OK, so you are saying there were 2 saws, the contractor and the Unisaw. I
stand corrected, I never noticed the Unisaw. The contractors saw probably
stood out more for me as during the beginning years I was interested in
getting a Delta Contractors saw that was sitting around at work not being
Got me. I do that frequently for some reason. The show premiered in
1989, maybe that's what throws me.
My real problem (as with most people my age) is the '60s are a mystery
to me, too.
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
If you don't mind me asking, what is the accuracy like? It's one thing to
be able to change from one use to another, but what about tuning it after
the change over.
I've never owned one, not looking to buy one, but always wondered how well
things were set up (square fences/blade, runout etc...)
I have had one for 50+ years and still use it all the time. Accuracy seems
very good, although I do have to "tune" it every several years. Back then,
they didn't have all the attachments they do now so I do have a separate
band saw and planer. Working on the second motor but other than that it
I'm not Mike, but I'll chime in here:
The biggest problem I had with mine (Model 520) was that there was always
SOMETHING that hadn't been fully tightened, readjusted, squared, calibrated
or tweaked on a changeover. If I left it as a saw, or a sander, or a drill
press or a whatever, got it right, and used it, it was just fine. I seemed
always to miss something in the changeover that compromised accuracy.
What got the crowbar to the wallet, and a new Unisaw in the garage/shop,
was trying to build a relatively simple bathroom vanity with the Shopsmith
as the tablesaw. Amazing how just a couple of not-dead-square cuts will
screw up a cabinet.
The Shopsmith went to my son's place at college last summer. He's enjoyed
learning with it, on small projects. The instruction guides are really
good for a beginner. The machine will likely return in May, when I
anticipate that I will try my hand at woodturning.
I have a good number of friends who have done many, entirely acceptable
projects on their Shopsmiths.
Mine was purchased new, at a home & garden fair. ("I've learned that
lesson now", he says, chagrined.)
Enjoy the journey.
who has almost as many tools, and probably has paid just as much, if not
more, than Bay Area Dave, for the privelege. Not complaining, though.
MY wallet got pried open after several cabinet projects that were just
too uncomfortably big for the table on my '88 Model 500. They got
done, but it was too much of a balancing act. Second drawback was the
lack of a scale for the fence - measuring for every cut with a tape or
rule introduced too many opportunities for errors. Still, I managed to
build quite a few nice projects in a 8'x10' basement shop, where there
simply was not room for individual machines.
I do not feel that changing functions causes any need for tuning type
adjustments (square, parallel, etc). I can switch it around all day
and still get square, smooth rips and crosscuts You do need to
remember to tighten all the appropriate clamps (motor, table base,
table height, table tilt, auxiliary tables, etc).
I've since moved to a bigger shop (and lot and house and mortgage)
where I have room for a stand alone cabinet saw, RAS, band saw and
jointer. The Shopsmith is still used for nearly every project. The
table that is too small as a saw table is fine for a drill press, and
generous for a disc or drum sander. The lathe is fine when I need it,
and the 4" jointer is OK for shorter pieces.
If you lack space, the Shopsmith is great, but look for a used one.
$3K is too much.
Don't mind you asking at all. I've done everything from building two shops,
well, one and a major rebuild of another, to building jewelry boxes,
cradles, and turning pens on mine and accuracy was never a problem nor, once
you get used to it is, set ups. Even the most radical reconfiguration
doesn't take me more then a minute, two at the most.
As with any multi function machine there are compromises made, but Shopsmith
didn't make them in quality or ability to do fine woodworking. The ones that
were made, notably the size of the table when in the saw function mode, can
be worked around easily enough with a sled but most of the time even that
How much do you want to spend? A shop can be equipped for a couple of
thousand or over ten housand with little hesitation. It also depends on the
projects you want to undertake. Birhouses require much less than making
A medium budget shop will have:
Contractor saw with good fence and cast iron wing(s) $750 to $900. (Delta,
Drill press, at least a 12" bench top $180 (Delta)
Planer $300 to $450 (Delta, DeWalt)
Jointer $300 to $550 (Bridgewood, Delta, Jet)
Router or two $150 and up
Router table $10 for a cheapie home made to $800 with lift, drawers,
Dust Collector $280
Sander. Either a Ridgid spindle/belt combo or oscillating spindle $200
Bandsaw $500 and up for a 14" model.
If you have the room, I highly recommend dedicated machines. Brand name
should suite you well. One of the things that I dislike about the Shopsmith
and the clones like it is table saw set up. The table saw setup will
probably be what you use 90% of the time. IMHO in the table saw set up the
table is WAY TOO high off the floor and the table is WAY TOO SMALL for
large pieces of wood. The demo "shows" seldom if ever show cutting a sheet
of plywood or an 8 or 10' board.
Two thoughts, from someone who has been there, and has the receipts to
* Find a woodworking class in your area. Adult education, local high
school, community college, something. What you will learn is priceless.
The people you will meet are priceless. And what you will save in buying
blurfls will fund a great many projects, whether they be woodworking
projects, or activities with the loved ones. And you will find out what
you like, and have talent for building.
* You will also find out where/how/what to buy used in your area. Most
good woodworking gear doesn't wear out in a lifetime of use. You very
likely will find some, not all, very serviceable equipment, for the portion
of the hobby that you will discover you enjoy, without having to pay new
retail. There are those in our community who have the the reputation of
being cheap. Think of it as applied thrift.
Good Shopsmiths are available used all of the time. If that is what you
want to use, then the difference between used and new will load up a lumber
rack with some very nice materials.
My talents and resources changed after I dropped the big money on the new
Shopsmith. I took the first of now six classes at the local adult
education, and am now well down the slippery slope.
But is it ever a great slide!
I mentioned the ads earlier. This week's Reminder paper has for the first
time, a Delta contactor's saw with Unifence, but is also had One B-D saw,
Four Craftsman RAS, Three Craftsman table, and FIVE Shopsmiths.
While I hardly ever see things of real interest, not a week goes by that
does not have Craftsman table saws and Shopsmiths. My guess is that people
buy cheap saws at Sears and never use them, and others see the demo of the
Shopsmith and think it looks like a great hobby and buy one. They get
caught up in the moment and don't really find out what they need or want to
I went the cheap saw route and then decided to stick around and upgraded.
That's too much of an open question with too many variables for anyone,
except by luck, to give you an answer that best suits you. If you are
completely new to woodworking you are not going to have the knowledge to
asses the recommendations.
I'd suggest you make a careful and unbiased survey of the location where you
are going to work. Some of the things to consider is power available,
ventilation, suitability for creating dust and noxious fumes (woodworking is
pretty good at both), actual work space (for assembly) after a work bench
has been put in and the impact of stand alone tools vs. other types, storage
both for stock, tools not being used at the moment, finishing supplies, and
a myriad of other things that generally occupy space in the shop, and of
While you are doing that I'd also suggest a trip to the library for some
books on the basics as well as a trip to the local news stand to get every
magazine on the subject. Subscribe to a couple that you are comfortable with
and order every free catalog you find listed.
Check and see if there are any adult ed classes for woodworking locally and
take one if there is. It's a great way to actually try the tools under
supervision without laying out a lot of cash. If you have a woodworking
store locally drop in, poke around, get to know the staff and ask them
about, and check the phone book for, any local clubs or guilds.
Finally, once you think you have some idea of the basics start small on you
projects and don't buy a tool till you need it, understand why you need it,
and are aware of all the options available to perform the functions of that
tool. There are almost always at least three. Try to challenge yourself a
bit more with each project.
It should be noted that another drawback in off the cuff tool
recommendations is that just about every woodworker I know finds a niche, a
certain type of project that they prefer over others and that niche can
effect emphasis of your tool buying and where the bulk of the tool budget
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.