I am a complete novice to woodworking and in looking over glossies have read about the Shopsmith Mark V. Any feedback from the pros out there about whether this is a serious or useful machine? Does it have staying power to grow with the woodworker's experience or is it an expensive toy to use until one is ready for the serious tools?
I purchased My Shopsmith about 12 years ago. The thing is built like a tank. I have used it to build a house full of furniture and it still has the original belt on it. I think it is a great tool to learn woodworking on as I did. Of all the things you can do with it it's like a multipurpose Jig. I see a lot of articles in magazines on building Jig's for a project but most of the time I can skip that step because I can tilt the table or chuck a router bit on it to do the same thing.Shopsmith has great customer service when needed. Don't think of them as a big company that makes 1,000 different tools. They are very much a small company and everyone that works for them knows that Mark 5 inside out. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.
I don't own a shopsmith. So my input is limited to what I have heard from users. Most reach a point where they want a real table saw. They find the task of making the changes to go from one tool to the next to be a pain. I have a jointer/planner that take about 10 sec to change from one to the other and find it a pain. If you don't think it will be a major part of your life and just want to do some woodworking it might work, but for the same money you could buy very good tools (maybe used) and have a real shop.
I do own a shopsmith, and a Rigid ts2424 table saw. I agree with the point that has been made about changing the machine for every operation. I really only use it as a lathe anymore. I must say as well that my rigid saw performs much better than the shop smith as a table saw.
I bought my Shopsmith Mark V in 1980 and have have had very
little problem with it. In my humble opinion,I think it's a
fine machine. My basement space is only 10' by 26' so the
Mark V fits right in. I've spent many enjoyable hours on the
V making things for friends and relatives.
Like you, when I started woodworking about,5 years ago, I bought a new Shopsmith Mark V. It's really a great machine for what it claims to be, that is, a multiple purpose, compact tool; very well made, and dependable. I found it's main weakness to be the table saw function...it's fine for small pieces but becomes very cumbersome when compared to contractor style table saws when used for larger ones. I soon got a Delta table saw, and wound up using the Shopsmith mostly as a drill press, and disk sander. If your workshop space is limited and you understand how some of the Shopsmith tool setups can be tedious and time consuming, by all means buy it. It really is a terrific product.
I own a ShopSmith model 510. It's a good entry level machine but would suggest that you put your money into individual equipment items. ShopSmith is so over priced it's a shame. Over rated too for that matter.
If you have room, use your money more wisely and buy individual machines. It won't take long for you to become disenchanted with the ShopSmith and have to start buying individual pieces anyway.
Few of the things I don't like about ShopSmith:
* Cast aluminum table marks work unless cleaned frequently & waxed.
* Tablesaw rip fence keeps getting out of adjustment.
* Fence difficult to adjust when over a joint in table extensions.
* System requires more planning to avoid equipment changes.
* Scroll saw blade changes are a time consuming pain.
* Once ShopSmith has your money they forget about you. Don't send new catalogs etc. I had to get on their case to get on mailing list.
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