The New Mark VII from Shopsmith

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. Many of you may have thought the company was long gone, but that is not true. Shopsmith is working in its 58th year in business. In fact, the company has just delivered an updated machine – the Shopsmith Mark VII – with a new power source, the PowerPro headstock.

If you’re not familiar with Shopsmith and the new Mark VII, here are the tools combined into one machine. You get a 10” Table Saw, a Lathe with 34” between centers, a 12” Disc Sander, a 16½” 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. And it all fits into a 12-square foot area in the shop.

The PowerPro power source is a huge addition to the Shopsmith line. To begin, the new digital variable reluctance (DVR) motor provides 1¾ horsepower when wired to a 120-volt circuit and 2 horsepower if you’re wired with 240 volts. In addition, the rpm of the new motor goes from a slow 250 rpm to a top-end speed of 10,000 rpm. With the digital control panel of the headstock, you get those speeds in both forward and reverse settings. Because the motor is digital, it stores a warehouse of ideal speed settings. 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’ve heard about these machines for many years. It’s the tool my Dad used as he began woodworking in the 1950s. We occasionally scouted the papers looking for a Mark V (the original Shopsmith machine) just to have the horizontal boring setup. I’m looking forward to working with the new Mark VII, I just need to find the right project. I’ll keep you posted.

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. Who hasn’t wished for a second table saw at sometime during a project? Or another drill press when the first has just been jigged for a job? I know many places where a horizontal boring ability would benefit my woodworking.

How about it? Do you see the Shopsmith Mark VII as a beginner tool, or as a fully-stocked shop addition? 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.

—Glen D. Huey

30 thoughts on “The New Mark VII from Shopsmith

  1. dwdougherty

    You said you’d keep us posted. Any word on this? BTW, I’ve been trying to get info. from ShopSmith, but every attempt to get and information packet has fallen on deaf ears. Are these people still in business?

    David

  2. jackstrat

    I have owned and used a Shopsmith since the mid 1980s, and posted a detailed review at http://www.thewoodshop.20m.com. Since I own two cabinet-style table saws, I primarily use the Shopsmith for disk/belt sanding, lathe work, and joinery. It works pretty well for those tasks. I always say, if you’re tight on space the Shopsmith is a good investment, otherwise you’re generally better off purchasing the standalone tools.

    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. I was amazed. Gave me a new appreciation for the Shopsmith.

    Wish I could afford the new power pro head, but at $2000, well, it’s just way too expensive. A great offering for the new Shopsmith buyer though!

    Jack L
    http://www.thewoodshop.20m.com

  3. Shopsmithtom

    I learned woodworking on my dad’s 1951 Shopsmith (purchased new), which I still have & use. I drifted into separate tools for a while & went back to the Shopsmith. I now have 4 in my shop. 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.
    While some might consider the table saw a weak point with it’s tilt table instead of arbor, I learned on it & have never seen a problem. Also really, what percentage of our cuts are not 90deg?
    I don’t consider myself either a beginner of even an amateur in woodworking, and I don’t feel limited in any way be the Shopsmith. It’s accurate and has enough power (I’ve ripped 1 1/2″ oak without issues. I think most people who think it’s underpowered need to tune it up. It’s amazing how well a saw cuts when it’s set up right.
    Tool to tool conversions take between 1/2 and one minute to do, hardly a deal breaker, and even separate tools need some set up when you go from one to another.
    Admittedly, I’m a SS nut, but I’ll stack them up against anyone else…just my opinion.

  4. BFFulgham

    I’ve used Shopsmith equipment of one form or another since I was a kid. Dad bought a ShopSmith radial arm saw about 1960 that I still use today. I bought their bandsaw with power stand in the early 1980s. I bought a used Mark V 510 setup about 5 years ago that included the 4” jointer, another bandsaw, and miscellaneous other attachments. If I had my druthers, I would have dedicated tools for the different functions that the Mark V does, but my shop consists of ½ of a 2-car garage and there is not room for all the equipment I would like to have. On the flip side, I don’t ever see me getting rid of the Shopsmith equipment. Even with a fully stocked shop, it definitely has its place. It is just able to do some things that are unique.

    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 couple of projects that I’ve done:
    A TV cabinet (soft maple) based loosely on the American Cabinet by Troy Sexton in the April 2008 Popular Woodworking issue.
    A rather large white ash frame and panel pantry

    Pros
    Made in USA
    Excellent quality
    A lot of tools in a very small space.
    Very precise with proper alignment.
    Unsurpassed as a drill press or horizontal boring machine.
    Variable speed.
    Repair parts availability.
    Excellent customer support.

    Cons
    Under powered (The Mark VII should be much better).
    Small table size (front to back) makes it difficult to handle sheet stock.
    Table tilt .vs. blade tilt for bevel cuts.
    Not enough speed for router/shaper functions (The Mark VII should be much better).
    Attachments are pricey (But, you get what you pay for!).

    There is a very active group of forums for Shopsmith owners:
    http://www.shopsmith.net/forums

    BTW, Norm used a Shopsmith as a table saw, drill press, and lathe frequently in the early years on The New Yankee Workshop. He had the bandsaw as well.

  5. jeff

    I purchased my Shopsmith, Model 510, in the late 80’s. It’s a great tool. The best thing about it for me was the space savings. I didn’t have a lot of room to work with back then. I now have more space, but I still use it. The lathe is outstanding. The only thing I’ve stopped using is the table saw. My Unisaw is much better and easier to set-up for each cut. My dad still uses his, that he purchased back in the 50’s. American made tools are great!

  6. Tom

    I’ve had my Mark V ShopSmith for several years and use it for a variety of tasks. I love the disc sander and the slower speeds so burning isn’t much of a problem. It’s so easy to change discs I have two discs with different grits. I’ve used the horizontal drilling mode to cut mortises on the ends of rails for an 8ft gate; and made a replacement knob for a handplane( made 2 while I was at it)in the lathe configuration. Do a lot of wire brushing and buffing too (love that variable speed). A great tool to have in my shop.

  7. Cincinnati

    I think when one finds out the Shopsmith is more than the basic 5 tools you will see the value. For example, You can buy or make a very good slow speed grinder for the shop smith.

  8. wbltools

    My mid-1980’s Shopsmith Mark V was the first stationary power tool that I bought. Over the years, I’ve found reasons to add dedicated tools with larger capacity (table saw, band saw, jointer, planer, shaper), but I’ve always kept the Shopsmith for it’s flexibility. I currently use it for horizontal boring, slot mortising, and hollow chisel mortising. I own the belt sander accessory, and combined with a sanding disc or drunm, it makes a good sanding center. 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. I don’t do much turning, but the lathe function on the Shopsmith serves the purpose just fine.

  9. air55plane

    I am still using the same MK V that my father and I unpacked brand new in 1954(I was 9 years old). It has been a terrific tool. 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. 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? Drill the stem for a table lamp? The Shopsmith makes it easy. No balancing act to use a regular drill press.
    My machine has been most dependable over the years. It was still running fine when I finally decided to upgrade the headstock with the more powerful motor, 2 bearing quill and most bearings. There are more upgrades available if one wants to modernize even more. Other repairs over the years were limited to a few belts and switches.
    Folks say many negative things about these tools but it is my opinion that a person gets from any tool what he/she is willing to put into it in the form of becoming familiar with the tool’s capabilities, time spent on routine maintenance and being sure it is properly adjusted. The attachments (bandsaw etc.) are all of the highest quality and easy to use and maintain.
    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. With practice, most change overs take no longer than a minute. Furthermore, I’m 6 ft. tall and think the saw table is just the right height; most regular table saws are too low for me. 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, a comment about Shopsmith Inc: that company has probably the best, most cooperative and efficient Customer Service Dept I’ve ever worked with. When you call, you get a human being in the USA, not a phone menu. 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.
    It is very nice to have a 57 year old machine and know that I can still get BRAND NEW PARTS from the manufacturer! Try that with almost any other machine. There’s a great web site and on line video how-to also. Cannot say enough good/this has been a great experience!

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