Pros: Very powerful and accurate
Cons: Cool Block Blade Guides are an option, not standard equipment.
My Shopsmith band saw is the fifth band saw Ive owned, and it is my favorite.
I expected the Shopsmith to do a great job making curved cuts, and I bought to use for that purpose. To my surprise it also does a great job of resawing wood.
When I first attempted to resaw wood, I was surprised at how easily this small band saw sliced through the wood. Not only did the Shopsmith cut with less effort than my much-larger and much-more-expensive 14 saw, the Shopsmith left a smoother cut with fewer machine marks. Then I took another look at my small saw and things began to make sense.
Even though the Shopsmith band saw is on the small side, the Shopsmith power plant is huge, much larger than the motors of other saws of the same size. In fact, unless youre going to move up to 220 volts, its hard to find another band saw of any size that can match the power of the Shopsmith. In terms of raw horsepower it has a slight advantage, but that advantage is augmented by the Shopsmiths speed changer. The speed changer is like the transmission in your car, and when it is set to a slower speed (which is where the band saw is run) it has more power, the same way your car has more power when it is in first gear.
Thats only half the story. The other half is that the Shopsmith is built to exacting standards, so the blade tracks well and delivers a straight cut. To get the most out of this saw you should upgrade to Cool Blocks (costs about twenty bucks). After upgrading to Cool Block Blade Guides the precision of the Shopsmith is beyond any band saw Ive used or owned.
The Shopsmith has a resaw capacity (a bit more than six inches) that is similar to what youd expect to find on 14 inch saw, with the main difference being that at maximum capacity the Shopsmith is more accurate than most 14 inch saws. The Shopsmith has 10 ? inches of space between the blade and the frame of the saw, so youd think that its cutoff capacity is limited to that span. However, the guide blocks of the Shopsmith are reversible and can be mounted so that the blade is twisted to a thirty degree angle, allowing unlimited cut-off capacity on boards up to 3 7/8in width.
The Shopsmith, like every other band saw, requires some tweaking. Some band saws are impossible to adjust to my satisfaction. Other band saws can be adjusted but it takes the patience of a Saint. Adjusting the Shopsmith is the matter of a few stress-free minutes.
Several optional accessories can increase the usefulness of your Shopsmith. Ive already mentioned the Cool Blocks, but other useful additions include the rip fence and offset tubes.
The band saw rip fence is essentially the same fence that was used on late Model 500 Mark Vs. Since its designed for table saw use, it is more robust than what you find on a typical band saw. The fence of every band saw has to be adjusted to accommodate the drift of the blade. Many band saws have a limited range of adjustment, so it is impossible to adequately adjust for drift. The Shopsmith fence is easily adjusted and has more than enough range to accommodate blade drift.
The offset tubes enable you to leave your band saw in position even when you raise the Shopsmith to drill press position, which means that you will have to remove the band saw from its mount only one very rare occasions. This makes switching to the band saw from another function very easy, and changeovers can take as little as thirty seconds.