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Forum topic by BigJerryWayne posted 10-22-2012 07:03 PM 2738 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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138 posts in 2071 days

10-22-2012 07:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am just getting started in woodworking at the ripe age of 51. I have been been doing a lot of looking and reading on LumberJocks, and have found tons of useful information. I have got a very limited amount of tools to work with, but trying to add to my toys. So far I have a compound miter saw, scroll saw, hand drill, hand circular saw, jig saw, belt/disk sander, clamps, and a few other odds and ends. I know I need a router, table saw and planer for sure. I have a friend that has an older Shop Smith that he told me to come and get it. He bought it used a number of years ago, but has never used it. I figure it would be good for a drill press, lathe and maybe table saw. I was just wondering what you fine folks think about the Shop Smith machines. Thank you for any suggestions.

-- An oak tree is just a nut that stood it's ground.

10 replies so far

View DeputyDawg's profile


196 posts in 3933 days

#1 posted 10-22-2012 07:31 PM

I have had a shopsmith for at least 20 years.
It was the first woodworking tool I bought. As far as a Tool
“I Hate It” But Love it also.
The power is great, the drill press and lathe are fine, The table saw is good.
But the Micro alignment is not worth trying to get something done exactly.
Mainly because the tool is very flimsey so just won’t hold a fine setting.
Plus is you do a bunch of cutting,drilling, or anything where you need to change tools
You need to make sure you did enough or made a couple of extra’s just in case
Because if one is wrong you need to start over setting the machine up.
Not that it’s hard just frustrating.

-- DeputyDawg

View Tennessee's profile


2862 posts in 2483 days

#2 posted 10-22-2012 07:33 PM

If it is free, I would not turn it down. At least for now, you get some of the tools you are looking for. Most of your initial projects will probably be on the smaller side, anyways, so the table saw, with a little fiddling, probably will work fine, and you get a pretty good drill press out of it.
Go load it up!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View ddockstader's profile


155 posts in 3230 days

#3 posted 10-22-2012 08:39 PM

I have two – and they are excellent machines. The drill press, lathe, disc sander, and horizontal borer are super. The weak link is the table saw, and mostly because the table isn’t huge. But I’ve cut full sheets of plywood on it. It just takes careful setup. The Shopsmith website has a large number of videos and hints that are pretty comprehensive. Just make sure you lubricate it well according to the instructions (on the site and in the manual) (most owners have never bothered, and then they wonder why they have problems). And make sure you run through all the alignment procedures (again on the site and in the manual). Once you get it properly aligned and lubed, it will serve you many years. One final note: NEVER TURN THE SPEED CONTROL UNLESS THE MOTOR IS RUNNING, That last warning should be tattooed on the eyelids of every Shopsmith owner.

View woodtools's profile


21 posts in 2257 days

#4 posted 10-22-2012 10:39 PM

Like you and I am sure many others, started out with just what you described. After obout 10 years I picked up one of the original shop smiths, built in Los Angeles, CA, circa 1953. Still is in great working order and condition. 10 years ago, I thougt I could do better with a new shop smith and bought one, only to find myself retreating to the original.

In either event I have passed the old one on to my son who is producing some great projects…... As for me, I have begun to retreat a little further and after 30 years of being a woodworking hobbiest find myself building projects with more hand tools and better quality than I ever thought possible.

I have determined that a hand tool or machine approach makes no difference, depending on your passions and skill sets for what you want to build.

“plan your work and work your plan…”

Good luck in whatever you choose, I know you will enjoy your time!

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4045 days

#5 posted 10-22-2012 11:00 PM

I love my 520! I was in the same place as you 7 years ago…went to HD and bought a ryobi bandsaw, table saw and router…thinking that it would get me started and that I could replace over time…if I really got into this woodworking thing…

Then I came across Shopsmith and started this blog you should read through, since it (like your blog) got people sharing the plusses and minuses. I wrote the forum asking for advice several years ago—but the question was the same and I am sure the arguments are still valid.

I think if you can find a machine in good working order—-its a great way to go…especially if you are limited on resources and space. When I bought my 520 on e-bay I went from little to instant shop…I still use mine and am really glad to have it…

Look up these LJ’s: Shopsmithtom, Gene Howe and 8iowa—-there are many more…but these guys are all great smithys who will be open with the advice…

Shoptsmithtom is into the really old machines and has MANY…the 10er machines—-he swears by them…

PM me if you have any questions…I was where you are—-new, and unsure…now I am building TWO sailboats! (sort of—lately I have not touched them, lol)...


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4045 days

#6 posted 10-22-2012 11:07 PM

LOL…I just finished the 2nd half—-FREE…ya…take it…you cant go wrong…there is nothing “BAD” about them…there are definite critics over the idea of “power”, and “changeover”—(changing from the ts to the lathe…back to the drill press etc.) another complaint is small table for the ts…

BUT free from a nearby friend—-the above criticisms (which many hardened smithys who really use the machine will argue over those criticisms anyways) are all MOOT points…

Enjoy it—...go grab it and post some pictures of it on this blog——so we can see what condition and what accessory tools (bandsaw? joiner? etc).

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2766 days

#7 posted 10-23-2012 12:15 AM

You can do very high quality work on a Shopsmith. This was done with a 1950 10ER.
I have a small size low budget shop at my winter home in AZ. where I can do anything I can do at my big fully equipped shop in Canada, all because of ShopSmith. Here's the blog about my Az shop.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Robert Keeney's profile

Robert Keeney

85 posts in 3481 days

#8 posted 10-23-2012 09:05 AM

You might find more in one of these forums:

Shopsmith Forum
Yahoo SSusers

-- Robert in Tallahassee Florida,

View BigJerryWayne's profile


138 posts in 2071 days

#9 posted 10-24-2012 05:34 PM

Thank you all for the support. It is going to be a few weeks before I will be able to get it, but I will get it and post some pictures and more information when I do get it.

-- An oak tree is just a nut that stood it's ground.

View MrRon's profile


4720 posts in 3212 days

#10 posted 10-24-2012 07:29 PM

I started my WW interest with an old Shopsmith, model 10ER. I used it for 10 years before I converted over to single purpose machines. I can’t think of any operation a single purpose tool can do that a Shopsmith can’t handle and some that can’t be done better. Horizontal drilling is one of them that no other machine can do. I would recommend strongly the Shopsmith. The blades use a 1-1/4” arbor, unlike the usual 5/8”, but they are available from Shopsmith and special order from others. There are times when I wish I still had it.

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