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.