View Full Version : Slightly Off Topic -- ShopSmith Woodworking Stuff

Max McGrumpy
01-31-2017, 02:29 PM
I'm patrolling Craigslist as I usually do... Looking for that good deal that is too good to pass up. Many of us here understand, nod if you do. :D

Today I'm picking through "Tools, Various And Crap" -- slim pickings this time of year. A couple beat to hell Craftsman/Atlas offerings, A LeBlond bigger than my house, some kind of Okuma with a broken control and "minor fire damage" -- and about 40 of those "Shop Smith" convertible wood-working contraptions. I've noticed at various times these things flood the market. Typically spring and fall. They range from new looking with accessories to beat-to-hell-and-back "make an offer."

So what's the deal with these things and why are there so many on Craigslist? I suspect they suffer from the same failings as 3-in-1 Mill/Drill/Lathes do and they don't look all that sturdy.

01-31-2017, 03:00 PM
So what's the deal with these things and why are there so many on Craigslist? I suspect they suffer from the same failings as 3-in-1 Mill/Drill/Lathes do and they don't look all that sturdy.

Like a Swiss army knife, they can perform many functions and excel at none.

Gary Paine
01-31-2017, 03:02 PM
So what's the deal with these things and why are there so many on Craigslist?

Obviously just an opinion, but I find them very versatile and effective at, let's say, medium size projects. Regardless of the well designed interchangeability of components, though, the machine needs reconfigured each time a new job comes along. For the hobbyist that just wants to make something, they can be a well loved machine. For the shop that needs or wants to produce a lot of stuff, they fall far short of the benefits of dedicated machines. It's no fun having set up for a complex operation and realize the machine must be reconfigured to do a different operation and then returned to the complex setup that had to be taken down for reconfiguration. It can become a real lesson in planning ahead.
It's the upside of having a whole shop full of machinery in a small space and the surprising rigidity and smoothness of the machine parts that is so attractive to newcomers to the hobby. It's the setup time and complexity that eventually discourages owners from doing much with it.
I've had a lot of fun making accessories for mine, but the machine gets little use because of dedicated machines that work much better for their designed function.

01-31-2017, 03:05 PM
My father had one back in the '50's. No matter what you wanted to use it for it was set up for something else. If you can only have one machine it is OK. Individual machines are much better.

01-31-2017, 03:25 PM
I've had one of those Shopsmith machines for a long time, with very little use. The only good thing That I've found was the 12" conical disk. Everything else lacked rigidity so bad it was annoying so it just sat by the wayside. A very expensive piece of junk. I could have bought a nice used metal lathe for the price of that tool.

01-31-2017, 05:43 PM
I have a 1947 I use as a drill press that works well. I bought one that was given to a lifelong employee with every attachment made, bandsaw & about 100 woodworking mags for $450, had never been used. All the blades & chisels were plastic dipped. The old man said screw this I didn't retire to work so when he passed I bought it & now a paraplegic young man near me makes great woodworking projects with it. They make a great wood lathe & drill press & passable on the rest but if you have limited space & for cutting plywood they work well. I've bought incomplete ones just for the variable speed motors & the 2 or 3 output shafts.

Dan Dubeau
01-31-2017, 06:31 PM
They come up around here for cheap enough once in a while that I think about picking one up. Solely for the purpose of horizontal drilling, It's about the only task I can think of it would do that one of my other machines can't. Then again my wood shop is in shambles, and I havn't done any "real" woodworking in years, so every time I see one I pass. Maybe one day if I can get one cheap enough for very little effort.

I do always get a kick out of the people trying to sell them for $1500 and up though. That always brings a laugh......

01-31-2017, 08:28 PM
the table for the table saw is too high and too small. if you look at a high grade cabinetmakers saw, the table is vast and the base is a vault. the owner always builds a vast infeed and outfeed table. a real table saw is the centerpiece of the shop. a real table saw is level as a pond and fed by 240 or three phase.

Shopsmiths would tip over if you tried to cut hardwood, there is no fence or miter slot, and they have the mill/drill/lathe aggravation of one device requiring multiple tear downs and setups to change tasks.

friends don't let friends Shopsmith.

Lew Hartswick
01-31-2017, 09:39 PM
friends don't let friends Shopsmith.
:-) I agree. :-) Any tool that "tries" to do multiple jobs doesn't do ANY of them well. (or at least as well as could/should be done) The only justification
for the "Shop Smith" is an apartment dweller with the space of a bathroom to work in. :-)

01-31-2017, 11:28 PM

Quality of projects in the world of us home shop guys lies for the most part in the craftsman. I've had a Shopsmith since 1976 and love it. I have other stationary tools that do the job faster and in some cases better but I often find myself using one or more of the Shopsmith tools for my wood projects. I even used my Shopsmith for production deburring operations.

I just finished this convertable crib/youth bed Jan 23rd 2017. Most of the operations needed to build the crib were done with the Shopsmith. Those operations included, horizontal boring, disc sanding, bandsawing, drum sanding, drill press work, cutting to length and tenoning. I used my 15" grizzly planer and Delta Unisaw for the rest of the operations along with hand tools.

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx25/roman52/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3666_zpsm9sen736.jpg (http://s738.photobucket.com/user/roman52/media/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3666_zpsm9sen736.jpg.html)

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx25/roman52/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3659_zpsy6fa17fv.jpg (http://s738.photobucket.com/user/roman52/media/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3659_zpsy6fa17fv.jpg.html)

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx25/roman52/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3657_zps0ai0mbok.jpg (http://s738.photobucket.com/user/roman52/media/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3657_zps0ai0mbok.jpg.html)

http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx25/roman52/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3639_zps7vc29dyk.jpg (http://s738.photobucket.com/user/roman52/media/Baby%20crib%202016/IMG_3639_zps7vc29dyk.jpg.html)