View Full Version : OT - Shopsmith
02-21-2005, 09:31 AM
Eventually, if/when I retire, I would like to be able to do some basic woodworking without taking up a lot of space. Does anybody on this board have any experience with the Shopsmith Mark V? Normally I shy away from machines that "multitask", but since this particular machine has been in production since 1953 and seems to have a very solid following, my curiousity has been piqued. Here's their website, and naturally they're not saying anything bad about it... but I want to hear from somebody who is not affiliated with them: http://www.shopsmith.com
02-21-2005, 09:43 AM
Yes a friend of mine has one and he only uses the lathe function, changing from one function to another is a pita.
02-21-2005, 10:09 AM
Were I to own such a machine, I suspect I would use the tablesaw function the most - but if the tablesaw setup is flimsy, wobbbly, and inaccurate it would be worse than not owning a tablesaw at all. What I'm most curious about is the sturdiness/solidity of the machine. I can overlook it being a PITA in converting to other functions if the resulting conversion will do what it's touted to do. Since I don't have a milling machine I'm always setting up my lathe to do milling work and it does the work moderately well (as long as I remember to take small cuts). What space I have available I would like to fill with metal-working machines and minimize the space used for necessary woodworking machines. But I don't want a Shopsmith if it is flimsy and shaky.
02-21-2005, 10:26 AM
Aside from a tablesaw, a Shopsmith provides a drillpress and lathe. Take a look at one, IMO they are flimsy, and have all the negatives of any multi purpose machine.
If you already have a lathe, drillpress and add a milling machine, the only thing you will need for basic woodworking is a table saw. A well thought out selection of good machines will accomplish any of the wood and metal working that I would care to undertake.
I use my metalworking machines for wood, and see no problems in doing so. Clean them well before and after, and you are good to go.
02-21-2005, 10:42 AM
My father got his Shopsmith back in the 50's and made all the furnature I grew up with and a lot of other stuff too. He still has it tucked away in the garage altough doesn't get used much. I wouldn't trade it for my 1200 sq ft shop of course but he always did good work with it and never had any complaints. The newer ones might be cheapened up like everything else nowadays.
02-21-2005, 10:53 AM
That's good advise, Jim, and I appreciate it. As of yet I have neither a milling machine nor a drillpress. When/if I retire I hope to add those two machines to my collection. One reason I chose the Myford as my "permanent" lathe was its capability of high spindle speed and I have used it for turning wood on a couple of occasions. I've never seen a Shopsmith in person and so you've answered my main concern. If it's flimsy it's no good. I'll keep my eyes open for a decent tablesaw with a relatively small footprint.
02-21-2005, 11:27 AM
I got a shopsmith in the 80's and like it. It works well for all functions. I would however like to have an additional table saw with a big table. The lathe is as solid as any benchtop I have used but dosen't have the mass of heavy floor lathes. The horrozonal drill is great. The fact tha when I am done tinkering with wood it rolls in the corner and quietly waits for another wood urge is great. I started in a 14X16 garage in my teens the size was great. I am now in a 32X56 that is shrinking every day so size is still great. I wouldn't try to start a cabinet shop with a shposmith but they are good to get into the hobby of woodworking.
02-21-2005, 11:37 AM
junkin duck, how sturdy/solid is the Shopsmith when it is set up as a tablesaw? Is it sturdy enough to go through a 1/2" 4 X 8 sheet of plywood without worrying about the whole thing collapsing?
02-21-2005, 11:41 AM
junkin duck... never mind, I just re-read your comment about wishing to own an additional table saw with a big table. That tells me the Shopsmith probably would not handle a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood. Their website shows extensions but the rods holding up the extensions look to be pretty sorry. I think Jim's advise about using metal machines for the occasional woodwork and a dedicated tablesaw is probably the wisest route.
02-21-2005, 12:48 PM
I currently am sitting on 2 mk5 500 and a er10 I use them occasionaly for pen turning. It is OK for a table saw but the newest style(520) with the good fence ,etc. works the best.
The Shopsmith's table saw is marginal at best. The table is way too small and the fence rather inaccurate. I have built some very nice furniture with one, but regular woodworking machines beat it by a very large margin. If you are organized, separate small machines will take up hardly anymore room and be MUCH more pleasurable to use.
02-21-2005, 06:12 PM
Thankee Joel. I'll look for a standalone table saw instead.
Milacron of PM
02-21-2005, 08:56 PM
The only thing useful and unique about a Shopsmith is the ability to do horizontal "boring" (never have understood why drilling in wood is referred to as boring, since it is drilling and not enlarging an existing hole). If you intend to do alot of dowel type work on edges, this feature could be helpful but otherwise seperate machines are infinitely better.
But even the boring aspect is moot for most folks as properly jointed glued up boards are stronger than the wood itself without dowels. But dowels do help align boards and are good for removable sections like extendable table leaves.
Milacron of PM
02-21-2005, 08:58 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by D. Thomas:
[B]The only thing useful and unique about a Shopsmith is the ability to do horizontal "boring" (never have understood why drilling in wood is referred to as boring, since it is drilling and not enlarging an existing hole). If you intend to do alot of dowel type work on edges, this feature could be helpful but otherwise seperate machines are infinitely better.
But even the boring aspect is moot for most folks as properly jointed glued up boards are stronger than the wood itself without dowels. Dowels do help align boards for glue up, but biscuit machines are more common today. Dowels are good for removable sections like extendable table leaves.
02-21-2005, 09:40 PM
When I was younger I saw ads for the shopsmith and I wanted one. Since then I've bought a drill press, table saw, etc. Recently I was offered the chance to buy a shopsmith mk V. I went and looked at it, and at that point I realized that I would never be happy with it. Just having to convert the thing for it's various functions would get me PO'd. The saw table is too small, and it's really not very rigid. If you have the room to cut a 4x8 sheet, then get a real tablesaw.
The shopsmith might be good if you consider it a lathe, and if you use some of it's other functions, fine. I would likely have bought it if I didn't already have a lathe, and wanted one. I have an old rockwell/beaver lathe, which is cast iron and a better lathe anyway than the shopsmith would be.
Guero,I'm in the woodworking and construction business and don't recomend the Shopsmith.I feel a multi machine is too limiting--too much hassle to change back and forth.The 3 most basic tools I would recomend would be a table saw,compound miter saw,and router table.A lathe is not for everyone.They look like fun but can soon end up collecting dust.I just sold mine as it was taking up too much real estate in the shop for the use it got.DeWalt and Bosch both make a good benchtop table saw for about $500--I have the DeWalt for a jobsite saw and it works great.The chop saw has made the radial arm saw obsolete.A slide miter saw is nice but pricey.A router table with a router lift such as one of the Jess-Em units rounds out the equation.With these 3 tools you can perform an amazing number of operations and not waste a lot of time with set-up.
02-22-2005, 08:56 AM
The Shopsmith is a great piece of mid 20th century engineering. It's made to last forever but it's not all that great at what it's made to do.
I would buy separate machines.
IIRC, on the tablesaw the very small table tilts, not the arbor. Might be difficult to use. I wouldn't want the pressure of half of a large piece of wood pressing against a spinning blade. (Kickback?)
If you need to save room I think you'd be much better off buying a Bosch 4000 tablesaw with the left extension and outfeed extension (the right extension is standard) and stand from someplace like Amazon for $500. I've seen it used to cut a full sheet of plywood. I like mine. Much better tablesaw than the Shopsmith.
A 12x36 lathe can be had for less than $500. Benchtop drill press for less than $200.
I've heard of too many people that get too tired of changing them over all the time and just leave them set up for one use.
A lot of parts are not standard. I think even the tablesaw blades have a non-standard arbor hole. There may be adapters you can buy so you can use the good saw blades out there instead of getting all of your blades from Shopsmith.
I looked at them for quite a while. I didn't buy one and I still wouldn't.