ShopSmith - Older 500 - Advice - Cutting Tubes?

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Forum topic by FordTrax posted 06-06-2012 11:12 AM 2677 views 1 time favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2992 days

06-06-2012 11:12 AM

Topic tags/keywords: shopsmith 500

I am in the process of getting a 1959 Shopsmith 500 with the 3/4 motor and small table. I have a smaller shop but I do have a nice tablesaw, B/S, lathe, router table etc. I have a old craftsman drill press that is okay.

I want the Shopsmith for the drill press – I believe the 500s table is bigger than my old drill presses plus I can angle it which I cannot do with my old craftsman with its 10×10” table. I heard that that the shopsmith makes for a great drill press. Am I correct on these facts?

Also, I get the possibility to horizontal bore if I want to which I don’t have the capapbilty to do now. I wonder how that would work for drilling pen blanks.

Finally, I also get a 12” disc sander. Which can replace my tiny disc belt sander. Even the small 500 table may be bigger than most disc sander tables and should work great for squaring up pen blanks. And other sanding tasks.

So I figure for 275 bucks I get a somewhat used but running 500 – which gives me a better drill press, 12” sander, and if I ever need it horizontal boring. I doubt I will ever use the router/shaper or table saw functions. Am I on the right track here?

Also, I read a post here – about someone cuts the tubes down to make the machine smaller than 6’. Would this be a good option for me – using only the drill press, sander, and maybe possibly horizontal boring (don’t know maybe on a pen blanks)? How is this best accomplished? Can someone shoot me a picture or two?


5 replies so far

View IrreverentJack's profile


728 posts in 3350 days

#1 posted 06-06-2012 12:08 PM

Look into Shipwright's Shop Smith Thickness Sander before you cut the tubes down. -Jack

View riffplayer's profile


2 posts in 2815 days

#2 posted 06-06-2012 03:30 PM

I would suggest doing some searching on the Shopsmith Forum – lots of knowledgeable people who are always happy to help. I have a 1954 Shopsmith 500 that I love – but that’s because I love to tinker and there’s a lot of tinkering to do with an old Shopsmith. You will probably have to replace some bearings and do initial cleaning and lubrication. I also replaced the power cord on mine and had to order a few parts. I picked mine up for about $300 a few years ago and have put a few hundred into it since. Was it worth it? Not sure, but I’ve enjoyed it and that’s all that matters to me. So far all I’ve used it for was to build stuff for the Shopsmith itself – under carriage storage and infeed and outfeed tables. Every time I go to make something I realize I need to make an improvement to do what I need to do. Can be a pain, but again, I like that problem solving / tinkering aspect of it. I have used the drill press some as well as the sanding disk – both have been fine, but I really don’t have anything to compare them to. I too have been checking out Shipwright’s thickness sander and hope to make one some day.

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 4285 days

#3 posted 06-07-2012 05:48 AM

Not sure what you are asking, the Shopsmith can do everything on you list and more. For drilling pen blanks I use a jig (from Woodcraft or Penn Stats) and just use the Shopsmith as a drill press. Drilling the exact center of a thin pen blank is difficult in horizontial drilling mode unless you have an adjustable stop collar.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4155 days

#4 posted 06-07-2012 06:49 AM

It is a good and accurate drill press but quite inconvenient
due to gravity and the lack of a rack and pinion system
for adjusting the relationship in the relationship
between the head and the quill.

I would only buy one for the drill press, horizontal
drilling and lathe capabilities. It is essentially a lathe.

Horizontal drilling is not so useful in furniture work these
days. The SS can substitute for a horizontal doweling
machine. I use dowels but people like to bash them
these days and they are out of fashion.

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 4285 days

#5 posted 06-07-2012 09:54 PM

Loren, people have come up with several inexpensive solutions to adjusting the table height in drill press mode. I am implementing a ACME threaded rod solution for about $50 that works in both drill press mode and for the lathe. Others have used a bottle jack.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

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