I have a shopsmith and really don't like it at all. I use it as a lathe and can't wait to upgrade. I will keep it for the horizontal boring and drill press. If you are really limited on space and funds, it might serve you well. A lot of people have made really nice things with them. The quality is below stand alone equipment.
I have one as well and use it, I can tell you they hold up very well, mine was handed down to me from my father after he passed away in 2005. He bought it in the mid 70's, used it extensively, and now I use it, still going strong. Of course it is old tech and does require constant aligning, but other then that, it has all the attachments. I use mostly the band saw, or drill press horizontal mostly and the drum sander functions, on some occasions I may use the table saw, but not often. Switching between function only takes minutes and very easy to do. My father loved to do lathe work, I haven't developed that bug yet, seen him do it on the shopsmith, but I haven't tried that yet. So they are well made I can tell you without doubt. Table extension can be added and new better fences can bring these up to date, for better accuracy, but to be honest I check all that stuff before I make a cut anyways, and any adjustment needed can be made in secs on these machines, so it's kind of a moot point. My recommendation would be go for it. Hey Norm Abram used to use one, think that is why my dad bought one, he loved Norm...lol
OK, Dusty is a friend of mine, but he runs the later (after Eisenhower) model of the ShopSmith.
I however, run the earlier model, which is MUCH simpler, more capable, but not as safe. (Exposed belts and stuff.)
But, this model (the ER) is a VASTLY better lathe, but the table saw is SEVERELY lacking in table space. It is also MUCH heavier than the Mk series Shopsmiths, and has been out of production, since Kennedy was a Midshipman. (Not quite, but they stopped making them in '53.)
As a drill-press, it is about the best one you can find, especially for the usual asking price of $100 or so. As a lathe, it is the best Shopsmith lathe ever built. As a table saw, look for a real table saw.
The way tubes are almost 1/4 inch wall thickness, .200. Check the wall thickness on the Mk-whatever models.
And, parts are still available on Ebay, and bearings are over-the-counter purchases, as are a lot of other parts.
Anything that mounts on a MkV/5 quill will mount on an E or ER model.
I wished I lived near your friend. I could....#1 help him learn how to use this great tool or....#2 Tell him how he really needs stand alone tools and offer to buy it for a song.
For most of us who own and use them, the Shopsmith truly is a wonderful woodworking tool that performs every task it was designed for and does them quite adequately. I bought mine in early '75 and it has been a reliable tool ever since. There is no planned obsolescence in it's design. It's made in America and, the company support is excellent.
Tell your friend to learn to use it then decide whether to keep it.
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