|Review by bkhop||posted 05-08-2008 04:29 PM||13604 views||1 time favorited||26 comments|
Here’s my review of the Shopsmith Mark V in drill press “mode”. I am convinced it is one of the only truly designed-for-woodworking drill presses on the market. Go take a look at drill presses on the market today… they’re all equipped with a beautiful dinner plate sized table. -Which isn’t worth beans for woodworking… want proof? How many guys have built their own “aftermarket” table to fix the problem? How many places offer pre-built drill press table kits as “upgrades”? Original equipment on most every drill press I’ve seen has very little surface area, no fence, etc. Keep in mind, then, everything in this review is STANDARD equipment with the Shopsmith Mark V unless specifically mentioned otherwise.
some of the pic’s show better detail if you clicK into them
Let’s start with the table.
The first thing that should be mentioned is that the table is on two posts – not one, like any other drill press. The table in the picture is the Mark V Model 520 table. It measures 17 1 1/2” x 22” – now that’s a decent size for a drill press table! The table, as part of the Shopsmith “system”, indexes frontward and backward (this would be the “up/down” travel in the tablesaw mode.)
This is very helpful, as you can imagine. Coupled, then, with the fence, you’ve got an unbeatable system, right from the get-go. (Now, what I’ve got in my photos is a Model 520, remember, which is different than some of the older models. With the T-tracks in my fence… one on either ‘face’, two on top… I can use all sorts of jigs, hold-downs, etc. Super handy.)
What you see in the track on the top of the fence in several photos is a pair of “stops” - these are additional accessories. BUT – back to the table! The table travels backward and forward, and for the really fine adjustments, a collar is available as an optional accessory. (In the photos, you will see I have added a vernier tape to mine – this allows me to dial in a 1/128” frontward/backward adjustment.) How’s that for accuracy?
The table also tilts – want to drill a pocket hole? Knock yourself out. (Yes, the Kreg jig has its place, but the Shopsmith can do some of those operations a whole lot quicker and with more accuracy.) Want to drill into the side of a dowel? Same operation – you’re making a “V” block with the fence/table.
Depth stop is built right in – dial the depth what you want, lock it; just a quick spin of the depth stop. Depth stop up to 4 1/4”.
And, finally, one of the things that is almost overlooked because it is so “central” to the whole Shopsmith system is the variable speed. Just dial in the correct speed for the bits you are using.
No more belt/pulley systems to have to change out – or, in many cases, try to “make-do” with whatever setting you’re on just so you don’t have to mess with the belts and pulleys. Now you can actually use the bits the way they’re intended to be used… easily. Dial down to 700 RPMs – if you need even slower speeds for, say, a clock face (those really big forstners!) you can get an optional speed-reducer accessory (I don’t have mine in the pictures) that’ll get you down to 100 RPMs!!
With all of this said, you could also use the Mark V as a drill press in the horizontal mode. This would be what is called, oddly enough, a horizontal drill press! You’re not likely to see too many horizontal drill presses in smaller workshops because they are a one-trick pony of sorts and the space (and cost) requirements just wouldn’t merit having one. Well, on the Mark V, you get a horizontal drill press. (I cringe when I think about some of the pretty scary setups folks have come up with trying to drill into the end of a post – think bunk bed posts, as an example). No problem on the Shopsmith… just lay the machine down horizontally and you’re in business with a height-adjustable table, miter gauge, etc. The miter gauge locks into the miter slot at any location and becomes your “fence” like in this picture:
-This, by the way, is how I drill all of the pens I turn on the lathe.
So, there you have it. My review of the Shopsmith Mark V drill press. I think it is one of the best out there – though it’ll never get reviewed by a magazine doing an honest review of drill presses. I have my guesses as to why.
-Oh, and being USA designed and USA built ain’t too shabby either.
-- † Hops †