Author Topic: Shopsmith  (Read 10213 times)

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Offline Eli

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« on: November 10, 2007, 06:09 AM »
Anybody have one, use one? Tell me about it, I'm curious.
Do nothing, stay ahead.

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Offline Qwas

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Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2007, 09:24 PM »
My brother owns one that sits in my Mom's garage. He has allowed me to use the jointer but that is the only part of it I've seen running.

My understanding is it is a multi purpose tool with the main frame functioning as 2 or 3 tools and then there are some separate tools. I've seen a lathe, bandsaw, and parts for a shaper. I believe it came out in the 60's as a cheap alternative for the home woodworker.

Offline Steve-CO

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Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2007, 10:32 PM »

Offline bruegf

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  • Michigan
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2007, 10:44 PM »
Here's a machine that is the festool equivalent of the shopsmith.


Offline Corwin

  • Posts: 2644
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2007, 01:23 AM »
I remember Dad having one downstairs -- that was in the late 50's.  He built dressers and desks for the three of us kids.  And a dinning room table.  Also a walnut hutch to match an existing set of furniture.  But most impressive was a 16' runabout that, once completed, had to make it out the back doorway and up the steep bank along the side of the house.

Wounder what he would think of these Festools?


Offline Tinker

  • Posts: 3763
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2007, 06:31 AM »
My brother owns one that sits in my Mom's garage. He has allowed me to use the jointer but that is the only part of it I've seen running.

My understanding is it is a multi purpose tool with the main frame functioning as 2 or 3 tools and then there are some separate tools. I've seen a lathe, bandsaw, and parts for a shaper. I believe it came out in the 60's as a cheap alternative for the home woodworker.

When I came out of HS in 1949, i went to work for my dad.  I liked the work, but I just ain't no city boy, so gave him two weeks notice after first week.  The main power tool in his shop at the time was a ShopSmith. He used it as table saw, sander and drill press.  i have used one a couple of times since.

I like it as a drill press and for horizontal boring.  It also works great as a disc sander.  I have not used one for anything other than what I have mentioned but do not like it at all as a table saw.  It is ok when set up square cut and for single depth for all cuts.  If you have to change height, it is a hastle.  I don't remember ever having to make a beveled cut, but in trying to picture in my head, I don't think it can be done.  I just don't remember that part at all.

Some people, including my father (a perfectionist in the most litteral sense of the word.  He added his own meaning to the word "perfection"), did some fine work using the Shop Smith.  i just do not have that sort of patience over frustrations level required.

Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Loren Woirhaye

  • Posts: 124
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2007, 12:27 PM »
I had one for awhile.

Its great for horizontal boring.  I used it to drill classical guitar bridges...
otherwise a finicky setup, and it worked great.

When setup as a drill press the table tilts towards you, so its really
a better drill for woodworking in many ways.

The machines are precise and the quality is definitely there.  Its
probably a better drill than a lot of the imported presses these
days... but you have to move the drill head or table by hand and
that can take a lot of muscle.  I saw one once with a hydraulic
jack hooked up to it.

As a lathe its just ok.  The length capacity isn't enough to do table
legs.  I think it will turn bowls alright. 

Its accurate as a TS, but a hassle to setup and the table is small.

You can pick these machines up used for $100 and up.  There are
tons of available accessories and they are all pretty well made.

Offline Dave Ronyak

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  • Flyin' from NE Ohio
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2007, 12:26 AM »
I have a Mark V and their jigsaw, and belt sander, and their 11" bandsaw on a separate stand.  Although I have moved to Festool and a General hybrid table saw, I decided to keep the Shopsmith primarily to use as a lathe, drill press, horizontal boring machine and sanding center.  I can set up to run a 12" disk, 6" X 48" belt and a drum simultaneously.  With its 6X48 belt sander and its associated tilting table, I can even "grind" the blades of my planer.  I've had my machine >30 years and built more furniture with it than any other tools.  It does take some fiddling around, but so do my Festools and my router table/JoinTech fence machine system.   I agree with others that it would be a better machine if it were made of stiffer components.

Dave R.
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline Robert Robinson

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  • southern Indiana, U.S.A.
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2008, 10:54 AM »
       I have one too, with a bandsaw attachment, I really like mine because I don't have alot of room. I would not want to set this thing up and use it every single day, it is more of a hobby for me. I don't really care for the table saw,but if I spent the money for outfeed tables it would be a great improvement. I bought a Ryobi table saw then i can use the shopsmith for lathe, or the drill press, which I like those features the best. I made my son a baseball bat on it. I would attach a picture but i can't figure out how to do it. Anyway another complaint is that the cost of the add ons for it. The shopsmith is run by one motor, so you would think that to add a planer or a jointer would be cheaper since by comparison to buy a dewalt planer it is a whole unit with an additional motor, but a shopsmith planer is about $450-$500, and you already own the motor that runs it.
TS-55, FS-KS angle unit, 55 inch guide rail, Domino (pin style), 3 Domino systainer assortments(one sipo set),Multi-position Guide Stop 20, Domiplate , PSB-300, FOGtainer 4, CXS set

Offline dheisner

  • Posts: 18
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2008, 02:05 PM »
I had one for 5 years.  The 12" disc sander was outstanding.  The drill press and horizontal borer were pretty decent.  The lathe was OK.  The quality of the lathe or the drill press don't compare to standalone machines, IMHO.

The table saw TOTALLY SUCKS.  The problem with the whole setup is that the table moves instead of the blade moving.  If you have to make a slight adjustment, its a real pain in the back side.  Bevels are almost impossible to do.  The table tilts instead of the blade, so you have to hold your boards at an angle while your run them thorugh.  This means that you are extremely limited on the width of the board you can do a bevel on because the fence can only go so far away from the blade on the main table.  I designed a prayer box with a beveled front and had to redesign the box because the maximum width I could cut on a ShopSmith was narrower than the width of the board I needed.  It still turned out OK, but it was not a problem I would not have had with any table saw in which the blade tilts instead of the table.

You have to plan out your project better than you would in a normal shop otherwise you spend all of your time going from one setup to another.  That isn't all bad because it makes you put more forethought into the project. 

A Shopsmith is better than no tools at all, but I certainly wouldn't buy a new one for what they ask for them.  If you are very limited on space, they make sense and you can always find them cheap on eBay.

My two cents.

Brought to you from UCLA (Upper Corner of Lower Alabama).

Offline Dave Ronyak

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  • Flyin' from NE Ohio
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2008, 05:15 PM »
I agree with much of Danny's comments and somewhat disagree with others.  With Festool operations that involve the MFT, you also have to be thinking logically step by step, and if you have to redo something, you also have to take the time to change back to a former setup.  Recently I wanted to make five large drawers (~24" front to back and ~33" wide), and due to the design of the HD (250 lb rated) slide and the large storage unit (7 ft high) into which those drawers were to be fitted, the overall width dimension of the drawers had to be exact within 1/32 inch for everything to work correctly.  Because I planned to store paints, tools and auto parts in/on these drawers, I wanted them to be very strong.  So I wanted dovetailed or some other interlocking joint, and the 3/4" birch ply bottoms to be full perimeter T&G joints.  Again, the dimensions of the drawer frame pieces and ply bottoms had to be very exact.  As you may know, it can take a bit of fiddling when setting up a lock joint bit or dovetail bit in your router table, and this was my first time trying to use a JoinTech setup (without any setup gauge blocks).  I only had 3 pieces of cutoff stock to use for setup, and obviously, once I cut the actual drawer frame pieces to length for making the joints, I would either get them right or have to buy and prepare new stock.  As a result of my inexperience with these router bits and the JoinTech system (similar to Incra), I had to repeatedly go back to my MFT/TS 55 setup to carefully cutoff the ends of my setup stock then go to the router setup.   In sum, unless you have more than one MFT, and / or you are more skilled and lucky than me, you are likely to have to go back and forth between various Festool setups when making a project such as the one I just finished.  With the help of my wife, I installed all 5 drawers last evening and to my surprise and deligh, all work quite well (thanks to Festool, Woodpecker's and JoinTech precision).  After tinkering with my router/JoinTech setup, I proceeded to use half-blind dovetail joints at all corners of the drawer frames. 

If you can afford the cost and the space, having 2 or more MFTs is a big plus because you minimize the need to tear down one setup to build another.  For example, you can keep one MFT ready to go with your saw, and another for routing or use of Domino or assembly, and if you mess up a component during a subsequent operation, you can prepare another piece of stock much more quickly and with less risk of loss of accuracy.

I suspect that after Festool releases its replacement for the current MFTs I'll be in the market to acquire one of more of the "obsolete" units.

And I will keep my Shopsmith.  When using it as a lathe, due to its rather light construction, it is especially important to have sharp tools and to frequently and properly adjust the tool rest, and it the work is long, e.g. a baseball bat, to provide support of the workpiece near to the point of tool application to reduce flexure and dampen any vibration.

Dave R.
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline WRWoodworker

  • Posts: 8
Re: Shopsmith
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2008, 04:34 PM »
I got the second model produced from my FIL 10 yrs. ago.  He got it when he returned from Korea in the 50's.  I use it for my drill press, disk and drum sanders.  I also put a grind stone on it for shaping chisels and plane blades.  I haven't used the lathe yet, but hope to some day. It weighs a ton, but runs great.  I wouldn't go out an buy one but I also wouldn't give mine up.  I used the 50's era 4" jointer for a while until some of the cast aluminum parts gave out, with no chance of replacement.  I had to buy a new jointer.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 04:35 PM by WRWoodworker »