jump to example.com

The accepted wisdom for the last 20 years is that Shopsmith doesn’t roll out new products. The old gear still works great, and no matter the version it’s gotten the job done for over 50 years now. So when a brochure for the new Shopsmith PowerPro computer-controlled headstock arrived in the mail last week, my jaw went slack.

They might be a little late to the party, but the ShopSmith now features a computer controlled, 1 3/4 hp motor at 120 volts that can swing from 250 to 10,000 rpm in forward or reverse. To keep up with the times they also tweaked a few odds and ends such as constant torque at any rpm and a soft-start function that won’t trip the breakers in your shop.

It also solves the setting issues for you if you’re unsure what your optimum speed should be. Just tell it what you’re doing and it’ll set the rpm for you. So with one release, your old Mark V gear can be moved into the 21st century with less than an hour of install — oh, and somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500 — $2000.

I am both stoked and bummed. It’s great to see the folks at SS releasing new gear; I just wish I didn’t have to sell internal organs on the black market to get them.

Shopsmith PowerPro Introduction Video [You Tube]
ShopSmith [Website]


43 Responses to Shopsmith Goes Digital

  1. dreamcatcher says:

    Hey Sean, I am so sorry. I know how you feel about ShopSmith but I have to say that while it has it’s place, it’s kinda a piece of garbage.

    I have a Mark 5 that I inherited from my mother who inherited it from her father. He saved up his whole life to buy one for his retirement. He made lots of whirligigs and such with it. My mother made some crafts with it too. But I’m a professional cabinetmaker with a stable full of purpose built tools to which it just cannot compare.

    I use it mostly as a disc sander and once in a great while as a lathe. I tried it as a drill press but the runout was terrible. I never used the saw feature since it just seems dangerous compared to my Unisaw. I do have a scroll saw attachment for it that I haven’t used yet but keep just in case.

    Oh, and while my version doesn’t tell the specific RPM; it does have a dial that tells what position to set it to for different operations. It is also graduated alphabetically from “A” to “W”, whatever that means.


  2. Rembret says:

    Thanks Dreamcatcher. I thought it was just me. btw-Get ready. I’m sure your post will stir up the SS fanboys.

  3. dreamcatcher says:

    I already said I was sorry.

  4. russ says:

    Don’t have a SS but that is a nice upgrade. You forgot to mention the price $1430 – $1900 depending on which way you upgrade. I just hate to be the guy/gal that bought a new SS in the last year when there is only a few hundred dollars difference in the price of the complete systems.

    The best thing I like what they say about the upgrade is it being the most exciting upgrade since 1953. That’s one year longer than it took for the Giants to win the World Series again.

  5. Will says:


    “But I’m a professional cabinetmaker with a stable full of purpose built tools to which it just cannot compare.”

    You’re exactly right. However, I’m a half-a-garage hobbyist who had to stretch to spend $400 to move past hand tools and a compound miter saw, so my used Mark V is perfect for me. Someday, I will upgrade to a better table saw.

    I think we can both agree, though, NEVER to buy new gear from Shopsmith. For the $3k it would take to get a new Mark V, you could replace every single function with good, dedicated equipment and rent a powered storage unit to use as a workshop for a year.

  6. Pezdad says:

    I love my Shopsmith – and while I agree that the table saw mode would not compare to a Unisaw, the Unisaw will not fit in my shop (garage) and it favorably compares to many lesser contractor-style saws. And the accessories take up a lot less space than individual tools and are well made.

    As for this ugrade, I had the same reaction as Sean – it looks very cool, and I am glad they are still working on it – but that is too much for me to spend when it works just fine right now. If the motor gave out I would spring for the new one – but the large number I see that are 40-50 year old and working fine makes me think it won’t happen anytime soon.

  7. Ian says:

    The thing about the Shopsmith that most people don’t seem to get is that it is a simply amazing tool-maker. I never use it for the saw, or drill-press or whatever in the traditional sense. But the point of it for me is that it’s designed to be multi-purpose. I’ve made tons of jigs for sharpening, sanding, cutting, whatever, that I simply couldn’t with a dedicated tool. It’s designed to be flexible, at which it excels. If you use your imagination and creativity, it’s phenomenally useful. It’s sad when people compare it to stand-alone tools – they’re kinda missing the point 🙂

  8. Shopmonger says:

    RemBrent, I am not a SS fan Boy but i do know a nice piece of equipment when i see and use one. I too have multiple tools that are standalone,but these are awesome……and make great lathes, great multi use tools…. again SS is a fine answer to many small shop solutions. .

    So as Usual…the non-knowers are the haters..


  9. dreamcatcher says:

    Okay, let’s hash this out. We’ll say you got $2k to outfit half a garage with woodworking tools and you choose this machine. For that same amount of money I could easily get all those same tools and more from benchtop versions.

    Craftsman 3HP 10″ table saw $230
    Delta 12″ drill press $180
    Shop Fox 43″ lathe $470
    Rikon 6″ disc, 4″ belt sander $120
    Delta 6″ jointer $200
    Delta 12.5″ thickness planer $240
    Rikon 10″ bandsaw $260
    DeWalt 12″ compound miter saw $300

    There, an entire shop of tools (all of which I have or would happily use) for the cost of one ShopSmith. I can imagine the whole gang would easily fit in a shelving unit taking

  10. dreamcatcher says:

    oops, I hit the button early.

    …a shelving unit taking up as much or less space than a SS footprint.

    BTW: you did catch the part of my initial statement where I admit that I OWN a shopsmith, right? So this is not “as Usual…the non-knowers are the haters..” this is a knower/owner/user that is still a hater.

    Combo machines, no matter how fancy, are a bad idea.


  11. dreamcatcher says:


    Please tell us, or better show us in the photo pool what great tools you have made on or for the SS that couldn’t be made without it.

  12. Jules says:


    I wonder how old your SS is — if you are the third generation using it, it is likely a MV 500 — and might have some setup issues and a less powerful motor than more recent units. What color is it? What’s the serial #? Both can help date it. I have a 5-year old 520, with bigger tables, and lots of accessories — bought it used, works well for me in my basement furnace room — no garage, no budget or space for a pro shop — I’m not a pro, but did just make a quartersawn oak through-tenoned coffee table on my SS, and I’m happy with it. If I was a professional cabinet maker with a full shop I’d likely be like you — not the audience for the machine. I think the quality of the motor and machine is a fair bit higher than most of the inexpensive standalones you mentioned, and there is really good support — not my experience with any other consumer-oriented machine. different strokes for different folks — but no need to be so dismissive.

  13. dreamcatcher says:

    I feel like a lot of you ShopSmithy guys are just inexperienced with other machinery that is out there. I have used a lot of different tools and equipment. The ShopSmith is towards the bottom of my list of favorites. I mean, what other table saw requires you to tilt the table for a bevel cut these days? What other table saw makes you raise and lower the table instead of the blade? It’s gotta be the smallest table on the market.

    I made that list pretty fairly in my opinion, I even put 4 more tools on it than the SS is capable of. That’s 8 tools that do individual tasks very well for the same price as one combo machine that doesn’t do anything that great. $2k is too much for it, that would be $500 per capability. You can get a great table saw, drill press, lathe, or disc sander for $500 each. Better yet, hit the used market and get it all for a fraction of the price.

    There’s a reason why I see $2000 ShopSmiths selling for $150 everyday on Craigslist. If it weren’t for the grief i’d catch from my mother, i’d give mine away.

  14. Brau says:

    I really like the soft start-up feature. I run a number of powertools on the same circuit and turning them on/off with the dust extraction has become a dance routine of its own as I move back and forth between the tablesaw and powermiter. I keep swearing I’ll add more circuits, but hell, it’s a lot of work and I can only use one tool at a time anyway.

  15. Jules says:


    The primary table on the current model 520 is 17-1/2″ x 22″, plus two floating extensions of 8″ x 22″, so unextended the table is 33 1/2″ x 22″ –that’s not a small table — many saws out there with much smaller tables. Your family heirloom might be different, as the older models had smaller tables (but can be upgraded).

    Again, it might not be for you, but it works quite well for hobbyists with limited space, like me — its target audience.

  16. Jim says:

    The argument against a SS is really a moot point. It has existed in the market place for decades and continues to exist. And, someone is making money selling it. The market dictates value and the market has determined there is a place for this product, at this price point. It was survived the test of time. Simple as that.

  17. Jerry says:

    Well stated, Jim. Any product that fails to satisfy a need or want will vanish from the market. SS has held ground for a long time. I never had one, never used one. Saw one once and was not really impressed.

  18. Ian says:


    Sigh. Why do these things always turn into pissing competitions?

    I kind of view the SS as a big dremel. – something that is handy for odd things. I got mine for $200 bucks, and have gotten amazing value out of it. I own a contractor’s saw – I’ve never used the SS as a table saw.

    Unfortunately, I have no photos of any of the jigs I’ve knocked up for the Shopsmith. I can tell you , though, that when I needed a router table, I just bought a cheap router and made a jig for the SS table – using it’s pretty good fence, mitre gauge etc. I did this for about $5 in materials. Try doing that with a regular drill-press, or table saw or whatever.

    I’ve also used it as a jig for sanding mitered surfaces, where the disc sander is introduced to an odd-shaped work piece, not the other way around.

    Um, I also remember using the auxiliary tables to support a sharpening jig for the grinding wheel, that I would have had to make something more cumbersome with a regular bench-mount grinder.

    I also use the horizontal borer function quite a bit – I find it more comfortable than a drill press for lots of things.

    Obviously you could knock anything up for any machine, but I found the fact that the SS was built with flexibility in mind made doing it more straightforward. It’s hard to quantify – it just seems to invite experimentation – there are more adjustable surfaces to clamp to etc.

    I’m a little disappointed, Dreamcatcher, that you would resort to calling people who like their SS inexperienced. Spend a little thought on this and you would realize there is no way to win this argument one way or the other. People who like this tool are not going to be persuaded otherwise by insults.

    There is no way a professional is going to think the SS is a good tool for them when they have access to a big shop. I wouldn’t. If you don’t have the imagination to put yourself in the position of someone who doesn’t, at least refrain from making personal value judgments.

  19. Red says:

    Interesting list of manufacturers in Dreamcatchers list. How many of them provide customer support for their products over a period exceeding a half century? How many of their ‘new’ products are 100% compatible with their ‘previous’ models.

    How many of them could offer a quantum leap power plant improvement and be able to offer upgrades to ALL previous models.

    I dare say that the items on that list are ‘available’. How long will they remain maintainable?

    If all those items will ‘fit on a shelving unit’, they cannot be very heavy(durable).[actually I doubt they would ‘fit’]

    Yes the table saw function is the least of its capabilities, and the tilt table at times is a PITA but having both a TS and a SS I find the TS is covered most of the time. I do not wonder why, I know why. I doubt you will ever discover why!(Yer mind is made up and does not wish to be confused with new input)

    50 yrs from now look back and observe how many of those tools on your list are still working, or you are able to repair with OEM parts.

    Ya SS is unique and definitely not ‘mainstream’ and not a fit for everyone. Those that it does ‘fit’ are thankful there is a SS alive and well today.

  20. dusty says:

    I read all of these and was not going to get into the fray but I cannot help myself. I have been a Shopsmith user for nearly thirty years. I have it because I want a tool that will do what it does (all of it) and still not take up half a garage. Toolmonger is way off base and he said so himself. He is a professional cabinet maker and if he had purchased a Shopsmith as his table saw he would not be in business. The Shopsmith was not (is not) designed for that kind of work and cannot do that kind of work except on a small scale. To compare the TS feature to that of a Unisaw is down right ignorant.

    I agree that the Shopsmith has some short comings but they are not those that Toolmonger sites. The small table and lacking power are issues that Shopsmith resolved long long ago. Even though there are bigger tabled more powerful Shopsmiths, there are many who continue to use them with great satisfaction. They are evidence of the quality and functionality that they represent. If they were not quality pieces of machinery, they would not still be in service (with full customer support I might add).

    Toolmonger, when your equipment is all as old as mine and it is still working as good as when new – come see me. You might change my mind then. No, you probably won’t – I’ll be dead and gone before that happens.

  21. Ralph Livingston says:

    I purchased my Shopsmith in ’83 because I had only a 1/2 garage space to work in. Back then it was a model 500. Yes, it had a small table. What many “naysayers” above don’t realize is that Shopsmith has offered many upgrades through the yeaqrs that have vastly improved it’s table saw and drilling functions.

    My machine was upgraded to the 510 version twenty years ago, giving me an 18″ wide x 22″ deep table, including two floating tables that increased the ripping capacity to 98″. A few years later I upgraded again, to 520, which featured a fence with “T” slots on top and sides and a rip scale. On most table saws today you would have to purchase and aftermarket fence to get this level of performance.

    Now my shopsmith has the ultimate upgrade, the Power Pro. While the old headstock offered 1 1/8 HP with a useful 7 to 1 speed range. The Power Pro easily gives me the power of a cabinet saw, without having to upgrade my electrical service. This new computer controlled DVR motor is rated at 1 3/4 HP at 120V and 2 HP when hooked up to 240V. There is no current inrush typical of an AC motor, the DVR powerplant softly ramps up to speed, advoiding nuisance circuit breaker trips. When cutting, the controller can sense the load, and automatically provides the necessary torque. Thus, ripping 8/4 or 10/4 stock is accomplished with a breeze. An improtant advantage over a typical table saw is that I can set my saw speed to 2500 rpm and cleanly cut burn sensitive woods like cherry or maple. The torque necessary to make the cut is always there.

    The incredible DVR motor gives a 40 to 1 speed range. As a lathe, I can turn 16″ wide stock at 250 rpm. This low speed, and torque sensing ability, also makes it possible to turn 3″ forstner bits in the drill mode. As a shaper or router, I have up to 10,000 rpm capability, and can shape raised panels with large diameter cutters, outperforming any router table.

    I selected the DIY Power Pro package which comes with an instruction manual, DVD, and all the templates and drilling guide. The fact that Shopsmith has made it possible to retrofit the DVR motor and controller into the old headstock is nothing short of ingenious. Thus you can take grandpa’s old Shopsmith and bring it into the 21st century.

    The list of separate tools above and prices is intereresting, but doesn’t take into the account the cost of the space itself, and the necessary electrical upgrades. Don’t be so quick to put the Shopsmith down, especially if your space is limited. This Power Pro Shopsmith is a real performer.

  22. dusty says:

    In my comments above, I committed a big mistake. My criticism is not of the Toolmonger but rather of comments made by the respondents, especially Dreamcatcher. To the Toolmonger, I apologize. My error was pointed out to me by members of the Shopsmith forum.

  23. AJ says:

    Shopsmith naysayers, like Craftsman bashers, have little credibility and really should be ignored. Dreamcatcher is no exception. His list of tools, save the DeWalt chop saw, are hobby machines at best and hardly the stuff found in a professional cabinetmaker’s shop. Now if someone tells you that you can’t drill holes accurately with a Shopsmith because of too much runout, just advise them that perhaps the tool needs a bearing or two replaced — an easy and inexpensive task that most anyone can handle.

    I’ve had a Shopsmith since 1980, so I know a bit about them. I also know a bit about the Unisaw as I own one of them too. I’ve got plenty of other quality tools, like Robland (another combination machine), Performax, Delta, Inca, Jet, Craftsman, Grizzly, and the list goes on. So it isn’t like I don’t know about or use tools beside my Shopsmiths.

    Now, there’s little doubt that a Shopsmith is no match for the Unisaw when sawing wood. But that’s not the all of it. How honest would it be for me to say that the Unisaw is “garbage.” After all, it can’t turn spindles or bowls, or bore holes in wood, or sand the edge of some stock, or do many other woodworking tasks by using some of the attachments that are available.

    If you want an extremely versatile tool, take a look at some used Shopsmith equipment. At an auction yesterday, a perfectly good Mark V model 510 sold for about $300. So, the guy who bought it got a variable-speed lathe for $300. How can you beat that, plus it will sand and drill, and also cut wood (but not as well as a Unisaw). That’s amazing and with extra attachments, the functions it can do are only limited by one’s imagination.

    Remember, the tool bashers are like politicians, they have an agenda.

  24. Bill Van says:

    I always hear people say that “you can’t cut large panels on a Shopsmith” and others who say that “you can’t turn small objects on a Shopsmith”. If I could post some pictures on this website I can show you some pictures of some 97″ tall cabinets that I built in my garage as well as some pens that I turned. As a matter of fact just yesterday I sold one of the pens for $50 and the other for $35. I just installed the new headstock on my 27 year old machine and I am greatly impressed. It is smooth and vibration free and is very quiet as compared to the old headstock.
    I live in a retirement community so space is at a premium. Would I like to have a unisaw? You bet. Can I afford one? Yes. I chose to go the other route because that is what fit my shop. Skill is in the hands of the worker not in the machine.
    When I built the cabinets I had to calibrate the stacked dado set to make the dadoes. I had to finish the large cabinets first to have extra food storage as well as eliminating clutter. After the big ones were done I returned to building some smaller wall hanging cabinets. Now here is something that even a Unisaw can’t do. I started to make some more dadoes for the small cabinets and had the dado set up in about one minute. The speed arbors are a great feature because I didn’t have to dis-assemble the dado and then recalibrate it again. Big time saver.
    Bill V
    Leesburg Fl

  25. Gene Howe says:

    My 1980 vintage Shopsmith has helped me build 3 houses, numerous sets of cabinets, several book cases (some 9′ tall) and an untold quantity of boxes and toys of all sizes.
    There’s no woodworking task that I have done, or contemplate accomplishing, that one function or another of the Shopsmith wouldn’t be used.
    With the new Power Pro motor, I’m sure to find quite a few other uses. The numerous abilities of this machine invite experimentation and creativity.

  26. dusty says:

    BTW Dreamcatcher, when you do decide to give anway your Shopsmith, the one with the tiny tilting table, don’t forget me. I’d gladly pay the shipping to get it here while relieving you of the nuisance.

  27. DJL50 says:

    I have owned my Shopsmith for over 20 years. It is a great tool but a tool that is not for everyone.
    The only thing I will add in the list of stand alone tools listed above comparing to the cost of Shopsmith. The tools listed does not have a track record as being reliable as a Shopsmith. No way is the Craftsman saw going to last like the Shopsmith. IMHO. The other feature missing is the variable speed the shopsmith has. The shopsmith is a quality product made with quality parts.

  28. Heath says:

    If you think the Shopsmith is “kinda a piece of garbage” check out some of the things people have made with it here: http://www.builtwithashopsmith.blogspot.com/. As has been said, the Shopsmith is not made for nor intended for production work in a professional shop (although they have successfully been used for that too!). But that doesn’t mean it’s “garbage.”

  29. Truxton says:

    I just read the above comments on the Shopsmith tool and had to jump in. I have had a shopsmith since 1980, it was from an uncle who bought it in 1963. The machine came with a jointer, beltsander, bandsaw and a jig saw. No matter what you say about them you have to admit they last. I since have purchased a delta unisaw and a Mini-Max 12″ jointer/planer. I don’t use the Shopsmith for a table saw now, but as a quill feed disk sander, drill press, horizontal boring machine, and lathe its still used in my shop. I also want to comment on the contribution Shopsmith has made to the hobby woodworking community. They support thier product and have have a very loyal following.

  30. Heath says:

    I wonder how many of those tools in Dreamcatcher’s list are going to still be around in 60 years, being used by their third generation of woodworkers…

  31. Jim says:

    From a previous Toolmonger post, I stiil enjoy (in a good way) the pictured family activity…. Life had such a nice sugar coating on it.



  32. Rembret says:

    @Dreamcatcher – I’ve own a ShopSmith since 1947 and just the other day I needed to replace one of the little rubber feet that dry rotted after 63 years and ShopSmith still had them in stock! Let’s see you do that with your cheap Asian made junk. Oh, and a bear came charging at me in my garage and I was able to switch to my bear killing attachment in a 1/2 second and kill that bear right there. Stopped him in his tracks. Let’s see you do that with a Unisaw! My ShopSmith is the perfect tool, well, except for etc…

    So there, Dreamcatcher.

    (I sure told him. Now I can go ask my wife if I can use the garage again to make some yard art.)

  33. John says:

    Norm started with a ShopSmith. Look at some of his first shows. You can see it in the background.

  34. dreamcatcher says:

    I wandered away from this conversation for awhile, not sure if anyone is following anymore but I leave a final message anyway.

    I stand behind my comments. While the SS seems to have quite a loyal following, the fandom does not make it a better machine. The fanboy response to my calling the SS garbage is reminiscent of several years ago when I told a young girl that Ricky Martin is a homo. Time and honest reflection showed who was right.

    While some of you have had the machine for many years of operation and are still happy with , I can only say that some people are happy to make due with what they have. I have seen a guy who made pretty decent furniture using a table saw he built out of scrap plywood and steel, heck most of the wood he used was reclaimed from pallets (I think that was how Maloof started too). But it doesn’t mean that is the best or most efficient method of work.

    I am a professional carpenter but I don’t do production work. Production cabinetmakers look down at me just the same way I may look down at hobbyists. They would never bore shelf holes one at a time when they can just take a panel over to their 20 head line boring machine. Similarly, I would never want to reconfigure a single machine for each operation. Over and over I have warned aspiring woodworkers against combination machines; even adding a router table to a table saw is a bad idea (yet lots of people stand firmly behind that idea). I often move back and forth between machines, sometimes I am doing multiple projects. I absolutely need my rip sawing device separate from my cross cutting device separate from my edge forming device separate from my milling devices, etc. Otherwise I don’t usually have the time and I never have the patience.

    I vouch for the tools on my list, as I said before. That Craftsman table saw was my first table saw. It still works fine, even after I TRIED to kill it. I gave it to my dad when I got my Bosch 4000. I also started with a freebie CMan router and a DeWalt chopsaw; all still going strong and all to do professional, high end trim carpentry and built-ins. Again, sometimes we make due with what we got. But I planned ahead and made the sacrifices necessary to upgrade to better equipment even yet with all I have I am still plotting my next moves. Sure, I suppose you hobby guys don’t need to worry about that since you can walk away from your hobby whenever you want.

    I heard a few comments concerning the lifespan of tools today and the serviceability e.g. ability to upgrade the SS. So I looked up what it would cost to bring my SS up to date like the rest of you. Here’s what I found:

    Model 510 Table System Retro-fit Kit………….Price $946.64
    Two-Bearing Quill Retro-Fit Kit…………………Price $127.69

    All I have to say is that if you are so committed to your SS that you are willing to shell out the cost of a quality stand alone machine just to upgrade or repair then you are not really looking at the world through financially viable eyes.

    In short; If you have more money than space and are not very committed to woodworking then a ShopSmith will probably be a good fit for you. But if you are willing to commit to woodworking enough to tell the ol’ lady to park her car in the driveway then you are best to purchase some real tools to fill your garage. Those who are committed with no money and no space better move, get a job, or get creative with their methods.

    I don’t think there is really anything more to debate here; we are all either brainwashed one way or another. We might as well be debating politics or religion. But as a freedom loving American, I have no problem with you praising your single multifunction god of woodwork that provides all your woodly needs while I enjoy that same freedom to have an entire shop full of wood munching deities.


  35. Ralph Livingston says:


    I don’t know why you are here, unless you just enjoy being a troublemaker.

    You have totally missed/ignored the whole crux of the Toolmonger’s post, which was “Shopsmith goes digital”.

    The new DVR motor technology is revolutionary, and Shopsmith deserves to be congratulated for having the guts to engineer, test, and introduce this highly capabile power plant in the face of a downturned economy and a woodworking market flooded with Asian tools.

    I’m sorry that you don’t like your old Shopsmith, which obviously has never received any of the upgrades that would have improved the machine’s performance. Also it is obvious that it will never see this digital DVR upgrade which you have ignored in your comments.

    Why don’t you pass your old Shopsmith on to someone else who will give it some TLC and a new life, and get out of our hair in the process.

    • Ditto. Dreamcatcher belongs on some other tirade site. I love MY Shopsmith. I buy and sell one or more a month, for the last six months. I buy them cheap from people like Dreamcatcher, then shine, oil and polish the neglect. I sell a basic 510 for $695 BUT I give away 3 or 4 hours of instruction on HOW TO USE A SHOPSMITH. If you never read the manual or tried the project section to learn by doing, you probably are a real dream catcher. Sell it to me cheap and I will make a new knowledgeable Shopsmith user a VERY happy customer and novice woodworker.

      Mark V 520, Digital Pro W/Double Tilt, Jig Saw, Scroll Saw on Station, 6″ Sander on Station, Strip Sander, Sharpener, Over-arm Router on SS Router Table, Power Station…I think that is all I now own! Did I mention I LOVE my Shopsmith?

      If you DON’T like them, get off the sites where devotees praise their equipment and can pack everything away when not in use and go sit in their recliner and catch dreams about woodworking!

  36. nehopsa says:

    DVR motor seems a really nice upgrade that enables routing/shaping additionally to the old functions, on the main motor. I got my used Shopsmith for some $300. To spend $1429 for DIY upgrade kit is beyond my wild dreams right now. The other issue is I do not know what is the compatibility of DVR with the grid in Europe, where I may move back eventually. With the old motor I am sure I will be able to use some sort of transormer/convertor to have it working. I am not so sure the electronic controls on DVR would not sufferer with different frequency of the grid(50Hz over there instead of 60Hz locally). I am not investigating that matter further because the current asking price is well beyond what I can consider even with the added functionality. As the initial comment suggests I am not in the business of selling parts of myself on the market. If they could slash the price somehow I will consider the offer. DVR motor is tempting.

  37. Terry says:

    I’ve had my Mark V for close to 30 years, and it has served me very well. If I had the room, of course I’d prefer dedicated tools, but I don’t.

    My grandfather was a professional cabinetmaker who did top-notch work mostly using tools he made himself – tablesaw, 3′ drum sander, 6′ jigsaw, etc. and, to my mind, the sure mark of a good craftsman is being able to produce professional results using less than professional tools.

    While my original headstock still works fine, I’m seriously considering the Power Pro upgrade for the wider speed range, higher power, quieter operation, reduced maintenance, and not to have to crank that speed knob anymore.

  38. Ralph Livingston says:

    It’s now been a litle over a year since Toolmongers posting on “Shopsmith goes digital”.

    Having now used my Power Pro powered Shopsmith since that time, I can state that it definitely performs as advertised and is a vast improvement over the old variable pitch pulley “reeves drive” that it replaced.

    First of all there seems to be no end of power available. I’ll recommend that someone contemplating obtaining this new DVR drive should also add a 240V circuit to the shop. This will enable one to realize the full potential of this drive.

    The Power Pro is impressively quiet, even when ramped up to 9500 rpm. It is so smooth, even at that speed, that a mug of coffee placed on the table shows nary a ripple.

    Recently I also installed the latest upgrade, the double tilt mechanism, which enables a user to place the headstock either above or below the table. This has a lot of useful shaper/router applications. Coupled with the motor reversing feature, there are now a lot of cutter placement options. This makes it possible to avoid cuts with the stock “trapped” under the cutter. This past summer I milled hundreds of feet of baseboard, window, and door trim with the headstock under the table.

    Thus, my 1983 Shopsmith 500 has now been upgraded to the latest MK 7 configuration. I can certainly recommend thest two upgrades for present Shopsmith owners.

  39. Happy Okie says:

    I do believe this blog is about the Power Pro. I am going to avoid all of the rest of this discussion and go straight to my impression of the Power Pro upgrade. I recently did it myself and even though there was a lot of hassle involved, that could have easily been avoided, I am very pleased with what I now have. I started out using 110 volts and did a little rewiring in my shop and switched it to 220 volts. I own a 500 and a 510 and I chose the 500 for the upgrade. It won’t be long before I upgrade the 510 and I will again do it myself. I now have the guts of the old machine gathering dust and I am prepared to sell, you name the price. You can reach me at “sidecar@cox.net”

  40. Hawkflyer says:

    As I read down through the posts here I am struck by a few things. While a shop full of dedicated single purpose devices is a wonderful thing; setting asside the space problems that go with that approach there are a few other things to note.

    My Father bought a ShopSmith Mark V 500 many years ago. He chose that not because it was the best at any single purpose, but rather because it fit the space he had and it would do all of the things he needed to do. It was American made by honest people who stood behind the equipment and it still is. He was no stranger to other tools as he had a colledge degree that included a minor in industrial arts and he knew his way around a shop very well. He kew the difference between a ShopSmith and a set of stand alone equipment

    As time passed more advance models of SS came out. Dad decided to upgrade, so he gave me his old machine and he bought the latest model. That machine just barely fit in my 12×12 basement shop as I already had a lot of things unrelated to woodworking going on in there. Later we upgraded the quills on both machines, and got other upgrades along the way. We did this together and we made many many projects together and separatly. But whenever we got togeather you can bet the talk would drift to the latest SS projects.

    After Dad passed I inherited the whole lot of ShopSmith equipment he had accumulated along with a few single purpose tools like a full sized power feed planner/joiner and a Dewalt radial arm saw. I value that connection to Father very much and a lot of ShopSmith owners share that connection to their past as well.

    I personally acquired a shorty bench and a few of the single purpose SS attachments Dad never needed like the strip sander and the lathe duplicator. I also picked up the scroll saw. Dad had the jigsaw so he never got the scrollsaw. So I have both because the Jigsaw can do some things that are unique to that tool.

    I just took delivery of the new PowerPro headstock last week and have been using it for a few days now. It is truely amazing. I can do things on the lathe that were out of reach before and the ease of operation has enticed my wife to use the machine for the first time. I only wish Dad was here to see this amazing advancement.

    So here is my point. ShopSmith makes tools that fit in homes that do not have room for large professional shops with 6-10 stand alone tool footprints. Dreamcatcher does not see the value of this because he can justify the space and the high end tools setups because that is how he makes his living. Most ShopSmith owners do not have that justification. And he is just wrong when he says he could store a set of dedicated single purpose tools in the same space that could store a ShopSmith. In my view he is incorrect about his pricing as well, most of the tools he mentioned are made off shore and the prices he quotes are more easliy found at Harbor Freight He also seems unaware that there is a lot more to the Shopsmith than a lathe, table saw and drill press.

    All of the above is PART of why ShopSmith owners are so dedicated and loyal. The rest of the story is this.

    People can use the shopsmith system to learn woodworking and the Shopsmith company will help them every step of the way. Just try to call Dewalt and have their Phone support people tell you how to resaw, or hollow a bowl on the lathe. ShopSmith will answer all the stupid questions people might want to ask and they do it without making people feel stupid for asking. They have trainng videos and lesson plans. geared to teach the ShopSmith system. Nobody else has such a comprehensive self teaching program.

    My last point is this. I can put my shorty system in a trailer, pack in the bandsaw, belt sander, scroll Saw,and a few accessories; put my generator in there and go to craft shows or art festivals and make stuff right in front people, and they are facinated and they learn something. Try that with a shop full of single purpose machinery. So I get to share my fathers legacy with others. And really in the end making heirlooms and passing them on is what this is all about.

  41. Ralph Livingston says:


    Thank you. I couldn’t have stated the case better.

    Last year I sold my one remaining “standard” Shopsmith and purchased a new MK7 with the PowerPro Headstock.

    Since this thread is about “Shopsmith goes digital”, I can certainly recommend that present Shopsmith owners convert to this new power head. It really puts Shopsmith in a new elevated woodworking category.

    The DIY package is not difficult to install, and Shopsmith furnishes a manual of instructions as well as a DVD. This is a straight forward project, and as Hawkflyer mentioned, Shopsmith’s customer service is always there to assist.

  42. Wow says:

    I recently bought a used Shopsmith and have already spent an incredible amount of opportunity cost researching the tool.

    I got a good deal on the machine. But after I took it home I immediately wanted to sell it and be rid of the hassle and impracticality.

    But after tearing apart the headstock a bit and seeing how backwards compatible the machine is – I’ve decided to keep it. Just because I’m going to be able to increase the table saw size myself, fix the runout in the quill myself, and put a custom speed controller in myself.

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