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I really needed to change blades on the Shop Smith recently in order to rip hardwood stock, but there were a few issues with that plan. The first is the Mark V takes special 10-inch Shop Smith blades that you can’t just buy anywhere. The other was that my version of those blades had worn out, and the technology behind them isn’t evolving as fast as the rest of the competition. Luckily, Shop Smith provides an arbor that allows a different brand of blade on the machine.

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I actually bought this arbor a few years ago from the Shop Smith site. It is not easy to find, and the Shop Smith support staff doesn’t exactly trumpet its existence. The arbor attaches itself to the shaft of the headstock on one end, giving you a 5/8″ spindle to attach a standard-style 10″ blade. The advantage is you aren’t locked into the three offerings of Shop Smith Blades at a price range of $55 – $80 as well as the shipping time to get them to you. Another benefit is you can take advantage of new innovations the rest of the market features that are often at lower cost. Plus, if you’d like to go the other way and purchase something like Freud’s 90-tooth flawless finish blades to do finer detail work, this arbor makes it possible by making the whole machine a great deal more flexible.

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It took 3 years before I needed the arbor, but as I now have a small collection of blades I’d like to use for different specialized purposes, it helps to have the ability to do it with the machine I’ve already invested time and cash into. Also, I still need to rip a crap-ton of hardwood, and I feel better about dulling a $20 blade over a $50 one.

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6 Responses to A Shop Smith Arbor That Fixes Ripping Headaches

  1. Flabby Boohoo says:

    A special size arbor? I really don’t get the interest in Shopsmith stuff.

    • Rick says:

      IMO their success is due to two things.
      1. A hobbyist need for their tools to take up as little space as possible in the garage.
      2. Really good salesmanship.

      Stuff like this is the main reason I never bought into ShopSmith. They make a decent hobby level product but they then get you locked in for all their add-ons. Most folks have no idea you can get 3rd party blades wot work on their Tablesaw.

  2. gary z says:

    You can also use the dado arbor for a blade arbor.

  3. Boss Hogg says:

    The popularity of Shopsmith is due to several features being top-of-the-line. As a sanding station it is a excellent machine. It also offers a nice drill press option and a lathe, which although not the best is better than any low budget machine that you may not use that often.

    The tablesaw is a weak point , but if you know what you are doing only become somewhat of an issue when do miters that require tilting the table.

    #1 reason for a Shopsmith – Q U A L I T Y !!! They are built well, easy for the home user to fix and do a lot of features that a home workshop can use, but might not always do. Parts are still available for 50 year old machines and in the used market they usually aren’t too expensive.

  4. BravoRomeo says:

    I have a Shopsmith Mk.5 (520) I bought probably 15 years ago, brand new. Still works great today, and I’m always figuring out novel applications for it.

    I also have a European combination machine, a Felder BF631, which I picked up used some 10 years ago. Where the Shopsmith is might be called “lathe based”.. the Felder would be a sliding tablesaw-shaper married to a combo-jointer-planer.

    The two complement each other quite well, and I often have both set up at the same time. They both have lots of forward-thinking safety features… when I bought the Shopsmith, they were one of the first US tool makers to include a European style riving knife. They also included some very well thought out push sticks, blocks, miter-slot feather boards, etc.

    Curiously, both machines have unique saw arbors. Shopsmith went with a 1.25″ arbor hole, for reasons unknown, but speculation abounds (reduce vibration? easier to remove the nut? eco-system lock-in? who knows). Shopsmith also offers a 5/8″ saw arbor for use with 3rd party blades, which I bought several of and keep permanently attached to my favorite blades. The arbors stay on the blades and one can very quickly swap blades on the 5/8″ output shaft with a simple set screw that engages a reverse tapered flat, so even if the set screw loosens, the attachment/arbor is still retained, though I’ve not had any problems.

    Felder uses a special arbor with two locator pins. This functions to keep the blade from slipping at all, so the arbor nut arrangement is a much more user-friendly affair for changing blades: an allen key for an inner machine locking screw, and a wrench for an outside flange/nut. Not quite as fast as changing blades on the Shopsmith, but faster and more secure than a simple lh-threaded arbor.

    If your saw uses an unusual blade arbor, any competent saw blade company can bore the arbor hole(s) to your specifications for a nominal fee. If they’ve done it before for other customers, they won’t even have to ask you for the specifications. I’ve had Ghudo and Forrest Woodworker II blades made up for my Felder. Great blades, and I have the thin-kerf WWII on my Shopsmith, making better use of the available power.

    As far as Shopsmith goes, it is a great piece of equipment once you learn its pros and cons – read the manual! The trick with any tool is to make the most of the pros, mitigate the cons, and focus on the project at hand. Some tools are just plain frustrating, for example, if they don’t hold their settings, expose you to unnecessary risk due to poor design, or flimsy parts break or burn out. My Shopsmith has never frustrated me in those way, and it is often admired by visitors who have never seen anything like it (“Well, that looks incredibly handy to have! What is it?”).

  5. Rugeirn Drienborough says:

    I don’t understand why this blog tries to make it seem that these arbors are hard to find. Google “Shopsmith saw blade arbor” and the very page this blog links to is #2 on the page. Go to shopsmith.com and the page this blog links to is #1 on the list. Is there some reason why we have to phony up a non-existent issue here?

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