The ShopSmith MarkV… some call this the 5 in 1 woodworking machine. Actually it can perform the jobs of more than 5 functions given certain configurations and add-ons. ShopSmith has been around since the 1950’s. There are a lot of very happy customers with these machines. We have one from the late 80’s. The ShopSmith is made to last and they do. You will see perfectly running machines greater than 30 years old. Just because you have an older model does not mean you are stuck with the older feature set. ShopSmith has been very good about insuring the compatibility of the upgrades enabling them to be used on just about all of the models from the past. We are going to bring our model up to this current year feature set by doing the latest upgrade. In this article we will upgrade our ShopSmith Model 500 table system to the brand new Model 520 Pro. After we do this we will be upgrading to the new PowerPro headstock, the MarkV’s brains and brawn. (That will be part II in a different article).

There are some real advantages to this upgrade. Larger tables for one, and some of the new tables included in this upgrade actually float allowing for numerous table configurations depending on your needs. The ability to tie the tables together using the connector tubes to the main table adds incredible rigidity and stops any drift in the main saw table adding even more accuracy to your ShopSmith. Some have said that they get a small amount of drift in the old tables, this upgrade to the new tables seems to lock ours down tight. Our tables were very stable. A new upgraded fence that is very accurate and easy to use. This new rip fence enables you use even more jigs. The new Pro fence alignment from position to position is spot on – front to back of your saw.

I have not found very many tasks with wood working  I can’t accomplish using the MarkV. I have heard many folks complain about the tear down and set up from function to function. I find the changes from one function to another no longer to set up than if I had to drag out my individual piece of equipment, change the blade if needed, set up my settings and measurements, plug it in and do the work. Granted having a multipurpose tool means you need to plan your project out in steps to maximizes the use of the setup you currently have in place. For example, complete all the rips you can, do all the dados , complete drilling the holes you need, etc.  The idea here is to work quickly by working efficiently.

The MarkV has many additional major add-ons available from ShopSmith that leverages the MarkV frame and power plant. Some of these are a joiner, thickness planer, band saw, scroll saw, belt sander, strip sander, sand flee. This is not mention the many other smaller add-ons like shaper/molder/routing packages for example.

I, like many, for one of many reasons, own the MarkV because I have limited room. I need to share my work space with a couple of automobiles. I don’t think my wife would be happy to have to park the cars out in the weather all the time just because my wood working shop takes all the room. Obviously I still wanted to enjoy my woodworking task but I did not want to sacrifice accuracy and detail in the process. I wanted to be able to complete all the functions for real detailed projects. I have that with the MarkV, and with the upgrade I will be able to do even more.

The installation video that is sent with your upgrade takes you from the Model 500 to a Model 510, then Model 510 to a Model 520. We are going to skip a step and go all the way from a MarkV Model 500 directly to the 520. Needless to say there a few things you do not have to do when upgrading this way. Here are the steps we took to get us there.

Upgrading the Mark V from a Model 500 to 520PRO. What an upgrade!

What you get:

1) New main table, your table saw and main work area. This has been enlarged.

2) New carriage, this is what holds and operates the main saw table.

3) New and larger surfaced extension table.

4) New upper and lower saw guard, now with better dust collection.

5) New Arbor for the saw blade.

6) New miter gauge upgrade.

7) New Pro fence – wow.

8) New complete safety kit to work with your new fence.

9) Floating table system.

10) All the new hardware needed to complete the upgrade

11) Upgrade Video

Tools needed:

5/32 Allen wrench long T model

5/32 Allen wrench small if you have one

Couple of flat screw drivers

1/2 “ deep socket

Ball peen hammer

Punch

¼” nut

9/16 box wrench

Scotch bright pad – black

Wax

Rags

Here we go. First remove all the parts from your Mark V. Do not throw anything away. Remove the extension table(s), miter gauge, saw blade and guard if installed. Do not remove the saw table yet, you should now be down to the headstock, carriage and main table..

1) Remove the headstock

a. Lock the headstock in place securing its position on the way bars

b. Lock the main saw table about 1/3 the way across the way bars.

c. Put a piece of wood and place it on the way bars under the tubes that stick down under the saw table..

d. Crank down the saw table and the way tubes should come up in the air. Make sure you have released the lock on the end of the MarkV frame allowing the tie bar to release from the frame.

e. Remove the tie bar from end of the way bars by loosening the 2 allen screws securing it to the way bars. You may need some penetrating oil if there is any corrosion. Using your hammer gently tap the tie bar to remove it from the end of the way bar,.

f. Release the lock on the headstock and remove from the way bars. Remember this unit is heavy.

g. Set aside some where safe.

2) Lower the way bars

3) Remove the table from the carriage

4) Slide the carriage from the way bars.

You now should have a clean frame with no parts. Now before you proceed. Check all the screws and parts on the frame make sure they are tight, or are there at all. You will still have one of the tie bars off. This is also a very good time to clean and wax the way bars and other parts on the frame. Nothing will be in your way and should be very easy to do. Remember to ALWAYS wipe off anything you wax.

Performing the upgrade:

1) Install the carriage. Remember to look inside the carriage and insure the wedge locks are turned the proper way to insure it will install. The flat surface of the wedge locks are facing up.

2) Turn the height adjustment wheel around. Remove it and reverse. This is on backwards for shipping only.

3) Add the rubber bumper on the back way tube, the tube that is on the back side of the motor.. This keeps the head stock from smacking in to the headstock if you forget to lock it down when going vertical. Ouch.

4) Place the new saw table into the new carriage. Using the crank that raises the table up and down, turn the wheel clockwise till it clicks then lower the table down and lock in place.

5) Place your piece of wood under the tubes attached to the table. Lower the table till the way bars come back up in the air.

6) Check the wedge locks on the headstock. And place the head stock back on the way tubes. If the wedge lock has turned you will need to adjust them. This correction can be done by removing the logo and reaching in and correct. Remember the flat edges should point up.

7) Replace the tie bar and tighten the allen screws. If you want to adjust your way tube follow Nick’s direction on you video. We did not have to do this with our unit.

8) Raise the table which should lower the way bars.

9) Remove the wood.

Ok now the heavy part is done.

Install the new saw arbor into one of your ShopSmith saw blades. Remember these are left handed threads. Now it’s time to place the saw guard onto the quill. Using the 5/32 allen line up the split in the guard with the top of the headstock. Install your saw blade on the quill. Now you will notice that the new sawdust collection has an adjustment. Move this collection plate close to the blade by loosening the side knurled nuts and tighten in place.

Raise the table up and slide the headstock under the table till the rubber bumper meets the carriage. Now lock it in place and install your upper saw guard in place. This one installs into the table not behind it. The splitter will line up with your blade.

As, in the video Nick moves to installing the new rip fence. This is a very nice change. The fence is much larger and heavier with many more opportunities to attach jigs and so forth. Accuracy and stability of the new fence is immediately felt when you use it. Adjustments to this fence are talked about later in this article.

Now comes the miter gauge upgrade. You do not have to upgrade this but the old one will not take advantage of the new table design. This upgrade has a new miter gauge bar that now has washer built into it. This allow the miter gauge to stay put in the miter gauge slot and not pivot up. To upgrade:

1) Remove the old hold down

2) Remove the handle post and screw that holds the handle to the lock.

3) Remove the handle itself

4) Take off the scale

5) Now the protractor and with it come the miter bar. Remember there are 2 very small washers you will want to remove and keep.

6) Remove the stop lock from the miter gauge bar.

7) Remove the small post from the miter bar. Nick in his video shows a real handy way to remove this threaded rod using a nut and the locking nut from the miter gauge.

8) Add the post to the new miter gauge bar

9) Replace the stop lock on the new bar using the 2 small machine screws.

10) Replace the thin washers on the screw and replace the protractor. Snug up the larger machine screw but make sure the protractor still moves.

11) Replace the scale.

12) Reinstall the locking knob and handle

13) Replace the machine screw that locks down the handle.

14) Now install the new hold down which is in the parts bag for the upgrade kit.

15) The hold down fits on the tab sticking out of the handle.

This upgrade comes with a new hub/arbor for your sanding disk. This new arbor allows for dust collection. You can use your older one but not with the lower guard with dust collection. Remove the 4 allen screws that holds the old arbor in place now replace the hub with the new longer hub center using the 4 allen screws. Applying lock tight will insure these stay good and tight.

DSC_0757Now upgrade your lathe rest. Install the new levers into the arm the short one holds the post and the long one can be a bit more complicated. Start the lock down a few threads, set the rest on the table and push it forward then tighten the long screw attaching the new lockdown. Put the post in place and you are ready to go.

On to installing tables: First start with the extension table. Let’s separate the tubes including its attachment (dogbone). Take off the old table. Lock the tube into the end of the base and tighten the tube lock. Now here comes the fun part. There are a set of washers that must be on both sides of the bolts that attached the new table to the table mount (dogbone). Place a set of the washers over the holes in to mount and then carefully drop the table in though the holes being careful to not knock out the washers. Put the nuts on the bolts but leave them loose so it can be adjusted.

Now that the table is installed adjust the system. Check that the table is square to the blade and that the miter gauge is also true to the blade. Adjust as necessary. Now it time to take the extension tubes and place them through the main table and into the receiving tubes on the extension table. Now tighten the knobs locking the tubes in place. If these lock downs are not pre-installed you will have to install them. There is a small spring that is placed on each of these. Once you lock these tubes in place this insures that the extension table is in line with the main table. Check for level and that it is parallel to the main table. Now carefully tighten the top bolts of the extension table but only until they touch the mount. Then tighten the lower screw in an order either direction around the table. These should be tighten till they are snug. Then tighten down the tops nuts. The extension table is installed and lined up with the main table but from one end of the machine. Move the extension table to the other end of the stand and place it in the other end of the machine near the tie bar. Move the table carrier and the headstock down close to the end that you just installed the extension table. Place the connection tubes into extension table from the main table. If these tubes do not move easily there is an adjustment an allen bolt in to the end of the stand that will allow you to raise or lower the tie bar as needed to make sure the tubes are easy to slide in and out of the extension table.

The new floating tables simply slide on the connecting tubes and lock in place. Install these and check for level. You will notice this is very easy to do. Depending on floating table configuration you construct you could have table space that extends out with no support. Your upgrade kit comes with extension support legs. This upgrade really has been well thought out.

Now since I am going directly from the 500 to the 520 pro system directly I need to install my new fence and insure it is running true. Place the fence and lock it down and measure front and back. I use the miter gauge slot as a guide. If the measurement is not true, there are 4 screws on the top that will allow me to adjust the back to be directly in line with the front of the fence. Now if the lock down is to loose or to tight use the nut on the back of the fence to adjust this locking in a smooth not to tight or not to lose manner. This will adjust the top lock the bottom one can be adjusted with a nut underneath in the same manner as the top one.

The last thing to do is install the fence ruler. Set the fence to 1 inch from the blade. Then adjust the gauge so the indicator is pointing to 1 inch. The move then fence to another measurement using the tape measure or ruler. Now look at the gauge it should be the same measurement. You have 2 gauges one short one for your main saw table and another to go all the way across the extension tables or floater. This long one is adjusted the same as the short ruler.

We have completed the upgrade. Now we get out our wax and our black/blue Scotch brite pad and wax all of the tables. We like to do this 2 times because the table is new and we want to be sure the tables completely clean of any oxidation and to insure we have a good coat of wax applied. Once we have waxed down the tables we follow this up with a complete rubdown of the surfaces buffing out any waxed areas.

The upgrade for us went very smooth. The parts were well packed and came pre-adjusted. We were very happy with the outcome. But what an upgrade. It’s like a completely new unit. We will continue this article set with review of the new PowerPro headstock. We will attempt to bring you other review on the power add-ons that Shopsmith Offers for your ShopSmith. Check out the available upgrades at http://www.shopsmith.com.

Ryan Matthews is a jack of all trades. He has been writing reviews for Reviewboard Magazine and Random Publishing for over 10 years.

Ryan Matthews