Is Shopsmith Breathing its Final Breath?

Shopsmith.jpgA while back, in a previous post, I talked about the news that Shopsmith was in financial trouble. The news today confirms it. Robert Folkerth, the president was quoted as saying,

“…the company ‘significantly reduced’ its reliance on sales representatives who often travel to shows to sell Shopsmith’s tools and accessories.” 

Wait a minute. Did he say they cut their sales force? What that tells me is that they don’t see much hope for the Shopmith product that we’ve known and loved since the mid-70’s.  Has the competition for lower-priced standalone woodworking machinery pushed the Shopsmith out of the market? Sadly, I think it’s just a matter of time before Shopsmith goes the way of other woodworking machine manufacturers. Soon, the only place you’ll be able to read about them will be on the Old Woodworking Machines web site.

105 Responses to “Is Shopsmith Breathing its Final Breath?”

Gilbert Jagot said,

I’m surprised a company hasn’t come out with a ‘Chinese’ version (inferior metal, loser tolerances, etc.) yet. I’m sure it’ll happen eventually and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being sold at Harbor Freight.


Paul Cohen said,

I believe what Robert Folkerth said is they were changing their sales model, I think they will be selling through Home Depot.

Randy Maxey said,


I suppose you could be right, but something in me doubts it. I really hope they can pull out of this slump, though. I’ve always liked the concept of the Shopsmith. As I said before, I wouldn’t mind having one.



Paul Cohen said,

In full disclosure I have a 520 and love it, BTW the Shopsmith in the picture is a least 50 years old and you I’ll bet still works. How many other tools can that be said about?

Dave said,

Shopsmith is making changes in the way they will be marketing and selling their equipment by eliminating the extremely high cost of traveling sales reps across the U.S. while expanding Website, Direct Mail, Distributors and Telemarketing sales which are VERY profitable sales channels for the company. As with many other things you read in newspapers Mr. Folkerth’s comments were taken out of context.

Scott in NC said,

Gilbert Jagot,
Exactly what you suggest was tried back in the 1980-90’s. Total Shop, Menards, Master Woodshop, ShopMaster, Emco, FUSO and several others imported Taiwanese copies of the original Shopsmith Mark V, model 500. They were OK, and one innovation that Shopsmith ultimate adopted was a two-bearing quill, which all of these machines had. In the end they all failed for the same reason that Shopsmith will ultimately succumb… Inexpensive, Asian, stand-alone tools are larger, more powerful, and you can purchase them as you need them, rather than having to cough-up $3000 in one chunk. Shopsmith could import complete machines from Taiwan or China, and as it is many of their castings, bearing, cutter heads, and the vast majority of their arbors are already sourced in Asia and assembled in Dayton. I wish them well because they do sell a decent tool, but their prices have pushed me into the used eBay market for all my add-ons. My guess is the Fat Lady is warming-up…

Scott in NC said,

Sorry, I believe it was ENCO who sold a Shopsmith clone, not EMCO. Scott

Dusty in Tucson said,

I believe that my Grandson will get as much use from my Shopsmith as I have. It is a well made machine and like Shopsmith, Inc will continue on for a long time into the future.

Bill in Queen Creek said,

I bought my Shopsmith at Lowes in Colorado 2 years ago. They are a special order item. Shopsmith is bombarding me with special sale items and I feel they are reducing or eliminating warehouse stocks.

Bart said,

I have a friend that has 2 Shopsmiths mostly for the novelty he purchased them for almost nothing & also has a shop full of stand alone equipment.

I have looked at Shopsmith over the years & while I respect what they are trying to do could never bring myself to buy one.

Their table-saw with a non tilting blade shot them in the foot to start with. My first table-saw was a used tilt top style saw never again.

Their jointer is to small.

From everything I’ve heard the machine is well made & makes a great disk sander & drill-press & a marginal lathe. All the parts a proprietary so you can’t say buy a 6″ face plate down town & expect it to fit a Shopsmith & just try buying a table-saw blade to fit a Shopsmith where you would for a regular 10″ table-saw.

I can understand some people like & enjoy them (its just one example of proprietary parts similar to Packard bell computers who don’t exist anymore).

I wonder if they had the room & someone gave them some good quality stand alone equipment how much dust the Shopsmith would gather while sitting in a corner before they sold it to make more room for another stand alone piece of equipment?

Shopsmith is a neat idea but costs to much & is to limited & if first time would be wood workers could see a side by side demonstration & the difference by someone is moderately familiar with regular stand alone wood working tools & has used & is moderately familiar with Shopsmith I don’t believe Shopsmith would be able to sell anything accept to someone that isn’t going to ride their bicycle anymore & want to use the same room for a tool that will mostly collect dust.

Just a few words drive me away. Proprietary parts & fixed table-saw top.

There are guided tools systems & some reasonably good electric hand tools & bench top tools that will store in about the same or less room than a Shopsmith. Throw in a 6″ jointer & 12″ band saw & you could run circles around a Shopsmith.

If Shopsmith is going to be affiliated with Home Depot I feel sorry for them it will be like a drowning person being tossed a inflatable life vest with a hole in it & only half full of air.

I have had several experiences with HD & how they have treated Ridgid Tools. They either can’t find the tool that is there, don’t know what it is, or tell me there is going to be a sale like a battery powered tool set that was supposed togo on sale on Saturday & even showed me the set papers for the display, I got there early & there was no tools to sell first thing in the morning when the store opened. The only Ridgid tool I own to date is a MSUV its probably the only ridgid tool I’ll ever own it has no cord or battery so I don’t have to worry about HD’s support.

Doug said,

Bart, I think you are missing the niche of the Shopsmith. I would love to have a shop full of stand alone tools. However, I have a shop that is only 10’x10′ and therefore I do not have the room for more than one or two tools.

Although I am somewhat worried about ShopSmiths future, I know that the machine I have will last me my lifetime (i’m 46) and I suspect that others will use it when I am gone.

Kathy said,

Bart is also missing another point. I’m in the process of re-arranging my garage to make room for my Dad’s old Shopsmith. I think he got it for his first wedding anniverary, or something like that, and he cherished it. I feel like this Shopsmith is part of my heritage, and I’ll be thinking about my Dad every time I use it.

Fred said,

I’ve owned my Shopsmith for 25 years, since I was about 17 yrs old. I haven’t been it touch with the company, product literature, and website for a long while. Today I went to the website to see what was new. I was shocked to see a machine pretty much the same as my 25 yr old one. Same look, design, and function. The website was poor also. It’s too bad the company didn’t take a great product and develop it like other great American companies have done with their products. Am I right or missing something?

Jerome Hanby said,

This might be heresy, but I think no one is going to use the Shopsmith Tablesaw for very long, so why not eliminate it. If it came with their Jointer and the Bandsaw, it would be the perfect collection of tools everyone needs once in a while, Jointer, Lathe, Drill Press. I’ve got a good contractor Table Saw, a Rigid Planer, Jet dust collector and just contracted to buy a used Shopsmith for that exact reason. I already bought the Bandsaw attachment. All told I’ll have $695 dollars tied up in the Shopsmith. My next standalone purchase would have been a Grizzly Jointer for about $900. Admittedly I’m not getting an 8 inch jointer out of the Shopsmith deal, but I do get a Drill Press, Bandsaw, and Lathe that would not have fit in my tool budget for years. Plus I get to maximize the space in my garage workshop. I’m sure swapping the Shopsmith modes would get old very quickly in a production environment, but I only get a few hours a day, two or three times a week. I already try to plan out my time, so organizing tasks to minimize Shopsmith changeovers isn’t that much extra work.

Roy said,

Shopsmith isn’t a machine that is going to appeal to hardcore woodworkers. It’s a machine which will appeal to a hobbiest/homeowner who wants the flexibility it offers. Somebody who wants to get into woodworking.

I just bought an old 10ER on eBay. I paid a little over $100, and it’s not in bad shape for a tool made in the 50’s. I plan on playing with it for a while, and seeing what I can do with it. I already have several standalone woodworking tools, but have wanted one of these for some time. Just because. Unfortunatly for the company, if you want one of these tools, there are many of them available, at the fraction of the price of a new one. The internet makes them easy to find. Personally, I wouldn’t consider buying a cheaper version of a Shopsmith. A used one, sure. The should play up the “buy American” factor. People who buy these aren’t looking for a cheap tool.

It seems to me that the Shopsmith company might be able to do well by promoting their educational classes. It seems that they are trying to do this. I looked online, and am tempted to go to their woodworking classes. I would promote this, and try to get people interested in the Shopsmith.

Leon said,

I am a senior citizen retired
Looking for asmaller version of shop smith
I bet there is a market for one

Jeff said, said,

Has anyone made a project at SS’s place in Dayton? We couldn’t claim their promise (warranty) of real in person, sawdust training not dust collecting on the table top. Take it home project to learn efficient workshop? thanks

Ken said,

well the first poster said that harbor freight would come out with a copy and they did
check out: 10-in-1 Woodworking Machine

Deathwish2 said,


That looks to be a Smithy Supershop . . . I thought they had gone out of vusiness a few years back, but it seems they just went ‘out-of-country’

Rick Spalding said,

I have been using a Mark V for over 25 years. Ya it is not exactly like stationaries but you can make professional grade woodworking projects with it and have the space to park the car afterward. If you insist on stationary you will spend more $$ and have only about 1% more capability and accuracy as a SS. Don’t let anyone poo poo you out of the convenience and quality of SS. Unless you are doing full time quantity work SS is the way to go for small area shops. I bought a drill press and a couple other small things that are used a lot …just because I am too lazy to change configurations for small quick stuff. Take my advice and try it….they give ya 90 days…..what more can you ask????

Rick Spalding
Lititz, pa.

Daniel Bradshaw said,

I have owned a Shopsmith for nearly 30 years. It started out as a model 500 and has been upgraded to a model 510. I never could afford the model 520 upgrade.

I don’t want the company to go out of business, but I have thought and continue to think that all Shopsmith equipment is way overpriced for what you get. I check prices every now and then and I remain convinced that Shopsmith thinks too highly of their equipment. Most recently I was looking at the price of the thickness planer power stand. To buy it I would need to spend nearly half what I paid for the planer itself some 20 years ago. The least they could do would be to include retractable casters, but no, I would need to add another $80 to an already high price to get them.

Cost is my second biggest beef about Shopsmith. Accuracy, or the lack of it, is my biggest gripe. I have never experienced the much-vaunted accuracy claimed by the company and other owners. For example, several years ago I built some entry doors for a coworker. Since he was going to paint them and they were going to be used indoors, I opted for poplar as the primary wood. The weight of the 8/4 stock was great enough on the saw table that when I ripped it to width the table deflected one degree. So instead of 90 degrees I got 89 degrees. Once the cut was finished, the table returned to a perfect 90 degree setting. I was terribly frustrated and the puny jointer didn’t help square things up either. Anyone who has worked with poplar knows that it isn’t really a very heavy wood. I have had similar problems with other, heavier species of wood. I have found the table saw to be the weakest point of the entire machine.

Its weight and relatively high center of gravity are additional weaknesses. I have had two legs of the machine come up off the floor during a saw cut. The silver standard, quick-and-dirty test used to determine the stability of a machine is to balance a nickel on its edge on the table of the tool while it is running. The gold standard of this test is to balance the nickel without the machine running and then turn it on. If the nickel remains standing, the machine is very smooth and massive enough for serious work. The Shopsmith doesn’t mass enough to pass the silver standard let alone the gold.

Currently, my Shopsmith mostly gathers dust in the corner of my shop. I haul it out when I need a drill press or to power the bandsaw and thickness planer. Beyond that, I use stationary power tools sitting on mobile bases. They take up more room, but the mobile bases give me a lot of flexibility in arranging my shop and I can get my tools mostly out of the way for other uses of the space.

My purchase of the Shopsmith was a compromise between what I really wanted and what I could reasonably afford. I have done some fair work with it, though hardly professional grade no matter how well or carefully I have worked. In fact, I have the utmost respect for those owners who have been able to do professional grade work using a Shopsmith. I just don’t know how they do it. I don’t regret having purchased the machine. I only regret not having graduated from it when my work finally exceeded its capacity. It would have saved me a lot of grief and frustration.

Daniel Bradshaw
Lake Jackson, TX

Ihor Jaroslaw Sypko said,

I bought my Shopsmith 510 at a mall show in 1983 and it has done everything I needed it to do in the course of restoring 4 historic homes. It is portable, versitile and, with the usual maintenance, dependable. Given what it has been through all that it needed last year was a new motor. Second best helper that I ever had on a job and I’m sure I’ll get another 1/4 century out of it!! Ihor

Rick Parker said,

I entered the construction trades as an apprentice in 1968. After I received my journeyman certificate two and a half years later I got into rough construction and have been a professional carpenter since 1971. I wanted a Shopsmith the first time I saw my brother using his in 1973. I didn’t need one……..just wanted it.

I have never been that good at finish work so I just got mine last year after I watched a demo here in Visalia at the local LOWE’S. I figured they had proven themselves and as I approached retirement I would be able to do some of the home remodeling I had always wanted to do and have been doing with “rough construction” tools.

No, I wasn’t crazy about the non-tilting blade on the table saw but my dad left me an old table saw/6″ jointer combo that still works fine. My ShopSmith stays rigged up in band saw/lathe configuration most of the time anyhow.

After all this is my own home I am working on and I don’t do a lot of “professional grade” work but so far I have not been disappointed. Granted, it is a little over-priced but, by comparison, the money I had planned to spend was justified and, with only a two car garage, I needed the space.

My concern now is the availability of parts for the next ten years. I will not be adding all of the accessories that Mr. Bradshaw seems to have but I would like to have a few things that I don’t currently have. I must agree with his complaint about accuracy though. I just isn’t there on this machine like on the demo machine I watched.

Cost is another issue also. Just one example I noted was the same small dado package I see on the website can be purchased for $38 less at LOWE’S.

I guess I am ‘stuck’ with what I have but it is adequate for my grade of work and my wife is pleased that the work takes me less time now and there is a degree more accuracy also.

It would be nice for them to come out with reduced prices in clearance sales for overstocked items…………ya think? There are a few things I still need.

Rick Parker
Visalia, CA

Greg said,

I have a Shopsmith, I work as a manufacturing engineer for a medical company. The Shopsmith is my outlet for frustrations. I am by no means a master wood worker. I am a very happy wood worker. The Shopsmith has a lot of drawbacks granted, Sometimes it is a real pain. But for what I bought if for (at a garage sale dirst cheap) I love it. It is set up in my garage, small foot print and always ready to make toys for the grandkids, pens for presents, I can make a toothpick from a 10″ tree stump and be very happy with the smell, touch and feel of the wood.

I hope that Shopsmith is not going under, I would hate to think that this company that has brought me years of ‘FUN’ as well as tons of memories. I hate to think that it may some day be just a has been company.

Ryan Scoggins said,

I have had my 520 since 2000. My Granfather always wanted one but never could swing it, but he left the desire in me. My wife encouraged me to get on at the Oregon State fair in 2000. I did and have never regreted it. I am always puttering around in my shop. Today I had it set up as a disc sander and was contouring keyboard trays to fit desks from work. Mainly because we have a bandsaw, tablesaw and a few other tools at work but didn’t have the one to do this job.The wonderful thing about Shopsmith is its versatility. One thing that has hurt them I am sure is they last forever. I see all the time old 10E’s and 10ER’s from the late 40’s and early 50’s still doimg the job. They are definitly a niche market but I have no problem recommending them. Keep on Keeping on Shopsmith.

Mitch said,

Well, everyone definitely has their own opinions, and that’s good.

Bottom line is this:
The ShopSmith is NOT a cabinet-shop grade piece of equipment, it simply doesn’t come close to a 17ft swing-arm saw that repeatedly cuts 4’x8′ sheets within 0.0005″, but so what? Not many people have a shop with 440 3-phase, re-enforced concrete, and a 10’x20′ open area to run a 17ft swing-arm saw (and all it does is SAW). It also doesn’t have a 52″ 3-Head sander, but again, who has the room!

However, I have a 520 and while I know all of the downfalls it has, it has served myself and, gone but not fogotten, father very well. I’m 32 (few days under) and my father had it before I was born. The motor has been replaced once and switch once as well. I can’t express in words the memories it brings back, especially after reading some of the above posts. Instead of complaining about what it doesn’t do or doesn’t do well, look at the things it DOES do. If you aren’t happy with that, then don’t buy it. $5k for a ShopSmith that makes a great disk/drum sander, horizontal/vertical drill, light-duty rip/crosscut, and very useful-on-the-job dado machine is a pretty small price compared to $17k for that swing-arm saw that only…uh…saws?

Use the right tool for the job on your hands, you’ll be much happier with the results and a lot less frustrated with the effort.

Gary Katt said,

Come on Guys & Gals — What is that perfect tool?
That does it all. Shopsmith is most likely more USA than Sears, Delta, Grizzley, Jet to name a few.
Have a great 2008 Shopsmith owner. No I don’t own one—–yet

Ken said,

I just bought an old one from the 50’s with everything, I mean everything you can get possibly get with one, and I only paid $250.00 for it. These things are being sold super cheap used. If the company wants to compete, they will have to sell through Home depot or another major hardware, lumber retail outlet. These machines have been around for years, and guys in the 38 to 55 year old range want them, partly because we couldn’t afford them when we were younger, partly because of how good they are. This company will be fine if they market better, also with more sales they can compete with the copycat models. From what I’ve seen in the prices they aren’t much more to start, knock out the salesman at the fair, or mall, increase sales volume by making them easier to get, walk in and walk out with it, and the price can come down. Volume always brings prices down. Advertising would also help. To be honest when I bought mine, I wasn’t 100% sure the company was still in business, but it is a great machine, even after more than 50 years… it is incredible… I know it’s just a table saw, drill press, lathe, sander, jointer, on and on and on, but damn… it’s like inspector gadget, flip this turn that and it’s a different tool, and each tool is a quality tool, it’s not like using your hand drill in one of them cheap rigs that turns it into a drill press, or hooking your router under a table to make a table top router, personally I hate crappy rigged universal junk, that’s why I like my Shopsmith so much, the Shopsmith is not junk.

Gary Katt said,

A Thought — If Shopsmith would spend millions $$$$$$ on adverising in major wood working publications they would receive great P R and sales would be good.But would it offset the cost??

TVTommy said,

Wow, what an amazing discussion about a power tool.I own 2 10er shopsmiths, both from 1952, and I’ve used them all my life. My dad bought one of them new and taught me many of my woodworking skills on it. I had a period of time in my life when I tried separate tools and ultimately came back to the “Smiths”.
Here’s why.
First, I still haven’t seen any other brand of tool that is built any better; 56 years, total maintenance: 1 set of headstock bearings, one set of motor bearings and regular lubrication.
Second, from my experience (only my humble opinion, here, folks)accuracy is in the woodworker, not in the machine. I’ll stack my projects up against anyone. Oh, maybe it doesn’t just “snap” into place, but it’s amazing when you rely on touch, how you can get things right where they need to be. It’s a little like “instinct” shooting vs sites.
Third(and most important to me, but probably meaningless to everyone else) it’s a way of staying connected to my beginnings as a woodworker. Sometimes I can almost feel my dad’s presence…hear him say “be careful, Tommy” while I’m working.
As to which is really better, I believe it’s simply a mindset. If you believe one way is better, then it is. For me, the Shopsmith, with all it’s adaptability and all it’s flaws is better. That means that it is…to me.
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Nick D said,

I think there are a few die hard old wood working machine people who really shun these machines, and for a very good reason. Ignorance. NO! I DID NOT say they were IGNORANT PEOPLE, but ingorant to what this machine is capable of.

A Shopsmith is a disease…you get one then you want accessories, then a newer machine and the newer accessories, then maybe a modification and so on and so on. People who can afford the bigger and expensive dedicated machines can’t really grasp the Shopsmith concept.

I can afford any machine I want, and have probably more than most, but I can’t afford the space to run them. I also don’t have the heavy 3 phase power needed anymore, so my pretty Delta Unisaw is sitting in storage while my Shopsmith Mark V does the bull work!

My Avery drill press (7′-8″ tall) is locked in a garage and my Mark V does the drilling needed. It clears my basement ceiling by 3 inches!

My Walker Turner belt/disc sander sits in the corner, waiting for a part to me manufactured as my Shopsmith does whatever disc sanding I need done.

And it goes on like that. WIll I even sell off my big machines? Probably not, but will I even be without a Shopsmith in my collection? No.

I started out with an almost pristine 1952 10ER. That machine alone was a marvel of engineering for the time, and extremely simple too! Last year, after owning it for 15 years, and it NEVER breaking down, I traded it for an old lathe. I had picked up a 1986 Mark V from a friend and wanted to upgrade. (I wish now I had kept that 10 ER!) I sold that machine for a 2004 machine that was being given to me by the same guy who sold me the 1986 machine. That machine never materialized and my attitude was so what…more room in the basement for me!

Sunday I bought an old Mark V, the green one, because I just needed one, and it was at that exact moment, when I put it in the place where the last one once was, that I realized it was a sickness, but a good one…IN MY OPINION.


Bill G said,

The main reason one buys a Shopsmith is space. I have a small basement shop (600 sq.ft.) with a pier in the middle. I have had a SS or a clone for over 50 years. One thing people don’t understand is the changeover thing. It makes you plan your operations somewhat ahead to lessen set ups. The other thing is speed of changeover when you are use to the machine. I can go from a saw to a disc sander in about 25 seconds.

I have stand-alones too. The Shopsmith however because of its flexibilty can be configured into setups that on machine can do.

I think one of the biggest problems that Shopsmith has with marketing is high cost & very few if any improvements or innovations on their machine in many years. What this does is fulfill your market and exhaust your sales potential.

Bill G.

Gary Katt said,

What is a Shopsmith MarkVII? or any info you know. Should I stay away from or ????

TVTommy said,

Stay away from the MK VII. It was only produced for a VERY limited time and lots of the parts are NOT interchangeable. If you can get it cheap (like $50 or so) and the speed changing set up works fine, it’s ok, otherwise get a MK 5 or an old 10er. Lots of parts on ebay, and they rarely break.

R. Skomars said,

Can anyone tell me where I get get pulley and belt size (width/length) info for a model 10ER that I inherited from my father? I have it running but it’s not quite right, I’m certain of that.

Thank you.


Jeff said,

The Shopsmith was my first major purchase for woodworking equipment back in 1980. Reason being, simply space and versatility. I moved to Vermont in 1981 and built a complete 7 room raised ranch with it. I hope they stay solvent because to this day,it comes out of the corner and contiues to give good service.

David Fratzke said,

Bill G. said it all – space consideration. I have owned a Shopsmith for 25 years. No it is not what stand alone machines are, but don’t think it was ever intended to be. I have made everything from turning pens to making cabinets and it works great. Like any machine, maintenance, care and alignment are a must.

My biggest gripe with SS is price. They are WAY overpriced on almost everything they sell directly. To those of you that don’t know, buy all of your stuff on ebay – there is a hugh resell market out there.

Finally, overall, Shopsmith is a great, reliable tool that will never go out of need for that small shop or garage owner who does not have the room or $$$ for all of the stand alone equipment. The company will probably go under because of their prices, but parts will always be available because there are literaly thousands and thousands of these machines all over the world.

Thanks – David

bobbohd said,

I remember ShopSmith from my 8th grade wood shop class and I always thought they were the AMERICAN standard to use in wood working.
Now that I am retired from my “pay the bills” job and have time to do what I would like to wood working and purchasing & using a ShopSmith, I am hearing that they are not going to survive as an AMERICAN manufacturing company and that I may not be able to acquire a ShopSmith.
This $^%&* sucks.
I have spent all my life in the US in manufacturing and now that I have time and the ability to do my own thing, especially in wood working, I have to see an Icon in American know how and originality being forced out of business!!!
I will do what ever I can and needs to be done to preserve the American tradition of doing it ourselves and resolve to help ShopSmith survive and make a new start and a go of it in global competition!!

Gene said,

I was with my Grandfather in 1955 when he went to a “saw dust party” and bought his Shopsmith. I still remember the joke the salesman told, too. After Granddad passed away my father got his Shopsmith and Dad used it a lot even though he had plenty of space in a big shop and lots of other power tools.

In the meantime I bought a used Shopsmith to use while Dad was still using Granddad’s Shopsmith. Now Granddad’s machine is mine, too.

For 20 years I only had a one stall garage in which to store everything. (There are no basements here.) The Shopsmith didn’t take up too much space and, when I needed to use it, I could roll it out into the driveway and go to work.

Now I have a double garage for my shop so I can work inside more although I frequently roll it out just to be in the sunshine. For me Shopsmith offers two great advantages. First, it saves space. Second, the add-on belt sander, bandsaw, jointer, etc. add lots of capabilities at a relative low cost AND don’t require a lot of floor space. I must allow that the table say is maybe the weak link in the Shopsmith chain.

If I was rich … but I’m not.

Gene said,

Oops! I meant to type table saw, not table say.

Dave S. said,

I just bought a Mark V model 500. It looks brand new. I have a question; I have a really hard time moving the headstock along the way tubes. I am sure the headstock lock is loose but I have to really struggle to get the headstock to move. Any suggestions on what I need to check to correct this? I might add that there is absolutely no sign of rust anywhere on the machine and there is very little evidence of use on any of the parts. The previous owner’s son said his deceased father rarely used it.

Jonathan Allen said,

If the head stock is hard to move chances are you just need to wax the way tubes. You should wax and buff them with “floor paste wax” after every 5 hours of running time.

(That is time when the motor is actually spinning. Since most people spend spend five to ten minutes setting up for a 30-second cut, it takes a long time to hit that 5-hour mark.)

John said,

I Spent 20 years rehabbing a turn of the century (the previous one) 28 unit apartment building.
I had many stand alone tools in a fairly small shop. I saw Shopsmiths in trade fairs etc and always thought they were too expensive. I now have an oppertunity to purchase a Mark V combo.
Table saw,drill press, jointer, band saw and accessories for $550. Think this is a good price?
What should I look for when I go to see it?
Thanks Smithers.

John May said,

Is $550 a decent price for a Mark V combo?
Table saw, drill press, lathe, jointer and band saw, with accessories.
What should I look for, our look out for?

Greg said,

I think MK Vs have another use that I haven’t seen mentioned here. I already own each of the tools in the MK V separately (with the exception of a horizontal boring machine). However, it seems that I finally get the cabinet saw set up for some operation with jigs and measurements etc and suddenly need to rip one small board. Dang. Wouldn’t it be nice to have another small table saw around. Or I need to drill one hole on the drill press but of course it’s set up with a mortise attachment.

I hope to find a MK V just to have spare machinery available when I need it. I’m not going to buy another table saw or drill press just to have a spare, but a MK V makes sense.

With that being said, the price for a new one makes no sense to me. I think they’re fantastic tools and can’t wait to own one, but $3,000 seems a bit steep to me. Especially when I see excellent, tricked out used ones on eBay for $300.


Jerry in Worthington, Ohio said,

I write in support of the SHOPSMITH product… I own 6 of them … 2 purchased new from Shopsmith at Dayton Mall home show in Ohio in 1975… the other 4 purchased from auctions / estate sales / and internet ads. I even bought one a couple miles from the Oio State National Championship football game in Arizona… disassembled and brought it home with tailgate stuff in my Suburban… but who wouldn’t for $150 for a 520 Shopsmith?

I don’t have SHOPSMITHS because of a lack of space… I am fortunate to have a 5,200 sq. ft. “Buckeye Man Cave” shop to turn wood into sawdust.

The SHOPSMITH machines allow me to supplement my free standing SAWSTOP & UNISAW table saws… my PANEL SAW… and PLANER. I build Frank Lloyd Wright reproduction furniture for fun and relaxation… not for income… I find there is NOTHING that I can not do with enough accuracy and precision using SHOPSMITH MACHINERY.

Each machine is set up for a specific use…. SANDING CENTER, DRILLING & BORING CENTER, TURNING CENTER, SHARPENING CENTER, SHAPING CENTER and ROUTER CENTER (with 3 routers incidentally).

I have LESS INVESTED in the SHOPSMITH MACHINERY in total than I would in seperate free standing machines to perform the same functions… and I can do many more things with SHOPSMITH MACHINERY (some of which I have modified for my specialized uses).

The SUPERSHOP shown earlier in this blog is a Chinese built machine that had been imported for many years by a company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Smithy Company) until they apparently gave up up on it some 2 years ago. I actually tried to buy the last 2 they had in stock during a fall closeout warehouse sale in the fall of 2006.

SMITHY negotiated with SHOPSMITH COMPANY for a period of time according to SMITHY personnel but could not make a deal to sell/transfer the rights and remaining products/inventory to SHOPSMITH. They could not make this deal per SMITHY personnel with whom I talked that day.

While the SUPERSHOP has an interesting feature set anyone reading this who has purchased and used tools from Harbor Freight will think more than twice before buying a $2,000 machine from Harbor Freight. One can only imagine the support, parts, warranty and repair issues involved with this product purchased through Harbor Freight.

SHOPSMITH can survive and can prosper but not without a bloodletting and injection of new management and strategies. Far too many SHOPSMITH associates are unqualified for the positions they hold… from top to bottom. Far too much time and money has been lost while they failed to understand the business they are in and capitalize on the opportunities in front of them.

As an owner of the product, a businessman who prefers to see Ohio and USA based companies grow and succeed I sincerely hope SHOPSMITH and all who have the power to correct the issues facing both the product and the company will take action to do so quickly.

I apologize for the length of this missive… perhaps I should have gone to the shop and created more sawdust.


I got a Mark five for my birthday in 1963, yes, 1963. Had the poer head overhauled in 1979 and am still enjoying it.

Talked to Bob Folkerth several times in hopes of opening a store here in Hammond to serve the Baton Rouge and New Orleans market: no hope. His marketing is by beat of a different drummer and that fine tool has been held back badly by just that.

Home Depot could be good for the Mark if they take care of their own problems at the same time.

Yeah, you’re right, over forty-five years!!!


What- me moderate!!

Jack Black said,

Like most of you, I think the table saw is the weak point in the Mark V. I bought mine for $300 from my brother-in-law. I haven’t had a chance to use it much, but what I have, I’ve been pleased with. The accesories are a bit pricey, but for the hobbyist most of them can be made up as Jigs until they can be purchased. I remember reading about Shopsmith in some of my grandfather’s woodworking books, and always wanted one. When the chance finially arrived, I jumped on it. It needed some minor work, but it is an easy machine to clean and fix. My model is a 1980 model, soon as I pluged it up, I realized I had most every tool I needed now. I’ve even came across some of Shopsmiths “Hands-on” magazines. This is a great tool for anyone that only has a limited sized shop and needs a good way to relax after work. I hope the company can stay going after my daughter gets old.

Scott in NC said,

Jerry in Worthington,
I agree with everything you say and if I recall correctly we had these very conversations back in ’98 as we drove around Columbus and Hilliard.
Why don’t we just pool our cash and come up with the twelve dollars and seventy-three cents that the SS is worth now and run it ourselves?
If you still have my # give me a call some time!

Doug Pocius said,

Yeah, my dad had one, too. He got his in the early ’50s; I guess that would make it a 10E? He built quite a few things with it (a log-periodic speaker cabinet comes to mind), and I learned basic shop practice on it. Sadly, it got left behind when we moved to CA in the early ’70s.

Now I’m retired and I’m building a proper garage/workshop, albeit not quite as big as I’d like, so I was thinking a used SS mostly for the lathe and horizontal boring capabilities. This would be in addition to a proper cabinet saw and maybe a jointer/planer.

It’s sad to think that just about the time I get around to getting one, factory support might disappear. I’m glad there’s such a large user base with a wealth of experience to draw from on the Internet, especially given the quirks of a ShopSmith.

Paul Tooke said,

Hi all
I have lost the ability to feel in my fingers and cannot do woodwork much anymore.
I have a Shopsmith Mark V that I’ve had for 30 years.I’ve used it for less than 1000 hours total in the thirty years I’ve owned it. It has a bandsaw accessory also.
It’s in pretty good condition and am selling it. $1400.00 OBO.
If anyone is interested, Please call me. 801-943-6133

Joel Hess said,

Hello Paul,

I’m sorry you’re not able to do any woodworking. That must have been very tough to give it up.

FYI, We have a “Sell and Trade” forum at If you’d like to post your ShopSmith for sale there, here’s a link:

Joel Hess

Jim Parks said,

I wanted a shopsmith as a young man and found raising children limited my ability to own one. Two years ago I purchased a 520 and all of the accessories new from Shopsmith. Expensive yes. Worth the investment, you bet. This will enable me to have a small shop and keep my mind and fingers busy into retirement. The shopsmith’s accuracy is fantastic. The learning curve and continuosuly finding new ways to do even the simpe tasks will certainly keep my mind active. Shopsmith is in the process of remaking itself. I truly believe they will be around for a long time. If you want a fine worksop and have li mited space it is your best bet. Jim Parks

Paul Cohen said,

I have owned a Shopsmith since 1982 and anyone who complains about the tablesaw been weak has not seen the model 520 or of has a shop the much larger then most. I can cut to the center of a 4/8 plywood sheet held anyone one wants and then remove all the extensions and store the machine in front of a car in a standard garage.

Find me another tool 50+ years old that can be fully upgraded to the latest model and that you can get any replacement part new from the manufacturer or new or used on eBay. The variable speed also give you something you don’t get on other saws.

It’s lathe abilities are hard to beat on a dedicated machine as is its true woodworking drill press.

Using all the extension tables you can configure a bandsaw table whose size is second to none.

Blane Ryan said,

I purchased my Model 520 new in 2004. It had greatly exceeded my expectations. My grandfather built his home using a Shopsmith. I have never had a problem with customer support/service. THe Shopsmith folks are GREAT at helping owners with issues. One thing I have learned: you get what you pay for. The Shopsmith is a quality machine. Look at the other posts that bear this out. As for Shopsmith being down on its knees I don’t believe it for a second. Like Mark Twain said when he read his obituary: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”!

Paul Tooke said,

Thanks for the info about the “Sell and Trade” forum at
I’ll post it on there tonight.
Yes, woodworking was a beautiful pastime and I’d love to do something else in it, but it’s kinda risky with no feeling in your fingers. I had neck surgery and it’s affected the nerve endings down a distributive nerve pathway.
Thanks again for your help.
Keep working.

Bruce said,

I just aquired my late uncle’s Shopsmith he bought in the 80’s. The book was dated in 1984 that came with it. I would like to get a new table saw blade. Can I find one locally at a box store or because the arbor is needed, are they a special order item?

Dan said,

Welcome to the club. For parts, just go to and order a catalog or buy right on line.


Mark Stanek said,

I have been using my Daddy’s Shopsmith for the last 36 years. He furnished the house with some well crafted, fuctional pieces of furniture.
I remembering asking myself at an early age.
Was he gifted, or was it the 55 year old Shopsmith that I still use today? Of course I now know it was both.
Yesterday, July 2008 I bought a newer (used) Shopsmith 510. I will be retiring soon. I’m going to ask my son if he wants his Grandpa”s Shopsmith Mark 5.
“Christmas in July” has a hole new meaning to me.
So, Daddy if your looking down on me….. THANKS!
Your son Mark

bob paul said,





Marcia said,

Here is a Shopsmith vendor’s opinion about their demise. A healthy company pays their vendors for work they contracted… unfortunately, Shopsmith is not one of them. Dayton, Ohio, is a pretty small town and word gets around quickly when a company does not pay their vendors.

This has been going on since July, 2007, when they sent out a letter to all their vendors because of the “financial issues” they were having. The letter states they had a decline in sales, operating losses, and significant reduction in their net worth.
Vendors who did not agree to their dubious payment terms have either sued them or never got paid.

Companies that thrive have sound ethical decision-making practices. Unfortunately, Shopsmith lost theirs somewhere along the way.

jerry said,

I have owned a shopsmith for many years I also have many other name brand tools ,but shopsmith has the very best support group or customer service I have ever had the pleasure to work with on all levels,and hope to many more years to come.

Moucon said,

I believe ShopSmith is already using many offshore parts in its production. Not enough to be “made in China”, but I came across a letter from one of their VPs defending various imported pot metal parts – I assume those were coming from somewhere in Asia.

Moucon said,

BOB – who doesn’t understand that typing in ALL CAPS ARE SHOUTING. Sorry friend – that’s a pile of BS – there are no “laws” against free speech. Public libel is an altogether different issue but this site doesn’t even begin to come close to that standard. Regular folk can speculate on the demise of whomever, whatever, whenever. Period, end. I’m sure ShopSmith brass can post rebutal to whatever is posted here if they want to, and they can probably sick their lawyers on the site with a cease and desist – nervous types might be influenced by that noise.

But the truth is – ShopSmith’s stock value will rise or fall based on the profit performance of the company and little else – if they’re not paying their bills and cheapening their product in a last-ditch attempt to compete… well, I guess they’ll be soon circling the drain won’t they ? It’s a total shame, but the US consumer wants $200 bench tools (and everything else) and so, we’ve sold our manufacturing soul to China. Truth is – most home woodworkers are absolute rank amateurs and don’t need precision tools. They use their $200 plastic tablesaw once a year to cut a shelf board or something. If it wears out – no problem, Sears or Grizzly or whomever will have the next holiday sales flyer with the next flashy plastic $200 piece of junk.

pinkiewerewolf said,

If Shopsmith does succumb because of the cheapening of American standards it would be a shame. I agree with what Maucon stated. We now have plywood with dangerous levels of formaldehyde and foreign objects between the layers making a building material unsafe to work with and where did it come from? China. Same place as Grizzley/DeWalt,etc… tools.

I have a Shopsmith Mark V. It is a 1959 model that has been updated to the current 520 configuration, along with another “shorty” model from the early 1960’s and an overhead pin router.
The machines have been rock solid, upgradeable, rebuildable, and adaptive to special needs.
If it can hold on for another 50 years, well, it won’t matter much to me whether the company fails from a practical stand point, but from the heart I certainly hope that SS can figure out a way to thrive in this cheapened world, without cheapening their product.
Check out their online videos through the web site and a woodworker can make up their own mind about the products and practicality that they offer.
As for the cost of the Mark V systems, I received some great advice from a couple that survived the Great Depression, ” The quality remains long after the price is forgotten.”
Good Luck Shopsmith! As for the rest of the companies that relocated to foreign soil, shame on y’all.:(

MARIO said,

I have an EMCO REX 2000 and I need some spare parts, can somebody tell me were I can find?
I am from MALTA and there is no agent of EMCO anymore in MALTA.I am ready to import them if it’s possible.
Can sombody help me?
Thank you.

Dan said,

I am a second generation Shopsmith user, and I absolutely love the system. Then SS can do many things that would be difficult or impossible on typical woodworking machines. I am also one of the few people who has a SS as well as quite a few stand alone machines, and I can honestly say that I believe the SS is the best option for most home woodworkers.
As far as the table being too high, I think it’s barely high enough (I am six feet tall) and is much better than the typical too-low tables on most machines. I think I get better results because I can more easily see my work.
I abslutely do not believe in buying cheap tools. Yes, if you buy a hunk of crap table saw you’ll only use it once a year, but investing in a good woodworking system will encourage you to use it often. Besides, what good is a machine that produces lousy results?

John Keller said,

Righto Dan. Same here. I watched my father unpack his SS when I was around 9! Just bought one used ad I can’t wait to start making sawdust!

Phil said,

After reviewing several of the comments, I agree there is no comparison between individual stand alone tools and the Shopsmith. The standalones provide more freedom to pick an choose the features you desire.

The accuraccy of the tool is more than adequate for those working on weekend projects such as home remodeling. I don’t believe the tool was designed to provide the level of accuracy I require for by business of custom cabinet work.

If you are serious about woodworking then you need to make a serious investment in space as well as dollars, although few have the luxury.

The Shopsmith is a great tool for the ” occassion” weekend woodworker that is looking for effeciency but not necessarrily accuracy.

Working with individual stand alone tools it a times is a challenge to plan my work to reduce setup times. I can only imagine the fustration of those that fail to plan effectively and the time it takes to reset the tool and complete the task

zack said,

I think Shopsmith is a solid product. Some here complain that it costs a little more relative to other standalone products, etc.

Let me tell you my take on this, because I happen to be an electronics importer. Yeah, I import from the dreaded China.

I’m going to be pretty open here, only since I am speaking anonymously!

A vast majority of chinese products are garbage. And I do mean garbage. You wouldn’t believe the defect rate. I have gotten large shipments of stuff that an abject moron could tell was defective at 100 feet away. The quality control is terrible. It’s not an isolated problem, because I have had this problem with multiple suppliers over the years.

So why then, do I import?

In a word: you, folks. You don’t want to pay anything for what you buy. That’s why wal mart sells cardboard furniture (think what a great heirloom that stuff will be one day).

Honestly, I am sick of dealing with chinese suppliers and their general trickery and poor quality. You’ve caught me here on an introspective binge I guess. I’d MUCH RATHER sell quality U.S. products but you folks would rather have the “it breaks a day after the warranty expires” stuff. So I have no choice but to sell the garbage people want. And frankly, I’m sick of it! Apparently the rest of corporate america is not, however.

I call this bottom line consumer thinking “the wal mart mentality.” Now, THEY are the biggest pipeline to china you can even imagine. On a side note, once our manufacturing base is gone (heck, it mostly is), it won’t be coming back. Nobody here is gonna underwrite the expense of a new factory and decent employee pay when china is ready to go with employee dormitories and dollar an hour (at best) indentured servants.

And don’t get me started on the knockoffs. They rarely match the quality of what they copy. The fact of the matter is, what little is still being manufactured here in the states is still years ahead of the junk coming over on boats. I can tell you that from long time, close up experience.

Frankly I don’t know why I’m posting this. I’m really down on the economic future of the U.S. at the moment. And I don’t think consumers here are going to wise up at this late date. They’ve been too well trained by wal mart to want to pay mor than a nickel for something that’s worth a dime.

To conclude this rant, let me just say I sincerely hope Shopsmith can figure out a way to work around the onslaught of inferior junk imports. I also hope that America wakes up, too. But I am not optimistic about the consumer mentality in this country.

HJ said,

I totally agree with what Zack just said. I just bought 2 SS Mark V 500’s from local ads. One like new, never used, the other has been well used but not abused. The guy I got it from never did any maintenance on it but it kept on running. I have been wanting a SS for 30 years. I finally built me a 30′ X 50′ shop and I have the money for stand alone but the SS quality is what I got. I have a 1500sf shop but there is no room for cheap throw away China made items in it. I hope from the bottom of my heart SS makes it even though I could not afford to buy new from them. As for accuracy, like someone posted earlier, most of it is the person not the equipment.

Glyn Dykins said,

Having read most of the opinions on this page, I am left with the conclusion that Shopsmith has made their product too well. I have had my Mk5 unit for over 25 years and apart from a headstock refurbishment, have never had a problem.
True – there are drawbacks, but that is to be expected with any multi-use tool.
Shopsmith has but one product and, even with the improvements over the years, it is bound to see competition from copiers and cheaper manufacturers.
It seems that, with all of the Shopsmith units still in use, one would think the company would start catering to those users with additional lines and accessories related to the main unit.
Let’s hope that the company stays in business.

Glyn Dykins

Eric Nelson said,

I have a early 1950s 10er that I bought used in 1968. Used it to build over 500 dovetailed boxes for bee hives + a whole bunch of other stuff. Have everything but the bandsaw (inherited a Craftsman from my Dad). After two owners and 60 years, bearings still run true. If you can’t do fine cabinet work on it, it’s the cabinetmaker and not the SS. Problem for SS is that these units never wear out. I will pass mine on to one of my sons, and in 2050 somebody will still be using it. You can get cheap Chinese knock-offs for $2000 and use it for a year or two or buy a SS and use it for a lifetime. Tell me which is the better buy!

Harry Mitchell said,

I have a Mark V that is at least 30 years old and I finally had to replace a ball bearing on the speed control sheave and I use this machine almost every day! The problem is their product is TOO good for today’s throw away world. I sure hope they stick around for many years.

Brian Tal said,

My Great uncle(and I do mean GREAT) passed away this passed year, He had been using his SS since the 60’s to build Incredible furniture. This summer my brothers and I will be transporting the remainder of his estate from PA. Along with his soon to be my SS. He attained remarkable results with a SS because he was patient and brilliant enough to do the proper measuring and setup Before he made sawdust. I know he will be standing over my shoulder when I am finially plugging in and setting up my first cut on his SS.

Ron K. said,

I have owned 4 Shopsmith Mark V, 500s over the last twenty years and I have been very happy with the machine. I was, at one time, the service technician here in the Twin Cities covering much of the Midwest (which is why I’ve owned 4). I found them to be highly durable and reliable. Admittedly, they are not the most accurate piece of equipment one could ever own, but when properly maintained, will allow one to do virtually anything that he/she asks of it. I will be selling the one I have now (which I have rebuilt) so that I can buy another one to refurbish. I hope to continue to keep recycling them for others to enjoy for many (hopefully worry-free)years.

Jim M said,

I’ve had a 520 for about 18 years. I have loved it and have done quite a bit a fine workmanship through the years. I am now in need of a new belt and have had one on order for almost 3 months. Still no belt, what is going on? They tell me they can’t keep them in stock. I’m worried that the supply is drying up and I will not be able to service my machine anymore

Mike Joyce said,

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to build a quality machine that lasts forever. Anyone remember the Hamilton clothes dryer? My mother-in-law just replaced hers, after 57 years! No wonder they’re out of business. Grandad had a Shopsmith which filtered to one of my uncles upon his death. Dad has one and I have one. We’ve done several custom kitchens and misc entertainment centers plus too numerous other things to mention. Spent several years plowing the competition at the county fair until the board asked us not to come back since we had turned the open class into a family wood show. Mine will eventually be passed on to my son. They’re a great machine with a special niche.

Richard Greenfield said,

I am looking to purchase a previously owned Mark V, either a 500 or 510 (?). Just a novice who wants to make some sawdust. I live in Central Texas. Please reply to my e-mail address.

Bill Birney said,

I have had a Service switch on order for my SS510 since Dec23, 2008 and have not been able to confirm a ship date, only “we will notify you when we get them in to ship”.

dennis melosi said,

i own and still use a shopsmith that my grandfather bought around 1952..still have the shopsmith shaving
magazine date ,jan still uses the original motor(a.o smith) and apparently was sold by montgomery wards in calif.

tvtommy said,

Jeez, I posted to this in January of 2008, & the discussion is still going on.

I suppose it will outlast the company. And, of course, we’ve solved nothing and haven’t yet determined if separate tools are better, or if a combo tool is better…tomato/tomAHto.

One thing I notice, though, is that very few people who actually use a Shopsmith talk about shortcomings, or long changeover times, it’s the non-owners who do that. The guys that can’t reconcile a tilt-table saw (and, yes, that is probably the weak link in the system) don’t have a “Smith”. I’ve used my several machines all my life and, first, only a really, really, small percentage of my table saw cuts were at something other than 90deg, and second, when they were, I tilted the table instead of the blade…so what, it didn’t take any longer and the cut came out just fine.

If that’s the great sacrifice in owning a combo machine, well, I’m up for it.The disc sander with movable disc & big table is way better than other brands. Horizontal boring is terrific, the variable speed lathe & drill press are, too. Their bandsaw NEVER needs tracking adjustment, the jointer is first rate, and…you can find very reasonable prices on ebay for used machines and accessories.

Something else to remember is the stuff, with just a minimum of maintenance, will last forever. (at least more than 55 years from my personal experience) That’s good to know when you buy used stuff.

And one last point. Can you tell that Shopsmith owners are a bit passionate about their machines? That’s gotta say volumes about the brand. -tvtommy

Fred said,

“…That we have loved since the mid 70’s”


I got my first Shopsmith from Montgomery Wards in 1952 or 53. Where have you been? LOL It’s still being used by my son-in-law. ER-10 as I remember. 3 speed pulley with a single belt. I’ve since bought a replacement, not a MK 5 but some earlier version (That has the continous variable speed).


Scott said,

Shopsmtih fans should visit for lots of history, tool reviews and links to Shopsmith tools for sale on the web.

Harry Halliburton said,

Does anyone know where one can purchase table saw blades for Shopsmith, besides shopsmith. I have had one on order for over two months and I wont be one that gets it on the next delivery from germany. I am told I have to wait until the next delivery. I am definitely worried that they are going out of business.

tvtommy said,

If you haven’t gone to the yahoo groups shopsmith owners site, or the 10er users site, you might want to watch them. They are a great source of info. You can buy a 5/8″ blade arbor for the shopsmith that will allow you to use any standard blade. They are available from Shopsmith, or, if you’re worried…and I’m not, they don’t keep a lot of parts in stock, but have been fast on the back order stuff, check out ebay. There are often used ones there. Look for a saw arbor that specifically says it’s a 5’8″ one. You might want to call Shopsmith, though, they might have this item in stock. -TVT

Tony L said,

I have a complete Shopsmith set up. All the add on machines. I even had a machine shop install a second bearing within the quill. Bowl during was vastly improved. The model has been upgraded to, what I believe is, the 510 model.

What is the best way to sell the entire collection of tools, blades, spare parts etc?

Responding to Harry Halliburton – You may wish to purchase 5/8 adaptor. The blades run true as they are still mounted via the larger hole.

anvilfireguru said,

My Dad bought a Shopsmith in 1949-50 (just before I was born). Apparently a 10ER. It did duty as every kind of tool imaginable. As the oldest of 8 children there was little money later for other machines. Dad made furniture with the Shopsmith, model making and paint mixing. It was the only “bench grinder” in our shop. I learned to use it when I was a 70 pound preteen building Soap Box racers. It was common for me to change from saw or lathe to drill press more than once a day. The machine has survived use and abuse for nearly 60 years and is still in good working condition.

Yes, the old machine had its faults. The aluminium table is not rigid enough for drilling steel and you are always setup for something other than what you want to do next. But in general it was and is still a better tool than many stand alones.

My only regret is that I will not be inheriting this fine old tool. But I have a shop full of metal and wood working machines and a brother that needs it much more than I.

I would hate to see the company go as I hate the death of any of the great old America companies. But since this thread was started two years ago the company still seems to be doing well.

Tony, contact me through my web site.

Ron Knutsen said,

Reply to Richard Greenfield:

I have a Mark V Model 500 I wish to sell. Please let me know if you are interested but, I live in the Twin Cities (St. Paul, MN).

dusty said,

I read that Shopsmith is taking their last breathe and yet I keep ordering and receiving parts and accessories from them. I hardly believe they are going under. I have had a Shopsmith for nearly twenty years. It works as well today as when it was brand new. I can still buy repair parts and accessories that fit. I still get support from their customer service department. I can still buy a brand new unit just like the one I have. It sure doesn’t sound to me like they are taking their dying breathe.

Andy said,

I am not a great woodworker, but I have to say I have been pretty impressed with the Shopsmith. Prior to this, I owned a Craftsman radial arm saw, a Ryobi BT3000, and a Jet Drill press. However, moving to the DC area, I lost my basement shop and had to settle for a one car garage, so I sold those tools and replaced them with a used Shopsmith.

My experience with the machine over the past several months has been limited, but good. The drill press is every bit as good as my Jet was (maybe better), the table runs circles around the Jet, and I don’t have to mess around with changing the belt to change speed.

The disc sander rocks, the horizontal drill is great, and the lathe seems to be great. Of course, these three functions are ones I never had before, so I may be biased. But I am having a lot of fun with them!

As far as the saw goes, I have been pleasantly surprised regarding its accuracy. I have a 510 (the “middle” version) and I have been able to get much more accurate results from this tool that I was able to get with my others. Now maybe that is because I am forced to pay more attention to detail since it is all new to me, but it seems in general to be more stable, run on tighter tolerances, and in general be higher quality.

I can see where ripping and bevel cuts are going to be a little more challenging that in the past, but as far as ripping goes, I think I can build a jig or two to fix that – and as far as the bevel cuts go, we’ll just have to see. In all honesty, I never used that feature much in the past, so I’m not sure if I will really miss it now. Time will tell.

Tool changes are a mixed bag – they take some time to do, but they also give me the flexiblity to make the unit store away more easily. They also tend to get me to slow down and think more, whcih is probably a good thing.

Is the Shopsmith as good as the pretty sets of Laguna machines I see in the back of magazines? Having never used those tools, I have no idea, but I suspect its not. However, it is a definite step up for me, and it meets my needs very well. I like that I can roll it out of the garage and work in the driveway. I like that it gives me access to machines that I otherwise would not have room for. And I like that I can buy a lot of accessories in the resale markets of Craig’s List and eBay. I’ve expanded it to include a planer, a jointer, and a bandsaw, and I think my total investment, including several items direct from Shopsmith, is still under $2000. For that same $2000, I could probably buy four or five decent stand-alone tools of the same quality – but I don’t have the room for them, and the Shopsmith gives me eight tools.

So in summary, I am happy. I’m sure I will outgrow the Shopsmith at some point, but right now, I think it is a great fit for my lifestyle.

tvtommy said,

I’ve been using a shopsmith since my dad taught me on the machine he bought new in 1953. I was probably old enough to start on it in about 1956. I still use that & 2 other “smiths”, one a 1957, and one another 1953 machine. I’ve used them on anything from major kitchen remodels to small jewelry boxes…and I’ve never outgrown them. Don’t assume that you will. Using a Shopsmith with its changeability is a mindset more than a skillset.
Also, where else can you buy a power tool (actually 5 tools) that’s 50 years old for a couple hundred bucks that, with a minimum of care & maintenance will go another 50 years???

Bob Mpnement said,

There is no other product that combines the quality, versatility and compactness of the ShopSmith. I bought mine 45 years ago, use it almost daily, and it still works like new.
My grandchildren will use it for decades after I’m gone. I buy many cheap, disposable Chinese tools to use for a short time. But the ShopSmith is the center of my workshop and always has been.
This tool is the best investment I have ever made.

BernardC said,

I purchased my 510 new in 1988 and acquired additional pieces, including the belt sander, band saw and the jointer. I’ve used it a lot during this time. I have a small hobby metal working shop and have built workbenches, wall cabinets, machine stands with drawers, I’ve also built lathe projects, etc.

The Shopsmith takes up very little space in my small shop and I can roll it through the 36″ entry door into my garage when I’m ready to use it. This way I have plenty of room to cut large pieces and don’t dirty up my metal working tools with sawdust.

I also have a Rockwell 6×48 stationary belt and disk sander with a 12″ disk. I end up using the Shopsmith more often even on metal projects because I can reduce the speed and also since I have three disks with different grits of paper I can choose the correct one for the job. With the Rockwell I have to settle for which ever grit is on the disk at the time, as it is a serious job to remove the paper and replace it and you destroy the paper removing it.

I had a job the other day sharpening some heavy steel wood chipper breaker blades which consisted of squaring up the ends. I tried using the Rockwell Disk sander but could not maintain control enough to do accurate work so I did it on the Shopsmith Disk sander using the miter gauge with the speed reduced on a fine grit disk.

As far as whether I would prefer stand alone tools – sure a 40×60 shop with all the best stand alone tools – so I can use it now and then time permitting – keep dreaming.

As far as changeover concerns, sure it takes a few minutes and I have to think about it, but I don’t consider it an issue. Working with machine tools, you get used to set-up time, my metal working machines and projects take a lot more time.

The only tool I would like to see Shopsmith add to their line-up would be 6″ jointer. I would like it to run off the Shopsmith unit, not be stand alone, but the bed would have to be aluminum so that it would not be too heavy to handle when mounting it on the machine.

Scott G said,

Zack is right on regarding the sad mentality of most Americans and the Walmart way of consumerism. To those who buy into that belief, shame on you as YOU part are of the fault for why our country is in a mess. The government and big corporate greed screwed us on unfair trade and foreign sourcing for just about everything, including food, fuel, wholegoods, services, etc.. (although I do get a chuckle of lawyers even losing jobs to cheaper foreign sources!!!). All your medical billing even goes to India via internet!!!. OK, enough and what I’m getting to… In the trades profession, I have many tools and equipment and try with much difficulty to buy an American made product. I do buy regularly used American made products over new china junk. Often I pay more for the used tool vs. buying new china junk. My 52 vintage Shopsmith 10er is a jewel of quality make and has soul. I’ve built cabinets to wood dashboards for a vintage Chrysler and early Ford to many wood turning projects with it. Even with commercial grade shop equipment on hand, there will always be room for a Shopsmith. To those considering one, regardless of the status of the company, just get one.. period. You can find every part or add-on tool you need on the net or ebay.

W. C. Stewart said,

Just try to find a drive center. Mine has been on backorder for 2 months and I’m told they don’t know when they will be in. Maybe in Agust if we are lucky

Jeff said,

Shopsmith Inc. is out of business…They fired their staff today w/o the last weeks pay and are re-opening under a different business name. They couldn’t secure financing under Shopsmith, Inc. due to too many lawsuits. Good luck to those who lost their jobs, the Dayton area has been hit hard with job losses.

Jason said,

This is horrible shame. I’ve been trying for the last hour trying to log onto the Shopsmith website and kept on getting “not found” errors. I was hoping to purchase an attachment I recently developed a need for… so now I have to rely on luck searching through other sites. If they do re-open under a different name I will be keeping my eyes open.

gutterman said,

I will be very saddened if Jeff’s statement is accurate. Just days ago, ShopSmith announced a major inovation to their headstock. It seems unlikely to me that they will knot continue in some form even if what Jeff has said is true. A reorganized ShopSmith (without government help, mind you) might have been inevitable. I wood also like to point out that although there have been many detractors of the ShopSmith, including some on this blog, you will be hard-pressed to find someone that ownes one to agree with them. When any ShopSmith is assembled and aligned correctly, it is very acurate and capable. It does have limitations, but it was never intended to have unlimited capabilities. It will do an excellent job for MOST projects. Anyone hear of a gent named Nick Engler? Ask him about them.

John Graham said,

Jeff, What is your source for the above information? (“out of business” etc.)

To me it sounds a little too sensational: “fired their staff” etc.

When someone goes out of business it is called a “layoff” isn’t it?

Nick Engler said,

You can get more information about Shopsmith re-organization here: .

And if you’re curious about their new machine, try: .

With all good wishes,

dusty said,

I hope that we have all learned something here. Like a good reporter it is imperative that you validate your story against fact and check all of your sources. This is especially necessary when you think you have a “scope”.

We are all thankful that Shopsmith, in fact, has not breathed their last breathe and that not everyone at Shopsmith is in the unemployment line like some have concluded.

They, like so many, many others are still having some financial difficulties but I am confident that they will recover. The new headstock that they are preparing to release should go far to make that a reality.

Ed Livesay said,

Guys…I’m worried about Shopsmith too… and even more so, even in the face of the positive comments listed here… I’ve had an order in over a month and today can’t get any Shopsmith telephone number to be answered (even the fax machine). I’ve sent several emails to Customer Service and have always had all but immediate response… but not today.. can’t get an answer that way either. I had a fairly substantial order confirmed long ago and was told the pieces would be completed and shipped two weeks ago… but I find that my credit card has not even been charged and the Shopsmith order data reveals that it hasn’t been shipped yet…. Looks real bad. Any responses?

David Conary said,

I bought a Shopsmith in 1955, and the articles I made with it paid for my first Year at Bowdoin College. Now, my wood workshop just burned down, and I need to replace it (yes, it was 54 years old and still running strong). But I cannot get anyone to answer a telephone call. Should I be looking to change brands?
David A. Conary
(207) 665-2717

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