Advice to fill my gap in tools - shopsmith?

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Forum topic by Eddie posted 06-04-2013 03:52 PM 1547 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Eddie's profile


212 posts in 2193 days

06-04-2013 03:52 PM

Hi all,

I wanted to post for some advice here before I make a regrettable decision.

After 7 years of school, 2 degrees and 1.5 children(our boy is due in 5 weeks), I will be graduating this month. On Father’s day, no less.

With the collision of graduation and father’s day I have the chance to purchase another tool (maybe 2) for my small shop.

I have been making a few furniture pieces for my sons nursery and have begun working on a few boxes.
With two young kids, most of my shop time is in the evening when they are asleep. Meaning no table/miter saw or router. I would assume the drill press and maybe a lathe would be an acceptable volume. I have heard that a bandsaw runs quieter as well.

Here is what I currently have:

Table saw (mediocre craftsman)
Miter saw
Router & Table
Power drill (hopefully that was obvious)
Various hand planes
Chisels and hand saws
Jig saw (very old and may need to be replaced soon)

In my recent projects I have found that it would be really nice to have:

Drill press
Band Saw (for those curved pieces and resawing)
A proper woodworking bench (currently I have a worktable mounted on cabinets against the wall with a vice, something in the middle of the shop with dog holes and a tail vice may be worth the shop space I’d give up)

The option to use a lathe would be really nice too since they are quieter and I could do that while they were sleeping…

Anyways, this leads me to the question…what should my priority be?

I have seen shopsmith’s for sale in my area for <$100 and that seems like it would work to be a vertical/horizontal drill press and a lathe (and a disc sander as a bonus). The complaint seems to be its table saw ability but I already own that.
Also noticed that there is a bandsaw attachment for the shopsmith (dont know about the limitations tho)

I would probably hold out for a lower priced 12”-14” bandsaw instead of the smaller <10> bench models.

What do you think guys?

26 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19055 posts in 2809 days

#1 posted 06-04-2013 04:05 PM

bandsaw first, with a drill press a very close second. I’d scour craigs list and whichever one of these came up first for a decent price I’d nab it.

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

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8542 posts in 2224 days

#2 posted 06-04-2013 05:04 PM

I agree with Don on the order. I have a floor standing drill press, and I admit, I could get by a with a benchtop model just fine. Same with the router table. Go good used, or order direct from grizzly. If you want a lathe down the road, they’re usually pretty easy to find used.
I’m surprised power jointer isn’t on your list. I waited too long to get one. Even if you want to lean more on hand tools, a jointer is a must imo. Congrats on graduating.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3193 days

#3 posted 06-04-2013 05:08 PM

I agree on the above. I bought my standing DP for $80 on CL—- just have to be vigilant. Regarding the ShopSmith, I’ve never been a fan of multi-function power tools; they never seem to excel at one thing or another, although you’ll probably find a lot of ShopSmith supporters around these parts.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3213 days

#4 posted 06-04-2013 05:39 PM

I’m not anti ShopSmith, but I don’t see what it gains you. A lathe and a drill press yes, but for what one costs you could get a good lathe and drill press and would not have to take one apart to use the other.. If you have a tiny shop and no other major power tools, then yes they get you functionality in a small space. A ShopSmith would be a great way to set up a shop at a second home or a vacation cabin or something like that.

I’d have a hard time deciding between a work bench, band saw and a drill press if I could only have one and not the others. Probably the bench would be the most basic first choice, then band saw and drill press. If you come upon some deals on Craig’s List maybe you can do all. A really good bench can be built for less than $200-300 including the vise. Look up shipwright’s projects and see the tail vise he designed. It’s a great way to get the functionality without the cost. I see many decent little band saws for around $100 if you mainly are looking to cut curves. And, it’s not too hard to find a good drill press for less than $100 either.

View Eddie's profile


212 posts in 2193 days

#5 posted 06-04-2013 06:47 PM

Thanks for the advice!

I think a band saw is one of the first I will pursue.

The reason I was looking at the shopsmith is (for example) there is one of the earlier models on craigslist right now in my area for $50 that would operate as a drill press (most of the time), horizontal boring machine, and lathe.
People seem to really like the drill press part of the shopsmith and for $50 I would get multiple tools to occupy the same space?

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4202 days

#6 posted 06-04-2013 06:50 PM

I had a SS band saw on a power stand. Also had the 4” jointer that would interchange w/ the BS.
The BS was pretty good for an 11” saw, the jointer was very solid and accurate.
Having said that, I would not rebuy those tools ‘cause I didn’t use the jointer, and found that a 14” BS would work better for my needs.
There must be a market for the ShopSmith, but it just does not fit my needs.
Not blasting the SS concept at all.


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3889 days

#7 posted 06-04-2013 06:54 PM

The old ones are good, accurate drill presses and the table
saw fence and way the table tilts is good for woodworking.
The horizontal boring capacity is nice. There is no rack
and pinion adjustment of the relactionship between
the quill and the table, so there is a lot of muscling
parts around involved in changing setups.

As a lathe it is adequate as well.

Considering the prices of small benchtop drill presses today
and the range of band saws and lathes available,
a SS may not be such a great investment. If you
do buy one, you’ll probably leave it set up as
one tool or other other.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2134 days

#8 posted 06-04-2013 07:03 PM

Acquire tools, then workbench last – because with 1.5 kids you will have sporadic down times to think about 2 things while you make things that you need for your home:
1. What kind of projects and how you will be working on in 5-10-15 years ahead
2. What kind of specific design of workbench you will want to accommodate #1. above.
When you have determined the answers to 1. and 2. then build your workbench when you get all the items you need for the bench lined up – e.g., selected wood dried out adequately, choice of vise(s), square vs round dog holes design, drawers or not, etc.

Congratulations in advance on your graduation!

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5820 posts in 3055 days

#9 posted 06-04-2013 07:10 PM

Drill press, then bandsaw because a jigsaw will work in a pinch. Nothing replaces a good drill press.

That said, I might skip those purchases for now, and get a solid tablesaw with dado blade. My old craftsman saw wouldn’t even accept a full dado set.

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

View Eddie's profile


212 posts in 2193 days

#10 posted 06-04-2013 07:38 PM

redSLED – thanks for the congrats. its nice to close that chatper of my life…for now. And great insight on the workbench. I guess the timing of when I NEED a real woodworking bench might depend on how into hand tools I get as I already have a 16’ long table along the wall.

pintodeluxe – I dont know about getting a more solid tablesaw. I have a fairly small shop so a contractor size table would take up a lot. Plus, even tho I am really careful on the tablesaw it still scares me (i know…i know) but the band saw seems to be able to take a lot of the work that i use my tablesaw for and looks to be much safer.

View MrRon's profile


5281 posts in 3485 days

#11 posted 06-04-2013 09:34 PM

I cut my teeth many years ago with an old model 10ER Shopsmith that I bought for $100. I used it for several years and decided to go with dedicated machines. I sold it for $100, bought it back for $100 and finally sold it for good for $100. Even with a shop full of machines, I still wish I had that old SS. It was a great tool, made in the U.S.A. It has it’s limitations, but within those limitations, it performs good. New ones cost around $2000, but if you can find one for $100, you won’t go wrong.

View Eddie's profile


212 posts in 2193 days

#12 posted 06-04-2013 09:57 PM

Thanks Ron!

Did you ever use the bandsaw option?
If so, how did it perform and any idea of the cut depth?

I assume I would usually use the driill press/boring setup and the lathe. One of the SS’s for sale on craigslist comes with a bandsaw, jointer, and jig saw attachments as well as the standard pieces for a reasonable price so that is tempting to have all of those tools in one space.

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3229 days

#13 posted 06-04-2013 10:29 PM

I am a fan of the shopsmith 10ER.
I have not used the bandsaw attachment though.
Like you said above it is a great drill press, and good lathe and sander.
Check out my projects, all my bowls were turned on a 10ER.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View shipwright's profile


8189 posts in 3040 days

#14 posted 06-04-2013 10:40 PM

I understand you have space limitations and a limited budget.

If that is the case then SS is a very viable option. Most of those who disregard them are people who have never had one. In fact I was one of them for years. I’m here to say I was very wrong.

If you live in an area where they come up on craigslist at a reasonable price, you will be very hard pressed to match their quality and versatility with anything else …. that you can store in the space of two bicycles.
If you want to see how well a ShopSmith based shop can work, please see this blog.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Eddie's profile


212 posts in 2193 days

#15 posted 06-04-2013 10:52 PM

SASmith, those bowls are beautiful. Nice to know it was turned on the ER

Paul (Shipwright), your photos and blog may have just made my decision.

My shop is small, and even so it is about twice as long as it is wide so a contractor table saw with outfeed table would make it tough to squeeze between it and the wall.

Something like the shopsmith looks like it would snug up against the wall and could be rolled out into center of shop if needed.

Paul, what do you think of the bandsaw? I know its only 11” and I am pretty sure I could make due with that.

showing 1 through 15 of 26 replies

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