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Forum topic by Zuki posted 03-17-2009 01:29 PM 5554 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4045 days

03-17-2009 01:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: zuki shopsmith

Hey all . . . I’m looking for your thoughts.

I currently have a stand alone shop (TS, BS, DP, Router table, thickness planer), however the SS concept has always seemed interesting. It just so happens I noticed one for sale recently in my area. I have yet to see it, but the details are

- Mark V 510R
- About 20 years old (he inherited it from his father)
- Band saw
- Dato kit
- Belt sander
- Bunch of accessories
- Asking $1200

The primary reason I would be getting it would be for the lathe (going to be my next purchase anyway), belt sander, disk sander and horizontal borer.

I know nothing about SS except for what I have read. I don’t know what should be replaced on a 20yr old machine . . . or what problems to even look for. I’m thinking $1200 is a little steep.

Comments, thoughts, warnings and insights would be appreciated.

-- BLOG -

14 replies so far

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3364 days

#1 posted 03-17-2009 02:00 PM

20 years isn’t too old for a ShopSmith Mark V. Mine is about twenty-seven and still doing very well.
If it hasn’t been kept up with the recommended upgrades it may need a quill bearing replacement and a good cleaning and lubrication. The little thrust bearing on the top speed control pulley is also something that may need replacement. They’re a weak point that needs careful maintenance. Not expensive, though. I didn’t get it from the factory. You can buy a satisfactory one from a local bearing house.
If its in good condition the price isn’t too far out of line, but I’d be inclined to dicker.
The lathe feature isn’t like the heavy duty stand alone lathes so popular with most turners, but I can testify to it. I’ve done a number of turnings on it and I’m very pleased with it. The speed control is one of the great features. It has great range.
If you’re going to be a serious turner you may find it a little too small and it needs a good chuck.

Don’t count on the factory for good support. They have a peculiar mindset.
The bandsaw isn’t the best feature of the machine and I had some words with them about the adjustment on the top wheel. You have to BEND the support arm, there being no other way to adjust it for tracking. I replaced the tires with new urethane ones and new guide blocks. I have it on its own stand with a half horse motor. Some day I’d like to replace it with a better tool, but that’ll have to wait for a more propitious economic condition.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View oldskoolmodder's profile


801 posts in 3648 days

#2 posted 03-17-2009 02:01 PM

Check out prices on motors. My Dad has a Mark V that’s about that old,maybe a little older, and the motor crapped out on it, and they wanted almost as much as he paid for the whole thing, just for a “new” motor.

As far as space sarvers… Yeah, they save space, but this machine is VERY heavy, and when you want to put that bandsaw on, or lift the unit into vertical drilling position, then be sure your back is in good shape. All the accessories are heavy duty and with that comes plenty of weight. You still have to have a place to store all those accessories that attach to the Shopsmith…

There’s plenty of good things and a few bad things about them.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3364 days

#3 posted 03-17-2009 02:18 PM

My motor is original.
They’re specially manufactured for SS with a unique shaft and the motor manufacturer won’t sell them to any end user, so SS has us by the short hairs.
BUT – - they’re very hardy.
What goes wrong with them is the centrifugal starting switch. Sawdust gets between the points and the start coils aren’t energized. When that happens, the motor will hum but not turn. Giving the shaft a smart twist will make it go. That’s the sure sign of dirt in the cent. switch.
Pull the motor apart and clean the switch and the end bell. Then polish the points with very fine sandpaper, 400 or 1000. Be sure to clean the switch points after that so there’s no abrasive particles left behind.
I haven’t had to do it again and that was several years ago.
I also had to replace the switch. Not a big deal.
Yes, the accessories are heavy. For that reason I recommend mounting them on their own motorized stands. The jointer is especially heavy.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View MyOldGarage's profile


93 posts in 3396 days

#4 posted 03-17-2009 03:05 PM

I got mine with a box of goodies for $450. There are deals out there. :-) I’ve been using mine for only a little bit, but I love it so far. I have a 500 and a 510, and my dad has a 520. I really like the 520’s table thumb screws, but will wait to upgrade mine. They make a lift assist to raise the unit for drill press operation. I have the jointer and it’s made like a tank, but I don’t have to worry about taking up more room in my two-bay garage. There would be no way to have enough room for all the tools that this replaces.

-- Bradley Miller, Blue Springs, MO -

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 3747 days

#5 posted 03-17-2009 05:19 PM

Depending on accessories, you can find Shopsmiths from $150 to $2000 on eBay and Craigslist. $1200 not a bad price for the SS including a bandsaw and belt sander. eBay is a great place to sell shopsmith parts you don’t need (Search for “Shopsmith” on eBay) The big difference in models is horsepower (3/4hp in the 50’s and 1-1/8 ever since) and main table size. I’d look for a Mark V 510 or Mark V 520. I own 2 from the 50’s. One I from my Dad and one I bought for $200 on Craigslist. Both needed new bearings which I replaced. Parts are still available from Shopsmith and parts available today can be used for all shopsmiths since 1953. I have free standing tools for just about everything a Shopsmith can do but I find myself using the Shopsmith more and more. If I was just starting out, a Shopsmith would be the first tool I purchased for my shop. When I head to my daughters homes, I roll my Shopsmith into my trailer and take it with me.

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 3746 days

#6 posted 03-17-2009 08:17 PM

I have been using mine for close to 30 years I also have a 510R, what you want to check is that is has the larger 1+ HP motor. There is no way to check the Quill Bearings without taking it out but you do want one with a 2 bearing quill for lathe work.

Check out the Shopsmith forum where you can find lots of support and videos on using the machine in ways you never imagined.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

View scottz's profile


21 posts in 3478 days

#7 posted 03-17-2009 09:35 PM

I recently bought one of similar vintage w/ bandsaw, belt sander, disc sander and some of the lathe parts. I plan to use it primarily for the band saw and drill press and a bit of sanding. I was tinkering with it last night and I’m impressed so far and I think it will serve me just fine.

HOWEVER, I paid $200 (needed a little bit of tlc to get it running). I wouldn’t consider paying $1200 for one, especially since you already have TS, BS and DP.

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3784 days

#8 posted 03-17-2009 11:15 PM

I wouldn’t want to break down my setups every time I changed to some other function. Not everything can be done in a specific order.

I prefer stand-alone tools. ( Hence, after considering a ShopSmith, I decided not to buy one.)

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4045 days

#9 posted 03-18-2009 12:59 AM

Don & bradley . . . tks for the details and comments

OSM – I was not aware they were THAT heavy.

DaveH . . . your trailer idea is probably where the SS shines. All in one package. If I was just starting out it probably would be my first choice.

Paul . . . I think I will pop over to the SS forum.

Scottz & Catspaw. . . I’m sort of leaning in your direction. I already have some stand alone machines so I would not get the full benefit from a SS . . . although they are really neat machines. $1200 is not an easy amount to come by these days.

I’m still mulling it over.

-- BLOG -

View dragondncr's profile


38 posts in 3398 days

#10 posted 03-18-2009 02:13 AM

I have the SS 510 model. It is a good machine. I have the SS planar free standing, SS Bandsaw on its own power station. I thought the jointer was too small, so bought a separate free standing jointer. If you are limited on room, the SS is a great way to go. Once setup and alignment are done, the machine is very accurate.

But, if I had it to do all over again, I would lean towards the free standing if space is not an issue. Setups can be a hassle sometimes, especially if you forgot to cut everything, changed setups, and had to come back to another setup for the one you forgot.

-- dragondncr

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3398 days

#11 posted 03-18-2009 02:47 AM

I have a Mark V 510 that has been fully upgraded to a 520. I feel that I can do anything that I might ever want to do in a home workshop. This is not a tool designed to be used in a high production environment but rather in a homer work shop. It has served me well for many, many years.

It has been here stated that Shopsmith, Inc has a peculiar mindset and that you should not count on them for support. I don’t believe I could DISAGREE with that more. I have found customer service to be extraordinary and they have worked hard to fulfill all of my service needs.

Right now, during these hard financial times, the back order list gets used a lot but they still deliver. I believe they are what all business’s should be – customer oriented.

You said that it was a 510. Therefore it has the larger table. In my opinion, this eliminates the one and only legitimate criticism I have ever heard of the older machines. The smaller table (typical of older machines) would be a limiting factor for me.

The price, $1200 with that list of accessories is a reasonable price. Turn it on and run it up to full speed and back down. Failure to be able to do this is the one thing that would make me hesitate to buy at that price.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3729 days

#12 posted 03-18-2009 02:58 AM

As a long time Shopsmith user, I often find that others use the term set-up to mean two entirely different things. Set-up is the proceedure required to orgainize a tool in order to make a required cut. This can be as simple as setting the fence at the proper distance from the saw blade, to more complex proceedures like changing to a dado blade, or adjusting the miter gauge and blade to make compound cuts. Sometimes a set-up can be very complex and require several test cuts to get things just right. In this respect the Shopsmith is not much different than any other woodworking tool. Obviously many projects require several set-ups, and if you make a mistake and discover that you have to go back and re-create a set-up this is just as frustrating on a stand alone tool as on the Shopsmith.

Change-over on a Shopsmith is the proceedure to change the tool from one mode to the other, such as saw to drill press. Change-overs are “slamdunk” easy and straightforward, Shopsmith has designed the machine so that in almost every case the only tool required is a 5/32” allen wrench. I can usually accomplish a change- over in two minutes or less while sipping coffee. If you don’t plan ahead you may have to go back to a previous mode and re-do a set-up, but you can make the same type of mistake with stand alone tools as well.

I don’t know why the special purpose tools have been called “heavy”. The Bandsaw weighs 45 lbs, the Beltsander 36 lbs, and the jointer 53 lbs. I’m seventy years old and placing these tools on my Shopsmith has never been a problem. The Shopsmith itself, mounted on castors weighs far less than any cabinet saw, or 14” band saw. or 6” jointer on the market today. The Shopsmith occupies about 12 sq ft of floor space and my 9 year old grandson can move it.

Stand alone tools have their advantages and so does the Shopsmith. One thing that you can count on is the fact that the Shopsmith is a precision machine, giving up nothing in that respect to some of the best tools on the market today.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Burroughs's profile


3 posts in 3341 days

#13 posted 04-08-2009 04:27 AM

I used my Dad’s Shopsmith when in high school, and have had my own for the last twenty years. With a thin kerf blade, the Shopsmith does a standup job of cutting wood, even thick maple and birch. One does have to be careful of alignment, as with any tool. Reviewing a Shopsmith saw and comparing it against a 3hp+ three-phase table saw is just not valid. I will never have the room – or the cost justification – for the large saw. I have the local wood supplier cut my large lumber with their 3hp+ three-phase saw. They charge a reasonable rate, and it makes the wood much easier to transport.
I also have a 20 year-old Delta floor drill and a forty year old Craftsman table saw. The trick is to have the Shopsmith along with a couple more power tools. Both the Delta and Craftsman take up very little room, and are very handy for day to day tasks. Anything critical is done on the Shopsmith. The ability to set the speed instantly for any task makes everything easier
The Shopsmith is very well made, becoming familiar and easy to use. I have never seen or heard of the level of support that Shopsmith gives to their customers for this class of machine.
I have turned very large and very heavy items using the Shopsmith as a lathe; again, being able to change speed at any time is invaluable.
One Shopsmith tool that has not been mentioned is the conical disk sander. I have used this for stair railings and pot hanger racks. The disk is slightly cone-shaped (four degree angle) and the table is set to a right angle to the disk. The result is a small thickness planer that works exceptionally well.
I have also used the normal, flat, sanding disk on many occasions, with great results.
Also, horizontal boring is useful for drilling holes into the edge of wood for using connector bolts and then drilling for their cross-drilled cylindrical nuts. Once the Shopsmith is set up to drill the edge, the table can be rotated immediately 90 degrees to drill the hole for the nut (drilled from the surface of the wood). The result is perfect alignment between the two holes.
I have used the Shopsmith lathe, sanding disks, saw, drill, jointer; along with the bandsaw and 1” belt sander. For me, the Shopsmith does what I need, and has been used many time because it can do more than advertised, not less.
I recommend purchasing used Shopsmith equipment in excellent condition for most home woodworking needs.

-- B-1

View Giospro's profile


3 posts in 3339 days

#14 posted 12-04-2009 07:05 PM

I have a SS 510 for over 20 yrs and had no problems, it does everything i need it to do, i would recommend it.

-- Gios

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