How many is to many Shopsmiths?

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Blog entry by reible posted 05-11-2009 07:21 AM 1868 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Way back when I use to look in the back of the popular mechanics at the ad’s for the shopsmith and something compelled me want one, even as a kid. Maybe it was from playing with erector sets and the like but the idea of have a machine I could make into other machines fascinated me.

Life seem far less then fair when they stopped making the shopsmith, after all I had never had a chance to buy one… sure we had a shop in the basement but after leaving home I only had a few hand tools of my own. After being in the army and using the gi bill for some education I actually got to the point of having enough money to start a shop of my own. Got a rockwell table saw a bandsaw, a few other tools then started looking at the newspaper ads for a used shopsmith…. Everyone of them were gone before I even called!

Then there they were! Ad’s for new ones again! So in 1976 I got a brand new one that I ordered out of the back of a magazine… without ever having seen one for real.

It was all that I had imagined and soon I parted with the rockwell and well the rest is history. Over the years shopsmith would come out with upgrades and I would upgrade but when the 510 version came out I passed on it, same with the 520.

With retirement coming up I saved some money to update my shop. After retiring I revisited what I wanted to do and then upgraded to the 520. I then rationed that with a 20 plus year old machine at some point something was going to go wrong sooner or later. That is when I found a basket case 510 for cheap on ebay. As it turned out it wasn’t as bad off as the previous owner(s) had though… they had abused it but not to the point that it needed a lot of money to get it working again. I debated about leaving it as a 510 but after having the 520 to use I was less then happy with the 510. And again it seemed reasonable to upgrade it to a 520 so I did. Now I have a lot of parts to exchange, and still no major problems… but I’m ready if and when they come.

I am extremely happy with the 520 and it was like changing to a new table saw. But some how I missed the old 500 and all that we had made together. I missed the jigs I had assembled in my collection… I even missed the smaller table for some jobs. I mean after working with a tool for so many years is natural right????

Added to that is the fact I have three grown children and hope to pass on a shopsmith to each of them it should be no surprise that I have been thinking of adding a third machine. That fact is I already had a lot of left over 500 parts so the biggest need was for a headstock.

So along came this spring and I was looking for something as a special gift for one of my brothers. He is a woodworker but has never experienced a shopsmith. He has also been into restoring old cars and was a machinest by trade. I figured a old shopsmith 10er was the perfect gift as what he needs in his shop is a wood lathe. Found one and did the minimum amount of work on it to make it usable and safe. Packed it up in my van as parts and delivered it the 400 miles a bit late for his birthday but that didn’t mean much as we unpacked and assemble the machine. So in small way that was my third machine… now passed on to a deserving brother.

Then there came today. Well today I over spent my budget but got a headstock, that will pretty much complete my desires to have another 500 to use and to have a third machine to pass on. Yep now all that is left is to re-adjust my budget by removing some other things I thought I was going to buy this year….

The worst of this is after having the 10er for a while I’ve fallen in love with it too. I’m already thinking I really need one of those in my all ready full garage…..

So how many is too many? Perhaps I should check my medical plan to see if they cover mental health issues Or am I just a normal shopsmith owner??


-- Knight of the Shopsmith

13 comments so far

View oldwoodman's profile


137 posts in 4003 days

#1 posted 05-11-2009 09:45 AM

If you love the Shopsmiths, and they provide avenues for enjoyable work, and if you have the room for them, then three is not too many. I hope to get one myself in the next few weeks.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18783 posts in 4281 days

#2 posted 05-11-2009 11:03 AM

Seems to me you should have one set up as a lathe, another as a drill press, another as a table saw …......... No use wastiing valuable shop time converting them back and forth. Why not pass one 2 each instead of one?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 4034 days

#3 posted 05-11-2009 12:31 PM

You have too many when you finally have to leave the garage door open, Ed.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View croquetman's profile


137 posts in 3926 days

#4 posted 05-11-2009 02:37 PM

When I was about to begin furnishing my shop, I asked several seasoned woodworkers if they thought the shopsmith approach was a good alternative to buying several pieces that specialized in one task. The answer universally was that if I favored quality work, the Shopsmith was not the best alternative. They even advised that there were some safety considerations, but I don’t think this were first hand account observations. I took their advice and went with the individual tools. Of course, I had to expand the size of the shop, but that was a small price to pay – apparently.

-- Whatever

View PurpLev's profile


8554 posts in 4254 days

#5 posted 05-11-2009 03:20 PM

you are sick…. and need professional help – in the coffee lounge of…

as long as you’re happy with it, there can never be too much.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3931 days

#6 posted 05-11-2009 04:31 PM

”you are sick…. and need professional help”

LOL….I tink we al have this sickness in one forum or another.

-- Don S.E. OK

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4000 days

#7 posted 05-11-2009 04:34 PM

For me, one is enough, but you must understand, I’ve had it for, ohhh – let’s see——maybe 27 or 28 years and I wouldn’t part with it.
That said, I hasten to add, I recognize its shortcomings and use it for its strengths. I have a shop-full of other standing tools, so it doesn’t matter that it won’t do the things my cabinet saw will do, and the same thing for other features.
But it has actually been disassembled and taken to other worksites in the trunk of a car, and I use it almost every time I’m working in the shop. Most of the time its set up as a sanding center, but it gets a lot of work as a drill press and a lathe.
And, as they say, it takes only the floor space of a bicycle! (a slight exaggeration)


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4800 days

#8 posted 05-11-2009 05:03 PM

There’s no way I can pass up commenting on this topic. Having 3-10er’s (one at our summer place & 2 in my home shop) and one greenie (early mark 5 from 1957, so my newest machine is over 50 years old), and still keeping my eyes open for one more…always one more. I’m not sure that you can ever have too many Shopsmiths.

I justify them this way: the one at the summer place is necessary for the various projects I do there; the 2 10er’s at home are used as follows: one, the one my dad bought new and taught me on is used for high speed operations like the table saw and shaper; the other is used for lower speed operations like lathe work, horizontal boring & drill press work, and the third home machine – the mark 5 – was shortened to save space and is primarily used to power peripherals like the band saw and jointer, and I leave it set up with a dado blade, too.

I’ve got 10 different power tools all in a very small space, they roll on drop down casters, and other than a little cleaning & lubing, I see no reason that they shouldn’t last another 50 years. How many other things in this world can we say that about???

So, how many Shopsmiths do I need??? For some reason I’m reminded of a sign on a local tavern that reads, “free beer tomorrow”. How many Shopsmiths do I need? Just one more. (think about that) -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4611 days

#9 posted 05-11-2009 05:26 PM

It took me years to finally figure out i needed at least 20 tape measures and 400 pencils laying everywhere as a sound strategy to properly do my work.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View reible's profile


34 posts in 4366 days

#10 posted 05-17-2009 12:56 AM

I unpacked the headstock today and did an inspection. I was expecting to have to do some repairs and perhaps some part replacements…. Not the case at all!!!! All I had to do was give it a few drops of oil and clean out about a tablespoon of sawdust. Both belts were in really good shape yet and didn’t even have to do a high speed adjustment. The sheaves show almost no wear. So despite it being over 17 years old it acts new.

The outside has a few scrapes so now I want to locate my can(s) of touch up paint and deal with that before I go any farther with the assembly. This also means I have not load tested the motor yet… so I still could get bit on that. I really don’t expect that to happen as it sounds really good when running up and down the speeds

My other two are 31 and 33 years old so this is by far the newest one. It is hard to believe, it sure doesn’t seem like I’ve been using original one since 1976…

Now if I could just find a 10ER to buy…. I mean four shopsmiths has to better then three right?? Just kidding, I don’t have room for another one yet.


-- Knight of the Shopsmith

View reible's profile


34 posts in 4366 days

#11 posted 07-10-2010 06:52 AM

Well it happened again… another shopsmith followed me home. This one I got off ebay and it was about a hours drive away, close enough to make it an easy trip and, well the price was good.

Actually I had been thinking about getting one to take to the UP of MI and having it in my father-in-laws garage/basement and the wife even agreed. We take many 400 mile trips up a year and it really ends up cutting in to my projects. This way I can take some work with me or do fix-it projects on that house every time we are up that way.

This one is a 500 and about the same vintage as my original machine, mid 1970’s. I had it here for a short while I cleaned and lubed it and fix a few problems. It was missing a few things like a drill chuck key which I went to Ace Hardware to get one, it was also missing a few other items I’ll have to get at some point like the drum sander but all in all I’m pretty happy with it so far.

I transported it up on the last trip and finished the clean up and assembly up there. I’m still not quite done, got the primer on the legs but have to do the real color on the next visit. I also have to do the alignment so all told I need about another half day to get it in order. (Not including waiting for the paint to dry).

If things go well I might be in the market for a bandsaw to add to the collection next year, one thing I know I’ll miss, being without it will be a pain on a lot of projects.


-- Knight of the Shopsmith

View drakers007's profile


8 posts in 4384 days

#12 posted 02-21-2012 07:36 AM

Yep got two 10E’s that earn floor space in my small garage workshop one as a permanent drill press rigged with a Atlas compound table and the other for whatever duties ensue…small table saw, boring machine, wood lathe, rotary, catch all tables and on ocasion the shop bar :)

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11999 posts in 4034 days

#13 posted 02-21-2012 12:46 PM

I have only one. And it has the Jointech saw train and router table on it. Limits the Shopsmith’s utility somewhat as I never take it off. As a table saw, the Jointech makes the SS a better one and I’ll never have a better router table set up.
I’d like another one to play with.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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