Shopsmith Restoration #1: An offer I couldn't refuse

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Blog entry by PG_Zac posted 02-10-2010 12:40 AM 4970 reads 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shopsmith Restoration series Part 2: The Treasure Trove »

So yesterday I was up in a tree I am felling for and with my step-dad (I keep the wood) when he asked if I had done any turning. I said no because I don’t have a lathe, but that I would like one. He looked up at me and asked if I’d like one.

Well I know he has a workshop, but it is mostly for metal working and his lathe is a large metal lathe, so I thought he was kidding. Anyway, after we cleaned our mess up at the end of the work day, he took me to his open-sided store area under the garage and showed me what looked like a Shopsmith, but there was no name plate I could see. Further back in the store was a second one, but this one has the Shopsmith logo on the control dial. He thought at least one of them still had a working motor, so he plugged one in and switched it on. I was gobsmacked when the motor sprang to life. The motor sounded smooth – no scraping or rattling, no wheezing or staining – the bearings sound like new and the main spindle turns easily by hand as if it had been recently overhauled and lubricated.

He’d picked them both up for a song a few years ago with the idea of building one good machine out of two, but never got around to it. Since then the machines have been sitting in a fairly exposed area deteriorating further. He doesn’t think he’ll get to restoring and using them, so he reckons someone who will respect and use them well should have them for free.

I’ll probably collect the machines some time this month and will blog the restoration process and the first project. I know there will be a ton of work to do as these machines look like they belong on a scrap heap, but I’m sure it will be an interesting and rewarding journey. Like my wife said, felling a tree is hard work but the pay is good.


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

12 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3329 days

#1 posted 02-10-2010 01:29 AM

great score…nice of him to do that for ya…hopefully it wont be to bad and you get one running good..then it will be time to turn your first project…it should be something made form some exotic …have fun..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117120 posts in 3603 days

#2 posted 02-10-2010 01:36 AM

That’s what I think folks should do with things they don’t use. Like routers LOL

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View PineInTheAsh's profile


404 posts in 3294 days

#3 posted 02-10-2010 01:43 AM

PG Zac,

I can’t remember the last time I was ‘gobsmacked.’

Good luck with the Shopsmiths. They continue to enjoy a healthy following.


View Ray's profile


86 posts in 4297 days

#4 posted 02-10-2010 01:59 AM

I dod a freind a big favor and he gave me his Shopsmith but it was about 30 years old and really made a lot of noise. Since it dodn’t cost me anything I was able to pack up the main unit and put it on a bus to Ohio and had it rebuilt and all the new stuff was installed on it for about $100 at that time. Still have it in my shop and use it for spcific things.

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 3804 days

#5 posted 02-10-2010 02:03 AM

There is a free video series by Nick Engler on the Shopsmith (forum) site where he takes a unit out of a scrap heap and makes it look new. Lots of tips and things that should make the process go faster.

Shopsmith will do it but it costs a lot more that $100 today.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

View HallTree's profile


5664 posts in 3793 days

#6 posted 02-10-2010 03:14 AM

Take some photo’s and keep us up-to-date on your progress.

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View westside's profile


77 posts in 3141 days

#7 posted 02-10-2010 03:35 AM

Great story, looking forward to the pics! Keep us updated.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3100 days

#8 posted 02-10-2010 03:37 AM

Go to ShopSmith forums ( ) to learn a lot about shopsmiths and how to restore them.

I started with ShopSmith many years ago and I still have that machine in my shop. I now have more space and I have acquired a pretty good collection of stand alone tools, but I still want to keep my shopsmith. I use it for a number of secondary functions (buffing, horizontal boring, belt sander attachment, and others). It’s a reasonably good (but not great) lathe. If using it as a lathe is your primary objective, weight it down a lot and/or bolt it to the floor and get the heavy duty universal tool rest. I’m always impressed with the quality of the engineering in a shopsmith. It’s a unique machine that can be adapted to perform a number of functions in a way that you cannot do with other machines.

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

View Greg Elam's profile

Greg Elam

29 posts in 3066 days

#9 posted 02-10-2010 04:05 AM

Thats great PG! Sounds like a pretty good reward for your efforts.
Great story, let us know how the rebuild goes.

Does anyone have a tree to cut down for say…. a shaper that needs buffing and paint? Worth a shot I guess


-- Greg Elam - Berea, Kentucky

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3787 days

#10 posted 02-10-2010 04:18 AM

As Rich said, there’s a lot of good information and advice about restoring old Shopsmiths on the shopsmith forum. Nick Engler’s DVD’s would be a real plus;

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View PG_Zac's profile


368 posts in 3415 days

#11 posted 02-10-2010 09:55 AM

Thanks for all the pointers Guys.

I will definitely be blogging the restoration progress with lots of pictures.

Stay tuned to this space, but don’t hold your breath for the first episode as I’ll only start it in a couple of weeks, and it won’t be on the top of my priority list.


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

View Joe Kimmell's profile

Joe Kimmell

32 posts in 3180 days

#12 posted 02-10-2010 05:46 PM

You are gonna love it, Zac! I always wanted a 10ER and found one 3 years ago at a steam engine show flea market for $150. It’s a 1953, and is my most treasured stationary tool. I bought it intending it as a dedicated lathe, but I use it for so much more the longer I have it. It was so well cared for I kinda got a bit aroused just looking at it…...The only thing I had to do was clean up the rust on the way tubes.
It’s my grinder, boring tool, and lathe…..One of the things I absolutely love it for is cutting dados. It takes, literally 2 minutes to set up, and I don’t have to putz with blade changing on my table saw.

I suggest you get a a ball bearing live center right off the bat. You’re gonna be looking for a Morse taper (probably a #2MT).....I found a good one for about $30 at the Rockler store, but Highland has them starting around $16.

There’s a guy in Texas named “Skip” who maintains a Yahoo Group called “Shopsmith 10ER Users Group”. You might wanna check it out. He is , as far as I’m concerned, THE leading authority on the 10E & ER….and machines replacement parts, and speed changers.

Good luck and “Happy Shopsmithing”! ~ Joe

-- Beer and Bandsaws just don't mix. Take my word for it!

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