Reply by SST

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Posted on Question about ShopSmith

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790 posts in 4222 days

#1 posted 09-29-2009 06:54 PM

I was only going to put in my 2 cents worth, but Perhaps you’ll indulge me a couple of more cents. I don’t have a very big shop, so huge separate tools aren’t an option, but, that said, I have 3 active shopsmiths in my shop. They take the space of, perhaps, 3 separate tools, but because they are convertable, I get 10 or 12 separate tools worth of versatility in that space. Yes, I could have all those with only one shopsmith, I’ve got room for 3 & they’re all old & consequently very inexpensive, so why not cut the change over time a bit. I keep one older 10er as a high speed machine, table saw (mostly w/ dado blade set up) & shaper. Another 10er for lower speed use defaults to drill press & lathe & disc & drum sander. The 3rd machine is an early Mk 5 (about 1957) that I added another headstock to and, while I give up the vertical functions, I use both ends for accessory tools like the bandsaw , belt sander & jig saw, and the middle a table saw & disc sander.
I’m still fooling around with this set up for the best options, but it’s fun for me, so what the heck.

That was a long ways to go to get to the point that I was going to make…oh well. Here it is. While everyone including many shopsmith owners seem to agree that the table saw is the weak link in the tool chain because of it’s tilt table design instead of tilt arbor, I believe that, for the most part, it’s an overstated objection. Here’s why I feel this way. I grew up learning power tool use on my dad’s (now mine) shopsmith, so I never noticed a problem, as it was just a fact of shop life for me. I later had a Craftsman tilt arbor table saw & saw the other side of the coin, so I’ve had it both ways.

Here’s what I noticed & why I don’t have a problem with the tilt table system. In all the considerable projects I’ve done in my woodworking life, only a very small percentage of them involved miter cuts…yeah, there’s been some, but not all that many, and when they did, I simple tilted the table & cut them. What’s the big deal, here? Yes, I know that with the board at an angle, you’re limited in board length by the ceiling & floor of your shop, so if you do a lot of miter cuts on boards longer than about 8’ you need to roll it outside or have a tall ceiling, but in all my years of use, I can’t remember this being an issue, I mean really, how many of these cuts do we really make? (conference tables…long benches, pews?) The tables, bookshelves, cabinets, hutches, jewelery boxes, etc that I’ve made just aren’t that big.

Oh well, that was waaaay more than 2 more cents worth. Just the ramblings of a woodworker who’s hooked on the tool system that he uses. I guess it’s a good thing to be passionate about the stuff. It makes life fun.

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

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