Question about ShopSmith

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Forum topic by CoolDavion posted 09-05-2009 05:26 AM 4853 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 3789 days

09-05-2009 05:26 AM

A couple questions for the ShopSmith users/owners.

I’ve been looking at Craig’s List and there are a few ShopSmiths for sale.

I understand that the basics of the machine are saw, lathe, drill press. I’ve also found that there are several different attachments/add-on tools. My question comes down to the additional tools. Are the tools interchangeable on any model, or would one need to get the tools that match the model?

Thanks in advance.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

11 replies so far

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434 posts in 3789 days

#1 posted 09-10-2009 02:11 AM

Just a bump, I posted this late at night.
I’m hoping for some advise from those who know more before I convince the wife that I need a new machine.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3957 days

#2 posted 09-10-2009 02:17 AM

i have found that most of the add ons are useless for me but i have the room for full size machines like i have a jointer not the add on my shop smith was purchased becuz it was one tool that would preform many functions that i didn’t do allot like lath and horizontal boring. but from what i know all the parts are interchangeable unless you get into their very old machines

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View mandmj's profile


7 posts in 3150 days

#3 posted 09-10-2009 07:49 PM

I recently sold a substantial shopsmith setup after using it for about a year. It can produce fine work, if you have the patience and the time for the setup. I sold mine due to time restraints. When I go to the shop, I want to work for whatever time I have (sometimes only 30min), not worry about setting every thing up to make a cut, and then be out of time. For what I sold my setup for, I bought a Ridgid TS (far superior to the shopsmith), Drill press, sander, 2 freud blades, and paid for half of the RAS I now have. Even in the tight space I’m in (one car garage basically) these multiple tools are much less frustrating to use and more effecient. Most of the prices on CL seem high to me, considering what you can pick up dedicated machines for. W/ the sale at home depot on currently, you should be able to get the 4511 table saw, DP, Oscillating sander, and a bandsaw for about 1100-1200, which is better deal to me…

Just my .02

View oldwoodman's profile


137 posts in 3363 days

#4 posted 09-12-2009 01:37 AM

Shopsmith has several models of its Mark 5 Shopsmith. There is the Model 500, 510, 520, and maybe a newer model as well. Most of the standard parts for a Mark 5 Shopsmith are interchangeable. However, some items are made for certain models. I know, for instance, that some of the “non-standard” tables are made for certain models and will not fit other models.

I have a 1982 Shopsmith that I use as a lathe. However, within its design limitations, it can function quite nicely as a table saw, drill press, etc. It just depends on how comfortable you are with its limitations. My grandfather and my dad built all of their kitchen and bathroom cabinets with a Shopsmith.

I bought my Shopsmith for $250 and it came with a boatload of accessories. The owner just wanted to get rid of it. I find it a very well-built tool that will serve me well for many years.

Hope this helps you make a decision.

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3148 days

#5 posted 09-12-2009 05:01 PM

Shop smith is a good tool with limitations as have been stated above. Pay close attention to the set screws and make sure they are dead center, the one I owned had set screws machined at an angle for the lathe attachments and whenever I tightened the set screws it would rack the fixture. I returned it for that reason.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4160 days

#6 posted 09-28-2009 10:37 PM

I just came across this thread, and while you may have already made a decision, I’ll put in my 2cents worth. Most, if not all the major accessory tools like the bandsaw, jointer belt sander, will fit all the MK5’s. There are a few accessories that only fit the older(pre about 1954) model 10er, but these aren’t very common. I own several Smiths, so I’m biased…and I’d like to think with good reason, but I find after using the machines since I was a kid with my dad’s 1952 machine, that the change over time objection seems to be highly overstated and mostly by those who have never owned a Shopsmith. Yes, there is an occasional former owner who never did get the hang of it, and that’s to be expected, but if you look at the sales numbers and longevity of the tool that is basically unchanged except for subtle improvements & upgrades, it was at one time & probably still is the largest selling woodworking power tool of all time. 4 of my 5 machines predate 1957, so that tells you something about the quality, too. So there, I love ‘em, I’m biased, & I’ve said my peace. If you have any detailed or specific questions about them, feel free to PM me. -SST

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

View rick20's profile


1 post in 3168 days

#7 posted 09-28-2009 10:56 PM

OK, I’m another biased Shopsmith owner (MKV and Sawsmith 2000). Change over has never been an issue for me, I’ve tried to think my projects through and work in a logical order so I don’t have to change things around too much. Alot has been said about accuracy with the Shopsmith as well, I find it to be as accurate as you align it to be. There’s a lot to be said about a product that has been around for as long as the MKV has been with most parts still interchaingable. They’re built to last.

-- Rick, Jax FL

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Sam Butler

8 posts in 3306 days

#8 posted 09-28-2009 11:20 PM

I have owned a couple of Mark Vs and I still use two. One I dedicate to a vertical drill press. The other remains mostly horizontal and I use it as a lathe, horizontal boring, and disc sanding. Years ago I used a SS for everything but I found the table saw lacking. If I was starting a new shop I would not pass up a cheap SS but I would look to buy a dedicated table saw and jointer

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3394 days

#9 posted 09-29-2009 02:34 PM

I am a long time Shopsmith user and I believe in the machine but only if it is the right environment. As a 5 in 1 tool, it is not a tool designed for production work. Its’ strong point is that it allows for a full function shop in a small space.

If you have adequate shop space for stand alone tools (table saw, jointer, drill press, surface planer, belt sander, disk sander,router table, horizontal boring machine, scroll saw, band saw) then you probably don’t want a Mark V. If you don’t have that sort of space, you can still have a full function wood shop in the tiny confines of your two car garage and still have room for a good size work bench and a wall full of storage cabinets or peg board for tools.

Shopsmith tools are well engineered quality products. The fact that there are so many still in service that were built in the early 50s speaks for that. Furthermore, you can still buy parts for nearly all of those older machines.

I would love to have space for a big professional table saw sitting right smack in the middle of my shop but I don’t. Until the garage doubles or triples in size, I will just be content making saw dust with my Shopsmith Mark V Model 520.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4160 days

#10 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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1580 posts in 3726 days

#11 posted 10-04-2009 03:21 AM

Down in Gainesville I must work in 1/2 of a two car garage, 225 sq feet to be exact. My Shopsmith excells in this type of environment. Frankly, I don’t see how someone could possibly put separate tools that perform Shopsmith’s functions in this tight of a space. Shopsmith’s “change overs” are quickly performed, usually the only tool required is a 5/32” allen wrench. If you want to use separate tools in 225 sq ft you will spend just as much time shoving machines around.

In my limited space, the Shopsmith system gives me a 10” table saw, a drill press that can also drill horizontally, a 6” bandsaw, a 4” jointer, a 12” planer, a 21” scroll saw, a 12” disk sander, a 12” conical disk sander (try to find this anywhere else), a drum sander, a shaper and a molder, a 16” lathe, a one micron dust collector, and the list goes on, including many high precision accessories from Incra and Kreg. Don’t be so quick to put this tool down. Being made in the USA isn’t so bad either.

In fact. Keep your eye on Shopsmith. they are planing to introduce their new “Power Pro” headstock with a new type of high tech motor that will “knock the socks off” any tool from Lowes, Home depot, ect.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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