Shopsmith by Magna 11" bandsaw...small, simple, unchanged for a half century

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Review by SST posted 05-11-2008 06:23 AM 35510 views 2 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Shopsmith by Magna 11" bandsaw...small, simple, unchanged for a half century Shopsmith by Magna 11" bandsaw...small, simple, unchanged for a half century Shopsmith by Magna 11" bandsaw...small, simple, unchanged for a half century Click the pictures to enlarge them

I decided I’d review my 1956 Shopsmith band saw. Why would anyone care about a 50 plus year old band saw???
(except for a couple of old Shopsmith nuts?)
Because it’s a great saw and you can still buy one new today from Shopsmith, or used on ebay, and you’d be getting essentially the same machine as my 50 year old saw.(and I consider that a good thing)

Now, why would anyone build the same tool for a half century while everyone around you changes stuff almost as often as car companies change models or Hollywood celebs change spouses?

You could argue that they just didn’t want to spend the money in tooling and R & D, but I would argue here that the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies, and here’s why I feel that way. (it also might be said that I’m a bit prejudiced in my love for old Shopsmith stuff, and I won’t deny that, but I’ll try to be as objective as I can here for this review)

This particular saw was made circa 1956,and I bought it 2 years ago along with my second model 10er that came in a couple of bushel baskets. While the Smith needed restoration, this accessory did not, it was mint.

The reason I consider this review of an old tool valid is that this saw is essentially the same as those manufactured today. The design has stood the test of time. I love it because it needs virtually no adjustments. My previous saw (craftsman) needed tracking adjustments periodically….often…actually, always.
This saw has no tracking adjustments. The blade, once installed, just self adjusts, stays put, and that’s it. The only thing to adjust is the blade tension with an allen wrench (#1 on pic). You adjust so the red line matches the blade width (#2 on pic). then adjust one screw for blade depth between the guide blocks, and you’re ready to go.

I’ve never had to re-adjust after it’s set up.

The saw is small at 11” throat and 6” max thickness of cut, but if you don’t need bigger, it’s a great choice.
It mounts to the end of a Shopsmith Mark 5 (adaptor is needed for use with a 10er, & they’re rare, but repros are available) or you can mount it on a tool stand and use a separate motor.

I’ve shown an example of some re-sawing of a 2×4 and you’ll note that I’ve cut down to 1/16” using my sophisticated rip fence system. Real rip fences and larger tables are available on later models and can be added to the older ones, too. I’ve re-sawed some ash from tree branches that, when squared off, were just under 6” across, and the power was adequate, and the saw ran true, so if you have a Shopsmith, or just need a small, well built, simple to operate band saw, this one would serve you well.
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it. -Shopsmithtom…-SST

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

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790 posts in 5318 days

32 comments so far

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5535 posts in 5200 days

#1 posted 05-11-2008 07:50 AM

so what I hear you saying is…my 2003 stuff is gonna last a while and I found a great deal??? when I bought my SS last year (hard to believe it has almost been a year since I got it) it came with a jointer and the band saw as extra…I used the jointer a lot because I did not already have one…but barely used the the band saw…since I had a Ryobi…on a seperate stand.

Then I finally gave my ryobi away to make more room in my shop and started using my SS Band saw—-and boy what a differnce…I could never get my ryobi to track right…and when i was setting on a new blade for my SS i was worried that I would run into the same trouble…but in minutes I was set with no problems…

I want to make a re-saw jig so I can start cutting some small logs i have…and will do so soon…

Great review…I AM LEARNING ABOUT MY OWN GEAR between you and Hops….lately!!!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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1076 posts in 4876 days

#2 posted 05-11-2008 11:24 PM

My 1980 vintage bandsaw works as good as it was when new. Nice review.

Thank you for the post.

-- Kip Northern Illinois ( If you don't know where your goin any road will take you there) George Harrison

View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 4974 days

#3 posted 05-12-2008 01:23 AM

I doubt if many of the modern machines will stand the test of time like that one SST.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 5095 days

#4 posted 05-12-2008 02:50 AM

Bought mine in 86 its a part of my shop even if I have ALL OF THE STAND ALONE TOOLS. Very accurate.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View bilsborough's profile


44 posts in 4818 days

#5 posted 05-17-2008 09:33 PM

This Is the same bandsaw my dad has had and I still use since I can remember and I’m now thirty. It is actually wearing out and I’ve been wanting to get a new on for a couple of years. I had assumed since I’ve never seen the brand around that I couldn’t get parts for it but if I can maybe I will just refurbish it. Do you know where I could get parts.

-- What do you learn from being right?

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4201 days

#6 posted 01-21-2010 08:44 PM

I’m glad to hear about the good reports on SS. I bought my 50th Anniversary model 2nd hand, but in mint condition. I’ve found that it is rather small (table saw) for my needs, setting up between band saw to drill press back to table saw is a chore. But the part about the SS band saw that I like least is that the saw is so rough that sanding the sawn surface takes some doing. I did painstakingly adjusted the side guides and the back roller to as close as I can get them. And when I changed the blade to 1/8”, the back roller would not move forward enough to support the blade. Any suggestions? I’m considering selling it and buy a different band saw and table saws. Paul

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

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Steven Davis

118 posts in 4037 days

#7 posted 08-30-2010 09:50 PM

I just got an old SS V 500 with the bandsaw and jointer. I must say I agree with LittlePaw in that the blade does not track very well… is this an old blade problem or an adjustment issue? All in all, I’m happy with the amount of machine I got for the price and space.

-- Steven Davis - see me at

View bunkie's profile


415 posts in 4270 days

#8 posted 08-31-2010 03:45 AM

Bilsborough, the bearings are available from


-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View SST's profile


790 posts in 5318 days

#9 posted 08-31-2010 03:02 PM

I’m not sure what you’re experiencing, I’ve not had any problems. I re-saw with a 1/2” 3 tooth blade or a 3/8” 4 tooth.

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

View Leonard707's profile


10 posts in 3645 days

#10 posted 07-01-2011 01:11 AM

I just received some wood working equipment from a good friend who told me i could keep it or sell it if i won’t be using it. I have a Magna 11” model 630 band saw, magna belt sander, a drill press, and table saw with jointer if anyone is interested I am in Vallejo, California. I can also take some pictures and send them or post them. All of the units are in excellent condition and clean!

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12352 posts in 4552 days

#11 posted 07-01-2011 02:40 AM

My 35 Y.O. Shopsmith and band saw work every bit as well as when I bought them new.
I did upgrade the bearings in the band saw. Still very accurate resawing with a 1/2X4 tooth as well as “scrolling” with the 1/8th blade.
I must admit, I do lust for a larger band saw for resawing.

-- 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

View reible's profile


34 posts in 4884 days

#12 posted 07-01-2011 05:03 AM


I’m going to get my first shopsmith bandsaw tomorrow.

It is used and I have not seen it in person but since I paid less then $100 for it I’m sure it may need a little TLC. I’ve been a shopsmith owner/user since 1976. I do have a lot of the SPT but not the bandsaw or jointer. Simple reason is I had a bandsaw and jointer before I got a shopsmith and have never seen the need to get duplicate shopsmith ones .

BTW I own (2) 520, (2) 500 and I’m working on restoring a 10ER. Wife has trouble understanding why I need 5 machines but I don’t.

I figured if I ever got another bandsaw it would be one with a good size resaw capacity. Things have now changed, one of my 500 resides in the UP of MI, just over 400 miles away. As I was setting up a small shop in my father-in-laws basement the first thing I noticed was how much I use a bandsaw. I felt lost without one. So since I now needed another bandsaw I figured that it was about time to find a shopsmith one.

I have a couple months to get it into working shape if it isn’t already. Shopsmith has replacement parts as the worst case, other wise ebay or fellow shopsmith owners tend to be very helpful and a cheaper way to go. If I can come up with the $$ I would like to add both Carter guide kits, (have these on my other bandsaw and love them) but expect I can live without it for a while.

It doesn’t have manual so I will have to get one of those soon, want to get the adjustments right and this is a different machine then most bandsaws adjustment wise. The only way to know how well it works or what problems it might have is to adjust it first and I have no idea how to do that san the manual.

So I’m excited about my new old shopsmith bandsaw.

Thanks for the review Tom, drove by Wausau on the 25th of June, thought of you as we passed.

-- Knight of the Shopsmith

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8731 posts in 3921 days

#13 posted 07-01-2011 07:24 AM

In boatbuilding the bandsaw is the most important tool in the shop, always.
I have owned and used bandsaws from a three wheel 10” model that I could carry under my arm to a 42” tilting arbor saw that weighed close to two tons.
That said I can vouch absolutely for the SS model bandsaw. I agree with everything Tom has said and would add that value for money, pound for pound it is as good as or better than any saw I’ve ever owned, and that includes my 18” Delta which I love.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View SST's profile


790 posts in 5318 days

#14 posted 07-05-2011 04:55 AM

I just re-tuned both of my bandsaws & tried some 4-5” re-sawing & they’re right on the money. Every now & then I think about trying different guides & then, when I look at the results I’m getting, I decide not to spend the money. One machine is the one I reviewed that is all original (even the tires) save a home made bearing upgrade, and the other is a 1986 that I got with a 510.
The older machine doesn’t run any better with the bearing upgrade, I just wanted to see if I could make one up myself. Of the 2 machines, I actually think the 1950’s saw runs better than the newer one, but then, I think a lot of stuff from the 50’s runs better, including Oldsmobiles. -SST

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

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4201 days

#15 posted 07-05-2011 07:25 PM

Before giving up, I called SS and a lady “expert” walked me through the process of tuning up my bandsaw. It is now sawing a lot better and I won’t be selling it any more. Since then, I’ve added a stand alone table saw, so I am now mostly using my SS as a band saw and drill press.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

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