Saturday, 16 May 2015

gone Shop'ing

I'm often amazed at the opportunities that drop into my lap.

The other day a coworker, who just happens to be a talented woodworker in his leisure hours, sent me a link to a Kijiji advert for a couple of Shopsmith Mk V multi-tools. The seller was local to me and the contents were intriguing so I set up a visit for the next morning.

Now, I've always thought of the Shopsmith as a gimmicky machine that probably wouldn't do any of its tasks very well. Consequently I've never given much thought to owing one. However, this coworker is a very strong advocate of their usefulness and functionality, having built many fine furniture pieces as well as using it to support himself in his own business during leaner times.

In the past couple of years, I've had chances to look at a few of these machines in various states of decrepitude and configuration. These machines do have a certain visual appeal, especially for those fond of retro styling and near-infinite fussiness of adjustment options.

The two that I viewed last week were in exceptional condition for 1980/1982 vintage. They had been recently serviced by the local Shopsmith authorised dealer and they operated quietly; all the parts that were supposed to move did so smoothly, while the bits that were meant to stay still obediently kept their place. The two machines were being offered with a broad range of accessories and fittings, including the 4" jointer and 11" bandsaw. The older of the two units (a model 500) was set up semi-permanently in a vertical orientation for drilling, drum sanding, routing, and shaping; with the newer unit (a model 510) being intended for all of the sawing, disc sanding, turning, and jointing duties.

Being a certified (certifiable?) machine junkie and being pleased with their condition, I purchased them on the spot. A mere 5 hours later they had been disassembled, packed, moved, unloaded, and partially reassembled in their new (and increasingly crowded) home.

It remains to delve into the extensive documentation in order to become fully conversant with their many peculiarities. A large box of binders, books, videos (VHS!) and flyers covering the Shopsmith machines and accessories were included in the package. I envision several nights of intense study.

It's also apparent that a number of existing tools are suddenly redundant. A 4" jointer, contractor's table saw, at least one drill press, and a 14" bandsaw can all be moved on to new owners. These two new machines will actually take up less space and offer more functionality than the items they are displacing.

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