TS3650 vs Shopsmith

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Forum topic by byerbyer posted 10-14-2013 02:56 PM 3186 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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241 posts in 3428 days

10-14-2013 02:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw jointer drill press lathe bandsaw

I’m in the market for a table saw for my little home shop and I’ve been going back and forth between the Rigid R4512 and a Grizzly cabinet saw… That was until I was perusing our a local classifieds site. There is a Rigid TS3650 that looks to be in very good shape available for $375 OBO (2 hour drive away.) There is also a Shopsmith Mark V available for $800 with several accessories (band saw, jointer, small belt sander, large belt sander (stand alone unit), extension table…) about a half an hour away. My dad has had a Shopsmith since I was an infant, so I’ve learned a lot about woodworking on one and I liken them to a buffet (they do everything OK, but nothing great) I’d say the “table saw” portion of their use is there biggest weakness, but there’s still quite a bit of value in that price… Enough rambling, if it was your money, which way would you lean?

-- Byer-- "Comparison is the thief of joy" -- T.R. Roosevelt

23 replies so far

View stephan's profile


24 posts in 3728 days

#1 posted 10-14-2013 03:27 PM

If you have the space go for free standing machines in the end you will be happier. I have had a ShopSmith for 32 years with the band saw, jointer, belt sander and a lot of other accessories to boot [ I should say had, I just sold it ]. I found it to be a great and a frustrating tool. Over the years I ended up purchasing individual machines and ended up not using the ShopSmith. I realized it was taking up needed space in my shop [2 car garage ] so off it went and I really don’t miss it other than for sentimental reasons. If your familiar with the ShopSmith then you know about the set up time and change over from accessory to accessory and the small work surfaces of each accessory. Anyway thats my 2 cents worth.

-- Stephan

View Loren's profile


11503 posts in 5104 days

#2 posted 10-14-2013 03:34 PM

It depends on the style of work you want to do. If you
want to work with plywood panels and make cabinets
the Shopsmith table saw is not convenient.

If you want to make furniture however, the Shopsmith
does end boring, turned legs, and so forth. It can
do loose tenon slot mortises too and the tilting table is cool.

View b2rtch's profile


4922 posts in 4504 days

#3 posted 10-14-2013 03:42 PM

My experience is that individual machines are much easier to use and in general work better.
A jack of all trade rarely do one trade very well.

-- Bert

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3883 days

#4 posted 10-14-2013 03:46 PM

I ended up giving my Shopsmith to the Goodwill, enough said.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

556 posts in 4454 days

#5 posted 10-14-2013 03:46 PM


If it were my money, I would get the Rigid TS3650 over the Shopsmith. With that said, I have never used a Shopsmith and many of those who do are quite passionate about them. You have more familiarity than I do and depending on the way you work, what you want to create, how much space you have and your budget, a Shopsmith may make more sense. If nothing else, a tablesaw can double as a storage table, where a Shopsmith cannot.

As I mentioned I have the TS3650 and it has done everything I have asked of it – cut though oak, walnut, hard maple, cherry; used a stacked dado set for dados, rabbets; accurate setup and tuning, reasonable dust collection (with modifications), semi-mobile, accurate fence, easily modified, etc. I rarely use plywood, so can’t really comment in its ability to breakdown sheet goods. It handles smaller pieces of plywood without any difficulty.

A few caveats though,

1) $375 isn’t a bargain by any means. If the saw is in any way incomplete or rusted or abused, the price should substantially fall. Of course, $375 could include a bunch of extras – good blades, dado blades, aftermarket mitre gauge, etc.

2) The base is a bit poorly designed and there is some rocking back and forth. The solution is to add some bracing between the legs. This is on my to do list.

3) There were some problems with the arbor on some 3650’s. Essentially there was a machined groove near the base of the arbor that prevented the use of dado blades. Depending on the vintage of the saw you are looking at, this may need to be replaced. Good news on this is that most likely Rigid will replace it for free (it is a safety recall). I am the 2nd owner of this saw that is well out of warranty and yet Rigid replaced the arbor for free (parts and labor). Kudos in my book.

4) The assembly of the mobile base is a bit tricky and if the current owner didn’t do it correctly, it will not work correctly. If you look at the saw and it does not appear to lift and move very well, consider reassembly.

I have easily tricked out my saw with an extension table, shop made zero clearance throat plates, cross cut sled for panels, taper/irregular edge sled, and dust collection enhancements.

All in all, I am quite happy with it.

Good luck with whatever you choose!


View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4815 days

#6 posted 10-14-2013 03:53 PM

I would keep looking. I also think $375 is high for a 3650 unless it has a bunch of extras. I only paid about $325 for the 3660 new when HD was closing them out. In this area, decent TS’s can be had for about $250

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View MrRon's profile


6316 posts in 4699 days

#7 posted 10-14-2013 04:44 PM

If you will be a casual woodworker, I would go with the Shopsmith. They are great machines, especially when space is at a premium. I had one for many years; sold it twice and bought it back twice. I now have a 1200sf shop and went with dedicated machines. They are a bit of a hassle to set up, but there’s no reason you cannot do good work with them. $800 sounds like a lot. Offer $500.

View Holt's profile


280 posts in 4085 days

#8 posted 10-14-2013 04:59 PM

I think a decent contractor’s table saw and a Shopsmith Mk V with attachments a great combination. Add a lunchbox planer and you can build almost anything and do it for a long time without spending any additional money. Even if you have the space and money to eventually replace all the most used Shopsmith functions, it will still pull it’s weight as the best sanding station you will ever own. Plus it makes a good platform to support and power shop-made machines like drum sanders.

I’m not wild about the table saw function, but to be honest, I bought my table saw first and that Shopsmith mode never interested me. I flirted with the idea of using the table saw mode as “dedicated” dado station, but moved to a router based solution for that…

-- ...Specialization is for insects.

View toolie's profile


2215 posts in 4084 days

#9 posted 10-14-2013 05:23 PM

I’d say the “table saw” portion of their use is there biggest weakness

that means the tool that is the heart of most shops is the shopsmith’s weakest point. i totally dismissed anythng shop smith after i saw one up close and personal. IMHO, it’s not a serious woodworking tool.

go with the 3650. if it’s in good shape with a complete fence and a splitter/blade guard assembly, you’ll never regret the purchase.

-- there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.

View knotscott's profile


8439 posts in 4831 days

#10 posted 10-14-2013 05:25 PM

The TS was one of the weaker elements of the Shopsmith. On the other side this discussion, the 3650 is a very well regarded contractor saw with solid cast wings, full size cast iron table surface, Herculift, serpentine belt, and a good fence….$375 is a bit steep, but $275 to $300 would be very reasonable IMO.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Loren's profile


11503 posts in 5104 days

#11 posted 10-14-2013 07:35 PM

Check out this guy’s horizontal mortising setup on a Shopsmith:

View rg33's profile


83 posts in 3458 days

#12 posted 10-14-2013 07:57 PM

I was in your shoes about a year ago, debating between the R4512 and a grizzly G1023 while at the same time perusing CL for a used 3650. Heres what I can tell you:

1)Like others have said $375 for a 3650 is too much. If you have the patience, I have seen some in the $250-$300 range and thats here in southern california where the norm is overpriced craftsman rust buckets

2)I ended up getting the R4512 (after seriously trying to justify to myself that I would be happier with the G1023). I could afford either but Im a casual woodworker with another dozen hobbies so that I could not in the end justify the more expensive grizzly saw. After several hours adjusting and aligning everything, I couldnt be happier with this purchase. Sure it does not have the cast iron wings like the grizz or the 3650 and it has table mounted trunnions, but I found it not that hard to get working perfectly. Plus around here the R4512 is common and people have great ideas for add ons like router tables/outfeed tables etc. One more thing, I bought mine when Discover had a 10% off at homedepot and that helped. I think if you look around usually there will be a credit card that will save you 5-10%.

3) dont know much about the shop smith other than have seen a few pics on the web. the table top is tiny. It seems to me and others may disagree that a TS is the heart of any shop, and so if you decide to get a shopsmith at any point, you still wont be disappointed with already having a TS

View Robert Keeney's profile

Robert Keeney

90 posts in 4968 days

#13 posted 10-15-2013 09:20 AM

I have both of these and if I had to give up one of them I think it would be the table saw.

-- Robert in Tallahassee Florida,

View Robert Keeney's profile

Robert Keeney

90 posts in 4968 days

#14 posted 10-15-2013 09:23 AM

I’ve had a Shopsmith since 1981. They are an excellent machine for small spaces and very versatile. You can get lots of info and help with the restoration and maintenance on the Shopsmith Forum. You can also contact Shopsmith directly. I think you will find they have some of the best support you are going to find anywhere.

Here are a few links you might find useful:

Shopsmith Forum
New Shopsmith Owner Info
Everything Mark5-Technical Info
Shopsmith Academy
Product Manuals
YouTube Videos
Shopsmith Tool Hunter Blog
Built With A Shopsmith
My Pinterest Shopsmith Board
The Shopsmith User Group Forum
Shopsmith Users Yahoo
Shopsmith 10ER Users Yahoo
eBay Shopsmith Search

-- Robert in Tallahassee Florida,

View John's profile


341 posts in 5254 days

#15 posted 10-15-2013 01:08 PM

Only one of those choices (Ridgid vs ShopSmith) was “Made in America” which is why I’m selling all my Grizzly stuff and going back to ShopSmith

-- John - Central PA -

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