My Take on the Restricted Space/Budget Shop. #2: The Beating Heart of the Shop

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 01-05-2012 03:34 AM 14149 reads 7 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Space and the Tool List Part 2 of My Take on the Restricted Space/Budget Shop. series Part 3: What Can You Turn Out in a Shop on the Cheap? »

There are two institutions to be given credit for how well I have been able to equip my shop for so little money and in so little space. They cannot be separated. They are ShopSmith and Craigslist.

I was for most of my life one of the “pros” who have all the tools and looked down my nose at multi-function tools in general and ShopSmith in particular.

I was wrong. If you can justify the money and have the space, fine, you don’t need to consider them and can go on in blissful ignorance as I did but when the time comes that space and budget demand creative solutions, it is time to give them a look.

Well I gave ShopSmith a look and now I’m like a reformed smoker. You can’t stop me from singing their praises. At this point I have to bring up the other institution, Craigslist. ShopSmith makes very high quality tools for what they are and unfortunately new they just aren’t in the budget that I’m talking about here. Enter CL.

Remember that 30” x 8’ cabinet in my carport shop? Well here it is open to expose the machine that makes the whole thing possible. You can also see the “built in” spot for my HF compressor.

This is a 1993 ShopSmith Mark V 510. It is like new. I got it on Craigslist for $800 with the bandsaw and jointer special purpose tools (SS’s term for add on tools that drop into place and run off the main unit’s powerhead).

This machine is a good tablesaw, an excellent lathe,a very good drill press, a disc sander with amazing side benefits and a first class horizontal boring machine.

Next space is the 30” square area at the end of the cabinet. It houses the cart that carries the jointer, belt sander, planer and bandsaw. All these tools simply and very quickly drop into place and are driven by the powerhead.

The drawers hold lathe and bandsaw accessories. All of these pieces came from Craigslist and cost far less than new prices.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add another fine but much maligned institution, Harbor Freight to my list of benefactors. There are real jewels among the chaff in that store and for the woodworker on a budget, particularly one who won’t be putting tools to “commercial” use, they are a real resource.

This is my DC, a modified HF model that all LJ’s know well. It is an amazing value.

For those familiar with ShopSmith, we’re about done, but for those of you who want to see how all this works, here are some pictures of the shop in action.

The Planer

The Jointer

The Band Saw

The Drill Press, Nice table

The Lathe

The Horizontal Boring Machine

The Table Saw

The Drum Sander

The Belt Sander

Sorry I don’t have a photo of the disc sander in service but suffice to say that it goes on where the table saw blade goes and benefits from the extendable quill in the headstock and the multi-adjustable table to perform things my stationary Delta at home can’t touch.

So this is the beating heart around which my very small, low budget shop away from home revolves.

If you are short of space and cash but you want a quality shop that can turn out anything the big boys can, get on the computer and start looking on CL for a ShopSmith near you.

Incidentally, I have no connection with any of the organizations above. I just tells it like I sees it.

Hope this will help some of you have more woodworking fun for less.

Thanks for dropping in.


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

40 comments so far

View jackthelab's profile


313 posts in 3659 days

#1 posted 01-05-2012 03:52 AM

Nice read – I enjoyed reading about the aspects of the shop. Nothing wrong with Shopsmith machines as far as I am concerned. Thanks for sharing.

-- Dave in Minnesota - If it ain't broke, improve it!

View a1Jim's profile


118153 posts in 4544 days

#2 posted 01-05-2012 04:00 AM

Wow Paul looks like you really make the shop smith work for you and it really saves a ton of space.


View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 4425 days

#3 posted 01-05-2012 04:00 AM

I am extremely interested in the process you went into modifying your HF Dust Collector

-- San Diego, CA

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4270 days

#4 posted 01-05-2012 04:08 AM

i certainly agree with paul here, and i use to feel that way about a shop smith, but i am reformed…its amazing with what can be done with this equipment…thanks paul , this was a great post and will help those who dont have the larger tools…good post

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View degoose's profile


7279 posts in 4321 days

#5 posted 01-05-2012 04:22 AM

Amazing bit of kit…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4542 days

#6 posted 01-05-2012 04:37 AM

Top shelf all the way around Paul.
And your projects speak for themselves.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3657 days

#7 posted 01-05-2012 04:38 AM

And any tool snobs out there that think you have to have all the bells and whistles…...check out Paul’s amazing projects! Thanks for posting this, Paul

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3789 days

#8 posted 01-05-2012 05:10 AM

Paul that S/S is an amasing tool(s) you are just too organised :))
Dio you save all your small project for the holiday home??
Cheers mate great set up you’ve made, a “thinking”man allways gets his head around these things :: ))

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View JL7's profile


8784 posts in 3932 days

#9 posted 01-05-2012 06:30 AM

Hey Paul – thoroughly enjoyed this post – always like to see ways to merge ingenuity, budget and space! Is the drum sander a Shop Smith option or your original design?

Thanks for sharing!


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View shipwright's profile


8638 posts in 3764 days

#10 posted 01-05-2012 06:44 AM

JL7, That’s mine. You can see it here:

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

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3889 days

#11 posted 01-05-2012 06:49 AM

Amazing ingenuity! Words that can describe you and yourshop…. Innovation, Resourcefulness, Creativity, Shipkeeping, and Rigidity…. All of this I can see in you with yourshop. Probably more ….

-- Bert

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17108 posts in 3585 days

#12 posted 01-05-2012 07:37 AM

Wow! Absolutely wow! I’m a believer, well done and excellent shop setup!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4068 days

#13 posted 01-05-2012 08:57 AM

Ya big showoff…................(nice)

-- mike...............

View wuzfuzde's profile


27 posts in 3617 days

#14 posted 01-05-2012 02:11 PM

you know some day I am going to see one of your post and say—-hey i can do better than that… yea—- that just ain’t going to happen … fine post but only what we come to expect from you..
.as a closing thought as you roast in Az.——it snowed last nite here in the rust bowl….be well

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3833 days

#15 posted 01-05-2012 02:22 PM

Paul, you have spoken words of wisdom in this post. It’s a very nice shop away from home.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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