Most women and many of those I call "tool impotent" may wish to click away to another site. This posting is about the sexy little number I brought home the other day, and man, can she deliver.
It all started a few weeks ago when I was browsing the toolmonger blog. They have a regular feature called "hot or not" where they ask if a specific tool is worth getting or lives up to its hype. The subject of this hot or not was the Shopsmith Mark V. This is a multi-function tool that first appeared in the 1050's and it's still in production today with almost no changes in funtion or design. The basic model is a table saw, a lathe, a horizontal borer, a drill press and disk sander. BUT, you can add ALL manner of accessories making it a true all in one tool. There was a great deal of debate on whether this was a tool worth investing in, since a new one (base model) is about $2500 and accessories can range from $2-400 bucks each.
Since I don't have a large barrel of money sitting around it seemed a moot point to consider its "hotness". But then I started checking ebay and craigslist. Sure enough, you can find used ones for a LOT less money. Often, they have accessories included. I found mine on ebay. It was bought at an estate sale and the owner was looking to make a quick buck on turnaround. I got it for $600! But wait, it gets more tasty. Included with the base unit was a Jig saw, a band saw (and blades), a joiner, router bits and a sander. Holy crap! All that stuff new would around $4500!!
My friend Ed drove with me out to Pittsburgh to get it and haul it home, a task that took the better part of a day (thanks Ed). I've spent the past 2 days cleaning, aligning and testing it out. So far everything works. The genius of the design is that it's A) Built like a tank and B) It has only one motor and IT is built like a tank. The power switch is a little flaky and the motors variable speed control feels a little off. Luckily parts and service are still available for it to this day. My unit was likely built between 1968 and 1978 and almost any new part or accessory I get today will work on it and there are a LOT of parts for sale on ebay.
I don't have the manual or the woodworking books that came with the unit originally, I may get these from the company. It was also missing the sanding disk, but that's it. Even without the manuals the design is so good that you can figure most things out yourself. I am beyond geeked about this thing. What should I build fist?