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.

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

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: http://www.nickengler.com/Forum/vanilla/comments.php?DiscussionID=74&page=1#Item_35 .

And if you’re curious about their new machine, try: http://www.nickengler.com/Forum/vanilla/comments.php?DiscussionID=72&page=1#Item_15 .

With all good wishes,
Nick

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

John Gonser said,

I bought my first Shopsmith one year before I got married, nearly 50 years ago. With a background of summer jobs building houses (23 of them) and furniture (coffee tables, kitchen cabinets) I needed something that would maintain accuracy and allow me to expand my abilities. The SS has done all that and more. I will be setting up a new shop soon and I expect to add yet another 520 to the fold. You can’t imagine the product I can run by changing the configuration of these machines. I have arranged (in one set-up) one table saw, two bandsaws, one jointer, two drill presses, and two belt sanders in my shop, with a complement of 8 woodworkers. Try that with your stand-alone equipment. The flexibility of these things is worth every dime I’ve spent. They’ve paid for themselves many times over.

BernardC said,

Has anyone visited Professor Robert L. Bailey’s website at http://www.shopmachineadventures.com.?

He has written several articles for the metal working hobby magazine, The Homeshop Machinist.

They feature home shop upgrades to the Mark V and his web site has additional information available for purchase.

He is a real supporter of the machine and it’s unique capabilities.

Bernard

John Allseits said,

Hope that Shopsmith survives. After 10 years overseas or out-of-state (with my tools in storage) I am looking forward to setting up my shop again. My SS Mk.V will be joined by a SS 10ER, just bought at an estate sale. People who badmouth SS don’t know SS! It fills a need for “weekend” woodworkers like us. Those who scorn Shopsmiths as toys are either ignorant, misinformed or just insecure. John Allseits (Chicagoland)

Doug Morgan said,

I purchased a shopsmith used based on my brothers years of happy experience with his. Like most I needed parts and at first had no trouble but now have a part on order for 2 months for my band saw. I continue to get advertisements for products from them but am leary of buying them until I determine if spare parts are viable. I hope they start being up front with people so that we may have some confidence that they will be around in some form or other.

'nuff said said,

WOW cant believe how many here would be an imported POS to save a few bucks. Its a shame what this country has turned into.

I desire a good salary and am willing to pay for a quality American product. ’nuff said

John Bagg said,

Does anyone have a domestic source for the 12″ sanding discs? I found them in Canada, but the cost to ship to the USA is more than the discs. Shopsmith had them on backorder for months, along with the chuck key, but they were never filled. I finally cancelled the order.

BernardC said,

John,

You might try Enco; they have free shipping promotions now and then.

http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INPDFF?PMPAGE=263&PMITEM=391-3636

Bernard

ED said,

I have a barely used ShopSmith for sale. It’s not brand new but is very close to it as far as usage is concerned. Asking roughly +/- $2,000.00 for it. Make an offer if intersted. It’s in clean mint condition. If interested call or leave a message @ 631-824-3616. I’m located in Huntington, New York 11743.

Steve said,

Guys, Magna stopped producing my Shopsmith in 1953. (5 years before I was born.) I’ve still been able to get parts for it, because my SS was the ER, and was designed with “off the shelf” parts, mostly.

Even if SS stops producing parts, or even whole machines, there is always Ebay.

I’ve got 2 ERs and 2 of my brothers have one each, and a good friend found a 2for1 deal last year. All of them are the old Castiron version.

steve

Joe said,

I bought a shopsmith in the early 80’s and loved it, but due to moving in the mid 90’s I sold it and was sorry I had. Now I have purchased a used one and will again enjoy using this unique tool. Sorry to hear that the company is having financial issues, times are hard. I also see that the new machines are a lot more pricy than they were 30 years ago.

Joe

Ed in Kaaleephornya said,

I have a 1957 model that I bought 5 years ago for $385. I still use it frequently and am now making tobacco smoking pipes with it. I turn the bowls out of all kinds of woods and turn the stems out of any of the hard black plastics. This ole machine is a dandy.

tom purcell said,

I am looking for someone who can possibly help me set up my band saw. I replaced the rubber tire on lower wheel and it now seems to track ok. It cuts 90 degrees to table but it wants to wander away from fence when i try and hold it tight.
Also when i raise or lower the guide for depth of cut (lever part) it seems to tip the blade more as you go down than when you go up. I am talking about when you lock handle in position.
any one have any suggestions.

Mike said,

I bought my MKV with belt sander, less than six monthes after marrying my bride. That was in 1980. It might outlast the marriage. It has moved with me (as has my bride) several times. It has seen our children grow to adulthood. It has helped create many projects for family and friends.

Expensive? Sure is, but I seriously doubt any imported knockoff or any “economicaly priced” stand alone will last 30+ years. I’m counting on my MKV lasting at least 20 more years and then some.

The Shopsmith machines *are* easy to use, produce as high quality projects as *any* other tool. *No* other tool is perfect, either.

When price is your primary concern you *will* get what you pay for.

Leon Doolin said,

WOW:
I didn’t know there were so many Shopsmiths out there! I have a Shopsmith dating back to the early 50’s. It belonged to my Dad. I use it very frequently, mainly as a table saw. But I have used it to do grinding and some sanding (using the cylindrical sanding attachment). My Dad hardly used it. I’ve been using it for the past 28 plus years and it still functions as if it were brand new! As far as I know, it still is on its first belt. If the belt breaks, I wonder if I could ever replace it(???). Also, I have a jigsaw component that is supposed to go with the Shopsmith. But, since I don’t have a manual for it, I don’t know how it fits onto the machine. (If anyone has a manual for a Shopsmith going back this far, I would gladly pay them for shipping a copy of it to me. My address is:
Leon Doolin@23918 Heartwood, Novi, MI 48374.
The only disadvantage I see in having a Shopsmith is the time it takes to switch from one operation to another. (Of course, I’m sure the newer models are designed to shorten the time).

Isaac said,

i have a shopsmith 10er for sale it appears all is with it I don’t mess with wood so don’t know much about it if interested call 704-888-3686 I am asking $500 for it but I am unsure how much it is worth call and make an offer it will need a new cord but it works also I can send pictures if iterested I would like to know what these are worth anyway so any insight would be appreciated
I am located in NC and for a few bucks for feul I might deliver
thanks

Carolyn Jenkins said,

I have a 1952 Shopsmith with all the attachments. The 2 wood planks that hold it are in excellent condition, but the metal legs supporting it is gone. It still works, but needs a stronger power generator. My Dad built everything with it from cabinets to table tops and hand turned spindle legs. Back in 1963, I helped him build a 16′ motor boat with a mahogany deck. That boat lasted many years. Wish I still had it. I taught my boys how to use it and to watch out! It will slap back if you aren’t careful! I keep the rods oiled and it looks like new. But now it sits and my boys are grown and are not interested in it. I have no one to leave it to and except for all the memories that keep me hanging on to it, I may have to sell it. If and when I do sell it, what would one of these older model Shopsmiths sell for?

fred resnick said,

Purchased some Shopsmith stock many years ago. Is it now worthless?

Paul Ft. Worth said,

I hope its not true. I met John in 84, and David in 90. Purchased my Mark V in 82. Still have it and use it daily. We can only hope that this country of ours gets back on track.

Raymond Lauritsen said,

I recently moved to a smaller house and have my Mark5 for sale. I do not have room for it at the new house. It includes extra tools that were used with it. I always took very good care of it and have all the manuals as well. I am happy to send pictures and give more information on it. I am asking $900. I also have a Delta 13″ thickness plainer for sale for $850. Please email me at ray.lauritsen@hotmail.com if you are interested or have any questions or call me at 260.616.0696. Thank you!

Louis Mulder said,

I bought a Shopsmith years ago,but has never used it.Years have passed now and i have retired/resign from my 28 years long daytime job in 2008,and after falling around in other jobs,i have decided to seriously go into woodworking.What i would like to point out isthat at the time of purhase,people was actually jealous on me for owning a Shopsmith,i think i must have been one of the first owners in South Africa.Now you cannot find a dealer who stock the machine,i even sent an e-mail to Shopsmith,and they confirmed that they don’t have a representing tool centre in South Africa.This is quite a disturbing matter,with big tool companies just going out of production;i own a lot of machinery and my problem is that should anything break,where to then.And i have seen a lot of that in my time,i am 52 years old now,and a lot of mames like Stanley power tools,Elu,Emco,and all of these were good stuff.So who is next!?

john said,

I hope not I just bought their new Mark Pro 2HP (220V) upgrade motor.

Todd said,

The original blog posting was posted 3 years ago, is the author’s concern still valid? One would think if Shopsmith was in trouble at the time, why haven’t they folded by now? I think they are doing fine and simply changed their business model.

TENNDON said,

I spoke directly with a sales person at Shopsmith today as I was inquiring about where I could go to attend a class; no more classes. He did comment that they hired their first sales person back after a massive layoff and that he would be demoing at LOWES in the future. Interesting change of events as the economy slump is on an upward swing and possibly Shopsmith is planning to be ready when it does.