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In case you don’t recognize the tool (or should I say tools) in the photo, it’s a Shopsmith, one of the original combination woodworking machines. If you’re not familiar with Shopsmith and the new Mark VII, here are the tools combined into one machine. The talk I hear is that Shopsmith is more for an entry-level woodworker, but I look at it as a possible second set of machines for the shop. Glen Huey is a former managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, a period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books, videos and magazine articles. I did run across a neighbor building the most beautiful pair of queen anne high boy chests with the arched moldings (bonnet top), all done using a Shopsmith and no other major power tools. Wish I could afford the new power pro head, but at $2000, well, it’s just way too expensive. My ‘normal’ set up is in table saw mode with the jointer attached, so that I can joint a board, rip, joint, and rip. A TV cabinet (soft maple) based loosely on the American Cabinet by Troy Sexton in the April 2008 Popular Woodworking issue.
BTW, Norm used a Shopsmith as a table saw, drill press, and lathe frequently in the early years on The New Yankee Workshop. I think when one finds out the Shopsmith is more than the basic 5 tools you will see the value. I am still using the same MK V that my father and I unpacked brand new in 1954(I was 9 years old). Some complain about the change over of tools: this need not be a problem as long as one is organized and plans ahead to combine operations that will minimize change overs.
It is very nice to have a 57 year old machine and know that I can still get BRAND NEW PARTS from the manufacturer!
Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years. A combination machine is a woodworking machine that combines the functions of two or more separate machines into a single unit. Some combination machines run all of their functions from a single motor; others may use more than one. These disadvantages are offset by the small size of the machine footprint and potential cost saving and so they are very popular with hobbyists and workshops in which space is limited.
The Shopsmith is a lathe-based multi-tool that uses a single motor to perform lathe, tablesaw, and drill press functions. ShopSmith also manufactures and markets a variety of add-on tools that can be run by the base unit motor.
Several companies in Austria, Italy, France and Belgium manufacture what is commonly known in North America as a Euro(pean) combination machine, which typically contains a sliding-table saw with a scoring blade, a shaper, a thicknesser, a jointer, and a mortiser. European combination machines are geared for the serious hobbyist or professional woodworker or cabinet maker. Manufacturers include Felder (Felder and Hammer brands), Kitty, Knapp, Lurem, Mini-Max, Robland, Rojek, Veba and others. The European combination machine allows efficient processing of both rough-cut timber and sheet stock (i.e. The sliding table allows a straight edge to be cut on rough lumber, without the use of a fence. I really needed to change blades on the Shop Smith recently in order to rip hardwood stock, but there were a few issues with that plan. One that was freshly hauled out of a local garage showed up in the listings, sporting a price tag of $200. Sarah took one look at this room and the dusty SS, and her first thought was how to get rid of it and make the room usable. Slowly but surely, I continue to raise from the dead all the accessories on the old man’s ShopSmith. Though it seems to be a point of contention with shop dwellers the world over, the ShopSmith that lives at my place still continues to prove that it’s up to whatever task I lay down before it.
It’s true that you can get a bunch of standalone tools that do the same job, and there are drawbacks with the all-in-one setup time that is the rallying cry for nay-sayers. I called Shop Smith and was impressed with the service which was both prompt and knowledgeable. I mentioned a while back that my dad’s Shopsmith Mark V came to live with me on super-extended loan from the old man. Ken Weeks { Am now trying to make up my mind whether to purchase a Craftsman mower with a B&S or Honda engine. Bart { I ordered a flashlight along with another that looked very much like a Mag (only much more expensive). Home of shopsmith national woodworking academy, Because we realize that woodworkers need both good tools and the know-how to use them effectively, shopsmith now brings quality instruction directly to your home.
Shopsmith mark v five-in-1 woodworking tool, Shopsmith multipurpose tools the tool you start with — the system you grow with an introduction to multi-purpose tool woodworking an. Thinking of buying a used shopsmith – woodworking talk, I never liked them but they are everywhere on craigs list and cheap. The Shopsmith Woodworking System begins with the Mark V (Figure 1-1), a multi-purpose power tool based on the notion that separate power tools have a number of common parts. One of the most impressive advantages the Mark V offers is the simultaneous use of modes, making special and routine applications simpler. While, at first glance, it  might seem like the perfect tool for a cramped woodworking shop, opinions about the tool run the gamit from deep, abiding love to an intense loathing. So,  this week’s poll is trying to determine whether or not you own a Shopsmith, and what your thoughts are about this interesting woodworking machine.
My wife found my Shopsmith at a estate sale 15 years ago for $150 including all original paperwork plus a bunch of misc. DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ.

You get a 10” Table Saw, a Lathe with 34” between centers, a 12” Disc Sander, a 16?” Drill Press, a router setup as well as a shaper setup that allow for both under the table and above the table operations, and a horizontal boring arrangement. To begin, the new digital variable reluctance (DVR) motor provides 1? horsepower when wired to a 120-volt circuit and 2 horsepower if you’re wired with 240 volts. Do you see the Shopsmith Mark VII as a beginner tool, or as a fully-stocked shop addition?
It was still running fine when I finally decided to upgrade the headstock with the more powerful motor, 2 bearing quill and most bearings. The attachments (bandsaw etc.) are all of the highest quality and easy to use and maintain.
For example, a combination machine might consist of a tablesaw with a side mounted jointer. Cutter heads are often shared: for example a jointer-thicknesser may use the same cutter head for both functions.
Some of these tools include a band saw, wood shaper, jointer, belt sander, strip sander, scroll saw and thickness planer.
Rather than multiple pairs of pulleys or an electronic speed control, the Mk V uses a Reeves-type continuously variable transmission consisting of two variable diameter pulleys controlled by a dial and worm gear. Rojek and Robland manufacture entry level models, Hammer, Lurem, MiniMax and Veba mid-range models, Felder and Knapp high-end models.
It also allows a cut to be made accurately at any angle across a sheet of plywood in just seconds - something that cannot be done nearly as easily, if at all, on a table saw. The first is using a sewing machine to manually create (either freehand or with built in stitches) a design on a piece of fabric or other similar item. The first is the Mark V takes special 10-inch Shop Smith blades that you can’t just buy anywhere. They do almost everything you might need for a woodworking project and a friend of mine has wanted one since the 80′s. I would have taken a look at the ShopSmith and concluded it was an omen directly from the cosmos that this house was meant to go to a woodworker.
Sarah enters a room of wall-to-wall wood grains upstairs from the Mark V and feels shut in.
The old gear still works great, and no matter the version it’s gotten the job done for over 50 years now. I don’t really have the room to set up full units of each power tool station I might need, but this rig works just the same in the end.
I’m close to a dozen projects into since I set it up and it hasn’t missed a beat yet — except for snapping a 20-year-old belt on the band saw. However, after an experience with my hand-me-down rig I can say that it does indeed work great if you’re willing to put up with about 3 minutes of change-up period for the different configurations. It’s true SS products can be a little on the pricey side, but being the cheap bastard I am I can’t bring myself to send the cash down the $80-a-pop hole that is the Shopsmith saw blade product line.
The rubber tires that hold the blade on the wheels basically disintegrated after about 20 years or so, and the bottom one popped off the saw. The very nice lady on the other end identified the model number of my saw and told me how I could save some cash by ordering a little differently and sent me on my way.
If these parts are arranged in a logical, adaptable format, the essentials for five basic power tools--table saw, disc sander, drill press, horizontal boring machine and lathe--will be readily available (Figure 1-2). The Shopsmith Mark V Model 510 is shown in the (A) disc sander, (B) drill press, (C) horizontal boring, and (D) lathe modes. As an example, with the auxiliary spindle, it is possible to set up dual sanding functions. Also, whenever a dual tool setup is used, the speed dial must be set for the slowest operating tool.
In addition, the rpm of the new motor goes from a slow 250 rpm to a top-end speed of 10,000 rpm. We occasionally scouted the papers looking for a Mark V (the original Shopsmith machine) just to have the horizontal boring setup. If you have a Shopsmith or have worked on one in the past, leave a comment to let us know how you use your machine. It has had a lot of use over the years and has the capacity to run hard; at one point, I built 150 clothes racks for a thrift store.
Most of us work on our machines and the Customer Service personnel know that and are always ready to help with suggestions and how-to info. Another common example of this type of machine is the jointer-thicknesser (also known as an over-under) which combines the function of a jointer with that of a thicknesser. The machines rely upon well thought-out designs which allow the user to switch from one function to another easily.
Most European machines have a sliding table that tends to make them safer than typical North American table saws. In many cases, machine settings are lost during the change over and have to be re-established when changing back.
Not only does this give theoretically infinite speed variation between the maximum and minimum speeds, it is also simple enough to be serviced fairly easily by a hobbyist. Used in conjunction with the shaper, the sliding table allows molding, door panels, rails and stiles, to be milled quickly and more accurately than a stand-alone shaper.
The other was that my version of those blades had worn out, and the technology behind them isn’t evolving as fast as the rest of the competition.
However, there are a few things working against them: the very long-lived nature of the equipment, the cost of new parts, and the most unpleasant guy on the other end of the ShopSmith help line are not helping their account balance much.
Recently he got tired of waiting for the cash to get a new one and began searching for a used Mark V. Even though I’m not the target demographic and don’t like most of the designs she comes up with, I do like the way she goes about making them.
I immediately started backing up the show to see if I could lay eyes on pieces the previous owner had built with it.

I look at that same space and think how restful it would be to sit in that room and what kind of furniture I could make to compliment the wood that’s already there.
So when a brochure for the new Shopsmith PowerPro computer-controlled headstock arrived in the mail last week, my jaw went slack. It took about an hour to disassemble, knock all the rust off, and align correctly, but once it was ready, it fired right up.
As many have pointed out, there are better jointers in the world, and you do pay a setup cost in time with each tool swap — but for the sheer bonus of having one, the ShopSmith pays out in spades with each project.
I left it be for a little while and started to read manuals and figure out what everything did. This multi-purpose concept does not limit or detract from the effectiveness or abilities of the tools. The power plant and the worktable slide independently along the upper tubes so that they can be positioned right next to each other or almost three feet apart.
With two sanding discs mounted (Figure 1-3), you can work with two different grits of sandpaper.
Both Total Shop and Super Shop (a more robust clone, pic below bottom, now called the Iron Wood)) have Chinese partners. With the digital control panel of the headstock, you get those speeds in both forward and reverse settings. I’m looking forward to working with the new Mark VII, I just need to find the right project. Each is dedicated or converted to, more or less, a couple of different uses, giving me over a dozen different setups in a somewhat limited area.
I own the belt sander accessory, and combined with a sanding disc or drunm, it makes a good sanding center. It will do what one needs to do plus many other special operations; ever try to drill the end of a table leg for a caster?
Even though top end combination machines can be quite expensive, there usually is a cost saving over separate machines of similar quality. In some lower end machines, there may be compromises in design which limit the function or robustness of the machine.
Outfitted with an 8-foot sliding table and outrigger, a single person can cut 4'x8' plywood very accurately and efficiently. Luckily, Shop Smith provides an arbor that allows a different brand of blade on the machine. I’ve personally watched the customer service gent sink over $1,000 worth of business by just being cantankerous and unhelpful not once, but twice.
There was minor rust on the legs and casing and heavy gunk on the tubes — plus the right base was cracked from someone leaving it in drill-press mode for what looks like decades. However, when she went shopping for project houses I had to laugh at the above shot: a Mark V sat quietly in a corner. If you hunt one down used it’s not a bad bargain and the things you can accomplish from lathe work to the horizontal boring machine are uber handy to have around the shop.
In fact, some of the capabilities and capacities are superior to most single-purpose tools. You can mount many different accessories to the power plant, such as saw blades, drill bits, and sanding discs and operate them at variable speeds. The disc and drum sander combination (Figure 1-4) provides capabilities for straight edge, inside curve and outside curve sanding.
In the 80s, when the Shopsmith patents expired, Smitty (Super Shop) and Total Shop wanted to get into the multi-tool market, but neither had enough capital to invest in the tooling.
I also find it quicker to set-up a stack dado cutter on the Shopsmith, rather than change out the blade on the table saw. After 57 years of use, this machine still looks and works great (despite moving it back and forth across the USA while in the Navy).
Finally, they represent a single point of failure in that a mechanical problem with the machine will generally mean that none of the machine's functions are available. The worktable can be positioned over, under, or beside these accessories to hold work-pieces at different angles.
They took partners in the Orient who would provide the tooling and manufacturing for a share of the profits. If you don’t know what setting you need for a given operation, you simply choose the operation from the extensive list and the machine display supplies you with the correct setting. I don’t do much turning, but the lathe function on the Shopsmith serves the purpose just fine. Those were the negatives. But the motor sounded great and there was a giant box with all the pieces, connectors, hardware, belt sander, and scroll saw in it.
In this way, the three components--bench, power plant, and work-table--combine to make a unique, capable, and versatile wood-working system. To protect themselves, the Chinese asked that Smitty and Total Shop sell a minimum number of tools every year to remain the exclusive American distributors. The bench gives the Mark V its stability, the power plant supplies the power you need to perform a multitude of wood-working tasks, and the worktable supports the stock as you work.
This produces a smooth, straight edge to place against the rip fence and assures a straight, square cut. As the power tool market collapsed in North America, first Total Shop and then Smitty saw their tools re-branded and sold by other outlets. When you're ripping, cut the stock slightly oversize so that you can also finish the second edge on the jointer.

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