Shopsmith Mk V #1: First Impressions

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Blog entry by NedB posted 02-27-2010 11:50 PM 7283 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shopsmith Mk V series Part 2: New Year: Looking at integrating the Mark V into my shop... »

A little history, set your wayback machine all the way back to 1974, I went to the mall where my mom worked one weekend, and there was this guy, he had the coolest machine and he was making all this stuff with just that one machine!

that’s my rough approximation of when I first learned about the Shopsmith. I bugged my parents for years following that, I just ‘knew’ that I could so so much really cool stuff if I had one.

Forward to this past summer. My uncle decides he is giving up woodworking and would I like his Shopsmith. Evidently none of his three daughters or their better halfs wanted to take up making sawdust, and he wanted someone who would actually Use it to get it. My father is ‘holding’ it for me until I move to VA (sometime next year hopefully). As near as I can tell it has about 300 hrs of total use on it and is in fine shape:

Uncle Jim had the bandsaw attachment, and my father has added a genuine shopsmith DC to the mix as well from a recent auction.

there it was set up to try my hand at turning on it…

The turning tools Still have their original factory grind, and even their end protectors on them.

Here’s a view of the accessories:

some of the extension tables which also came with it.

I’m looking forward to the drill press and horizontal boring machine, and the bandsaw. Not planning on using it much as a tablesaw, I have a contractor saw already (as well as a bandsaw, but I can set that one up with a resaw blade and have the shopsmith one with a general duty blade for those ‘llittle’ cuts which happen so frequently)

The Lathe… well, I May wind up turning on it, if I can get the adapter to hold a 4 jaw chuck.500rpm is pretty fast still, but I may find that I like it. I tried a little bit of turning when I was visiting at christmas time, just enough to think that my little Midi lathe won’t be leaving anytime soon.

I didnt’ have time to read all of the manuals, but I suspect it could use a good tune-up before I put it to any hard use.

It won’t be the center of my shop, but it is going to be a very welcome addition to the fold, and will be used and passed on when I’m ready to hang up my tools someday.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

13 comments so far

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3788 days

#1 posted 02-28-2010 12:05 AM

Hey! Your uncle is a great guy. What you have is a newer model 510 with the latest type “C” headstock. The bandsaw is also the newer model with the larger table and deluxe fence that locks on both ends. You may want to reconsider using it in saw mode. He has also given you a crosscut sled with it’s auxiliary table. I have found this accessory to be so accurate and useful that I don’t need a miter or chop saw. It does look like you could get a couple of new blades, I’ll recommend the thin kerf 50T combo and 24T rip blades.

Last year I gave a 510 to my nephews out in Denver, and I’m getting a 520 for another nephew in Indianapolis. why not – I like them.

Why don’t you check in with us over at the Shopsmith forum;

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View lou's profile


343 posts in 3470 days

#2 posted 02-28-2010 12:10 AM

Hi Ted.I have the same machine which i bought new in 1985.I to,dont use the table saw either.but have found the other functions of it to be just the right thing when nothing else will work.It still amazes me the uses i find for it.Dont sell it.Youll start to wonder how you did with out it.Enjoy.

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4222 days

#3 posted 02-28-2010 12:32 AM

I’m jealous. From what I see in the pics, it dates to about the mid ‘90’s. It looks like a model 510.
Give the lathe a fair chance. It works great. I think there is a speed reducer option available. I think I’ve seen them on ebay. If you already have a table saw, you might consider leaving the Shopsmith set up as a dedicated dado saw if you use them. It can be real handy that way.

Also, if you haven’t used a horizontal borer, that’s another good default setup. Even the disk sander with it’s movable disk is a great tool. And, you can leave the bandsaw set up on the end the whole time. If you’ve read any of my blurbs here, you’ll know that I’m a bit of a Smith nut, so you are definitely entitled to take any of this with a grain of salt, but I believe you’ll have your best experience with the Shopsmith if you give yourself time to adjust to it.

The nay-sayers will tell you that the conversion time between tools is excessive. (most of them don’t own one, or never got into the right mindset)

I have 4 shopsmiths in my home shop, (see, I’m really a separate tool guy) and I’ve essentially used Smiths all my life. I don’t find the convert time to be an issue. (not because I have 4, but because I’ve gotten efficient & in tune with the machine. Even if I screw up & need to go back & forth a time or two because I forgot to cut or drill a piece, it only takes 30 secs, maybe even a minute. Who hasn’t wasted that much time on a proceedure in the shop?

Take some time to play with it & get to know it. It will help a lot. Lots of times I just roll out a mattress & curl up next to one of mine to sleep at night. (Just kidding…I’m not that nutty)(no, really, I’m not)

Also, it’s probably a good idea to get out the manual & do a complete lube on it before you use it much. They’ll last forever if you keep them well maintained. I know, mine date to: (approx)1952 (2), 1957, and my newest, 1983. So yours should have lots of years left. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to PM me.

Enjoy! -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3990 days

#4 posted 02-28-2010 01:50 AM

I’ve owned 2 and have to say I built some neat projects on them. The table saw is as accurate as anything on the market. With the new type table you can do some great work with one. I miss mine.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3102 days

#5 posted 02-28-2010 01:56 AM

I started with a ShopSmith many years ago and I still have it in my shop despite the fact that I have a stand alone table saw, band saw, jointer, lathe and drill press. I still use the ShopSmith for a number of miscellaneous functions. I use it as a buffing machine and I use the belt sander accessory a lot. I have a big (18 inch) band saw and, like you, I am going to dedicate the big bandsaw to resawing and use the ShopSmith for small cuts with narrow blades. In fact, I just ordered new tires and the Carter Stabilizer for my ShopSmith bandsaw earlier today.

You are right to not use the ShopSmith as a table saw. That is its weakest function.

Nonetheless, ShopSmith is a great tool and it is very well made.

As an FYI, there is a new head coming out shortly that will be available as a retrofit on existing ShopSmiths. It features more power and electronically controlled speed with the ability to go very slow, go in reverse and go very fast (up to 10,000 rpm). If the cost is reasonable, it would be a great enhancement to any ShopSmith. I know I am going to consider it if the price is reasonable.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View PG_Zac's profile


368 posts in 3416 days

#6 posted 02-28-2010 09:48 AM

I wish mine was in this good a condition.

Ah well, soon it will be. Nice gift to receive.

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 3593 days

#7 posted 02-28-2010 06:57 PM

whoops double post, see below

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 3593 days

#8 posted 02-28-2010 07:04 PM

Hi gang, 8, I signed up over next door. did a little exploring, looks like I’ll find help when I need it there. lol

lou, planning on it, when I finally switch zip codes.

planning on giving it a thorough cleaning/update/LOF update and then delve into the manual etc and getting to know how it works.

Couple of things for certain, there will be a benchtop dp for sale sometime… and the sanding disk is going to get a lot of use.

I think one of my issues with the lathe mode is that I was trying to turn a pen, and the blanks were shorter than the tool rest. I checked on and saw that a couple of other tool rests are available. and who knows, I might just try and turn some bigger items!

Thomas, It will take some doing… I’m very much a non-linear thinker… and from what I’ve read so far, SS owners definitely have to plan things out or spend a lot of time setting the machine back up for another operation if they missed something.

Rich, I saw the new head, and that looks quite interesting… too bad they seem to be keeping the range too high though… a chip-controlled motor ought to go all the way down to zero rpm, they seem to have hamstrung it at 1000 rpm still.

Pg your shopsmith reno thread is why I posted this blog. I can’t imagine refitting your machines, but I’m certainly going to follow along as you rebuild them into one good machine.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View reible's profile


34 posts in 3789 days

#9 posted 03-01-2010 01:43 AM


Welcome to the world of shopsmith!

Just a couple of things, setups are no different then any other machine except you have a lot more options with shopsmith and in fact many setups are actually often a lot faster with the shopsmith.

Change over from tool to tool are also very fast… despite what some people think going from table saw to drill press to table saw or any of the other operations is not a big deal. Everything is mounted on arbors, they use an allen wrench or hand turned wing nuts to make things easy. So to do a change from table saw you raise the table, you loose one screw on the guard and one on the blade and off They come. You put the drill chuck on tighten the screw, tilt the table and lift it to vertical, screw in lock to vertical and you have a drill press.

No additional planning required either, no more then you would have other wise with normal woodworking. It is not rocket science just woodworking.

However not everyone who has a shopsmith finds they like them or “get it” but those that do end up loving them. Yea I know I’m one of them.

You might be interested in the speed reducer that is currently sold for lathe work. I own one and it works as expected by slowing the machine down to 100 rpms from the normal 700 at slow. I’ve never found this speed to be an issue, 100 I would think is a good low speed when you look at the size that the lathe can spin. Might also be a lot cheaper then the new powerpro or as a step before getting the new powerpro.

I believe you have added a zero to the powerpro head stocks low speed, it is also 100 not 1000. This is the same as the Teknatool NOVA DVR XP lathe in that respect.


-- Knight of the Shopsmith

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 3593 days

#10 posted 03-01-2010 02:47 AM

Ed, I quoted the 1000 from a photo of the control panel, the range that I saw of the powerpro, admittedly it was a pre-production image on another forum by Nick Engler (oct 7 post)

I see in more recent images that the range is indeed down to 100, at that point a reducer would not be required. I would be very interested in the reducer, however, if it were a significantly lower price than the powerpro, as nice as it would be to go digital. I do have the not so insignificant leg up in that the Powerpro would be the ‘only’ investment (vs buying the MkV And the powerpro).

the low bed height is the larger issue for me, but I see from the forums that raising the entire machine is relatively common. Either way, it will be awhile before I get to use it ‘full time’, as I have a house to prep and sell, and a photo studio to spin up and get rolling before i can move.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View reible's profile


34 posts in 3789 days

#11 posted 03-02-2010 02:24 AM


Just a short follow up here.
The speed reducer is part number 555428 and can be found at:

Another item which I added and is also a major improvement is the universal lathe rest system, part number 555811. It adds 35 pounds and is very versatile for a lot of turning options. That can be found at:

I understand that it will be a while until you get your hands on the machine but it doesn’t hurt to look and see what might be of interest to you, you will have to look online as they no longer ship out catalogs (I miss the catalogs in a big way).

Yes I have seen a lot of posts on raising the height, I’m only 5’8” so I don’t have the same issues you do.

Good luck on the sale of your house… I’ve had two of my kids go through that in this market and it wasn’t pretty to watch and it took time but it did happen.

-- Knight of the Shopsmith

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 3593 days

#12 posted 03-02-2010 03:21 AM

Ed, Those are both reasonable given that they’re upgrading for me to have a better functioning lathe. I just hope that the company does keep its head above water long enough to continue supporting the line. I’ll keep an eye out for the powerpro, so I can start saving up (I’ve got awhile no matter when it comes out).

I like the look of that banjo, it sure does address some of the ‘mobility’ and range issues that I found when I briefly worked on my visit at christmas time.

We’re going to take our time on the house, and we’ve got a year and a half before we even ‘can’ move. I’m hoping to get it on the market by this fall, and then see if we can sell it by the following summer.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4222 days

#13 posted 03-02-2010 04:45 AM

Don’t overlook ebay as a source for your upgrade parts. Most used parts haven’t been used all that much & are built well enough to last longer than you’ll probably need them. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

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