We've been adding a BUNCH of FREE scans of historic Shopsmith articles and ads, and if you happen to have something we should add we'd love to hear from you. Most of these can be seen Biggie-Sized by clicking on them.
Speaking of clicking, if you'd like to enter a comment about one of the posts, please feel free. To do so just click on the bold title line (For example, this post is titled "So, how does this blog work?" If you click on the title it will open that post on its own page. There you can enter a comment, and after I moderate it, you'll see it there for all the world to see and comment back!
Please do me a favor. If you have a blog of your own or are a member of an Internet newsgroup and decide to flatter me by quoting from the text of my entries, please honor me by posting a link to this blog. Thanks and good hunting! Scott
most challenging project I’d ever made, which was a prototype for a triangular pool cue that a fellow in the Dayton area paid me to make so he could submit it to the US Patent Office. I never did see if he was ever granted a patent or not so I went searching this morning and found it! You can see it in full here: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/4c/78/2a/38e60e8be73826/USD418884.pdf
If you missed the chat you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/f6VAVCI8vbc
Fast forward a few months I found myself the newest and youngest Shopsmith store manager as what we called the "Boston" store, in Chelmsford, MA. For the first few months of the stores' existence, we sold tools with the promise that as soon as we could find and train someone to be our Academy instructor we would begin conducting classes. But as the months dragged on and on we discovered that what was reasonable and customary pay for an Academy in most parts of the US was ridiculously low in New England. We actually started flying in instructors from our stores in Albany, NY and Cincinnati just to stem the flow of folks who were threatening to return their tools because we weren't living up to our promise of training and support.
It really was an exciting time! I started conducting the weekly Thursday night "Sawdust Sessions" and when one visiting instructor wound-up doubled-over sick in his hotel room for the weekend I jumped-in and conducted the "Fundamentals of Woodworking Class" by myself, while my Assistant Manager, Matt Kottman took over the sales floor. Not only did we hire one instructor, Norm Rose, but shortly after we hired a second instructor, Bill Carrol and a third expert named Bill Donahue. We became the only Shopsmith showroom that stayed open seven days a week and if Norm wasn't teaching, Bill C. was teaching, and regardless of who was teaching Matt and Bill D. and I were there offering additional support. (See photo from Dec 1999)
Shopsmith "Boston" store team, Dec 1989 L to R (standing) Bill Carrol, Matt Kottman,
Bill Donahue, Me (Scott Markwood) Sitting on rocking horse, Norm Rose.
|Norm Rose teaching turning at Shopsmith "Boston" Academy 1989|
|Me and Matt working the Shopsmith booth at a Home Show in Woburn, MA Jan. 1988|
As they expanded, Shopsmith shrank. Probably a bigger threat than competitive tools was the flood of Shopsmith's own past production that was finding its way back into circulation via eBay and later Craigslist. No longer were owners of their tools forced to return to the mother ship for parts and accessories, but rather they could purchase them used online. Lord knows they are built like tanks and rarely need servicing. That's right, Shopsmith became a victim of their own quality!
|Scott Markwood, 2019|
So that leads us to today. The factory is still chugging along slowly but steadily in Dayton, and there are more and more used tools to choose from on the second-hand market. But where can a new owner go for reliable information on the safe set-up and use of these tools?
|Conducting a class in LA 2018|
|Working in my shop with my sister Lisa|
I can't believe this, but I have been waiting over 20 years to get my hands on an Excalibur Elite dado!
This think is really interesting! The Excalibur dado set was originally a two-blade wobble dado, but the "Excalibur Elite" features three blades, each with carbide teeth around the parameter and a couple offset teeth that work like chippers for the "in between" sizes. You use the two outside blades for cuts from 1/4" to 1/2" and you add a third blade to the stack for cuts from 1/2" to 13/16". The weird thing that took my brain some time to get around is that none of the blades are wobbling, and one might assume.
At the bottom of this post you'll find two videos, one of me opening the dado after receiving it from the eBay seller and the second explaining what I learned studying the manual and the US patent.
Also, I've found very little info about this funky dado set, but as I uncover more I'll add it here.
Here's the history of Vermont American: https://vermontamerican.com/vermont-american-history/
More to come.
Should a Shopsmith user also own a Track Saw like the Festool, Makita, DeWalt, Mafell or even a clone?
Just think about the space you'd need in your shop (or driveway) to rip down the 8' length of a sheet of plywood. That's 8" ahead of the blade, 8' behind the blade, and whatever space you'll need for yourself and likely a helper. That's somewhere around 20+ feet of clear space!
Now, think of that same cut being made with the wood in a stationary position with the saw gliding down its length. Get the picture? It just makes sense to use a hand-held circular saw to rough cut our stock into reasonable sizes, and then we can move to the Shopsmith for joinery, if needed.
So have you tried to make accurate cuts with a Skill saw? Yeah, me too. Based on that experience I have been drawn to the European approach of a plunging circular saw that follows an extruded aluminum rail, that itself has a non-skid backing and can also be conveniently clamped in place with clamps that integrate below the track. These plunge saws were originally brought to market in Germany in the 1980's by the company now known as Festool (formerly Festo), but now that the patents have expired and are now in the public domain similar tools have flooded the market.
Whether they are called a "plunge saw" or a "track saw", the advantage of these saws over what our dads used is that not only are they guided laser-straight along the rail, but the edge of the rail features a sacrificial strip that supports the edge of the cut, right where the blade is exiting the cut and where otherwise we'd be looking at tear-out.
I've been playing with a Festool plunge saw at work for several years and finally have decided that in the coming weeks I'll be taking the plunge (#SeeWhatIDidThere?) and will add one to my shop. Which one? You may be surprised, but I've decided that I'm going to buy a WEN saw! WEN you ask? Yep. After much research I believe that for the amount of use most DIYer's are going to get from a track saw it's wise to stay below the $200 investment threshold, including the track. I'm debating between these two models and may actually buy them both just to get a true comparison. What do you think?
WEN CT1065, which uses a 6.5" diameter blade https://amzn.to/3tWGTZN
WEN CT1272, which uses the popular 7 1/4" diameter blade https://amzn.to/3eRFDCK
Keep watching the "My Growth Rings" Youtube channel for more.
I know this is short notice, but I just learned that today only the web site Zazzle has coffee mugs 50% off, including a couple Shopsmith-related designs of mine that I posted some time back. Click here and search "Shopsmith" to see them all: https://www.zazzle.com/z/amyp4c4w?rf=238282066269549590 also the discount code is "ZAZDAY1DEALS" so be sure to enter it in the discount box at check-out. At 50% they are only about 17% too expensive!
Lets' play a little game, shall we? what differences can you name between the original Shopsmith aluminum bandsaw table upgrade (Circa 1989-ish) and the current version? How about the accessories you can see and the bandsaw itself? Lots of changes to spot, so have fun and comment below.
The most interesting part of the retrofit was the fact that headstock casting of the very early Mark V's was sand-cast, so the walls were super-thick and varied somewhat in thickness from one spot to another.
I really have to hand it to the engineers at Shopsmith, who not only brought the Mark V into the 21st Century but also made sure that even the earliest Mark V's could come along in the evolution.
The Shopsmith Mark V Model 500 front table extension is one of those little add-on gadgets that brings so much more to the party than first meets the eye. In this video, we are in our buddy Isaac’s shop getting his new to him Shopsmith Mark v Model 500 ready for action after years in storage. I’ll link to Isaac’s channel as soon as it launches.
Here’s the vid: https://youtu.be/BoayKDtML40
|Shopsmith Headstock Rebuilt Kit|
I concur that a live center is preferred, but a cup center is still useful. The keys to using a cup center are:
Use a non-metal mallet to drive the cup center into the end of your stock. Make sure that the outer ring of the cup is at least slightly impressed into the end of your wood stock. If you fear that the center is going to split your wood you can use a drill to create a shallow hole prior to driving the center into your wood. Drive the drive center into the opposite end and if you like, hammer both centers into both ends. I do this so I can flip the spindle end for end during sanding.
L to R Shopsmith Live, Cup and Drive Centers
- Add a little dab of paste wax to the cup. This step is often skipped, but a little furniture paste wax is a big help. Use Johnson's or Minwax or Brewax. The brand doesn't matter, just don't use car wax.
- Insert the cup center into the tailstock and the drive center onto the drive spindle and insert your wood between the centers. Put just enough pressure onto the wood with the quill that the wood is trapped, but not clamped between the centers. There should be no end shake or play, but the tailstock shouldn't be under stress.
- Turn, turn, turn, turn but keep an eye and ear on the cup center. It will beige to loosen due to friction, so every so often turns off the lathe and double-check the tension between centers and if needed adjust the quill out to increase the tension.
I finally got around to shooting a couple videos:
I recently posted a video on my “MyGrowthRings” Youtube channel on the use of Shopsmith’s 5-Piece Safety Kit, which has been a standard part of every Mark V sold since the mid-1980’s. That hit includes an excellent Push Stick, a Fence Straddler, for pushing narrow boards through the saw, a Feather board that has been knocked-off by many and was the inspiration for many others on the marker, and a pair of beefy Push Blocks. You don’t have to own Shopsmith tools to find these useful and their use is similar to others, so if the use of these types of safety tools are you new to you I encourage you to give this vid a view.
Here’s the video link” https://youtu.be/lrl6Jf5z_PY":https://youtu.be/lrl6Jf5z_PY
Using the Shopsmith Mark V, or any of the Shopsmith multi-purpose tools for that matter, can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice it’ll become second nature, just like driving a stick or avoiding Yoko Ono music. There are a couple must-check items on the tool that I double-check every time I use mine. I’ve uploaded a video to my “MyGrowthRings” Youtube channel that is worth a look, if you are just getting introduced to Shopsmith woodworking.
Here’s the video link: https://youtu.be/Y2DApzMn2yg
- It is much larger than the original cast iron table to offer additional support.
- The addition of the T-Slot extrusion miter slot that accommodated the washer in the miter bar of the 510 miter gauge. This extrusion can also be adjusted to accommodate wear and to adjust the fit.
- A snap-in table insert.
- Several optional accessories including a rip fence, a side support and a circle cutter attachment.