5 in 1 machine - looking for a good deal in colorado

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Forum topic by Weth posted 04-16-2011 08:58 PM 3734 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Weth's profile


57 posts in 2621 days

04-16-2011 08:58 PM

I work at a wood shop as an engineer. I know how to build the product we make but I cannot actually do it. I have started wood working as a hobby based on getting scraps from the trash and building boxes and such.

My desire is it build furniture. I have a bedroom set in mind. I am VERY far from my dream in both abilities and equipment.

Right now my shop consists of the following
Harbor Freight $100 table saw
Craftsman router table
A borrowed Rockler router table
A Harbor Freight miter saw
A Harbor Freight scroll saw
A few hand tools

The nice thing is I have only junk. However, the work I have done so far is quite nice. I have spent a great deal of time making the most of what I have.

I would like eventually to find a great deal on a combination machine. I a put the links of all the combination 5 in 1 machines that I know of. I have seen videos on the web sites that make me droll on how accurate and versatile these machines can be. My shop right now is one bay in my garage and the scrap lumber takes up a good deal of this space.

My Questions Are…
What are these machine Gotcha’s?
Where can I find the best deal on these little beauties?
Does any one have any success stories and pictures?
Did I miss any manufacturers?
Is the ShopSmith difficult to set up and get square as it looks?
I can buy and afford a $600 shop smith right now. But the only thing I would be adding is a lathe. Is $600 a good deal?
Should I buy a shop smith until I figure out if a 5 in 1 would be worth it?
How do you justify a 5 in 1 purchase?
I would be willing to purchase a 5 in 1 now if I found out a year later that wood working as a hobby was not right for me. How can I hedge my bet with a purchase?

I live in Denver, Colorado. So any location specific advice would be appreciated.

Platinum & Knapp
Shop Smith

I have also included all these links for future people who would like to buy one.

-- Weth

19 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3670 days

#1 posted 04-16-2011 10:22 PM

“What are these machine Gotcha’s?”

Difficult with some dealers to get problems resolved. I had a Robland
jointer/planer and the machine, while powerful, lacked refinement
in terms of fit and finish. The marketing of these machines makes
them look perfect but they aren’t. They are complex machines
built in small numbers and quality control does vary. The more costly
brands are probably more satisfactory in general.

Resale value is about 1/2 retail, so if you buy the machine new on credit
and want to sell it later, be prepared to lose.

“Where can I find the best deal on these little beauties?”

Be patient and watch what comes up for sale on the used market.

Have hot cash in hand.

“I can buy and afford a $600 shop smith right now. But the only thing I would be adding is a lathe. Is $600 a good deal?”

Not for the core machine, in my opinion. That doesn’t make the machine
a bad tool. The market is just flooded with used ones, which drives
prices down.

“Is the ShopSmith difficult to set up and get square as it looks?”

It is not hard to get them square. Switching functions takes time because a lot
of parts have to be removed and others attached. The Euro machines have
much more parts that just get out of the way quickly while remaining attached
to the machine.

ShopSmith makes a high quality product. The problems with it have to do
with design compromises. A long term practice of hard-selling the machines
at county fairs have contributed to an enormous gap between the retail
price of the machines and their resale value.

View Weth's profile


57 posts in 2621 days

#2 posted 04-18-2011 07:19 PM

Thanks for the tips. Very helpful. I always wondered why the ShopSmith had such a low resale value. I can wait forever until I purchase. My current set of tools will do everything I want. The more I use them, the more I understand what I need and will use.

I purchased over the week end a Delta Band saw for $50. it is a 28-560. The table is not flat, it needs a thrust bearing, new tire set, a table insert, some guide blocks and, new blades. But it is very nice. I got it working for around $20 and it cuts very straight with little drift. The next time I buy I would have been able to get the machine for $25 because of all the repairs. Once, I get everything I will be in for about $100 which is quite the deal for this saw.

I really like the idea of the MiniMax 5 in 1 combination type of machines. We have high end equipment at work and I can see how these all in one’s are really compatible and some ways better for the one man shop.

Anyone have one in Denver?


-- Weth

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2983 days

#3 posted 04-18-2011 07:49 PM

i have a Robland combined, but in two parts, the NXTZ with a 2500mm slider and the XSD. i am verry happy with both, you don’t get as much features and quality for that price with any other european made brand. though i should have taken the larger jointer/shaper.
i work in school with a MiniMax shaper and panel saw, solid tools but with each machine there are lots of buttons around the start button that cause confusion. like the magnetic brake switch is right next to the start switch on the shaper. you usualy turn the brake switch when your hand is holding the tool, if you should switch the wrong button…

View jpcummings's profile


2 posts in 2620 days

#4 posted 04-20-2011 02:02 AM

I have also been looking for a 5 in 1 combination but really think I am going to go this direction. More flexibility and more features for about the same price. Takes up about the same amount of space. If and when I feel to scale down or up in the woodworking having these machines would give me more options. Keep one and sell the other ….. or whatever

Click on the link:

This is the best set of machines for the price at the moment. Believe me I have done enough homework for us both.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3783 days

#5 posted 04-20-2011 02:27 AM

I’ve been using a Shopsmith since 1983. In the typical 1/2 garage space of around 200 sq ft the Shopsmith delivers more performance and features than any assortment of smaller woodworking machines. Another nice plus is the company itself, customer support is superb.

Let’s take exception to the belief that change-overs are time consuming. The only tool required is a long 5/32 allen wrench. I can easily go from saw to drill press in two minutes or less, sipping coffee in the process. The machine can be alligned with precision, again, Shopsmith offers video clips free on-line or in DVD’s that you can purchase, that offer all the information that you need.

A used Shopsmith can be an excellent buy, but you need to be aware of the different models that have been produced in the last 60 years. In the mid 60’s Shopsmith came out with the MKV 500 and I would hesitate to recommend the earlier models. The 500’s are the cheapest on the used market. A much better choice would be the model 510 or 520, which features a larger table surface and a fence that locks front and rear.

Check out the Shopsmith forum and be sure to ask questions. You will get all the information that you need.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2690 days

#6 posted 04-20-2011 03:52 AM

You may want fix your links,as most are broken.
If you are doing nice work with this list of tools, you definitely have talent.
So hang in there buddy.
You want to share some of those offcuts you are dragging home ?

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View cabmaker's profile


1735 posts in 2831 days

#7 posted 04-20-2011 04:38 AM

Weth, You made a very wise,NO EXREMLY WISE statement: The more you use what you have the more you understand what you need. After reading your anticapated uses you may very well be a prime candidate for a quality combo machine. Especially with space restrictions and no apparent time lines on your projects. I personally have miniumum experiance with combos but one would not suit my needs at all. I did have one planer/jointer unit about thirty years ago. It was a euro( I ll never do that again). For me its gotta be big and mean.and the combos I have seen just wont do it. They have however stepped up to the plate on being more user friendly the past ten years or so. Oh and no offense to anyone intended, but about the shopsmith thing (forget it ). Good luck and wish you great success with yur plight JB

View 308Gap's profile


337 posts in 3025 days

#8 posted 04-20-2011 05:23 AM

Keep watching craigslist and other sale sites, woodcraft near my house has a yard sale all the time. I just got done calling on a grizzly G0555x band saw that was like new for 300.00, he sold it in 5 minutes flat. Its kinda sad but in this economy tools get sold all the time now. I see ads all the time now for entire cabinet shops. As for the shop smith thing, dont rush and take your time. I saw a article with a work bench on wheels with a small saw and router table in it. ps. If my wifes mustang cant get in the garage the tools get wheeled out, we all need more space.

-- Thank You Veterans!

View emart's profile


445 posts in 2650 days

#9 posted 04-20-2011 05:52 AM

honestly i think shopsmith machines arent as nice as they seem. even thought my shop is tiny i have seperate machines (i just own the junior models instead of the big ones) right now i have a jointer, bandsaw, benchtop drill press, combination sander, and my radial arm saw. i prefer it this way because my shop space doesnt allow me to have one giant machine that does everything. right now everything is set up so i can just wheel over the machine i need and then store it when i dont.

yeah watch craigslist and dont give up i thinm i spent $500 for all the main machines in my shop due to good deals on craigslist and the habitat for humanity store

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3969 days

#10 posted 04-20-2011 07:30 AM

In the 50s I started school shop in the 7th grade. It was the 1st class for my teacher just out of LSU. Shopsmith was in the process of introducing the Mark V. Thay had filled a room at LSU ant turned those future shop teachers loose. My teacher thought it was better than sliced bread. From that point I’ve been around, owned, repaired and served as a mentor for Shopsmith for the past 60 years or so.

1. For God’s sake don’t buy a new one. I have a presentation coming up on Shopsmith and I ran the numbers. You can fill a shop with stand-alone tools for less than a new Shopsmith. You can’t however put those stand-alones in a 2 X 6 ft. space and a Shopsmith will fit very well.

2. There are many Shopsmith clones out there the worse being a TotalShop. I owned and worked on one of these machines it is not well made.

3. Most change-overs are simple. To go from a disk sander to table saw is about 45 seconds. to go from a saw to the shaper with fence is about an hour. What this means is you start preplanning your operations to have fewer changovers.

4. I have been asked many times. Ok! It’s 5 machines what machine performs the worse? The table saw. When the original Shopsmith was engineered most table saws were tilting table. Also at that time (the 50s) plywood was the way to build everything. The SS was built to handle a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood. It will still do this, but when you start making compound cuts with the saw table tilted it can pose problems. The disk sander, drill press and horizontal drill press work fine. The standard tool rest for the lathe leaves something to be desired. The heavy add on tool rest makes a fine lathe indeed.

If you’re still interested go to that is the Shopsmith users group and there’s always machines for sale. The going price for a basic machine is around $500.00. A little note here. The deal when buying a new machine over many years was to give you one accessory machine free. Almost everyone picked the bandsaw. It was the most expensive. Most used machines have one. This puts the price around $600.00.

Good luck.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Weth's profile


57 posts in 2621 days

#11 posted 04-20-2011 05:40 PM

Jpcummings is right the hammer is a very nice machine. I have seen all the videos of all the machine talking about what the machine can do. The Hammer machine shows you. They make a rocking chair from a black locust tree. What I really liked about the video is the how easy it looked and how similar the operations looked to the ones in the high end wood shop I work at.

Also, Pop has a good point about the shop smith. The Table saw in my shop is the most important tool I own. It really can do everything. And, it does. The height of the table saw makes me think that the table saw is more dangerous. Having a table saw at below waist level seems to be important. I do not know what you meant by saying the table saw tilting is a problem.

I have fixed the links above too.

I think I will be waiting years because not many of these machines are purchased. I have started looking on EX factory. However, their used machine prices can be high. Plus, they are more interested in big shops where many tools will be sold at one time.


-- Weth

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3969 days

#12 posted 04-20-2011 07:27 PM

Weth, The table on Shopsmith is small. When measured to the right of the blade very small. When tilted for compound cuts you have very little working room. On the other hand, when making 90 degree cuts and using axillary tables a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood poses little problem.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3169 days

#13 posted 04-20-2011 10:09 PM

I’ve owned a ShopSmith for years. At times it has been my only tool. I take some issue with the statement that the resale value is poor because of “years of hawking them at county fairs”. That’s one reason. The other, more important reason is that they are very well made and even the oldest Mark V is upgradable to the latest version. They are the antithesis of the disposable tool. As such, there are lots of them out there. The cheaper used ones will likely be the model 500 which, in my opinion, is inadequate. ShopSmith has upgraded the tables, rails and fence of the Mark V twice resulting in the 510 and 520. They both have bigger tables but the 520 has a much-improved set of rails and fence.

Mark Vs are capable of making very accurate cuts. Alignment is straighforward and I find that the tool stays aligned for a long time. There is a learning curve (primarily having to do with making sure that all the settings are locked and that the floating tables are properly supported), but it’s not too hard.

The tool is exceptionally portable considering its capabilities. I can break down my Mark V and carry it in my sedan, if necessary. It takes up very little floor space. Function changeover can be a pain, but as you learn to priortize and organize your tasks, it tends to fade into the background.

I have upgraded my shop with three big standalone tools (a cabinet saw, 14” bandsaw and 6” jointer) however I still use my Mark V. If you can find a 510 with some accessories (the band saw is quite nice for its size) for under $1000, you won’t regret it. A lot of people build furniture with Mark Vs.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3451 days

#14 posted 04-20-2011 10:37 PM

Unless you have significant floor space in your shop, I do not believe you can develop a shop that is any better than what you can do with a Shopsmith Mark V Model 510 or 520. The beauty is if you get a lesser machine (Shopsmith) it can be upgraded to be an equivalent to a brand new one. Shopsmith, is still there in Iowa doing business.

The fact that there are still so many older Shopsmiths out there, still running, says a lot for their design and their quality.

Be patient. You’ll find one – I am sure.

Check out the Shopsmith site.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View Weth's profile


57 posts in 2621 days

#15 posted 04-21-2011 12:44 AM

These are some of the best pictures I have seen on the net.

All I can say is drool.

-- Weth

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