ShopSmith's dinky switch

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Forum topic by Don Butler posted 03-09-2009 06:38 PM 10642 views 2 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don Butler

1092 posts in 3936 days

03-09-2009 06:38 PM

As a longtime ShopSmith owner and one who has kept up with maintenance issues, I make this observation about it:
The little power switch on it seems to me to be wrong. If I’m switching something that approaches 15 amps and maybe more on startup, I’d want something more substantial and I’d like it to be enclosed.
When my original switch failed a while ago I checked the price of the replacement. Just to be sure I went to their site just a minute ago. $27.80!!!!! plus delivery.
So I went to the electric parts locker and pulled out a wall switch enclosure box and a 15 amp switch with a metal cover plate. I screwed the box to the SS housing near the bottom, drilled a hole for the switch wires, fishing them through, and wired up the new switch.
At first I thought this would be a temporary fix until I could get a factory switch. I needed the machine right away and couldn’t wait for the new one, but after a while I got used to it and decided I’d keep the make-do arrangement.
Actually, I think it’s a more reliable arrangement and likely to stand up to abuse better than the little bat-handled factory switch.
By the way, the hole left from the original switch is just right for a standard screw hole plug!

I was going to include a photo, but I don’t seem to be able to upload it directly.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

16 replies so far

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 4304 days

#1 posted 03-09-2009 07:16 PM

For the money they want for a replacement switch, you could buy a nice big 120V/240V paddle switch that comes with a box from Woodworkers Supply, It’s a Woodtek part, I bought one for my Contractor’s saw and couldn’t be happier.

View jeh412's profile


129 posts in 3916 days

#2 posted 03-09-2009 08:17 PM

That switch from Woodworkers Supply is a nice one. But, your fix is likely to last the life of the tool, if you decide to keep it, and is more substantial than the original. My father-in-law is a Shopsmith owner (purchased not long after he left the Air Force in 1953 or ‘54) and has a “jury rigged” switch on his, too.

-- John, co-owner Sawdust 'n Stitches

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 4319 days

#3 posted 03-10-2009 08:36 AM

Yes, the replacement switch from Shopsmith is a rip-off. The only reason I’d buy one from them is to help keep them in business. Times are tough for the Shopsmith guys. You can get a 20 amp toggle switch from just about any electrical supply house for about $5. I’ve go a 1953 Greenie with the original switch which works great after all these years. I just finished upgrading the headstock to the PolyV drive and 2 bearing quill. Replaced all the bearings, including the motor, and it runs as smooth and quiet as the day it came off the assembly line. Bought the parts off eBay and from Shopsmith. I was amazed that even after 50+ years, all the current parts will fit my Greenie.

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3936 days

#4 posted 03-10-2009 11:41 AM

“If you decide to keep it” isn’t even on the table.
While I don’t do precision joinery on the ShopSmith, I keep it set up with a large disc sander and the 6×48 belt sander and I might go to it 30 times in a day. As a drill press it simply excels, and when I need to turn something it becomes a very flexible lathe with great speed control.
Keeping it is a given!
By the way, it’s bandsaw accessory stands on it’s own base now because I use it so often.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View jeh412's profile


129 posts in 3916 days

#5 posted 03-10-2009 03:05 PM

Actually, I misspoke, er, typed, and meant if you decide to keep the switch you rigged rather than buying the direct replacemment from Shopsmith. I know my father-in-law would never part with his Shopsmith and I’ve talked to other owners who feel the same way. Most, it seems, do have other tools that duplicate functions on the Shopsmith but prefer that for certain functions.

I see a lot of Shopsmiths for sale on Craigslist and sometimes in the newspaper classifieds. A lot of them are available at very good prices and I get tempted to buy one. One of these days … I don’t need it and I don’t really have the space to spare, but one of these days!

-- John, co-owner Sawdust 'n Stitches

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4302 days

#6 posted 03-11-2009 12:31 AM

You might be interested in watching Nick Engler’s short video clip on “changing the Shopsmith switches”;


I’ve had a Shopsmith since ‘83. When you have only 1/2 of a garage to work in the Shopsmith is hard to beat.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3042 posts in 3978 days

#7 posted 03-11-2009 01:22 AM

I use light switches all the time for motorized tools especially if I build a stand and need a switch. If the item is higher than 15 amps I use an electric water heater switch or furnace switch. Still like a light switch but handles more current. I’ve had some of them for years without issues. A cheap 89cent one from home depot would probably last 10 years.

also, what’s nice too is to buy a switch/plug combo. So, you can plug your powertool into the socket then run a wire the length you want to the wall plate. They sell #14 or #12 flexible cord off the roll in most places. Make a wire for your router table, for instance, 12 feet long, then just plug your router into the switch. The reason to go to all this work is that when you go to change a blade or bit or whatever you can unplug the unit at the switch and not have to go fumbling for the wall plug. If you have to be a real purist then buy a toggle switch at radio shack and mount it in the plate with a drilled hole. Either way 5 bucks or less does the job. That paddle switch is purty though.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3970 days

#8 posted 03-11-2009 11:36 PM

Just to keep the record straight – the switch that one buys from Shopsmith is a 20 amp DPST switch (two switches in one) and it is a key lock safety switch. The key can be removed and put away in a safe place. These prevents inquisitive grandkids from powering the unit without supervision. This safety feature is worth the price of the switch to me. I have them on all of my Shopsmith gear.

If someone can tell me where to get a similar switch for that price – please drop me a note here on the forum.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View ChiefEngineer's profile


1 post in 2120 days

#9 posted 01-28-2014 10:36 PM

Last Saturday I purchased a replacement switch for my ShopSmith Power Station for $7.10 plus frt from It is referred to as a “Woodstock D4166 Safety Locking Switch. 20 amp DPDT with safety key. It appears to be an easy install. I’ll do that later tonight.

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2647 days

#10 posted 01-28-2014 11:08 PM

Chifengineer: That’s a great upgrade for cheap coin. My Shopsmith’s switch isn’t even broken but i’m going to pick one up purely for the safety upgrade. Thanks for the heads up.

I got my shopsmith (which I love) for free because the original own couldn’t find a buyer at any price for his 15 year old shopsmith. It came with a separate power station, bandsaw, lathe setup, a woodworker II sawblade, drill press gear (bits, mortise attachment and bits), belt sander, strip sander, shaper attachment, scroll saw, jointer, and a gazillion other small tools. I wasn’t even the first person he tried to give it away to. He literally couldn’t give it away.

It seems crazy to spend $27 for a switch, when I could buy a whole new shopsmith fir the same price!

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3400 days

#11 posted 01-28-2014 11:22 PM

There’s one listed on our local Craig’s List. It’s been there a long time. He only wants $1,500 for it.

Nope, I’m not biting.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View oldnovice's profile


7505 posts in 3908 days

#12 posted 01-30-2014 05:15 AM

A standard light switch is an SPST, Single Pole Single Throw, and a toggle switch from a reputable company is only $5.99 from Amazon. One thing that should be noted, is that some of these switches are UL/CSA/VDE approved which is important as I have seen some cheap imports that do not have these approvals.


Or Ideal Industries
Or Carlin Technologies

There are also multi-pole and various combinations of throws available!
I worked in the industrial switch industry for the first 13 years of my electronics career so this forum hit one of my sweet spots!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2647 days

#13 posted 01-30-2014 10:56 AM

Oldnovice: just to clarify, are you saying the lockable switch above is not UL/CSA/VDE approved?

I ask because I prefer the lockable style switches like the one posted above. With two toddlers in my house, my workshop is locked, every tool unplugged, and all removable switch locks are in mug on my workbench. It’s always bothered me that the shopsmith has only a nonlockable toggle.

That said, I don’t much like the idea of a non UL certified switch; when it comes to blades spinning at high speeds I like my switches to be predictable :0

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2837 days

#14 posted 01-30-2014 02:32 PM

I do exactly what Craftsman on the lake does: heavy duty flip switch from Home Depot for a furnace paired to a receptacle so I can use the tool almost like an extra outlet. I did this on a belt/disc sander cabinet I made and a 12 inch old Craftsman bandsaw stand.

If you want the type of switch that takes a key I’d look at Sears partsdirect site. Probably no cheaper than anywhere else though.

View oldnovice's profile


7505 posts in 3908 days

#15 posted 01-30-2014 05:48 PM

Nicholas, not at all! In fact a lockble switch is a very good idea, children or not!
A key switch that disables the main on/off switch is, in my opinion, is the best!

They key switch is not suitable for turning the tool on/off just because it requires more than just a push/pull so a paddle/toggle or other suitable on/off switch can be put in series with the key switch.

In fact you can use a regular light/appliance switch, with a suitable rating, mounted in a suitable handy box in which the key lock switch and the power switch can be mounted.

On my 40 year old table saw there is a key switch that is a mechanical lock for the main switch. A mechanical interlock is not as easy to implement as an electrical one

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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