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.