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Judging solely from what I can gather from the serial number on the headstock, my father’s Shopsmith — now pulling duty in my shop — was built in August of 1984. Almost exactly twenty-five years later it’s still going strong.

I mentioned a while back that my dad’s Shopsmith Mark V came to live with me on super-extended loan from the old man. Read: he’ll have to pry it out from under me to get it back. I left it be for a little while and started to read manuals and figure out what everything did.

Other than a small issue with the bandsaw accessory I just found this weekend, I was amazed that after some quick calibrations and a coat of wax, the machine I remember as a kid hummed to life and performed with exactly the same smooth precision it did back then.

It’s not really world-changing and I shouldn’t be surprised really, but it was nice to see it put through a few paces the last few weeks and come out the other side like the workhorse it obviously is. I guess the old man does know how to pick ‘em.

Shopsmith [Website]

 

9 Responses to It’s Just Cool: A Shop Birthday of Sorts

  1. Flabby Boohoo says:

    I have never understood the attraction to the Shop Smith, unless you have VERY limited space. Having to reconfigure to utilize a different function seems like a huge pain. Plus the table for the table saw is really small. Just my $0.02

  2. fred says:

    @ Flabby Boohoo

    I’m with you – and just don’t get it – but have to admit that this tool has garnered its share of loyal enthusiasts over many years of existence. I’m sure that many of Shopsmith owners do very good work with their tool – but I’m not sure that they wouldn’t do better with separate machines. I think that some tools that require a bit of “tinkering” may inspire some woodworkers.

    I’m never likely to own a shopsmith or one of the European multi machines like a Laguna multi:

    http://www.lagunatools.com/combo/combo-platinum5f-sch;jsessionid=0a0101441f435a0b1b74511740319885d0a310f7507e.e3eSc3uNaNuTe34Pa38Ta38QaN50

    so I guess that I’ll never find out.

  3. BC says:

    For those of us who don’t need perfect precision and don’t have the luxury of a huge home shop, it fits the bill in versatility. With a SS and a miter saw, you have pretty much everything you need as far as stationary power tools.

    That said, I wouldn’t buy one unless I got a steal on it (oh wait, that happened… and I did). Even used, they’re ridiculously expensive.

  4. Sean O'Hara says:

    Actaully the table being “small” is relative. What you can’t see in this picture is the other end of it has a rest for the stock as well. I ran several sheets of 4′x8′ through it by myself without any trouble.

    It’s true it’s a different kind of system that favors space and a little setup time over more machines but as for the precision aspect of things, it’s rated to 1/64th of an inch and they aren’t kidding about that. Wood will breathe more than that over the course of a year and I’m more of a 1/32nd or 1/16th is close enough, then sand type dude in the first place… so it works out.

  5. Mickey Rat says:

    I picked up one many years ago and I already had a table saw and a drill press but the horzontial boaring capabilties of the drill press along with the disk sander(I also got the 4 inch jointer and compressor)made it a good stop gap measure.True,they are overpriced used but dreams are not cheap.If it wasnt for Shopsmith a lot of people would be knitting or sewing rather than making sawdust

  6. BC says:

    Mickey, I think that may have been true 25-30 years ago. Now, for the price of a new SS, if you have the space, you can outfit a damn nice shop with all new tools.

  7. [...] mentioned a bit of a problem with my Shop Smith band saw that sprang up this weekend. The rubber tires that [...]

  8. Gary says:

    We all have different work habits and needs. I have a shop full of individual tools as well as hand tools – I don’t mean a circ saw etc, I mean hand saws, planes, chisels, mitre box etc.

    Depending on the project and how much time I have I use different combinations.

    I think a lot of people put too much credence in single purpose machines. My friend’s Dad made beautiful furniture with a shopsmith. I know another guy that makes museum quality furniture with no power tools of any kind.

    Good tools help, but ultimately, it ain’t the tool. It’s the person using it.

  9. Ed Brady says:

    I own a Shopsmith. Bought it new almost exactly 30 years ago when I was in the Navy and had little room to work. I now own a very versatile track saw system from Eurekazone also. I am getting more room in the next house and started thinking about what tools to buy. Sawstop? Powermatic? Hey, how about another upgrade (Powerpro headstock)to the SS or a new Mark VII. I have built a ton of stuff with my SS and people who say it is not accurate don’t know what they are talking about. It takes a little more care, but results can be first rate. Hey, that Mark VII might be just the thing — not much more than a Sawstop alone.

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