Can a Shop Smith cut 2 1/4 inch Solid Ash?: Don't try this at home...

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Forum topic by Nicholas Hall posted 12-06-2012 05:03 AM 2716 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2107 days

12-06-2012 05:03 AM

Hi All,

I inherited a Shopsmith when my father-in-law’s neighbor’s father died. They tried to sell it, but no one would even pay $500 for it. I’ve got to say I wasn’t too keen on it when I first got it. But since I didn’t have a table saw, drill press, bandsaw, jointer, or belt sander, it seemed slightly better than nothing. It came with a Woodworker II blade in the arbor, so I decided that it wasn’t a total waste of space.

Well, I’ve got a few projects under my belt now, and since I now have a mountain of 8/4 ash, it seemed like a good time to build a split top roubo. The question was, can a shopsmith handle 9/4 solid ash lumber that’s 12 inches wide and 11 feet long? It turns out it can.

The pics below are the setup for the first of 10 ash boards 2”x12”x11 feet. These boards are the rejects from 2100 bdft I cut this fall on my family’s land in Maine. I had the sawyer cut all nominal thinkness by 1/8” oversize, and some of it would up being 1/4” oversize (all of my “8/4” is actually between 2.125” and 2.25”). I picked these particular boards for the bench because they were either knotty, or had severe checking that made them good candidates for the narrow boards on a workbench.

You’ll note that the board is nearly as wide as the shopsmith’s table, which may be an indication that it was not meant to cut boards in this size!

Now I have a couple of handy ash 2×6’s. I’ve got to get that dust collection working again however…

Well, there you have it. The shopsmith really came through. This thing is really growing on me. I’m going to be building the whole bench using only the shopsmith and my growing handtool collection. I think it will be interesting to build a 400lb bench with a 150lb Shopsmith! If anyone is interested, I’ll let you know how it works out.

Thanks for looking,

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

9 replies so far

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2864 days

#1 posted 12-06-2012 06:47 AM

That is pretty awesome for that Shopsmith . Really liked your adventure with the saw mill. Very interesting and great to get that much lumber at that price. I will definitely be following along with your bench build.

Just curious. Did you put a new blade (what kind of blade) in the saw before you ran the Ash through it ?

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4007 posts in 2234 days

#2 posted 12-06-2012 12:32 PM

Awesome! I started my shop with a used Shopsmith in 1975, so it was a bit underpowered and when I read what you were going to do, I thought “NO WAY”. But I didn’t have a WWII blade either. That alone makes a HUGE difference. I’ve owned one WWII blade since 1980 something, sharpened once, and am still driving it hard with a Unisaw. I wax it to help keep it clean and free. Yup, a Workmate and a Shopsmith!
I’ll be following your build. The forum Workbench Smackdown is a good place to get and share workbench building advice. It’s huge with lots of input.
What are you going to use for vices? I’ve been intrigued by a newcomer.
I have the wants for at least one of these…
Good luck.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View Cousinwill's profile


131 posts in 2890 days

#3 posted 12-06-2012 01:10 PM

I too inherited my Shopsmith from my father-in-law when he past away a few years ago. I proudly own a brand new 1963 model Shopsmith:) It is a well built machine that will last a lifetime,,,or two. About two years ago I replaced the original motor!! I have never sawed anything as large as what you have. Nice to know it can do it if I need it done!! I mainly the lathe and bandsaw attachment.

-- William from the oldest town in Texas

View bluekingfisher's profile


1250 posts in 2980 days

#4 posted 12-06-2012 01:19 PM

Buy yourself a circular saw mate, it’ll make handling those long boards very straight forward. A good straight edge, ripped from s sheet of ply or MDF will stand you in good stead for the time being.

Those big heavy boards could tip your saw station …...................and then you would wish you had a circular saw.

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2107 days

#5 posted 12-06-2012 02:11 PM

@Ron in Ohio: I actually pulled the woodworker II blade off. On the first board that I tried to rip with the WWII blade I tripped the breaker. It occured to me the the WWII blade was probably the most valuable piece of the whole kit, and that I didn’t want it involved!

I pulled it off and put in a shopsmith branded 24 tooth ripping blade that came with the set. What a difference. I had never used a ripping blade before and I was really impressed. It pulls out long curls rather than sawdust. I’ll never rip with a combo blade again. Once I put the ripping blade on, it was like a hot knife through butter. Granted, my feed rate was relatively slow and careful, but I think it would be even for the best contractor saw on thick, heavy, dense lumber like this. I ripped enough 2.125” x 12” ash to build a 400lb roubo in about an hour. I don’t think my father-in-law’s contractor saw could have done it.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2110 days

#6 posted 12-06-2012 02:26 PM

With a good 20-24T RIP blade, almost anything will rip that board.

In this case, I’d be far more worried about a board that hasn’t been jointed being ripped without a splitter kicking back, than if the saw would cut it.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10479 posts in 3429 days

#7 posted 12-06-2012 02:36 PM

A good blade, designed for the purpose, makes all the difference.
My Shopsmith and I have ripped 4” (3.5”) X 8” hard wood. Not 11’ long, though!!
As far as width is concerned, the auxiliary table serves you well.
BTW, the WWII is a decent blade but, on a whim, when mine dulled, I picked up a Tenryu. Now the re- sharpened WWII sits gathering dust.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2107 days

#8 posted 12-06-2012 04:23 PM

@Dan: Good to know I’m in good company using a Shopsmith. They’re good little rigs!

@Bluekingfisher: I was originally intending to rip them with a circular saw. I was really just curious to see whether the Shopsmith was up to it. It worked so well that I decided to do the other 9 boards on the Shopsmith. It’s easier on the knees :)

@Cessna Pilot: Your are dead right about the splitter. The Shopsmith actually has a built in riving knife as well as a cam-based anti-kickback device. I took it off to change the blade from the WWII to the ripping blade. It really wasn’t safe to do that board without it. It went back on shortly after. Although the title was a joke “don’t try this at home” you actually shouldn’t try that at home and I shouldn’t have either.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2107 days

#9 posted 12-06-2012 04:55 PM

@Gene Howe: The Tenryu sounds like a great blade. Which one did you get?

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

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