Should I buy this?

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Forum topic by sethwells posted 11-01-2012 08:04 PM 1879 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View sethwells's profile


25 posts in 2102 days

11-01-2012 08:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw bandsaw drill press sander help shopsmith

Quick background: I am very new to woodworking as a hobby. I have hardly any tools (drill, jigsaw, scroll saw). My “shop” will be 1/2 of a 2-car garage. I have been “hanging out” here at LJ for 6 weeks, or so, and have really come to appreciate the helpful/inspirational environment here. And now I’m asking for some help.

I’ve been scouring Craigslist looking for good deals on tools and I came across a listing for a Shopsmith that looks promising. My dad has had a Shopsmith for 20+ years that he uses regularly, so I know they are good machines. I feel like the Shopsmith route may be a good way to get several of the bench tools that I need to really make a go at this hobby, but for less than buying them individually – table saw, band saw, drill press, disc sander, etc. Also, the Shopsmith seems like it would take up less space than all of those other tools would individually.

So… is the Craigslist post:

What do you guys think?

23 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3676 days

#1 posted 11-01-2012 08:08 PM

looks decent. a bit on the high side price wise, but it could be that your area is like that (here they go for 350-500 generally speaking with same attachments +jointer sometimes).

I would check it out make sure it runs smooth, and negotiate a bit on the price somewhere closer to 500…500+ but without knowing your neighborhood this could mean absolutely nothing ;)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2841 days

#2 posted 11-01-2012 08:19 PM

ehh… No.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2271 days

#3 posted 11-01-2012 08:26 PM

Not sure about it at that price. Kind of depends on what you plan on doing. In my mind, a balanced woodshop starts out with the basic trifecta: table saw, jointer and planer, which that shopmith does not provide. You can avoid the jointer and planer for a while if you purchase only new, surfaced on 4 sides material/wood. But as someone starting out, like myself, I dont relish the idea of buying expensive wood to “practice” and learn on so I’ve been using reclaimed wood and odd scraps that I come across. This generally involves milling my own wood, which happens to be considerably cheaper in the short and long run.

Start with a decent table saw, the best you can afford and I’d suggest getting a used one on Craigslist or a garage sale. Something with a full cast iron/steel top or granite like on the older Ridgid TS. Make sure it’s belt driven…

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View ddockstader's profile


156 posts in 3289 days

#4 posted 11-01-2012 08:34 PM

I own two – both bought used. Perfect for a small shop. That price isn’t too bad, considering it has the band saw and the jig saw and it’s a 510 model. Check to make sure it runs smoothly and can go through all the speeds (changing ONLY with the motor running). Also might want to ask if it has a two bearing quill. It probably does, but might not. Lastly, you might take off the access cover (back of the headstock – the Shopsmith logo) and make sure that it’s not full of sawdust and has occasionally been oiled like it should. Also, connect both the band saw and the jig saw and see how they run. Doesn’t appear that there is too much rust on it, but that’s another negotiating point. Might try to get it down to $650. That would be a deal.

P.S. If you get it, toss out the magna wobble dado blade. They’re a pain. When you want to make dadoes, you can start with a good cross cut blade and nibble your way across. When you get good at that, buy a decent 8” dado set on sale.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2314 days

#5 posted 11-01-2012 08:37 PM

Shopsmith is a good alternative for tight spaces. It might not do everything, but lets not start chasing the impossible. Tool collecting is a slippery slope my friend.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2201 days

#6 posted 11-01-2012 08:46 PM

Not bad . 11” Shopsmith Bandsaw has best capacity. But there must be any other better machine .

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3136 days

#7 posted 11-01-2012 09:51 PM

When I first started, I tried to find a shopsmith that was in decent shape for my first tool purchase. Had I found one in my area, in decent shape, I would have purchased it and been better off doing so. There is a great deal of knocks on cheap tools (btw shopsmith is not in that classification) but it is hard to avoid when you first become interested. Budgets don’t allow most to purchase a good deal of top notch quality products when your shop is empty. You either buy cheap or you just simply don’t do. A shopsmith is a better deal than buying a cheap tablesaw, bandsaw, drill press, etc. I purchased about 500 dollars in cheap tools at the onset. Some I learned to hate, but they taught me a great deal. They are in the hands of other new woodworkers now.

On the threads here, there are some very skilled woodworkers with a shopsmith as their primary tool. Use the search function on the upper right and you should get a number of blogs and forum topics on them. Get in touch with the members who post and you will get a great deal of assistance from these folks. The fact that your dad has one is a good thing. You have someone close to you that can help you with any of the quirks of setup. Even if you don’t use is at a primary your whole life, you would have the potential for a 2nd dedicated table saw or have it permanently set up as a lathe, etc. that will keep its usefulness for a long time.

I don’t know the availability in your area, if you see them frequently posted, work with the poster on lowering the price or look for another. If availability is limited, try to work it down a little. Seek your dad’s help a little on this, I can’t think of one shopsmith owner who doesn’t like taking a new owner under the wing and teaching them a few things about it :)

Good luck,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3313 days

#8 posted 11-01-2012 10:55 PM

David made a good point. Seek your dad’s help a little on this. Ask him what he likes the most about his shopsmith and what he likes the least. Then decide if that would be factors that would make a difference in your decision. Most will admit that it’s not the quality of the machine that is usually the deciding factor but the changing of each attachment to do a task….and the overall limits.

-- John @

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

332 posts in 2076 days

#9 posted 11-01-2012 11:01 PM

Big picture: the skill of the woodworker is more powerful than the tool. Therefore it boils down to your own personal preferences. I’d say that if you’re like your Dad, you’ll probably like the tool.

A garage bay is plenty big enough for full size table saw and workbench and router table and lathe and bandsaw and one or two other pieces, if you’re willing to give it up entirely to the shop. I found in these tiny New England homes that I only need floorspace to fit my feet and the work floats around off the floor from tool to tool. Any ONE of those pieces could run you what the Shopsmith will so realistically you’re not risking much. (Sorry if I burst your notion about getting cheap tools.) I would wager that if you like the Shopsmith and keep working the wood you’ll go for those other tools anyway and take over the garage.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3605 days

#10 posted 11-01-2012 11:28 PM

I’ve never owned one but I don’t think I would like breaking it down and setting it up for each operation. I know people who love Shopsmith’s. From what I see in my area the price seems at least $200 to high.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2595 days

#11 posted 11-01-2012 11:43 PM

I’m with Jim. I won’t even change blades in the bandsaw.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2928 days

#12 posted 11-02-2012 12:22 AM

No, don’t buy it. Get separate tools. I realize that there are plenty of ShopSmith afficionados in the LJ community, but I doubt that you would regret going in the other direction.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3136 days

#13 posted 11-02-2012 12:33 AM

So, in our typical LJ fashion, the answer is yes/no :) You got to hear arguments on both sides, which should give you food for thought on the decision. As you can see, tool choices are very much an individual decision. The last part is up to you. Let us all know how it worked out :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View chopnhack's profile


375 posts in 2422 days

#14 posted 11-02-2012 01:16 AM

When I started into woodworking I too looked for a Shopsmith, but didn’t like the idea of having to change the machine around to use different tools. There are times were you need to preserve a setting on your table saw, do another operation on a different machine and come back to the t.s. exactly where you last set it. This applies to other machines as well. You also have to look at time. How much shop time will you realistically have? How much of that time do you want to spend in setting up and breaking down the machine? This is a hard earned lesson that I keep in mind as I design my shop – what needs to be setup and what can be setup when needed, what needs to be mobile, what can be fixed, what can be stored and what has to be available.

-- Sneaking up on the line....

View Gary's profile


9333 posts in 3461 days

#15 posted 11-02-2012 01:24 AM

One more suggestion… Someone said to talk to your dad… I’d say go work with him. Use his and make all those changes, etc. See what you think of actually using that machine.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

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