Shopsmith Mark V Model 510 Combination Machine

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Shopsmith Mark V - an unsafe machine

Jun 28, 2004 (Updated Jun 18, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Drill press has largest table of any. Excellent belt sander.

Cons:Extremely expensive for a mediocre machine. Save Money - Buy Separates.

The Bottom Line: The actual value is about $800. If you really want one, buy used. For the cost of a new one, one can buy separates and get mobile bases.


I purchased my Mark V in 1983 as the Model 500. This machine is basically the same as the much improved Model 520 available today. I purchased the Mark V as a package with the lathe tools, the bandsaw, jointer, shaper molder and router packages and belt sander.

There were (are) several inherent defects in the design of the Model 500 - the table is too small, the upper saw guard was impossible to align with the blade and the fence would not remain square to the blade. I used it to make custom window trim and after that it sat unused for several years. When Shopsmith offered a deal on the Model 510 refit kit, I bought it and rebuilt the unit.

When in the Table Saw mode (all Shopsmith models), the table is chest high and one is reaching across the table to crosscut or rip boards. This is extremely dangerous when using the dado blades as one finds themselves leaning over an exposed blade spinning at 3000 to 5000 rpm. Most table saw tables are waist high, so one's upper body is never directly over the blade as with the Shopsmith.

Dust collection: I have the Shopsmith Dust Collector and it is adequate to collect the fine dust coming from any of the tools. I found that the Shopsmith needs to be connected to a dust collector. As a table saw, it creates less dust than my DeWalt, mainly because the blade is surrounded underneath the table to better collect the dust.

Noise: The unit is about as noisy as any other woodworking tool. Hearing protection should probably be worn.

The Model 510 was much improved over the 500 - the table was much larger, the upper saw guard was very easy to align with the blade and the fence stayed square to the blade. I used it to make quite a few items - all flat cuts or dado/rabbet cuts. This machine cannot make bevel cuts. The weight of the wood causes the table to flex and that changes the angle. Also, the Shopsmith blades leave a lot to be desired as they dull quickly. The best blades (i.e. Forrest, CMT, etc) require an adapter. I had an arbor for each of my blades, this gets rather pricey.

Over the years, I picked up nearly all the attachments - jigsaw, scroll saw, strip sander, speed increaser (used to double the speed of the unit and make the shaper and router undertable). Adjusting the height of the shaper and router was very difficult and time consuming.

This machine is advertised as only taking 12 square feet. This area is almost doubled when the unit is in the Drill Press mode. Not to mention the added height from having 5 feet of carriage going vertical (it's almost 7 ft tall). Changing the depth/height of the drill requires loosening the motor and lifting/lowering 50# of motor and locking it in place with a free hand. Not easy!!

I started using the lathe after I had it for about 12 years. The unit is great for doing spindles, but that's about all. The tool rest does not go past the center of the spindle (needed to turn bowls). One of the items I started making was pens. They looked nice, but many of them would not work. I discovered that there was flex in the spindle (locked) causing the pen to be out of round (1 mm on one side, 3 mm on the other). I finally had enough and started selling the attachments over the internet. It took me almost 3 years to sell the basic unit.

I took the money and purchased a DeWalt table saw, DeWalt Scrollsaw, Delta drill press, Delta 9" bandsaw, DeWalt 12" miter saw and a Jet mini lathe. The quality of my work increased immediately!! I have since replaced the Jet lathe with a Oneway 1224 and the bandsaw with a 14" Jet.
BTW - my new separates don't take up much more space than the Shopsmith.

Clarification for the Unsafe rating:

This machine is different from other table saws as the TABLE raises/lowers vs the blade raising/lowering all other table saws. Table saw are dangerous to begin with, and with the table going up and down instead of the blade puts the blade at chest level instead of the waist level height with regular table saws. This is true for what ever version of the machine, 500, 510, or 520.

As the table is so high when making shallow cuts, one has to lean way over the table. The unit is VERY dangerous when using a dado blade as the operator has his chest over an unguarded blade at the end of the cut.


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