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rrh_sandman
04-08-2002, 11:21 AM
Well I'm a long time lurker of the board and I'm finally getting around to making a post.

Has anyone had any experience with the shopsmith Mark IV? I saw a demo the other day and it looks like a nice machine but I'm not sure if it really has the functionality or the quality of a collection of stand-alone machines.


"measure once cut twice"

Mike Sands
Rochester NY

Danford C Jennings
04-08-2002, 11:37 AM
Mike,

The biggest draw back I see with this machine is that in it's table saw mode it is practically useless for any thing other than small craft projects. Depth of cut adjustments are made by lowering or rasing the table, which also comes in sections. The fence on this machine is another weak area. A precision tool it's not. The other drawback I see, is that one really needs to pre plan their project's milling operations because changing modes is not near as efficient as having stand alone tools. Another thing one should be aware of is that replacement parts and accessory items are very spendy.

They are well built machines, with exception of the table and fence, no question about that and in the lathe mode it works very well.

Most folks I know who started out with the ShopSmith end up upgrading to stand alone tools. I would be very hard pressed to recommend this machine. FWIW.

Dano

Lou_williams
04-08-2002, 12:13 PM
I agree with Dano.

The one place I would recomend this tool is very limited.

If you have very small space for a workshop, want to do small projects (bird houses), want to use the lathe more than anything else, and are not in a hurry to do anything.

The used market for this tool is the 800 to 1000 area.

I have one combo tool and it only takes a few seconds to change modes, but it is a PITA and I would have bought stand alone tools if I had it to do over.

I looked real hard a the shopsmith when I was looking for a long bed lathe. If I had found a good used machine I would have bought it, but the money they want for one new was just too much for me to go for just a lathe. All the add ons look neet but you can get better tools stand alone for about the same money.

dplaskett
04-08-2002, 12:57 PM
I have had a shopsmith for more than 30 yrs and it has served me well due to small space. Now I have larger space and have purchased all stand alone tools. Much happier with them. I will keep the shopsmith for the lathe and drill press functions, but stand alone tools is the way to go. Hope this helps

bohaiboy
04-08-2002, 01:01 PM
I have had a Mark 4 now for almost 6 years. It is absolutely wonderful for turning, use as a drill press or horizontal borere, and a bandsaw if you have that attachmetn, As far as a tablesaw, when I have heavy duty cutting to do, i rent a DeWalt from Home Depot. I find it vey underpowered for ripping especially. i would suspect that is true for planer and jointer. I would not buy those from SS. Also, add ons from external sources typically will not fit SS, so you have to buy accessories to makeit fit the SS. Overall a good tool especially if in small places like I have. finally decided its worth leaving vehicle outside of garage and getting good quality stand alone. Will be buying planer, jointer, and router table soon.

rrh_sandman
04-08-2002, 01:07 PM
I had a feeling that was going to be the case.
The table saw setup in particular looked kind of odd. I'll go back to reviewing the other table saw posts and purchase a stand alone machine.

Thanks for the info.

"measure once cut twice"

Mike Sands
Rochester NY

Patrick
04-08-2002, 01:23 PM
I bought a Robland X31 two years ago. My garage is too small for all separate machines, plus I wanted to have a 12" jointer and 12" planer. I like the 10" table saw with cast iron tables and a sliding table. I understand the reservations people have regarding having to change over from one tool to the next, but it realy doesn't take longer then 30 seconds on most tools. The exception would be for going from the shaper to the saw, that would take about two minutes. I have no experience with the shopsmith, but for me a combination machine sure works!

Patrick

Shopsmith
04-09-2002, 12:02 PM
So I'll just reply to his post and add my own comments.

I started with a Shopsmith as my only stationary tool and I've been using it for everything for the past couple of years.

>The biggest draw back I see with this machine is that in it's table >saw mode it is practically useless for any thing other than small >craft projects.

That's a bit of an exaggeration, I think, but the intent is right. The truth is just that it takes a little more work and care to get the results you're after. At the Shopsmith demos, they say how it's got a bigger table than any other tablesaw. That's only true about sideways. IMO, there are two big weaknesses about the tablesaw:
1) the infeed side of the table in front of the blade is not big enough.
2) Setting the rip fence wider than 8" requires that you mount it to a rail of an accessory table. Trying to keep all those tables lined up correctly is a royal @#$#@.

>Depth of cut adjustments are made by lowering or rasing the table, >which also comes in sections. The fence on this machine is another >weak area. A precision tool it's not.

To me, it's not the fence that's weak, but the rail system. I think that's what Dano was getting at though. When you have the rails for the rip fence in sections you lose accuracy.

>The other drawback I see, is that one really needs to pre plan their >project's milling operations because changing modes is not near as >efficient as having stand alone tools.

That's true. If it were as simple as pre planning, I wouldn't have a problem with it. The problem is that when you're reading plans and trying to follow along, they're written with stationary machine efficiency in mind. They constantly have you go from machine to machine. You would have to completely rearrange the order of things to make it work. Sometimes, they have that order for a very good reason and it behooves you to follow it.

>aware of is that replacement parts and accessory items are very >spendy.

I have no experience with replacement parts, but the accessories are pure highway robbery if you buy them from Shopsmith. The machine is about 3X more expensive than it should be also, if you buy it from Shopsmith. Unfortunately, the second-hand prices that you find the accessories for on ebay end up being not too far off from the new prices. This price issue was one reason I started buying stationary tools. For example: Unless I was REALLY hard up in the space department, why would I spend $500 for an 11" bandsaw or 4" jointer? How can they charge that much when they don't even have their own motor or electrics? $1,000 for a 12" planer? I don't think so. They're pricing themselves right out of the market.

>They are well built machines, with exception of the table and fence, >no question about that and in the lathe mode it works very well.

True, and the tablesaw is well built too, but the Shopsmith design just doesn't lend itself to a precision tablesaw.

>Most folks I know who started out with the ShopSmith end up upgrading >to stand alone tools. I would be very hard pressed to recommend this >machine. FWIW.

I'm one of the folks Dano is talking about. First, I had the Shopsmith. Then, I needed a jointer and planer. Since Shopsmith thinks we're idiots that will buy something that doesn't perform as well as a stationary machine just for space or name brand reasons, I bought a Jet jointer and a Grizzly planer. Then, I finally got fed up with the tablesaw and bought a Jet tablesaw also. Once I get this tuned in, it will be a dream. It's quieter, the table is at the right height, and the fence rides on two rails instead of eight.

Now for the positives that get hazed over sometimes:
It's an outstanding drill press, a good lathe, and an outstanding disc sander. How much is that worth to you? A good drill press is about $400-600, a good lathe is probably that much and a disc sander is maybe a few hundred. Given that, it might be a good idea as a supplementary tool if you get one used.

Before I got my Mk V, I had a 10ER. That was from the original company, Magna. That was one heck of a machine. They sure did make tools sturdier in the 40's than they do now. With that one, I had to change the belts myself, and the tablesaw was all but unusable, but it was super-solid. If I wasn't still paying for the Mk. V at the time, I would have kept the 10ER and sold the Mk. V.

Keep an eye on ebay for used Shopsmiths. If you find an old beat-up 10ER like I did, and put about 6 hours' worth of time getting the rust off of it you will be happy. I got mine from a buddy at work for $240.

Danford C Jennings
04-09-2002, 12:43 PM
SS,

That's a bit of an exaggeration, I think, but the intent is right. The truth is just that it takes a little more work and care to get the results you're after. At the Shopsmith demos, they say how it's got a bigger table than any other tablesaw. That's only true about sideways. IMO, there are two big weaknesses about the tablesaw:
1) the infeed side of the table in front of the blade is not big enough.
2) Setting the rip fence wider than 8" requires that you mount it to a rail of an accessory table. Trying to keep all those tables lined up correctly is a royal @#$#@.

Nope, I didn't exaggerate, you just provided the proof.

To me, it's not the fence that's weak, but the rail system. I think that's what Dano was getting at though. When you have the rails for the rip fence in sections you lose accuracy.

No, what I was "getting at" is that the fence is weak. I've never run accross one yet that clamped down in alignment to the blade, this is a result of a mickey mouse clamping system at the toe of the fence. Good point about the rails though.....

Dano

daveferg
04-09-2002, 05:13 PM
I was seriously looking at the SS for several years---price holding me back. I agree with most everything said. I do think the speed in changing tools would come with time and practice--afterall, it's a hobby, not a race.

However, as was said, if you have so little space, that it's either the SS or nothing, obviously pick the SS.

I was actually looking at it for the lathe and drill press. While it may not be the tops, I think it's equivilant to entry level models of floor models of these tools---but, even used, the price is still above what you can get the separate tools for.

deathwish2
06-06-2002, 12:35 PM
>I was actually looking at it for the lathe and drill press.
>While it may not be the tops, I think it's equivilant to
>entry level models of floor models of these tools---but,
>even used, the price is still above what you can get the
>separate tools for.

Off-topic, I've had a nice belt-driven Delta 10" Contrctor II TS (36-640) with the nice 30" 2-level fence and a Crapsman 10" CMS for 4 and 6 years respectively.

On topic, I just bought a 1982 ShopSmith Mark V in like new condition (the table surface has less wear than my 4 year old Delta, and it's soft alum, not cast-iron) for $500 on ebay (a STEAL). I drove 180 miles each way to pick it up and could not be happier.

What I've read above (and elsewhere here) I made the right choice as I NEEDED and drill press and WANTED a lathe.

What I have come to realize when researching lathes and talking to 'turners' is that the lathe is the cheap part, the chisels, chucks and honing equipment is where the real cost is . . . so for now the 8-pc, $40 HSS set from Harbor Freight is gonna have to do.

For the drill press, most of the low end machines (and a few of the higher end as well) required belt changes to change speeds. This just seems so 1940's to me . . .

Anyhow, I think the Mark IV reference at the top of this thread is a Freudian Slip . . . once you discount the table saw functionality, it really is a 4-in-1 tool.

--Mark

ElectricSurf
06-07-2002, 11:01 PM
As is the case with many woodworkers the Shopsmith was one of my first exposures to power tools. Back in the late fifties and early sixties my father and I used a Shopsmith to build a home. When I started my own woodshop in the sixties the Shopsmith was a life saver because buying a used one and fixing it up gave me the features I needed without taking money and space I could not then afford. That first unit served me well, but most of what I asked of it was soon replaced with industrial tools. When I finally sold that shop and business, I went back to just having a Shopsmith with one of their power tables to hold a couple of extra attachments. That reduced the PITA to setup and take down, and fit in the little room on the side of my garage. With a full complement of in an out-feed table attachments it let me build much of the furniture and cabinets for our prior home.

When too many babies made us decide to move, I again got a full shop. I added two nice table saws both with sliding tables, a Robland and an Inca along with all the other goodies and sold the Shopsmith. Not long after starting my first project I found I missed some of the things it did better than some of my separates. It was a far better lathe, drill press and sander with their 6"x36" belt attachment and conical sander than my nice Delta units. I found their bandsaw, planer, and jointer way too weak and small. Their extension tables, blade guards, and safety features as well as their manuals are excellent, particularly for novice woodworkers. The Shopsmiths are built well and factory service excellent. The last parts I ordered were pricey but arrived at my door two days after my call. Compared to some of my other tools they are fairly easy to work on.

The tablesaw with an arbor change and good Forrest blade is excellent for the craft and gift projects I do, but setup can be a pain. I figured out that at my age and strength, it is often better to let my pros at my wood supply house to cut my big sheet goods right to size. Between learning about their cutting at four bits a cut, and my daughter parking her car where my big tools lived in my oversized garage, I find myself using my Shopsmith more and more. Must be wheeling that six hundred of Robland around being too tough.