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Thread: Smithy v. Shopsmith?

  1. #1

    Smithy v. Shopsmith?

    Hi everyone, I am Phil and I am new. Just bought a 20 x 30 steel building (workshop) with an attached three bedroom house and two car garage. I have been seriously looking at the Smithy Supershop and the Shopsmith. I was wondering if anyone had experience with either or both? Hopefully after we close and move in I will be able to contribute more substantially.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Arkansas
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    549
    Phil - Welcome to the Creek. I had a Shopsmith Mark V for about 24 years. Like many, it was my first woodworking tool.

    It served me well during that period but frankly has its limitations and while it is a 5 in one tool, it doesn't do a great job at any of the functions. The absolute worst of all the tools is the tablesaw. The drill press is marginally acceptable because the table flexes too much. The disc sander horizontal boring machine functions are acceptable. The lathe is OK but I hated the toolrest and the lack of a quill on the tailstock end.

    If you are looking to buy one go for used and not new. The new ones are priced so high you could outfit your shop with pretty reasonable quality stand alone tools for the same or less money than a Shopsmith. With the shop size you have, it doesn't sound like space is an issue. Several years ago, I sold my Shopsmith in good shape for $650 so you should be able to pick one up in that ballpark.

    Steve

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    37,690
    Phil, welcome to the 'Creek. It's a great community to hang out in!

    I agree with Steve...if you do decide to go with a ShopSmith combo machine, buy used. There are plenty of them out there for considerably less money than new. Beware of "off brands", however...you want "real" ShopSmith. I've never known anyone that's owned the Smithy, although I've seen ads from time to time in those ad mailers that come from the post office.

    Personally, I favor good quality separate tools that you acquire as you need them for your work. The exception being Euro combos which are generally very high quality and high functionality. But also quite expensive...
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Richmond, VA
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    neither?

    I can't speak from experience, but when I got into woodworking a couple years ago I was intrigued by the Shopsmith since I have a small workspace. But then once you compare the features to full-size machines it just seems like a compromise in every respect.

    The tablesaw looks totally inadequate (and I've heard some say it is downright scary with any wood of moderate size), the jointer is puny, etc. I think the horizontal boring setup and lathe might be the only reasonably good tools (compared to stand-alone machines). It just seems to be a major compromise, but that is my 2 cents.

    Jake

  5. #5
    Like Steve, I had one for many years and within it's limitations it produced some nice items (I used mine out of a 10" square metal storage shed so I was truly space-challanged). Yep, the sanding function and the horizontal borer are the nicest features but unlike Steve, I loved the drill press function. Variable speed on the fly, table adjusted to any angle easily and I never experienced table flex. Lathe is good for standard spindle turning, Any big, off-balance bowl blanks will throw it for a loop. And, get the real thing not a knock off like Smithy. And, yep, get it used.

    George
    2B1ASK1

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    490
    Phil:

    Welcome to the Creek!

    I had a Shopsmith, and like many others, it's how I got started in the hobby. I think Steve's analysis is correct. The Shopsmith is a jack of all trades, but master of none. I would recommend it only if you're really short on shop space (and it doesn't sound like you are), and you're working on small projects. It's expensive - if purchased new - and there are very few accessories made by anyone other than Shopsmith.

    I got my Shopsmith setup (Mark V model 510, jointer, bandsaw, belt sander, lathe duplicator) from my Dad, and completed a few projects on it. I sold it and got enough to buy a refurbished Delta contractor's saw, a new Powermatic 6" jointer, a scratch & dent Jet 14" band saw, and a new Grizzly drill press. I definitely prefer dedicated machines.

    The Shopsmith is a well-made machine with serious limitations. Mine wouldn't stay in alignment, no matter what I tried. So, every time I made a change to the setup - even just to change the blade height on the table saw - I had to adjust the alignment. That was more frustration than I wanted to deal with, given my limited shop time.

    It's possible to turn out good work on a Shopsmith, but I wouldn't try building larger projects with one.
    Sam/Atlanta

  7. #7
    Thanks everyone for the warm welcome. All the tools I own are low end and benchtop tools since I never had more than a single car garage space.

    I spent 22 years in the Marines and there was no way to lug around a workshop full of tools. So, now that I am retired I intend to make up for lost time. Hence the not-joke about buying a shop with a house attached

    I am basically a well read rookie. Got lots of magazines and books. And I am reasonably handy with a scrollsaw and my little craftsman bandsaw. I was looking at the Shopsmith as it bills itself to be precision engineered. And I still like the idea of portability and as a gadget junkie I love the idea of multifunction.

    Smithy advertises itself to be a heavier duty machine tool quality update of the Shopsmith concept. It also costs less. I don't know where my niche in woodworking is yet. I like small keepsake projects, toys, and scrollsawing. I'd really like to learn how to turn on a lathe (did that in HS about 25 years ago) and make pens.

    Guess I will be bugging y'all with questions as we go along.

    Thanks again for the welcome!

  8. #8
    My father had a Shopsmith and I use to use it when I was younger. It's a poorly designed, dangerous machine that should be in a junkyard and nowhere else. It almost killed me when I was a young man and put me off from woodworking for 20 years. After watching Norm I was convinced that woodworking didn't need to have the pucker factor afforded by the POS Shopsmith so I took the plunge and have safely enjoyed the hobby ever since. I now use a European combination machine and their is no comparison between the death trap called a Shopsmith and a properly engineered, safe, and enjoyable combination machine.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tampa Fl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Gwinn
    Hi everyone, I am Phil and I am new. Just bought a 20 x 30 steel building (workshop) with an attached three bedroom house and two car garage. I have been seriously looking at the Smithy Supershop and the Shopsmith. I was wondering if anyone had experience with either or both? Hopefully after we close and move in I will be able to contribute more substantially.
    The only reason to buy a Shopsmith is to conserve space and from the size of your workshop you do not need to do that.

    As far as being unsafe or any of the other things Shopsmith is accused of is simply not true. It is as safe or unsafe as the operator of the machine.

    I have one and I really like the things I can do on it. I'm forever building something, shapeing something, fixing something with it. I don't use a jointer, bandsaw, lathe, drill press, disk sander, horizontal boring machine, grinder enough to justify buying standalone.

    Oh I could buy them and fuss with them and all that goes with owning the various machines but what is the point? I can usually do what I want on the Shopsmith.

    I agree it is far more impressive to fill the workshop wall to wall with machines, but I was always taught to only buy what I really needed. Would I like to have a 20 inch jointer? Sure but what is the point of spending that much money just to have something that 90 percent of the time you only joint 1 or 2 inch wide boards on?

    If space is tight consider the Shopsmith if it is not consider buying separate machines, but buy wisely don't buy something that is fantastic to have and brag about but you only use 5% of it's capabilities 90% of the time.
    Ed

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Bloomington, IL
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    4,299
    So as far as I know no one has ever died with a shopsmith so Steven Wilson calling one a deathtrap is pretty humorous to me.

    I bought a Delta right tilt arbor saw, PC 7518, and Shopsmith with power stand for one money a couple of years ago. I would not give up my table saw at all but I love the Shopsmith for a few special reasons. I use it about 90 percent of the time as a sanding station or drill press. I have the 20" scrollsaw and 12" sanding disc running on it and it sits very nicely under my wood rack. It is great. I also own the 6"X48" belt sander and it is great as well on the power station. I also use it as a drill press as all I have is a small Montgomery Ward benchtop stand alone drill press right now. The SS Drill Press works great and its table and fence are very large and adjustable for a drill press.

    I never gave the SS table saw a chance on it as I did not need to with the Delta. Looks kinda different when setup as a table saw. I think I will stick to the stand alone table.

    As to the flexing of the table, not sure what you were doing to flex it with the drill press setup but that seems very extreme to me.

    I would definatly try one out yourself and see if you like it. Get it used definately and look locally as people on ebay spend big $$ on them for some reason. A Mark V just sold here last month for $200 with all the pieces. Do not get a clone of the SS.

    I do like using the lathe but what I use it for is pretty basic.

    I think it is a great tool if you get the right deal on one!
    Glad its my shop I am responsible for - I only have to make me happy.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Yakima, WA
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    36
    I had a ShopSmith and hated it. Even after I got power stands for the bandsaw, jointer, belt sander, and strip sander it just wasn't what I could work with comfortably. The table saw is a tilt table, not arbor and that really is a PITA. Not only that, it's a direct drive. You have to remember to slow the motor down before you shut if off. I'd suggest you get a Grizzly catalog and get some good machines.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Farmington, AR
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    My jointer does way more face cutting than it does edging. I constantly wish for a wider jointer than a 6". Right now I could use a 12". That would be a more rare use though. If the wear marks on my old jointer tables tell any stories, it is that it was used for many years at around 5 1/2" much more than at 1 or 2".

    I don't own any "bragging tools". Most of mine are older and lower end, with a couple of exceptions in fixtures and hand tools. All my power tools get a lot of use with almost every project. And I have a fairly full garage.

    David

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Blough
    I agree it is far more impressive to fill the workshop wall to wall with machines, but I was always taught to only buy what I really needed. Would I like to have a 20 inch jointer? Sure but what is the point of spending that much money just to have something that 90 percent of the time you only joint 1 or 2 inch wide boards on?

    If space is tight consider the Shopsmith if it is not consider buying separate machines, but buy wisely don't buy something that is fantastic to have and brag about but you only use 5% of it's capabilities 90% of the time.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Posts
    176

    Shopsmith vs. Smithy

    Phil:

    You have already received a lot of good advice, so I wont belabor most of the points already touched on. Here are a couple of things to think about.

    First, don't buy a new Smithy or Shopsmith. The older model Smithy that was made in the U.S. is reported to be an excellent machine, but they are rare. The Taiwanese copy is too heavy and not as well made. If you do decide to buy either a Smithy or TotalShop (another clone) dont pay more than $500 and that should get you both the basic machine and a jointer or bandsaw. The older Shopsmiths are very good machines. For a 10 year old Shopsmith you should get one for less than a $1000. If you go for a Shopsmith 10ER (which I have), those go for around $200, give or take $100, and they are a very good basic machine. They are better than the Shosmith Mark V as a drill press, sander and lathe; not quite as good as a tablesaw.

    I own a very expensive European Combo machine and it acts as my main woodworking machine; tablesaw, jointer/planer, shaper, moritsing machine. Last week I made two sets of bunk beds on commission out of hard maple. I used my old Shopsmith constantly as a drill press, lathe, and horizontal boring machine. It worked great. In each case it was as good or better than anyhing else I had available that would have cost more money.

    If you are space constrained the Shopsmith is a viable alternative to expensive stand alone machines, but don't pay even close to retail price for one.

    good luck

    john lawson

    ps If you have any questions or need pictures contact me by PM I will be glad to provide details.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Columbiana, Ohio
    Posts
    52
    I've had a Mark V for about 10 or 12 years. It is ok
    if you have limited spaceand as stated the saw is the worst of the 5 tools. When I realized the cost of the accessory tools I bought stand alones (band saw, planer, scroll saw and jointer). If I ever get a workshop with more room I'll buy a real table saw but still keep the Shopsmith for a lathe, horizontal drill and disk sander. I would stay away from the Shopsmith look alikes-there have been several that have come and gone and left their owners with no place for repair parts. SS at least appears that it will remain around. I don't understand the comment about remembering to slow the unit down before shutting it off. I have never done that. You do need to have the unit running however, to change speeds.

  15. #15
    do a goggle search for shopsmith user groups , there is a yahoo group Ive belonged to for a few years .

    I don't think I'm allowed to link here but goggle will get you there .

    I have owned two ER10's Ive built some decent stuff, Cradle when my son was born , 16' sailboat etc.

    I sill own a 10er also have a 10 table saw and radial arm saw and a GRS (you might want to drop down and read the Eurkazone forum here and consider the ez smart as option )

    paid 165 for my first er10 back in '78 sold it when we moved in 83 (for a profit )

    bought the second er10 about 3 years ago for $65.00

    no way would I put 3k in one

    I was thinking the other day of selling it but I think ill keep it for the drill press
    Last edited by skip coyne; 11-07-2006 at 8:10 AM.

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