New use for an old tool

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Review by Sam Butler posted 06-29-2009 05:50 PM 10289 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
New use for an old tool No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I purchased an Shopsmith (SS) 25 years ago when I first started woodworking. It was a good start but I quickly realized that I needed stand alone tools. The table saw aspects of the Shopsmith was the most inadequate. After selling the SS I missed the drill press, horizontal boring, lathe and disc sander. So a few years ago I purchased a Mark V for a few hundred dollars. It did not have the upgrade to the 510 which is why I was able to buy it for a low price. It was great to have the old friend back but I soon discovered problems after I sold my free standing drill press. Whenever I needed a quick drill press the SS was always set up for something else. And to be honest when the SS is in the vertical mode it is a little unsteady.

So when I saw another Mark for sale I jumped on it and mounted it to a wall. Now I have an sturdy awesome dedicated drill press. The advantages of the SS drill press include the variable speed, a big table with fence, the table moves in and out and of course up and down.

I may try to do some overhead routing on this one.

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Sam Butler

9 posts in 4116 days

12 comments so far

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8574 posts in 4423 days

#1 posted 06-29-2009 06:00 PM

great idea! I’m always on the lookout for a SS for that exact purpose… but I’m still on the fence as Im not too happy about not having the keyless chuck anymore. as from what I hear, it’s not easy getting a keyless chuck on the SS, and it has some alignment issues.

but I love the speed control, and the fully adjustable table – which just might be worth losing the keyless option.

thanks for the review! bolting to the wall is a great idea!

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

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4970 days

#2 posted 06-29-2009 07:13 PM

Whenever any one asks about getting a lathe or drill press for woodworking work, I always suggest (I’ve done that here a few times) they find an older reasonably priced Shopsmith. Even though they’re my only power tools in the shop, and I recognize & have learned to deal with the shortcomings of the table saw, it makes a great lathe, drill press, horizontal borer, (those who haven’t used a horizontal borer in woodworking are really missing out, in my opinion) and movable disc 12” sander for ANY workshop…and doesn’t take up lots of space.

The wall mount is terrific for your use, and don’t overlook using it as a shaper. I’ve done it & been very satisfied with the results. As to the keyless chuck, for me, at least, it’s only a minor thing (probably since I’ve only ever used a key one) and I wouldn’t let it overshadow the benes of the Smith drill press. -SST

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

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35223 posts in 5175 days

#3 posted 06-29-2009 08:37 PM

Good job on the setup.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

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John Nixon

189 posts in 4838 days

#4 posted 06-30-2009 03:24 AM

Great advice and write up Sam. I agree wholeheartedly. I have my 1951 Model 10ER Shopsmith setup in permanent drill press mode. The machine belonged to my grandfather and it still runs as good as the day it wasy made.

-- John Nixon - Buffalo, NY -

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5688 posts in 4083 days

#5 posted 06-30-2009 04:47 AM

Excellent idea Sam,
I has a Shop Smith about 25 years ago and sold it to get dedicated tools. I have a Delta drill press now and a bunch of other dedicated tools but the shopsmith does have some features that make it attractive such as the horizontal drilling and lathe.
A neignbor down the block was asking me the other day if I knew anyone wanting to buy a shopsmith he inherited. I think I will reconsider and look at it for the features it has that I do not use enough to justify buying a dedicated tool for.

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10 posts in 4157 days

#6 posted 06-30-2009 03:28 PM

Great idea.. keep going man!

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1591 posts in 4536 days

#7 posted 01-15-2010 02:59 AM


It is not unusual for a shop owner with stand alone tools to keep his Shopsmith, or even look for one to purchase, because there are some things that the Shopsmith does very well. there are also some Shopsmith features that can’t be found elsewhere.

Even the often criticzed Shopsmith table saw does a few things very well. The variable speed enables you to reduce cutting speed to eliminate burning in sensitive woods like cherry and maple. You can even cut sheet plastic without having it melt. Also, it is so easy to change blades, that you can install a specialty blade, even for a couple of cuts, without having to go through a more difficult change over on your cabinet saw. For a shop that only has occasional need for turnings, the Shopsmith provides a high capacity lathe without having to invest in an expensive dedicated lathe that would sit mostly idle. Used as a sanding station, the 12” disk and optional 6”x48” belt sander gives you the best variable speed sanding station you can find anywhere. As a drill press, the Shopsmith is designed for woodworking. Most drill presses on the market are designed for metalworking.

As for features not found elsewhere, I’ll start with Shopsmith’s horizontal drilling capability. For those who like to cut mortises quickly and with precision, Shopsmith’s over arm pin router accessory will do the job better than just about anything else in the shop. The optional conical disk sander can be used to joint the edges of plywood, or woods that have burl or highly figured edges susceptible to tear out. The conical disk sander can also be used to sharpen planer and joiner knives, saving time and money.

When looking for a used Shopsmith, even though the original model 500 is fully up-gradable, the models 510 and 520, featuring a larger table, and beefier carriage and fence, are a better value.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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1172 posts in 4852 days

#8 posted 01-15-2010 08:40 AM

Can’t you replace the chuck with something more modern? Even if you had to use an adapter or something.?

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

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968 posts in 3883 days

#9 posted 01-15-2010 09:14 AM

i’d like a Shopsmith, everyone who has one is always “OMG ITS THE GREATEST TOOL EVER!” and I feel all left out :(

Esp having very limited space, be nice to have access to things like the lathe function that I’d only use once in a while without having to give up valuable floor space.

now pardon me while I troll craigslist for awhile….

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

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90 posts in 3833 days

#10 posted 01-21-2010 06:35 AM

I recently bough a Mark V 510, which is the only large woodworking tool I own. What am I missing in regards to the table saw? The SS seems adequate for all my cuts. What can stand only table saws do the SS cant?

-- Aaron Possom Town, TN

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4970 days

#11 posted 01-21-2010 07:46 PM

Some guys complain that it’s not a tilting arbor saw. They feel that tilting the table is not acceptable. Anyone who has a Smith doesn’t let that bother them. (actually, from my experience, most of the folks who find fault with a Shopsmith have never actually used one to build anything) I’ve used mine all my life with no problems in that regard. By the way, I’m not saying that separate tools aren’t great, I’m just saying that they’re not better. I’m just finishing up a wine storage cabinet involving dado & mortise & tenon joinery & large piece cutting. (pics coming soon when I buy a new camera) I was never limited by my tool system.

Here’s a point to remember on the miter/tilt table hang-up that guys seem to have. In this project, which was very involved, I never once needed to make a miter cut. How often do we really do that anyway?
The tool is not limited, it’s us. We apply limitations to what we can (or are willing) to do, that’s all.

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

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280 posts in 3404 days

#12 posted 06-26-2013 06:45 PM

I’m one of those that have a “problem” with the SS in table saw mode. I like a nice big cast iron table on my table saw which the SS definitely doesn’t have, but my biggest problem is that in my shop, the table saw gets so much use, that swapping between that mode and the others is a pain in the neck. I’m sure better organization on my part could minimize that, be the combo of an SS and a table saw makes for a pretty efficient shop. I’ve replaced all the SS functions (at the least the ones that can be reasonable replaced) with stand alone tools, but I still use my SS. It’s just too useful to have two drill press setups dialed in (or band-saw, or lathe, ...). I’ve even been known to setup the SS in table saw mode to avoid bouncing back and forth between a dado and normal blade…

And the one thing that can’t really be replaced. The SS is a fantastic platform to run home-made shop equipment! A drum sander springs to mind…

-- ...Specialization is for insects.

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