shopsmith about 4 years ago used. It is a model from 1983, and it came with several attachments. I was new to woodworking and since have built several projects for around the house. The Shopsmith has enabled me to build several very large pieces of furniture, and also perform many home remodeling tasks.

    The machine…let me say the company that would be more accurate, has never let me down. Let me explain further. I was in the middle of a big project about a year after I bought the machine and suddenly the headstock would not run. I was stunned and thought I had made a terrible mistake. I called Shopsmith, and they took my headstock in for repairs and then to my complete surprise gave me a rental headstock for use on my machine for free!! That way I could continue my project while my headstock was being repaired. They were extremely friendly and supportive and new that I had not purchased the machine new. they repaired my headstock, turned out it was a minor bearing issue in the quill(my machine was older and had a single bearing quill), upgraded me to the two bearing quill and gave me back my headstock. All for the price of $75. It has never had another problem. I was floored with this experience. Try calling Delta, Jet, or any of the other big name manufacturers if you have this kind of problem with a used purchased machine that is over 25 years old. This type of service and dedication to a product is only going to come from a company like Shopsmith. Their machine is well made, as good as any other and their customer service is the best I have ever seen period.

    If you want to get into woodworking you cannot go wrong with the Shopsmith.

    Sam

  80. Robert says:

    VERY HOT! It’s like a VW Bug…It simply works.

  81. Tom says:

    As a serious woodworking hobbyist, I love my SS’s. Yup, that’s right, two of them. One is a 510 I bought new with all the bells & whistles that I use as my primary saw. I also have a 500 i bought used, shortened up on the tubes and use as a drill press. I have an old house
    that I have nearly rebuilt from the inside out and have not yet come across a situation I could use my SS on.

    I love the support, as many others have mentioned. I can still buy parts and accessories
    for either of my SS’s. They are sturdy, reliable, and consistent machines. On the expensive side, yes, but you get what you pay for. My only problem with SS is that they designed the table to non-standard miter slot width. But one trip to a machine shop fixed that problem…
    All in all, SS works for me, and that is all that counts.

  82. Tom says:

    Just noticed Sisyphus comments, what a maroon …

  83. Kate says:

    Just spotted an shopsmith on craigslist while looking for a horizontal slot mortiser or some equivalent. Any word on how the boring works on this machine? Is their an attachment to make mortising easy??

    From what i’ve read this seems like a great investment to make and in the end, for all the things it can do, would be cheaper then individual tools and less of a mess of chords and such.

  84. Eryn says:

    This has been a very interesting thread. I’m glad it’s still active.

    My Father had a shopsmith which he used regularly for years while I was growing up. He was definately a hobby craftsman. He made toys for us kids, a front porch swing, barstools for the kitchen, etc.. This machine is definitely a simple man’s tool, and very useful.
    My dad passed it on to my husband 3 or so years ago when we moved away. By that time, he had become latent in his woodworking/crafting/hobbying for some time and I think wanted to get rid of it, but couldn’t, knowing it’s value. So my husband was interested, an amateur to woodworking, and we took it. It has been sitting, gathering dust, remaining unused by my spouse ever since.

    I think that he is intimidated by it. He is used to using individual tools and is naturally skilled. Even with professional training in a job at a cabinet shop, he never got around to trying it out. Now he is off on a new adventure and not interested in learning how to use it.

    So, now we are looking to move and waiting for our house to sell. In the mean-time I’m thinking about a garage sale and selling the shopsmith, as well. I don’t know what to value it at, though. I can’t see a date on the machine on the one side I can see, but it looks like an older, original classic. Possibly 40-50 years old. It is in working condition, with all the attachments, parts, etc., and a new part (not sure what it was) that my dad had gotten and given to us at the same time as the machine.

    It is loved and well used and has signs of living in a workshop (paint specks, and the like), but is in great shape. So, any advice on what the value of it may be?

  85. Eryn says:

    Oh, it is a Mark V.

  86. Zathrus says:

    Eryn, probably the best way to get a value on it is to watch your local Craigslist Tools section for other ShopSmith V’s being sold. In the Atlanta area I usually see them for $800-1600, although I’ve seen them as low as $250 and as high as $2400.

  87. Jim says:

    I just purchased a SS 10ER last night for $95.00. This thing has to be older than me since they quit making them in ’53. Surprisingly, it appears to be in excellent shape given the inevitable surface rust on it.

    It will probably take another $100 or so to get the lathe and saw working properly and I suspect the quill bearings are probably worn. The mortiser attachments are pretty rusty too and there may be some parts missing.

    The notor is made by GE and is a .5hp motor with triple pulleys to adjust to different speeds. The variable speed adjustor and top belt cover are missing.

    Am I living in a dream world or can this thing help me build kitchen cabinets?

    I don’t like the product quality at the box stores. Also my kitchen is small and I would like to utilize every square inch to maximize the storage space.

    Comments are welcome and I didn’t get to this forum from SS either. Thanks.

  88. Chad says:

    I have a mark 5 with the speed dial 3/4 hp in good shape,saved it from the scrap yard. I paid the kid 20 bucks for the whole truckloal of stuff as I was comming out of the scrap yard. The guy said it didnt work so I took a chance,got it home found a bad cap. on the motor and replaced it. I just however was using it as I offten do and broke the drive belt,not the “V” belt,the little serpentine with teeth belt! I have a bad feeling I have to split the whole case and tear down the whole thing to change it does ANYONE know if there is a trick to changing it? Please and Thank you for your time.

    Chad (Oregon City)

  89. Jim Moore says:

    Hopefully by now, Chad has been directed to http://www.shopsmith.com/ or http://www.shopsmith.net/forums for more assistance.

    Jim

  90. charliie says:

    Very Hot.Ilove my Mark V. I travel for work, need to sell. Has Band Saw and extra legs for more table space. 1200.00 or B/O. Sacramento CA area (209)329-9067

  91. Scott says:

    With over one million sold I’d say it isn’t an issue of Hot or Not anymore. The Shopsmith line of Woodworking tools have been around since 1947 and though times change the niche that the Shopsmith tools fits hasn’t. Need to pack a lot of quality tools into a tight space? It’s all Shopsmith.

  92. George says:

    Question:

    The Mark V seems to be the gold standard for Shopsmith. I am looking for a used machine and I see several Mark 7′s around. Any negatives to the 7? any positives? What is the difference? Shoudl I buy a 7 or wait until I find a 5 in good shap?

  93. Scott says:

    George, The Mark VII was a failed “upgrade” of the Mark V. They used plastic for some of the internal parts, some of which are pron to melting in use! Other plastic parts break in cold garages, and the switch is also unique and prone to failure. Unless someone gives you one for your Shopsmith museum, I’d suggest you stick with the Mark V. Check http://shopsmith-tool-hunter.blogspot.com for info on the Mark VII.

  94. Chris says:

    Scott: What happened to the Mark VI? :-p

    cl

  95. Rembreto says:

    @Tom
    So, let me get this straight. You bought a second SS and made it a standalone drill press? Why not just buy a drill press? I’ll never understand you hardcore SS fanboys.

    Oh, and if you’re going to call someone a ‘moron’ at least spell it right…

  96. Matt says:

    Rembreto: “What a maroon” is a quote from bugs bunny… Some of us got it Tom…

  97. Jim says:

    I just bought a mint ~20 year old Mark V for $250 CDN based on my fathers advice. Didn’t know much about it, but after reading these posts, I think I made a wise purchase. It actually came with a working, much older SS version (10E?). Thanks to all for sharing their comments and opinions. I’m glad to hear about the community support for SS products. It really says a lot about a product that still works after 40, 50 or 60 years,

  98. Tony says:

    Hot. I loved my ShopSmith 510. I purchased it used, used it for about 8 Yrs. My friend showed and let me play with his SuperShop made by Smithy. There was no turning back at that point. I sold my Shopsmith for a Supershop that was about 7 Years ago and have never regreted the decision. I Keept my Shopsmith belt sander and Shopsmith DC3300 Dust collector and use them on my Supershop. I have purchased stand alone machines since but still use my Supershop on a regular basis as a Drill press, Mortising machine, Horizontal Boarer, lathe, belt and disc sander, and 12″ tablesaw for cutting thick stock. I have never used it for milling and lathing metal. The pride and joy of my shop is now the 1200 Legacy milling machine:-)

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  100. DW says:

    My dad bought his first Shopsmith in 1953 at 13102 Thistle Ave in Norwalk, CA. It made quite an impression, literally, on me. I was 5 years old and standing at the headstock end watching him do something (I was too young to remember what) when I decided to touch the very alluring belt turning around the motor pulley which was open and uncovered on the early machines. It grabbed my young pliable hand and pulled it around in between the belt and the pulley faster than you can blink. It scared me and almost gave my dad a heart attack, but there was no serious damage done, to both our surprise. Dad did his woodworking with me in the house after that.

  101. mike pullen says:

    HOT mostly. Maybe lukewarm is a better description. I’m a lifelong professional woodworker who started out in 1976 with a new Shopsmith Mark V ($750.00) which still sits in my shop today. How much do I use it?
    As a tablesaw: never. It is an inadequate tablesaw for professional use (hardwoods over 3/4″, full sheets of plywood). It does not have adequate power to rip hardwoods and it does not hold its adjustment well under heavy applicatios like trying to rip plywood on that tiny table. I have a Delta unisaw for that work.

    I do still use it a lot for horizontal boring (mostly hinging doors with euro hinges), drum sanding and a variety of other tasks. I find the bandsaw attachment quite adequate for my occassional use. Before pocket hole cutters came along I had a home made doweling jig for it to assemble faceframes.

    This Shopsmith was the only saw I owned for quite a few years and it was able to do everything I asked of it, though not always as quickly or easily as I wanted. If you are working with smaller dimension lumber I think it would prove more than ample for that task. A musical instrument maker, picture framer, box maker probably couldn’t find a better tool. It casn be quite precise if you aren’t banging it around with sheets of plywood; I tipped mine over a few times! My Mark 5 got very heavy use for the first 10 years I owned it.

    I’m about to have the headstock rebuilt after 35 years. That alone says a few things about the tool both as to it’s longevity and the affection most owners seem to feel for them. They ARE a lot like old VW Beetles!

    Hobbyist? Yes, absolutely get one if you can, though not at the new price unless you are wealthier than most of us. Professional…same story, just don’t ask too much of it. The company recently filed bankruptcy but is reorganized. No matter; again like VW’s there is a cottage industry around these things. I had to buy a new table trunion for mine a couple of years ago and had no trouble findijng one on ebay.

  102. Paul Harker says:

    I found this to be a very interesting thread. I find it interesting that some chose to bash posters who also belong to the Shopsmith forums. The Shopsmith is a unique machine, and it is natural for a Shopsmith owner to seek assistance from other owners, and where better than the Shopsmith forums? We are asked to ignore their postings _because_ they actually own and use a Shopsmith. That is rather counter-intuitive in my book.
    Better to take the opinion of a Monday morning quarterback who’s never tried one?
    Full disclosure: I recently bought a Shopsmith for $200. I love it because it allows me to have a capable woodworking shop in my very limited space. I upgraded it to the current model and added a Shopsmith jointer and planer (also used, also inexpensive) I then had questions about how best to utilize my Shopsmith and joined the above-mentioned forums.
    I happened upon this thread all by my lonesome. I was not directed here by the ancient thread referenced above.
    I need to address one more issue: The Shopsmith table saw. Yes, not the best of its features. However when you read of a 35 year old Shopsmith having difficulty cutting through a sheet of plywood, you should know that in approximately 1985 the motor was upgraded for this very reason. In the near future Shopsmith will be offering an even more powerful motor, and like everything Shopsmith, old machines can be retrofitted to take advantage of the new motor.
    Shopsmith as a company is struggling these days, and the irony is that they are suffering because they are competing against themselves. Shopsmiths never die, a factor that is seldom considered when evaluating the price. Fifty year old Shopsmiths are still turning out fine woodwork.
    Lastly: Do a web search on “Nick Engler.” Then come back here and reread his comments.

    • Bob says:

      Paul–
      50-year-old Shopsmiths? Mine’s 66 (one year younger than me) and still going strong.
      Nice article. Let’s support quality stuff!

  103. Truxton says:

    I was fortunate to get a shopsmith VII in the late 1970′s from my uncles estate. It came with a bandsaw, jointer, belt sander and a jig saw. It kindled my interest in woodworking as a life long hobby. I have since purchased a Delta uni saw and a 12″ Mini max planner-Jointer, both new. Oh, I am not linked to any shopsmith forum, but I do admire the passion the shopsmith owners have with this wonderfull machine. One thing that is not mentioned here is the fun it is to use a shopsmith. Going from set up to set up is not a burdon at all, the positive stops on the tilt table, the sound of the motor, the variable speed settings, useing this machine is fun. I am glad shopsmith has stayed as an American made quality machine with excellent customer service and an inspiration to the art of woodworking.

  104. Nathan says:

    Definately a hot item to have in any shop proffessional or otherwise. I’ve been using a 1950′s model for more than twenty years. Being a knife maker this machine is indispensable because of its versatility. Also it’s never broken down on me, which is more than I can say for numerous other tools that have had to be replaced time and again.

  105. rob says:

    I have a 10er and a mark 5. of all the machines i own these are the two i would never sell. they are built like tanks and the parts are easy to get. to anyone thinking of buying one, do it. you will not look back.

  106. JD Hannigan Sr says:

    Have had my shopsmith since my Dad passed in 73. Dad bought it in 1953, still working great. Wouldn’t ever think of selling it for it has performed many tasks and does not require alot of space.

  107. LINDA M says:

    hi everybody,
    I have one out in my garage just sitting there. Was my Late husband I know he bought in the 80′s made a few thing with it. alot of extra. some never out of the box I am thinking about selling it to a good home. the boys dont want it. Kinda like 2 know how much it is worth. everthing is there including a dust machine with bag. so if anybody can help. dont know how this work. they boys dosnt not want it

    • Bob says:

      Linda– The boys are really missing out and I would keep it until they’re old enough to appreciate it. If you must sell, check eBay and compare to yours. It’s worth at least a few hundred if it works at all. These machines are built to last for generations.

    • videobear says:

      Up above, someone asked about “why people sell their Shopsmiths”. Gordon, who moved from a Shopsmith to individual stand alone professional tools, is the exception. Most people who sell Shopsmiths are like Linda here…the husband dies, and the spouse sells off the Shopsmith. Or someone who bought one thinking he’d do a lot of woodworking with it loses interest.

      I expect one of my kids will inherit mine…hopefully not for many years yet, though.

  108. PutnamEco says:

    LINDA M says:
    Kinda like 2 know how much it is worth.

    Depends on a few things, like your local market, the
    model, and the condition. Here in North Eastern Florida there are always a bunch for sale, they go from a low of $200 for rusty old ones to $1200 for a mint condition unit with most of the accessories. Some accesories do drive the price up, loacaly the bandsaw seems to be in demand. The add ons like the Dust collector also add to the price. Check out your local craigslist and want ads to see how your market fairs.

  109. face says:

    Fantastic thread and glad its still active.

    My brother-in-law has a 520 and it allows for a very compact work area. While it doesn’t, and isn’t meant to, compete with expensive tools it is plenty good enough for individual use. The “bang for the buck” of these things is very high given their build quality, serviceability, and manufacturer support.

    They aren’t for everyone. If you really don’t need more than a table saw, and could make do with a handheld circular saw, you don’t need one. If a handheld drill, jigsaw, and pocket sander are enough for your work or hobby, you don’t need one. If you use a gas powered nailer and d10′s to assemble your wood, you don’t need one. But, if you tend to glue, clamp, steam, rub, sculpt, rout, sand, stain, varnish, and meticulously select your wood, a Shopsmith might be in your future. :-)

    Anyway… this thread, along with using one myself, has convinced me there needs to be a Shopsmith in my shop. It can’t replace or even compete with the precision saws I have, but hands down it is a great solution for boring, sanding, and shaping. The band saw, jointer, and planer are going to see use as well.

    -f

  110. John D says:

    Wow read the whole discussion here.. I have sourced a 10 yr old 510.. with alot of accessories included.. I think the think is basically brand new as many of the parts are still in unopened packages.. I think the bottom line here is that you dont have to pay anywhere near the new price and get an amazingly flexible woodworking tool. Both my wife and I are excited about trying to figure this thing out and see if we can actually make something worth keeping LOL.. I will keep you posted to let you know how we made out.

  111. Frank Brev says:

    I have owned and used a Shopsmith since 1955. I am on my second machine. Both were bought used. The first one was sold because I had an opportunity to pick up a newer machine which had some advantages over the older one.
    I believe that Shopsmith is great machine for a homeowner. Most people don’t have a ton of room for a workshop. If you are going to use it for maintenance and perhaps a bit of wood working why be concerned with time to changeover. You are not in production.

    I have recently upgraded to the new Power Pro drive motor. It is absolutely the best thing Shopsmith has ever come out with. A variable speed, computer controlled wonder. Featuring variable speeds from 250 to 10000 RPM. No more adjustable sheaves, and bearings to go bad.

    Shopsmith is a wonderful piece of machinery like or not.

    FB

  112. anderld47 says:

    I’ve own a Shopsmith for 34 years along with the belt sander and bandsaw attachments. Once I moved and acquired a larger space for my shop I’ve brought in a Unisaw (28 years ago), a 14″ early delta radial arm saw (28 years ago), Delta drill press (20 years ago), two bench grinders, 12″ thickness planer, and 6″ jointer. I’ve worked as a cabinet maker for 33 years. When my main shop tools consisted of my Shopsmith and attachments, I soon learned to plan my cuts and shop operations to minimize my changing of setups. This came in handy later as I learned to minimize my movements between my acquired stand alone tools. This attention to the steps required also helps in the planning of all jobs. I still use my Shopsmith (and attachments) on a regular basis and would never consider selling them. Being 65 y.o. now, and knowing that trying to wrestle a 4X8 sheet of plywood around an admittedly miniscule table was tough then and maybe impossible now, if your space is limited it’s a goto tool.

  113. harita124@yahoo.com says:

    This is a very interesting thread I have ever read. Assuming that all the posters are diverse, this is the most raving review of any product or company I have ever read.

    No, I am not trying to suspect the truth or veracity in the postings just based on that they all happen to be from happy users of SS Mark V. I am pleasantly excited to hear about an engineering company that, in this time and age, stands true to long life and reliability of its product and delight of its customers. Compare this with our cars, household fans, washers and even coffee grinders (I buy a new coffer grinder and a table fan every year) with pathetic disregard for reliability and disregard for environment (every bad product is a load on our precious environment).

    I am a woodworking newbie (an engineer myself) looking to start a woodworking garage in the average 2 car home garage. I have all the low end hand tools & have been frustrated with lacking accuracy in the cuts. These postings have convinced me to get into the market for a SS Mark V.

    While most of the praisers of the SS machine on this thread have stated their experience with the Mark V, it is notable that the detractors and complainers are criticizing without stating their personal experience with the machine, but only based on the overwhelming ‘yay’ they happen to have stumbled on in this thread.

  114. Tony says:

    I just got one with loads of extras, 1 big problem, SS won’t post outside the US and they are as rare as hens teeth over here in Ireland, no spares etc, I want a few bits and pieces so that is a big – in my book, having said that wifey is delighted all skirting and architrave in situ already, Generally an excellent piece of kit, just have to get used to imperial all over again

  115. Someone told me once... says:

    My cousin’s daughter’s friend’s neighbor’s uncle told me (through the grapevine) never to buy a shopsmith because if you fart while using it trips the breaker. Wait, you mean I shouldn’t post a bad review because I have NEVER used one?

  116. John51 says:

    No problem with breakers here in England (240v as standard) but the only Shopsmith agent in Europe is no more. I’ve just ordered quill bearings, a 5/8″ arbor and a lathe adapter from the ‘Cadillac’ ebay seller. Also from the US, a good finishing saw blade.

    The SS500 main table does not, imo, reflect the quality of the rest of the machine. Mine is dire and will flex under a bit of pressure. If not poor design (by todays standards) then it may have had a bag of cement left on it for a decade.

    I’m stuck with it so I’m going to bite the bullet and spend the time it takes to get good at table alignment. Then I can make a crosscut sled to compliment my tracksaw. No way I’m ripping boards or long stock on that size table.

    To keep my spirits up and to actually produce some fire wood while going through the learning curve, I’ve ordered a pair of carbide pen chisels from Things Western. I’ve read a lot of Joes posts over the years and it was about time I became a customer.

    My take on the HOT/NOT divide…

    Suppose a newbie woodworker buys an early De Walt radial arm saw. I forget the model number but fwir it is considered a top tool now. Let’s also suppose that it has been abused/neglected a fair bit. Who would expect it to work like new without the newbie going through the learning curve of getting it fit for purpose?

    That, imo, is the double whammy a new woodworker gets hit with when buying a ‘bargain’ SS500, or MkV as it was known when new. Can’t learn woodworking well with an inaccurate machine and need some woodworking skills to appreciate just how important that is. So it gathers dust unless the newbie decides to go through the learning curve.

    If your in the US and can find the money, I’d go with buying the Mk7 new and get to enjoy the new headstock plus the ease of learning on a machine hasn’t been beat up or neglected. Watch some of the power pro youtubes then calculate how much you’d have to spend to duplicate that capability with stand alone tools.

    Shopsmith could do with offering a trade in deal then offer reconditioned 520s as starter machines. That way people starting woodworking with a Shopsmith won’t get the same frustrations that delayed me by 2 years.

  117. John says:

    Not built for pros? I beg to differ. I’m guessing there was a bit of tool snobbery in that statement. My dad was a professional carpenter and the ShopSmith was all he used at home for 20 years. He built high quality cabinets for us and several of our relatives using this machine. Of course he kept it in tablesaw mode all the time. Used a hand drill for drilling and a belt sander. Pros didn’t allways used to need 20 huge machines. Skill was enough.

  118. Geoff says:

    My dad used a Shopsmith (Mk VII, I think) back in the 70′s when I was a kid. He built all sorts of cool toys for us, plus renovations for the house. It is as strong memory, and part of what attracted me to woodworking in my adult life.

    With my first real house (a 100-year-old Crafstman bungalow), I soon found myself needing to build/renovate. Saw the Shopsmith Mk.5 510 demonstrated at a home show and it simply hit a chord for me. I’ve owned and used the machine since 1997, when I bought it new, along with a few accessories such as the bandsaw, jointer, and dust collector. I upgraded the fence system to the 520 when that came out.

    I’ve built lots of furniture on it, including Arts & Crafts reproductions in solid white oak. Mine has the 1-1/8hp motor, and I use a thin kerf Forrest Woodworker II blade. The machine holds alignment well, once you go through it by the book and lock everything in place. Even on retractable casters, it has not strayed, which impresses me. With those factors, plus the modular approach to the extension tables, I’ve had no problem at all ripping 8/4 hardwood, even long and heavy pieces (I do use infeed and outfeed roller stands, as you would with just about any table saw). No popping breakers. With the variable speed, you can slow the blade down a notch, which increases torque, and helps get through thick stock, just like selecting a lower gear in your car to climb a steep hill.

    It is tempting to compare the Shopsmith to a garage full of separate tools. Sure, specs like cutting capacity or swing can tell you one thing. However, I have found, as with many things in life, the bigger picture is more important. In the case of the Shopsmith, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

    As another poster said, if you are a thinking-person, a problem solver, and a bit creative, you might find the Shopsmith to be one giant jig. On the modern machines, you can reconfigure the tables to give a huge support area for panel work, or, for example, use the main table as an outfeed support for the bandsaw. You can run the jointer and tablesaw simultaneously, which can be useful when doing initial stock prep.

    I have found the table saw mode to be adequate, and the height is just right for smaller work (toys, jewelry boxes, cabinet doors, etc). Bevel cuts are rare in my work, but the tilting table is somewhat of a negative vs. tilting blade. On the other hand, for some cuts, the tilting table is a benefit, as like a bandsaw – gravity will help you keep the workpiece against the fence, and if you move the saw and table towards the right end of the ways, you can even stand opposite of the fence for some kinds of work with the tilted table (but keep positive control of any off cut on the uphill side of the blade).

    I have also found safety features to be well thought out on the newer machines. The table saw was one of the first US machines to use a European style riving knife that followed the blade, anti-kickback cams, and a blade guard that actually wasn’t a hindrance. The inclusion of usable miter-track feather boards, push blocks, push stick, and lots of “how to” documentation is a great step towards safety.

    I eventually supplemented the Shopsmith with a European-style combination machine, which adds a 12″ sliding table cabinet saw, 12″ jointer, 12″ planer, and tilting arbor shaper. Between the two machines, I have a full cabinet shop in a two-car garage, yet I can still park my car when I’m done for the day.

    I think the Shopsmith would be a great companion to a small stack of Festools, such as their excellent track saw for doing panel work.

  119. Tony Winton says:

    HOT HOT HOT!!! I owned my first Mark V 520 for years and accomplished all manner of jobs, small to large. For me and my limited space it is the best tool. Due to a divorce I lost mine but now looking to get another one. I would not bat an eye or consider something other than a shop smith. I have had the fortune of working in cabinet makers shops set up with every imaginable tool, it was truly awesome and a blessing. However, I do not believe you will buy the individual tools cheaper when you compare quality equipment. For those of us restricted to space limits this is the best tool and as far as tool change over, no big deal and you get used it. The time taken in change over far out weights the cost of a shop building outfitted with separate tooling. Great tool.

  120. J Singh says:

    Hello there,

    I am from India and been into furniture sale business for some time both wooden and stainless steel/metal.
    I found the $3,000 about price tag very attractive for all the quality makeup and versatility. I know standalone are either more expensive or un-reliable. However some projects requiring larger product quantities may justify use of standalone machines.
    The reason I am writing this is to know
    1.
    if a SS Mark VII could be pushed for a furniture manufacturing (desks, wooden-cabinets, Wall cabinets, shelves) on a larger level. With larger I mean about 200 units as sum of all units mentioned in the bracket above. I know it depends also on the workers etc. please take that is a given.
    2.
    What will be the approximate cost of auxiliaries and extra tools that will be required? I will be happy for a deal which closes in less than 5,000 Dollars and leaves me alone from requiring to order tools blades etc. for a year.

    One more thing, if I order it for use in India, I also have to think about the power supply because in India we use 220-240 volts and 50 to 60 Htz. cycle.

    I will be very grateful of any and all of you who will kindly comment on my request.

    Have a great time creating something.

    J Singh

  121. Jeff Mazur says:

    Used, they are HOT if in good condition and priced well. My machine serves as a stop-gap solution for me as a beginner – got me a table saw for $500, it’s adequate for the purpose right now, and I don’t have to unload it when I upgrade because I got the bonus of a drill press, borer, sander, and lathe. Nice to not have to shell out extra for those when starting out. It’s a quality machine and it’s made in America by Americans working for an American company. The shortcomings people commonly mention are ALL TRUE, but life is a series of compromises, and when you have limited electrical service (my shop is 15A 115V), limited space (not my problem but not uncommon), or are starting out on a modest budget (me again), a used Shopsmith machine is a great value. This is a keeper, I will probably give it to my son when he has his own home and I have upgraded to other dedicated machines. And in the interim, it will serve me well even when I upgrade my saw because I still have lathe and drill press.

    Having said all this, as a new machine it is NOT HOT, but not bad. For 2 grand or so I’d be all over it, but they’re at least $3400 now, and realistically you’re looking at just short of 4 grand if you equip it decently. That’s a lot, even if you lack space AND power. They are totally out of reach for many at that price.

    I made my purchase work by getting a good deal, but have to say that the true fanatics are a little on the loony side :)

  122. Bob P says:

    Interesting post. Since the early 1980′s I watched the Shop Smith demonstrations at a number of Malls around the country. I lusted for one but did not make the money needed to buy one. Just before I retired (the 2nd time)I came across a 510 with all the bells and whistles; and I could now afford it, and did not have a lot of space. It met all of my needs and I kept it until last year when I sold it. My focus had changed to restoring antique machinery and I got away from wood working. I missed the flexibility of my MK-5 and last week bought another older MK-5 (56) and was happy to have one for those now and again wood projects that pop up. They are built extremely well, are American made, and the customer support are second to none. I have a large shop and space is not a problem. I would ask that this post be looked at 50 years from now and those of you who have bought new tools today are they still in your shop; probably not. Shop Smith is not the greatest tool ever manufactured but it is loved by many and the individual tool has certainly outlasted many of the other brands over the years. To each his own.

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  125. Sam says:

    Hot! Hot! Hot! I just picked up a complete SS Mark V with all of the attachments and accessories for a whopping $150. (CL)
    I bought it off a man who’s father was one of the design engineers for the Mark V… So I ain’t kidding, it really did come with everything!! I even got a paint sprayer setup! Lol. I feel like a kid on Christmas.

  126. Ken says:

    Interesting thread! I have looked at ShopSmiths for years, especially the ten years I lived in the Dayton area, and dropped in to the factory store now and them. I have always been intrigued by the ingenuity of the multi-purpose machines, and I still look occasionally at the used ones I see from time to time at extremely favorable prices, but I don’t own one.

    My current wood shop is 8′ X 14′ (external dimensions), and I don’t think a Shopsmith would be very useful in that space. I have stand alone machines, some of them built well before the Shopsmith was invented, and with homemade stands and supports of my own design, they are quite functional in that small space. I have a table saw, a drill press, a lathe, a band saw, a sliding miter saw, and good sized work bench in that space, in addition to the usual small power tools, hand tools, and a fair bit of wood storage. I have never had any issue with support for my machines. The oldest ones (circa 1945) don’t break, and parts have always been quick and easy to get for the others.

    If I were doing my woodworking in a garage that had to be shared with cars, bicycles, etc., I would certainly consider a Shopsmith, but in a dedicated shop, even one as small as mine, I like dedicated tools the best.

  127. Terry Brown says:

    On the subject of the Shopsmith and the Supershop by Smithy. I started with the Shopsmith and really liked it. I was in the Army and lived in post housing (no room for a full shop). In some of my off duty time I”d repair door sills and frames in rental homes. By myself, I could load the Shopsmith and raw wood, go to the site do all of the repairs and never leave the place unsecured. Then I got the Supershop in 1981 from the original American manufacturer. Mine is still a great tool which weighs almost 2 1/2 times the Shopsmith. The newer ones are made in Asia and NO where near as good. Unless one needs the r-8 collet system the Shopsmith would probably be a much better choice.

  128. Mark says:

    Reading these comments convinced me to buy a used IMMACULATE very lightly used Shopsmith V Anniversary Edition loaded with just about every accessory except a router(and including lots of supplies). Paid $800. Saw cheaper ones but they were beat up, wobbly spindles, rust, noisy bearings etc. The Shopsmith V wont be as good as high quality standalone tools, but I don’t have the room for that alternative and my rookie skills don’t justify high end gear anyway. I’m pleased with what I can do and was surprised how quickly you can change the Shopsmith from a band saw to planer to drill press to table saw etc. Pretty clever design.

    Mark

  129. Dave R says:

    I just bought one today for $175. I think its a mid ’80 type 5. Came we vthe table saw & jointer. I have a small shop mostly w junk big box contractor tools. This thing seems to stand apart in its quality. Glad I found this thread.

  130. RAB says:

    MADE IN AMERICA by the original founding family WOW and NO M.B.A ENHANCING OF THE BOTTOM LINE AT ANY COST TO THE CUSTOMER OR EMPLOYEE. NOT MANY COMPANIES IN THE WORLD CAN CLAIM THIS.

  131. Matt says:

    Just found this thread looking for information on a precision sled system for the drill press, saw, and bore. Got my SS 510 as a wedding gift from my mother, Rebuilt 4 houses with it, taught my kids to woodwork and watched them use it to start a side business making custom wood kitchen accessories. Of course it is not a CNC mill, but remarkable in what it is.

  132. Kevin G says:

    I have wanted a Shop Smith for years and purchased a very clean Mark v for $275. The versatility of the machine was the main attraction, the fact that they are established and serviceable is also a plus. I love it. Far from a hobbyist, I am a professional carpenter (30+ years) and contractor. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on power tools over the years and many built today simply will not hold up to constant daily use (plastic, universal motors). I don’t use the table saw as I have a stand alone with a larger table, but it works fine and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it if needed. I was primarily in the market for a decent wood lathe, and found I could purchase a used SS with this feature and more for comparable money. I personally wouldn’t pay big bucks for a new unit, no need to as used Shop Smiths are abundant. It also has nostalgic appeal to me, but hey, I like to fish with quality reels built in the 60′s and 70′s too. They also were not built as “throw away” units. If you want one, go ahead. Don’t let the detractor’s sway you. You likely won’t be disappointed. One of my sons has a Tech. Ed. class in school, and is fascinated by the machine and it’s capabilities. I have an abundance of tools and equipment in my shop that have not peaked his interest in the same way. The change over thing is really not an issue for me. It isn’t time consuming or difficult, the machine occupies minimal space and the build quality and design is more than satisfactory. Variable speed for every function? Horizontal boring capability? That is just awesome.

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