I stumbled across a place on the web where someone was asking about the merits of the Shopsmith vs getting separate tools & realized that it’s been a while since I blogged about that here on Lumberjocks, and while that in itself would not have prompted me to open this tool box again, when coupled with the event I’ll describe here, it was just enough to throw me over the edge & down that particular slippery slope.
I’m just finally finishing up my son’s Christmas present project (yes, I know it’s a bit late…turned out to be much more involved than I anticipated & no, the lateness was not caused by the change over time between tools on the shopsmith) and got to looking back on all that was involved.
First, let me describe my setup so you can get a picture of what my shop is like. (I’m intending to actually post updated pics of my shop as soon as I can get it cleaned up)
I now have 2-1952 vintage Shopsmith 10er’s, one set up as a dedicated dado saw (VERY handy not to have to change to a dado blade & back). The second is set up in disk sander mode & also used as the lathe.
I have a 1983 fullsize Smith used mostly to run the bandsaw & scrollsaw and for horizontal boring, drill press mode, and as a shaper & drum sander.
I have a 1957 “shortie” (tubes cut down to 34” to save space) that is dedicated as a tablesaw & jointer.
Now I know that somebody might be thinking, where’s the logic in having lots of Shopsmiths…where’s the space savings of a combination tool, you may just as well have separate tools. OK, I get that…but there’s a couple of things to consider, here. First, I’m “Shopsmithtom”, remember??? That ought to tell you that I’m an admitted Shopsmith junkie. That said (and I don’t expect a lot of you to understand, just remember, it’s my world & I’m the only one who has to live in it), there’s a real logical reason to have several Shopsmiths.
In my basement shop which is roughly 15’ x 18’, along with 2 workbenches, I have;
1) dado tablesaw
4) 12” disk sander
5) horizontal borer
6) drill press
7) drum sander
9) scroll saw
12) overhead plunge router
13) mortising machine
All these tools are on mobile bases (very handy in a small shop)
With 4 units, the change over time that people who have never done it seem to feel is oppressive, but actually averaging 15- 60 seconds per tool, is minimized because there are 4 tools set up at any given time.
OK, the description of my shop has gone on long enough. It’s time to get back to my original point.
Just finishing up a substantial project (that I’ll post as soon as the finish is dry & rubbed out) I looked back on all the things I did including mortise & tenon & dado joinery & realized that I lack for nothing in my little shop.
I’ve done every process necessary to be able to build virtually any piece of furniture.
Even (and this is the thing that actually got me writing about all this stuff again) the much maligned Shopsmith tablesaw was up to the task. My (underpowered at 3/4hp, so they say) machine ripped 1 3/4” oak just fine, the table extensions provided adequate support for my work, and in all this time I never had to make a miter cut which seems to be an issue with non smithers. How many do we really make, after all. I never had to actually tilt the table.
My point, if anyone is still awake, I think everyone should have separate power tools…separate Shopsmiths
-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you