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While looking into the Shopsmith band saw question the other day, I happened upon this awesome image from Life magazine — it has to be from the forties or fifties, when the unit was new.  This family of four, with the help of what certainly looks like the ShopSmith 10ER (the one sold in Montgomery Wards), are getting a few “projects” done.

I applaud the spirit of whoever put the article together, but this is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while.  Check it out:  the little girl is spray-painting her wagon three feet from the family car, and the son is buffing his shoes while the mom buffs the car.  Not to be outdone, it seems dad is ripping a board while making ice cream at his feet.

See, don’t you feel like you’ve learned something today?  Back fifty-some-odd years ago, families got together, not over a breakfast table — that’s a bunch of sissy crap — but over large power tools for some quality chore time.  And when they’re all done, they can take a load off just in time for that favorite radio show and enjoy some nice, sawdust-flavored ice cream.

Now that’s togetherness you don’t see anymore –- or perhaps ever.

Shopsmith [Website]


19 Responses to It’s Just Cool: Life In The Future

  1. Zach says:

    That is great – and so safe!

    But Sean, this is a tool blog – you should know that dad is cross-cutting, not ripping…

  2. Mmmm… sawdust flavored ice cream.

    It’s like one of those find what is wrong in this picture in Highlights
    1) Is dad free handing that crosscut?
    2) No blade guard or riving knife
    3) The boys feet is tangled in cords
    4) The girl isn’t wearing a respirator.
    5) Dad isn’t wearing safety goggles.
    6) Dad and son are wearing long sleeves (loose fitting to boot) around machinery.

  3. KaiserM715 says:

    Not to mention Dad needs some help with his comb-over.

  4. russ says:

    Don’t forget about that sawdust getting buffed into that car’s paintjob. As to Ben’s safety comments — remember this was 60 years ago when safety was still a theory 🙂

  5. James says:

    Oooh, this is fun.

    5+) Everybody should be wearing safety goggles

    7) The table saw blade is too high
    8) Mom is not using the handle on the buffer. It could easily do something unexpected

  6. Mike47 says:

    Even though the picture is obviously staged and unrealistic from a practical standpoint, it sort of captures a spirit of family cohesiveness and inventiveness virtually lost in this country. Whether or not safety rules of today were violated in the picture is fun to pick at, of course.

  7. aaron says:

    “it sort of captures a spirit of family cohesiveness and inventiveness virtually lost in this country”

    …as well as this weird futurism where all our needs are satisfied by a single, central machine. that shopsmith is set up like a rube goldberg device!

    also, some would argue, including myself on some days, that that “spirit of family cohesiveness” is more myth that reality, and even when real is not necessarily beneficial. The spirit of inventiveness, i will definitely agree 100% is being lost. but thats another matter entirely.

    that picture rules. thanks Sean.

  8. David Bryan says:

    But the ice-cream making, that’s okay. If your ice cream maker gets sawdust in it, it’s going to get salt in it anyway and it’s time to do something about that.

  9. windycity says:

    Yeah it looks like Dad’s free handing that cross-cut but worse, it looks like he’ll be cross-cutting his forearm next!

  10. Toolaremia says:

    As for sawdust in the ice cream: When I was a kid at camp, the only way they’d let us have ice cream is if we made it. Sawdust is a good insulator. We’d fill the maker with ice, then a layer of salt, then a layer of sawdust. Then all the kids in the cabin would take turns churning like hell until it was done.

  11. Bill says:

    I still use my grandfather’s 10ER, one function at a time.

  12. Joe C. says:

    Safety-schmafety. I had 15 uncles counting both sides. All were in the trades in some way. Without thinking about it too hard, there were at least 9 missing fingers, a few lost toes, one half-gone foot, and a glass eye. They worked until they died, and they liked it!

    This is a true story, except for the part about liking it.

  13. Mike47 says:

    Free-handing the cross-cut? Look closely at the end of the miter gage slide exiting the slot at the back of the table.

  14. Jim says:

    Would you please post the link to this picture. I would like to get a high quality copy to frame and put in my shop. If you know the Life magazine issue, that would be perfect even better. Thank you.

  15. Steve W. says:

    Jim, Google image search has the Life photos, including this one and several others with the Shopsmith.

  16. rg says:

    Mom thinks, “WTF?! I keep buffing all this white overspray from the car, and it just keeps coming back!”

  17. Peter says:

    Here’s the link to the photo via Google:


    If the link is screwed up due to line returns, go to Google, click on “Images”, then type this into the search box:

    shopsmith family

    It should be on the 2nd page. IF you want the best quality image, make sure and click the “View fullsize” button in the lower right corner.

  18. Jim says:

    Dear Peter,

    Thank you very much for posting the link. I’ll be sending it out to get printed this evening.


  19. Dennisb says:

    I like it… it’s a hopper and a chopper…

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