I bought one a long time ago and to be honest I never actually got to use it. It will be for sale soon. But here's my take on the Shopsmith or equals.
One, they are multipurpose obviously and as such tend to be jacks of all trades but masters of none. What I'm trying to say is that the precision level may not be consisten nor the overall usability for each mode.
Two, and this is the most important to me is that you have to change the machine for each of the different operations you'll do. Switching from table saw mode to drill press to sander to lathe and so on takes time. Doing assembly line operations is the best approach, but sometimes you'll need to switch the mode from one to another in certain projects.
Now, as you mentioned, if your space is limited then you certainly can't go wrong with one of these machines. Just remember the change time from one mode to another has to be considered. Also, the precision level isn't or may not be that big of a factor but you're more likely to make adjustments when switching modes.
As for starting from scratch, I'm currently looking for a Table Saw, Jointer, Planer, Band Saw, Cyclone Dust Control System, and Drill Press (In that order.) I currently own a bench top Drill Press so that's lowest on my priority. BTW, I have a 25 x 25 garage so I do have more space to afford for these tools, though I won't have any space for my vehicles...
Only you can answer what's right for your shop. Me, I have a workbench, that's it. No TS. Only what fits on or under the workbench (though I can take up more space when I'm actually working, I have no more storage space). My bench isn't as big as a Shopsmith. If it were, I might consider a Shopsmith as an alternative. :)
BTW, I first learned from the local Shopsmith store in Raleigh, NC and made several nice pieces in classes there. That's how I got started. Later, I bought separate equipment, and after my husband died, I sold it and moved back west.
I've never used one so take my advice for what it's worth.
What I've heard about shopsmith is that it's a very good lathe but not great as a table saw. Given the first couple of projects on your list are going to require working with plywood you are probably not going to like the very small table.
Honestly, even with a dedicated table saw you still are going to want to get (or build) some type of straight edge system for use with a circular saw to get down to reasonable size pieces since you don't have room for a monster setup.
The other tools you get with it are nice but may or may not be good deals. I've done fine with my 10" benchtop drillpress that cost $99. If you need the 16" that the shopsmith has it might make a difference on how good a value you think it is. Same is true of a smaller combo sanding machine.
I'd probably go with a tablesaw, straight edge system and router as my first three tools. That gets you through at least the first 2 projects on the list -- more if you purchase the legs for the dining room table. Pocket hole jig would be next after the 3 above
> - Entertainment Center
> - Library / book shelves
> - Dining room table
> - Desk
> - Outdoor bench
> - Outdoor chairs
Look at what you plan to build. Entertainment centers and dining room tables are not small, and are not one day projects. Consequently, when you are building them, they will be in the middle of your space and the cars will have to be evicted for several days minimum. If you get separate tools and mount them on mobile bases so they are easier to move, you can put them against the wall in a fairly small space when your not using them. When you are in the middle of a project, the project will have to take priority over the space anyway, so you might as well get seperate tools in my opinion.
There are people who swear by them and those who swear at them.
Personally, I picked up a 1954 Shopsmith that was made by Magna Corp. in the days before there was a Shopsmith Corp.
After all these years it's still right on. The lathe centers line up point to point. It still does what it was designed to do.
I now have individual dedicated tools, but still am going to hang on to the Shopsmith. It has been quite handy for horizontal boring. With two tubes, it's quite a respectable drill press. It works OK as a lathe, but the .5 hp motor makes it a bit underpowered and at 1750 rpm it's a bit too slow.
Quite frankly it's a PITA for a table saw. Besides it being limited to an 8" blade, the tilting table is just not for me. By the way, I believe the newer ones have 12" blades.
I paid a whopping $134.50 off e-Bay for it and found it just about 50 miles down the road so I didn't have to pay shipping.
That being said, they work well for their intended use. They do not take up much room (about 6'X 2'). Everything for them seems to be too expensive. I think their 4" jointer is something like $450.
One more thing, I understand from their ads that Total Shop is beefier and made for metal working as well.
If you buy a Shopsmith with high expectations you are likely to be disappointed. If you buy one allowing that your projects will take a bit longer due to constant set ups you may be pleasantly surprised.
Bottom line, do your homework and above all, BUY USED. You will likely get a lot of add ons included in the deal.
Shopsmiths in the $500 to $1500 range are not uncommon.
Can't say, never went that way.
One thing I did do was make it clear that I own the garage and a room for my compooter junk (office).
So no gasoline is allowed in my shop except my chainsaw since I sold my bike for a boat.
Not even lawn equipment... }>
[link:home.att.net/~paul.edmonds/|Sonny Edmonds ]
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I've never owned one but know a few people who have. From my observations they started out with great intentions that faded fast and then they had a heck of a time to find any buyers for the shopsmiths, let alone get 500 bucks even. Talk about a losing proposition. To a person the reason they gave me for not using them was that it was a royal pain in their 'you know what' to always be switching the machine from one use to another. Unless youre a very organized woodworker with lots of experience it just doesnt happen that way, excepting maybe the simplest projects. I'd spend the money thta machine cost new on an addition or a new smaller shop building and get some dedicated tools. If you're serious about woodworking. you won't regret that descision.
How much room do you have available for woodworking? How you answer that question usually will answer the buy or no buy question.
Usually separate tools are cheaper and handle larger capacities than combination tools.
With combination tools you'll need to plan your work sequences very carefully. If you don't, your woodworking time will be converting the machine from one function to another.
Some of the hobby machines cost almost as much as major combination machines. (Felder had a saw, (panel saw) shpaer, jointer for about $7K.) A cabinet saw, jointer and planer can be less than $3K. The Shopsmith that I looked at appeared to have table saw and lathe functions for about $3400.
The only advantages to a Shopsmith that I can see are:
A Shopsmith requires less physical space than individual machines.
A Shopsmith can be relocated easier if you're in that line of work or the military.
A Shopsmith can be moved in and out of a basement more easily than dedicated machines.
Dedicated machines have several major advantages over a Shopsmith:
Buy and grow. Buy what you need now and grow into other machines later.
Individual machines are more powerful with larger capacities.
When there is a problem with an individual machine, your whole shop is not down.
You are not locked into buying extensions, expansions or accessories from a single source.
I have the feeling that the Shopsmith is more popular in the larger eastern cities than in the western US. IMHO this is caused by the 'How much space is available for my shop?' issue. I guess that if you have a basement then a Shopsmith is a good deal. If you have a garage then individual tools are the way to go.
Just yesterday, we used clamps after glue simply to take the bow out of the wood we were using, and it straightened everything out for us. Usually though, any time you lay up a project the clamps are...