To Shopsmith or not to Shopsmith?

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Forum topic by Sam Knight posted 02-17-2015 05:15 PM 1435 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sam Knight

21 posts in 1495 days

02-17-2015 05:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shopsmith shop smith tools question power tool help lathe bandsaw

Hello fellow Lumberjocks,
I want to get some advice from you guys that have/ and or have used a Shopsmith. I have a garage sized shop with only a Ridgid 3650 tablesaw and a drill press at present (as far as large power tools). Looking to add some more tools to the shop. Primary interests are small projects (boxes, picture frames and such) and then maybe some furniture and cabinets for the shop and house later as my skills and confidence increase. I have a friend that has a Shopsmith with the tablesaw, drill press, bandsaw, sander, and lathe that I may be able to acquire for around $500. Question to you guys is. If you only had enough cash to add one tool a year, ($400-500 each year max) would you buy the shopsmith or take the longer route of purchasing a tool each year? How well do each one of the tools work vs. a dedicated tool? Especially the bandsaw and lathe as I am fairly happy with my tablesaw.

Thanks in advance for the help,

-- Sam

8 replies so far

View pjr1's profile


26 posts in 1180 days

#1 posted 02-17-2015 05:43 PM

I have a Shopsmith bandsaw on a power station. I had to put upgraded backup bearings, cool blocks, and urethane tires to make me happy but it’s OK for the price I paid. Dust collection sucks and so do most of their branded accessories.

I’m in a garage too and all my big tools are on wheels except the drill press. They’re in a shed when not in use.

View Bill7255's profile


427 posts in 2250 days

#2 posted 02-17-2015 05:52 PM

I had a Shopsmith. I had the Shopsmith band saw on its own stand. Band saw is ok,but the table slots are not standard size. You would need to get accessories from them. Lathe was ok, but not my choice for a lathe. Sanding disk was the best part. The saw you would need to buy an adapter to use standard blades or buy their blades. I am much happier with stand alone tools,but I have the room. Some love the shopsmith, I just not one of them.

-- Bill R

View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2763 days

#3 posted 02-18-2015 12:42 AM

On the other hand, some of us just love the darned things.

I have both – a fully outfitted stand alone shop at home in Canada and a ShopSmith with lots of accessories at my winter place in Green Valley Az. I can make anything here that I can at home with all my high end stand alone tools and in just about the same time. Have a look at my projects. You can’t tell the winter ones from the summer ones.

The bandsaw is a very good small saw, better than any small stand alone I’ve used, the planer is waaaaay better than the lunchbox planer crowd (and more expensive new), and the drill press function of the original machine is excellent.

This blog goes through all the ShopSmith stuff I have and details how it works and what you can do with one. The only advice I would give you is to check around your area and be sure you are getting a good price.

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

View Garbanzolasvegas's profile


356 posts in 1193 days

#4 posted 02-18-2015 01:54 PM

I have had a Smith and I hated to tear it down and fashion it for another tool. The Table saw Bites, but I really liked it as a lathe. If you are ever going to cut large wide panels or sheet goods your going to wish you had gotten a real full sized table saw.

SS Quality is excellent on the other hand

-- If you don't Play, you can't win

View Florida_Jim's profile


83 posts in 2843 days

#5 posted 02-18-2015 02:29 PM

I’ve had my original Shopsmith for over forty years. It has been upraded several times. Over the years I added a second one, that has had the table removed, and shortened to a “minnie size”. I use it to run the band saw, belt sander, and sometimes the jointer.
Of course the shopsmith is some what of a compromise, especially the table saw function.
If you plan your work, switching modes is not too much of a hassle.
From a hobbyist point of view, it’s a very viable machine.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1057 posts in 2815 days

#6 posted 02-18-2015 02:50 PM

I worked with my Father in laws SS and when he passed it was offered to me & I declined. While I get that many have great experience with them, at the point in my skills where I was working, I couldn’t plan far enough ahead to complete all the tasks at one time while the SS was configured between the tools. For $500 a year I believe you could do better with CL adding task specific tools that don’t take as much flipping reversing etc to set up. I don’t get much time to play with my tools and as it is it drives me nuts to have to move everything into place, but once the garage is set, I can rip a board, go to the DP and put holes in it or joint an edge or go and cut a curve without any extra hassle than moving the DC hoses around.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View bonesbr549's profile


1531 posts in 3033 days

#7 posted 02-18-2015 04:21 PM

I had a SS, and moved up from a nasty table top model and it was a huge improvement. Made some decent money with it, enough to upgrade to real TS. I kept it forever though. Loved the Disk sander, and the horizontal boring capabilities. It was a total PIA to change over, but hey if you had time to deal with it not bad. I had a postage stamp workshop, so the space savings are great.

I finally got a real Cabinet saw, and would never go back unless no other options. I tried selling my SS forever, and finally got 200 for it, from a guy that collected them.

Save you pennies and get a real Cabinet say. You are close with your original budget. Good luck from been there done that.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View DrDirt's profile


4423 posts in 3708 days

#8 posted 02-18-2015 04:23 PM

So why not buy the shop smith…. then choose WHICH additional tool you want each year, based on wanting to either avoid the SS for that task, or avoiding the set-up/changeover.

So you just acquire tools that are ‘better’ for the work you want to do.

Sees the SS gets you ‘all the tools’ to make what you want right now…. so why wait 3 years to get a bandsaw or whatever tool you need to make cabinets, when you can be 100% functional immediately?

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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