A google search on the archives will yield a bunch of commentary. Nothing
has fundamentally changed with this system in decades.
For what it is, it is well-built, well-supported, and versatile. It has
some serious limitations, however, for larger, or repetitive work.
Wanna buy mine?
I always read the 'Tool' section of the want adds, even if I am not
looking for a tool. There will be at least one Shopsmith for sale per
month, and sometimes 3 of 4. A lot of people buy them with grand plans,
and then almost never use them. They do a lot of different things, but
not at the level of dedicated task tools.
To answer this we really need to know your intentions. It is well made
and supported. Provides much flexibility at the cost of setup time. It
will not provide the quality of good purpose built equipment, but better
than many inexpensive pieces of equipment.
It's a decent, but marginal table saw but provides flexibility of lath,
drill press, etc. It provides a lot of capability in a small space.
Again the setup time is the trade off. Plan your projects well and you
can economize the setup time. Plenty of parts, etc. are easily available.
Mine (Model 510) basically is used as a drill press with occasional lath
work. I almost never use the table saw, except for rare dado work (set
it as dado and leave table saw as is) depending on length of cuts etc.
The Shopsmith is a tool, a very good tool, but as such is no better than the
person using it. It is well made and the support from the company is
tremendous. If you are considering purchasing one check out their web site
(www.shopsmith.com) for demos in your area. Another option would be
contacting the user group on Yahoo, there might be a user in your area who
would be willing to let you spend a little time in his shop with his/her
Shopsmith to get a feel for it. A great way to get a feel for the tool
would be to take one of their Traveling Academy classes, a schedule is
available on the site. This would give you a chance to spend a day with the
tool and an instructor for a tiny amount of money. Another option would be
to take one of the woodworking classes Shopsmith puts on in Dayton - spend 3
days with the Shopsmith and make a piece of furniture, with expert
instruction. You will take away a piece of furniture and a firm decision as
to whether the Shopsmith is for you or not.
As has been mentioned, there are numerous ads for Shopsmiths, some have
never even been setup - the purchaser got seduced by the demo, wanted to do
"something," but never found a round tuit. On the other hand, a number of
those for sale are well-used machines whose owners have passed on, and now
their children are selling them off - still running after years of good use.
Takes minimal space, readily movable.
Well-built, well-supported machine.
When properly setup, as is the case with any machine, is fully capable of
the most accurate woodworking you could ask for.
Changeover time is really not much of an issue - takes minimal time, and
when well planned out is no problem. What is the difference whether you
stay in one place, changeover the machine and set it up, or move across the
shop to another machine and set that one up? This really is only a
potential issue for production workers, and there are still plenty of
professionals out there making a living on Shopsmiths.
The table of the newer Shopsmith (510 or 520) are much better as far as a
roomy table, and the fence on the 520 is really good. That said, it can't
replace the capacity of a Unisaw, but who has the money or room for one?
There are plenty of options for supporting larger work.
Sorry for the long-winded answer, but I have owned (and enjoyed my
Shopsmith) for 20+ years. This is actually my second - the first one had to
be sold due to a financial need at the time, but I vowed at the time that I
would have another as soon as I could - a did! For me, the Shopsmith has
been great. My shop is only 14 x 23, I have the 520 with bandsaw, jointer,
and belt sander, a Dewalt planer, a Dewalt jigsaw, a router table, and a Jet
mini lathe comfortably placed in this space.
Port Huron, Michigan
I think it depends on your needs and the space available, Ron..
I got my 2nd SS in 81, after losing the 1st one in a divorce..
If you have limit space and/or are just getting into woodworking, I think it's
an excellent tool... with the basic "starter" package, you can learn to use the
table saw, drill press, lathe, disk & drum sander, etc... also excellent as a
router for some work..
Like anything else in life, it has good and bad points, mostly because it isn't
really a dedicated tool but adapts to several uses.. table saw is great for
small stuff, but large stuff is better cut with cir. saw and guides than on the
SS.. it is nice to adjust your cut by either moving the fence or the blade,
(using drill press quill), but it's a bitch to come back later and try to get
the same setup for another cut..
It's the best drill press I've ever used.. variable speed, adjustable, tilting
table with rip & miter fences, etc... that's mostly what I use my SS for, now
that I have more space and several stand-alone tools.. I find that I mostly use
it as a Horizonal. DP... takes up less height and has the 12" sanding disk on
the rear shaft, using the accessory table..
If you can find a used one, it's always better... not just because the machine
is cheaper, but the seller has most likely bought add-ons and accessories...
Should it need service, rebuilding, etc., anyone with basic tool skills can do
it, and SS stocks all parts and has good support with instructions, tips, etc..
Please remove splinters before emailing
If you decide to purchase, definitely look for a used one. The last
one I saw at auction brought $165.00 for the basic unit. The same
person bought all the accessories (band saw, planer, separate power
unit, blades, jigs, pretty much everything you can get for Shopsmith,
and spent less than $500 for everything.
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