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Shopsmith is the Swiss Army Knife of woodworking. They do almost everything you might need for a woodworking project and a friend of mine has wanted one since the 80′s. Recently he got tired of waiting for the cash to get a new one and began searching for a used Mark V. Ebay wasn’t really a help for completed units, but Craigslist listed about 10 of them in the area in various conditions and states of inactivity — so we started shopping.

One that was freshly hauled out of a local garage showed up in the listings, sporting a price tag of $200. With a heavy dose of skepticism we went to check it out. It was quite obvious this machine had seen better days. There was minor rust on the legs and casing and heavy gunk on the tubes — plus the right base was cracked from someone leaving it in drill-press mode for what looks like decades. All of it needed a good going over. Those were the negatives. But the motor sounded great and there was a giant box with all the pieces, connectors, hardware, belt sander, and scroll saw in it.

A little stack of cash and a few ratchet straps later, the Shopsmith was back at my friend’s garage. When we set it down in the driveway we realized how much work was ahead of us. Cleaning, for one; a new base; and some paint were in store.

For those not familiar with the company, Shopsmith is extremely proud of their new off-the-shelf replacement parts. Bargain-hunting on the net, we found a new base for about $40 in the door (list is over $100), and began looking for attachments like band saws and jointers which retail for around $500 to $600. We found them for about $150 a pop delivered.

Once all the repair work, cleaning, calibration, and pieces arrive, we’ll post an update, but the entire thing will wind up costing a fraction of what it would have new. Detractors would simply say to buy separate units and be done with it, but once complete, the Mark V will have 11 solid woodworking modes/tools designed to work with each other for about $600.

Shopsmith Parts Search [ebay]

 

20 Responses to Shopsmith On The Cheap

  1. SteveH says:

    Awesome to hear you have joined the ‘family’. I really enjoyed restoring and regularly using my older Model 10 ER. Sure it’s slow and takes time to change and set up, but I don’t mind as it saves space in the cramped garage space that way. It is a true work-horse, and built in the US when things built here were made with pride and meant to last.

    Now all you need is your copy of “Power Tool Woodworking For Everyone”. Also check out Skip’s site for some cool attachments/upgrade ideas: http://mkctools.com

  2. Mike47 says:

    I’ve had a Mark VII since the 70′s. It’s wonderful to have a machine like this, on wheels, in a small shop. I use the bandsaw the most, sometimes use the strip sander. I always keep a wire brush chucked in for cleaning stuff.

  3. gary z says:

    I sold Shopsmiths in Dallas for several years and owned a couple of them. They are a great well built machine that if taken care of will last for generations. Some things to check, and precautions. First check the bearings in the upper shaft of the headstock. These can loosen over time and may need to be replaced. The next is the speed control. It is a bit of a weak link and the most replaced part on the machine. It breaks when a person tries to change the speed without it being turned on. Last, make sure to oil the sheaves on the motor. There are two spots one of which is under the spring. It’s a little tricky, but will make the speed changes much easier. I just sold my Dad’s old unit to a friend, and I think there may have been an owners manual. If you want, e-mail me and I’ll see if I can get you a copy.

  4. craig says:

    we needed a more reliable saw at the farm and found a shopsmith at a nearby town. it came with a bandsaw add-on.

    the smaller table can be annoying and tilting the table instead of the blade on large stock requires assistance.

    on the upside this tool was cheaper than the sliding mitersaw i was considering. the bandsaw is quite good. the cuts on the table saw are accurate. the disc snader is great since it actually is square to the table.

    gary z’s warning about the speed control is dead on and if you use this tool heed his warning.

    you’ll get a lot of use out of this tool.

  5. sherlock says:

    “Once all the repair work, cleaning, calibration, and pieces arrive, we’ll post an update” – coincidentally i inherited a shopsmith in fairly good shape except it has some rust on the steel tubes as in the photo above – what is the best why to clean this? – tips?

    • steve says:

      Hey Sherlock,

      Try a chrome cleaner and polish. It will leave small its left from the rust, but it will keep the rust from spreading and seal the chrome. It is easy maintenance once you start :)

  6. Clint says:

    A Shop-smith is a good beginners tool with a lot of bang for the buck. My grandfather had one and its what I grew up around. I have never actually used one but I have been a bit leary about the safety of such a small table for the saw. That being said all the accessories and overall footprint make it a good choice for a lot of people.

  7. Rick F says:

    RE: Cleaning the tubes..

    I’ve read several posts on the Shopsmith forums where they basically take a drill and attach it to one end of the tube and then attach the other end to a free-spinning bearing of a sort.. Then you just turn the drill on and use either steel wool or fine sand paper to remove the pitting,etc.. Then make sure you put some Johnsons paste wax on it to keep the rust at bay.. Checkout those forums — lots of invaluable info..

  8. Flabby Boohoo says:

    Used one once and found it lacking, at least from the table saw perspective. I guess if you don’t have much space, and accuracy and convenience is not a concern, this might be a good option.

  9. Fletcher says:

    I have a 10E (that’s E for ‘experimental’, without the R for ‘Revised’; the revision being all the safety modifications introduced after the original manufacturer was sued for customer injuries.) It was a complete basket case when I got it (for free, after failing to sell in the estate sale of my friend’s grandfather.) It must be used with caution, but is a versatile platform for a variety of functions. I’ve even added my own attachments (home made ball mill) to reap the most from my investment of $0 and a few hours of elbow grease.

  10. steve says:

    Sean,

    Where are you finding all the inexpensive parts for your Shop Smith? Any web sites? Catalogs?

    I broke the lathe carriage today trying to true up an out of balance log (working toward a walnut bowl).

  11. don says:

    i have ayupa radial saw. are they worth selling

  12. Richard says:

    I can’t find a locking mechanism for the head (motor unit). It says this is a model Model ER (no 10 indicated) How do you move this? Is there a lock nut or hidden set screw? Any help appreciated.
    Richard

  13. BravoRomeo says:

    eBay, Craigslist, Shopsmith user forums online, and local estate sales are a great source for Shopsmith parts, if you have more time than money. If you have more money than time, I believe Shopsmith still sells parts and supplies for most everything they ever made.

    The tablesaw function gets a bad rap, but I find it works quite well for its domain of small-to-medium projects. Granted, mine started out at the 510 with the larger tables and extensions, and I later upgraded to the 520 fence system. The tilting/lifting table is a necessary design compromise, but I find bevel cuts to be rare for most projects, while miters are a bit more common. I built a slick 45-90 miter sled for compound crown molding cuts, say for around tops of bookcases.

  14. Tom says:

    No way a motor cost that much. Motors you can buy, the problem is that shaft. Any ideas were you buy one new or used ????

  15. Jack Smith says:

    Table saw:
    I recommend purchasing a small portable Delta 10″ table saw, about $99 dollars and either a Delta, Skill or Rousseau folding stand. The saw slips right in. W/ optional out feed table,you can tackle anything.It comes with an impressive rip fence and it all folds away to nothing and frees up the Smith. One other option is to put a piece of plywood over the saw table. You’ll need to be creative in anchoring it and the building of a fence. For years, I had one at the ready.

  16. Fitzhugh says:

    In case anyone stumbles on this as I did (long after the fact but with the same questions), it seems the folks who know best recommend avoiding abrasives as much as possible when removing rust from the tubes (and other parts) by first using a very simple homemade electrolysis setup. I’ve got to try it on my s.s. and some other old rusty things. Google for details or check out the stickies on the shopsmith forums, you’ll see some great results.

    • bcd126 says:

      I just found a Shopsmith 10E oh criegslist for free. It ran and came with 2 large boxs of accessories. A jointer and a jig saw. The rust on the tubes was very bad. I just spent the weekend de-rusting. I had no choice but to sand with a 40 grit just to be able to get the tubes out of the unit. I used a rotary sander (shutter) progressively working my way up to a 220 grit and then some emery cloth. Sealed it with a coat of mothers metal polish and buffed it to a shine. Then I took an old oil rag and polished it with that. It has worked out fine but was a lot of work. I think in the end it was my only real option as there was some serious pitting action going on.

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