Advice on ShopSmith--Mark V

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Forum topic by Napaman posted 05-06-2007 05:25 PM 25369 views 1 time favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5530 posts in 4275 days

05-06-2007 05:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tool shopsmith mark v 510 520

Finishing up the school year quick—-24 days! And spending my free time building a picnic table and watching a lot of woodworking videos.

In one of the video series I have borrowed from the library the hosts use a machine by “Shop Smith” called the “Mark V”. It has a table saw, lathe, drill press, jointer ( i think) and a boring tool…

My question is…has anyone used this product and what recommendations or criticisms…

The space in my shop is limited…which is one of the advantages to this machine…and the fact that you would be getting five shop tools in one…my concerns are whether this is a gimmick or a quality machine the I will be able to use for many years.

Right now my skills are limited but growing. With summer coming I plan to be doing A LOT of building. I am planning to take some classes so I may wait until i take those…but thought I would get all the LJ’s advice…

The first set of tools I bought last summer were Ryobi Bandsaw, Ryobi Router Table and Router, and Ryobi Table Saw. One issue I have is that I have a hard time getting the table saw sqare——which obviously is an issue when trying to keep cuts straight.

I am not rich—-and this machine would be expensive. But my idea is that I would be able to save money in the long run as my skills would grow and I could utilize the machine…and since I dont have the space for five seperate machines this may be the way to go…Right now I dont have plans use a lathe—-however…as my skills grow I know this would be a fun tool I would love to learn…but all the other tools I could use right away…

Ok…thoughts on the Mark V series…or any other tool advice…thanks!!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

36 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


13783 posts in 4295 days

#1 posted 05-06-2007 05:52 PM

I have a friend with one. The biggest knock that I know of is the time needed to set it up when you change from machine to machine. Shopsmiths have been around for a long time and have a loyal following. There are a number of LumberJocks that use them. You might try searching LumberJocks for the term shopsmith.

Every year at the California State Fair in Sacramento the Shopsmith guys come to town and demo. That would be a good way for you to see the sales pitch. It is perhaps an hours drive for you?

Also if you check CraigsList and search for shopsmith. There are normally quite a few for sale and for a lot less than a brand new one.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4509 days

#2 posted 05-06-2007 06:24 PM

Matt, I was looking at the ShopSmith because I too had very little space to work with in the beginning. I think you should check out my workshop photos. In them you will see the SuperShop built be Smity. It makes the ShopSmith look like a toy. It weighs 450 lbs and is a tablesaw, lathe, horizontal and vertical drill press and overhead router and/or molder(with the purchase of molder bits). I also purchased the 6” jointer(I would suggest a seperate jointer if you can afford and have the space) and 12” bandsaw ( which is fine for crafts, but not resawing). The thing about setup is that you have to learn to complete all functions (sawing, drilling, lathe work, jointing, bandsawing, etc.) before moving on to the next step, otherwise you will spend a lot of time with setup. What I like most about the setup with the SuperShop vs. ShopSmith is that the SuperShop uses a collet to hold the shafts for the saw blade, drill chuck, lathe chucks, etc.; where as the ShopSmith uses allen screws and wrenches. The collet is fast and there’s no slipping with it. The tablesaw table is small on both and since the table adjusts up and down instead of the blade there is little in a permanent fix that you can do, even though it comes with an auxiliary table that goes on either end to help when crosscutting plywood and long boards. The SuperShop is varible speed from 32 to 7200 rpms and uses a DC motor with a three pulley belt arangment for various speed selections. Right now they are having a sale: $2880. You can check it out at,, go under tools and pick SuperShop for the details.

I do not work for or have any connection with SuperShop besides owning one.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4286 days

#3 posted 05-06-2007 11:39 PM

I have been planning a shop for about 5 years acively and had really considered a shop smith. Considering how full of tools my shop has become I can definatly see the benefit. I will tell you that the reason I did not go that way is the time required to change between tools seemed unworth the effort and a hindrance to getting work done. Overall I would say that the tool is going to be better quality on average than what you already have. AAAAAAAAAAND FINALLY I would say that you need to watch ebay etc as it seems that the cost of a machine with 4 attatched tools is about the same as having 7 tools. I have seen some deals… looks like many times there will be a sale due to a move or a death and the seller oftentimes has no idea what they have.


-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

View Morris Wallace's profile

Morris Wallace

17 posts in 4510 days

#4 posted 05-07-2007 02:04 AM

I had a Shopsmith for years. Somethings I liked somethings I don’t. I bought the stands for the bandsaw and for the jointer. That way you don’t to put the saw and jointer on the main frame. It take up more room but if you forget to do something or damage something you don’t tear everthing and set up again. The moter is underpowered if you cut oak I overcame that by using a amaller blade. I sold mine but I have a ringmaster that I would like to sell to a Shopsmith owner. The table is too small and too high off the floor. I should have filmed my efforts to use stand and cut a large panel, I could have sent it to America’s funny viveos.LOL

-- Morris Wallace Seffner Fl.

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4393 days

#5 posted 05-07-2007 02:18 AM

I own 3 shopsmiths, 2 older 10ER models and 1 Mark 5. You’ll probably find a real split between Smith users and separate tool users, and since I use one, I’m going to be biased, but here goes.
First, the most oft brought up point: All that time switching between tools. You might ask yourself why this seems to be an issue for separate tool guys, but not for smithys. Since smithys actually change from tool to tool and it doesn’t bother them, maybe it’s more a perceived thing by non users than an actual problem. I maintain that it’s a mind set more than anything. If you think it’s a time consuming issue, then it is; if you don’t, then it isn’t. (By the way, I’m pretty sure there’s setup time on individual tools, they don’t just set themselves up for your project)(Also, I don’t have 3 to save time in changover…I just sort of collect them.
If space is at a premium, this is a great help. I have accessories so that I have: table saw, panel saw, 12” disk sander, drum sander, shaper, drill press, mortiser, horizontal boring machine, lathe, bandsaw, and jigsaw all in a 12’ x 12’ shop area.
Even if there are compromises in this system, the space savings make up for them. And again, I think a lot of it is in one’s mind. I’ve built furniture and remodeled a kitchen and never felt I was at a disadvantage with my setup.
As to reliability, my oldest 2 machines were built in 1952 and my newest in 1992 and they all work great. I’ve never had any down time due to problems.
I wouldn’t necessarily buy a new machine since used ones are out there. They can be had in the $300 -$600 range. Actually, I bought my Mark 5 for $175. I just got lucky on that one, and older guy (older than me so he must be older) just wanted to clean out his garage. Just check ebay as an example. Before you buy a used one, talk to a knowledgeable smithy on the differences/changes in them over time. Some are worth more than others. I’ll be glad to help, by the way.

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

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4509 days

#6 posted 05-07-2007 03:58 AM

Napaman, I forgot to mention that on the SuperShop, it will handle 8”, 10” and 12” blades and it also has the 12” sanding disc.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4266 days

#7 posted 05-07-2007 03:51 PM

I’ve heard a lot of critics about these machines, but many don’t seem to have a ton of experience with one. Basic Economics teach that when you try to do too many things at once, you don’t have the best quality individually in most instances. I can’t back that up as I have limited knowledge. My gut says that the individual machines would be better as all of the production aspects are focused on one operation. This would definitely be a product I’d have to try before buying. Check the local clubs for a friendly neighbor! If their like me, they like showing off their tools and won’t mind you test driving them.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4525 days

#8 posted 05-08-2007 06:10 AM

I picked up the 10ER on Craigslist – the original 1952? prototype model. There are things I love about it, and some things that aren’t as efficient as a dedicated machine. I don’t regret the purchase at all, It has allowed me access to a lathe, tablesaw, disc sander, spindle sander, drill press, scroll saw (unused as of yet) 4” jointer (also unused – can’t figure out how to put it together so that it will operate safely, I may be missing a guard or other key part.)

The previous owner who inherited it from his Dad was moving cross country and couldn’t take it with him. He did build his kitchen cabinets with it.

There are seemingly lots of people selling off thiers for parts on eBay. What’s nice is that an older model can be bought for the cost of one dedicated machine, so all the other add-ons are a bonus, and you don’t have to feel guilty about using them or not. You can also upgrade an older one with a newer moter unit, or accessories.

I mostly use mine as a lathe and a horizontal boring machine, (6’ ceiling a hair to short to be a vertical drill press, but possible if I align it between the floor joists overhead. One disadvantage for lathe use is that you have to slide the heavy motor portion to chuck a spindle, rather than the tailstock.

It really doesn’t take that long to switch between accessories and set-ups, but I do find myself not wanting to switch back and forth. Also there are some ergonomic compromises with an all-in-one machine. A hair too high to be a tablesaw, a tad too low for the lathe (If you’re 6’ tall that is). Thankfully I have a tablesaw so I’m not bouncing back and forth between operations all that much.

All that said, I still don’t regret the purchase and it is a really well built machine. Runs well, balanced, quiet. I’d keep it for the tasks it can do, and it’s versaitility. It’s helped show me which machines I really need, and which I can get by without.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4393 days

#9 posted 05-08-2007 07:57 PM

Scott (and others who might own an old 10ER machine), theres a great Yahoo “10ER users group” that’s very useful to help with problems, or to optimize the use of the machine. Just go to Yahoo, then groups, then search for 10ER users.
On the mention of the table saw being too high and the lathe a bit too low, the old Shopsmith has been my primary woodworking tool throughout my entire life, (although I have used separate tools, as well) and I always thought the separate table saw was a bit too low and the separate lathe was a little high. Oh well, I guess it’s whatever you’re used to. -SST

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

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4525 days

#10 posted 05-09-2007 05:17 AM

that’s funny SST… and you’re right. I can manage an hour at the lathe, but beyond that my lower back doesn’t like it much.

oh, and thanks for the mention of the Yahoo group. I never looked to see if there was one.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View bkhop's profile


68 posts in 4265 days

#11 posted 05-09-2007 06:08 AM

I have used the Shopsmith Mark V primarily (though have used the 10ER some, too). I have almost every Special Purpose Tool available. I can’t imagine getting that many separate tools into my shop. A couple of myths:
• the changovers take too long… who’s in that big of a hurry anyway? (But, for the record, I can do a complete changeover in less than a minute.)
• the tablesaw table is too small… I’m guessing this comment comes from the person who hasn’t seen one since the ‘80s.
• the motor is underpowered… I cut 8/4 oak on the thing and it doesn’t bog down at all. Then again, I’m not feeding it through to win a race, either.

And a couple of valid gripes:
• The table raises/lowers instead of the blade… This can be a pain – if you get everything set up and need to tweak just a tiny bit, you have to move all your side tables… I guess it just requires some forethought in the initial setup, though
• The lathe isn’t heavy enough… Here the heft would be appreciated. I know a guy who threw sandbags accross the entire bottom set of tubes and acc. to him it solved the problem instantly.

(by the way, here’s some pictures my Shopsmith setup if it would help you to see it “in action” –

-- † Hops †

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4393 days

#12 posted 05-09-2007 04:49 PM

As if we haven’t talked this subject to death, here’s some more. On the lathe being too light, I think that might be an issue on the Mark 5 because they made that model lighter than the old 10ER by going from cast iron to aluminum and thin wall high strength tubes, but the 10ER is not too light, in my opinion, it’s a brute. But, of course, it’s strength is also it’s weakness, as it’s not as easy to move about as the Mark 5.
I’ve got pics of my set up in the workshop section, by the way, and more at the 10ER users site at Yahoo.
I’ve solved the small table issue on the older machines by adding a second table. It was one of the best add-ons I’ve done.
I find the change over time to be insignificant for 2 reasons: First, it really is minimal, and second, Who doesn’t like to putz with tools…I enjoy the process.
I guess it gets back to one of my original points that it’s really a mindset. You either like it, or you don’t.
Sometimes, I think I enjoy just fooling around with the machine as much as I enjoy building stuff with it. Maybe that’s more the case when you work with old, sentimental stuff as opposed to new stuff. -SST

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

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4509 days

#13 posted 05-14-2007 02:27 AM

I added a shelf and drawer for storage and have some wood on it to add to the overall weight of my lathe. I’ve even put 5 gallon buckets of sand to weigh it down.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4603 days

#14 posted 05-14-2007 05:53 PM

my opinion you ask?

I think you would be happy with a combination machine, whether a ShopSmith, or the one that oscorner has. Both of these machines have been around for a number of years. You can find Shopsmiths in good working condition that were bought in the 1950’s and 1960’s, as well as newer ones. If you want a great combination machine, look at Felder’s. I would love to have one those German made gems. Laguna also makes an excellent combination machine.

My opinon for you would be to focus more on the purpose of the tool, and whether you want a combination machine, or separate machines. Once you have made that decision, you won’t look back, or have regrets. Look at this way: if you buy it and don’t like it, you can always sell it. If you buy a used one, like has been suggested to you, you could probably resell it for the same price you bought it for.

If you have a small space, need to roll it out and roll it back for storage, then you will be happy with the combination machine, as it will be much better than using saw horses and a Skilsaw to work with, which I have done, ugh! Hey, I quit a good paying job one time to start my business building furniture, and all I owned was a Black & Decker circular saw and a pair of home made saw horses. I don’t recommend that style of business startup, but that is another story.

As Mark (oscorner) metioned, there are limitations to the tools, and there limitations to any tool. If you do buy the whole ShopSmith set up, I know you will spend more time doing woodworking than you did before. If you are just starting out, you will learn a lot of skills with the machine, and we’ll enjoy watching your progress. If that is what you want, then you will be happy with the Shopsmith.

I know a fantastic professional furniture maker that started his business up about 30 years ago with a Shopsmith. He has grown to where he has a large facility now, and industrial sized Powermatic tools sitting everywhere, but he still uses the original Shopsmith, and keeps a dado blade on it all the time, and uses it for that purpose. I asked him about it back in 1996 when I didn’t have any tools, and he recommended that if I had a small shop, no space, and limited resources, the Shopsmith would be a good investment. He told me that it would get me off of the couch wishing for tools, and into the garage actually using tools. My advice is the same to you.

Then, he said as time went along, I could always get a bigger shop, and bigger stationary tools, and if I wanted to sell it, he said that the resale market is strong for them. My advice again to you.

I never did buy Shopsmith though. Why?
I couldn’t ever come up with enough money to buy the whole setup. I’ve bought my tools one little piece at a time over the past 10 years. One time in the late 1980’s, I found a brand new ShopSmith with all of the accessory tools at a Pawn Shop in Baton Rouge where I was living then. I visited the tools at the Pawn Shop every day for a couple of weeks, hoping to see the price come down below $2,000, which was then, and still is, a lot of money for me. I was offering them $1500, just on the principle that they should be willing to “dicker”, and they assured me that they didn’t need to. Then one day after work, I made my daily trip into visit the tools and see if they would consider $1750, and to my shock and amazement it was all GONE! I wished at that moment, that I had charged the $2,000 on a credit card (something I did in those days), and had bought the machine. I’m sure I would still have it today, even if I had added other stationary tools over the years.

Keep us informed of your decision, there will be many of us watching and waiting to see what you do.
Mark DeCou

I also make no money from any endorsements. (although I am open to it, so email me if you want to pay me)!!

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4275 days

#15 posted 05-15-2007 01:57 AM

thanks everyone for al the advice…I have been mulling it over and looking on Craig’s List…for the Bay area—holy cow there are a lot of tools out there for sale…I may jump on one that seems to have a really low price—-bad divorce or something…will let all of you know which way i go…thanks! thanks! thanks! everyword is appreciated…and when i get time i will send a personal reply to all of you since none of you will see this :) !!!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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