Should we be concerned?

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adrianpglover
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Should we be concerned?

Post by adrianpglover »

I started my woodworking hobby with a borrowed Mark V for about a year (back in 2012 to build nursery furniture for my first kid), went to other tools, and eventually my wife got me a Mark 7 + planer in early 2020 (pre-covid).

Since getting my Mark 7, I have noticed a slow but steady decline in the number of products, mainly accessories and SPTs, offered by Shopsmith. I think the first thing I noticed go away was the molder head and profile blades, then the shaper bit options were greatly reduced. I think after that there was a SPT that was removed from the lineup, but can't put a finger on what it was. And now, we have the removal of the planer from the website.

Also, during this same time period (1/1/2020 - 11/29/2023), I have seen the introduction of a new control panel for the Mark 7 with, as I understand it, no real new features, only a new HMI (human-machine interface). So a mostly minor update to one product, but no other real new products being offered. They also offered a few different ways of packaging currently shipping machines, but I see that as a marketing/market offering thing more than actual new engineering.

I'm an electrical design engineer who helps to develop new and innovative technologies for a company who most people think still make computers, is rather old, is referred to by three letters, and is associated with the color blue (hopefully that spells it out pretty well without violating company policies about making my post be associated with the company name, because I definitely don't speak for the company). I have seen a handful of posts on here stating that most of the customers of SS are older and set in their ways. I'm 40, so not necessarily older, but not exactly young anymore, so take this as you will. I state all of this to give as much background into my thinking as I can.

It just seems to me that over the last few years there has been more of a shrinking of the product offerings with only minor updates to existing products. I even think that some of those product updates, like the touch screen, were likely driven by the obsolescence of components that were integral to the old interface, or were likely designed by/through/with a third party. From the product offering side I don't see a lot of new and innovative products coming down the line, only a company who is just trying to produce and sell the same product that they have been making for the past decade+. In the field I work in, if you stagnate on your new offerings, you die. I know this isn't quite true for the power tool market, but it seems to me like SS is definitely in decline.

So, in the end, should we be worried about the future of the company? Hopefully the new owner can get some new engineering in the company and come out with some cool, new offerings at decent prices for us. It also would be nice to see most of the products being offered through Woodcraft and Rockler. I wouldn't go as far as having them stocked in the stores, but listed on their sites would go a long way. I think this makes more sense than being listed on Amazon, but that's just me.
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edma194
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by edma194 »

Of course we should be worried about the future of the company. We should have been worried for at least 25 years now because the company hasn't been growing or making a profit. Changes are now coming out hastily, the new website is incomplete and will take a while to fix, at the same time they didn't maintain the old website to use while the new one has problems, the new PowerPro Gen 2 controller has issues, and I would expect to see more old products fall away from lack of sales. However, with a new owner there's the chance that things will get better. The old owners should be commended for keeping the company going out of loyalty to the product and it's customers without profits, but it's still better to see some changes rushed out than no change at all which would undoubtedly lead to eventual dissolution.
Ed from Rhode Island

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bainin
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by bainin »

I wouldn't worry too much. If the SS line finally goes the way of the dodo and support becomes non-existent, you may be forced to
invest in separate tools and use the SS for some dedicated purpose.

Afterall-what can you do about it anyway ? You can pre-empt such an outcome by stocking up on expected maintenance parts, or go out and start purchasing separate tools . Maintenance parts I likely will stock some to ensure longevity of my current tools (belts etc), outright giving up and investing in new tools- I'm inclined to wait and see what happens.

PS- I don't think of Big Blue as a computer company :) That ship sailed long ago !

b
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JPG
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by JPG »

Whatsa "main frame"?
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╟JPG ╢
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Goldie(Bought New SN 377425)/4" jointer/6" beltsander/12" planer/stripsander/bandsaw/powerstation /Scroll saw/Jig saw /Craftsman 10" ras/Craftsman 6" thicknessplaner/ Dayton10"tablesaw(restoredfromneighborstrashpile)/ Mark VII restoration in 'progress'/ 10
E[/size](SN E3779) restoration in progress, a 510 on the back burner and a growing pile of items to be eventually returned to useful life. - aka Red Grange
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dusty
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by dusty »

Go look at the number of Social Media (FB) viewers. That is now an audience that is more aware of Shopsmith than before. It is that expanded audience that keeps me from worrying. That audience is not a bunch of oldies trying to figure out who might use their Shopsmith if it was willed to one of them.
"Making Sawdust Safely"
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algale
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by algale »

I hope they are around for many more years but I'd only worry about the company's longevity if I were an investor or owned a Power Pro. For everything else there is a nearly inexhaustible supply of used machines and used parts out there being sold on the secondary market (ebay, craigslist, etc) many of which are in new or near new condition. Parts for the Power Pro and parts specific to the double-tilt mechanism of the Mark 7 would be much more difficult to source because fewer units have been sold and don't pop up as often on the reseller market.

Most consumables, maybe all, are available in compatible sizes from other sources.
Gale's Law: The bigger the woodworking project, the less the mistakes show in any photo taken far enough away to show the entire project!

CreekWood
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by CreekWood »

I clearly remember when Big Blue sold long-haul network gear. Had a full inventory awaiting deployment when they dropped the product line. The company with a bridge logo offered us a generous buy-back. My point is that Blue still exists, but with different products.
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JPG
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by JPG »

My observation re 'shrinking' SS products has to do with parts no longer in 'new' production. This shrinking is of concern because 'historically' (and recent comments) SS has always had replacement parts for the M5 and up and that WAS a major advantage albeit $ to do. I think most owners of older models would be willing to pay a premium price for new direct replacement parts.

IBM has shifted to a software developer(and we all know from early PC days the money is in hardware sic.) The wheel of fortune has come full circle?
╔═══╗
╟JPG ╢
╚═══╝

Goldie(Bought New SN 377425)/4" jointer/6" beltsander/12" planer/stripsander/bandsaw/powerstation /Scroll saw/Jig saw /Craftsman 10" ras/Craftsman 6" thicknessplaner/ Dayton10"tablesaw(restoredfromneighborstrashpile)/ Mark VII restoration in 'progress'/ 10
E[/size](SN E3779) restoration in progress, a 510 on the back burner and a growing pile of items to be eventually returned to useful life. - aka Red Grange
RFGuy
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by RFGuy »

Adrian,

As a fellow electrical engineer, with an analytical mindset, I agree with and share in the concerns that you raise on this thread. Going to post and share here to hopefully alleviate some of your concerns. Let me play the optimist, yes I know a role some on the forum don't see often enough from me. ;) I won't go through the history, but I have seen Russ, Scott (on his videos) and others talk about the long history of Shopsmith, Magna, Magna Engineering, Yuba, etc., etc. many times and it is interesting, but I will get it wrong if I try to recount it here myself. My point being that Shopsmith has reinvented itself over and over during the past 75+ years. Let's be honest, for ANY company to be alive and still kicking in the United States, in of all things manufacturing, is a testament to perseverance and should be applauded. I started my woodworking journey as a teenager helping my Dad to build his 12'x18' woodshop from the ground-up. We constructed everything...about the only thing we didn't do is mix concrete ourselves, i.e. we had it delivered. Next we outfitted the shop with woodworking tools my Dad could afford like a Sears Craftsman TS (hated that thing), cheap bandsaw, cheap drill press, etc. Eventually he learned of Shopsmith and we visited a brick & mortar Shopsmith store and bought one to sideline that Craftsman TS. Most of my early woodworking in my Dad's shop was on that 510 that he bought. Then I graduate, go off to college, get a job and buy my own 510. In the intervening two decades I used this 510 at a hobbyist level doing several projects like building a crib for my 1st born, dining set and many more projects. Work would often intrude into my woodworking, but I am still using the same 510 (520 now) that I purchased new with nothing more than light maintenance required. The only difference between us is perhaps how much you are using your Mark 7 and that you have a Mark 7 vs. my 520. The weak link in your system is the PP headstock IMHO. IF you have concerns about maintaining your investment, I might suggest you have replacement parts on hand or even a mechanical headstock as a backup. With this, I expect you could continue woodworking for a long time into the future if/when Shopsmith should cease operations (hopefully that won't happen). I haven't kept up with the full history on Shopsmith, but I know there have been multiple bankruptcy scares over the years. The last one, I believe was a few years ago. That is when I went ahead, out of fear, and purchased the last few accessories, maintenance parts, etc. that I wanted to have on hand. Did I need to do that? Only time will tell. It has now been a few years since that last company scare and they are still in business, albeit with a new owner, which I take as a positive sign because they are still alive. Do I regret purchasing what I did a few years ago? Absolutely not. IF you want insurance to hedge a potential future timeline, then I suggest you consider allocating a small amount of funds to securing whatever components you deem mission critical so that you can continue your woodworking journey on Shopsmith equipment unimpeded. I don't advocate anyone to live in fear, so this is only an insurance option I am proposing. Best of luck and enjoy your Mark 7!

I always forget that many SPT's and standalone tools have been obsoleted by Shopsmith over time. I really thought the Shopsmith planer would have lasted and was dismayed to see it leave the website, but given its price to performance quotient I guess I can understand. It still stings and now I need to consider what, if any, replacement parts to procure for it in my inventory. Point though is Shopsmith has pruned products from their inventory for decades, but this shouldn't be a concern for company longevity because they have been doing this for decades, but it is an annoyance. :(
📶RF Guy

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chapmanruss
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Re: Should we be concerned?

Post by chapmanruss »

As many of you know or may have guessed my love for Shopsmith Tools lies a lot in not only using them but restoring them. I have, to date, restored 24 Model 10's. Why is this relevant? It shows that even Shopsmith tools made more than 70 years ago can be kept in good running condition. With only 2 parts from the Model 10's still in use today in the Marks all other parts except common hardware have to be found used. There is a large supply of parts available for the old Model 10E's and 10ER's to keep them running as some tools sacrifice themselves to keep others going. With the number of Mark 5/V's sold over the years the same would be true if the company was to close.

As for SPT's that have been discontinued that has been, I believe, driven by lack of sales or in the case of the Scroll Saw a new option being available. For the Molder Knives and Shaper Cutters, they had been coming from other makers (available through other outlets) and were not a Shopsmith exclusive item.

Right now, my only concern is will the Smart Motors take over the conventional Headstocks. :D
Russ

Mark V completely upgraded to Mark 7
Mark V 520
All SPT's & 2 Power Stations
Model 10ER S/N R64000 first one I restored on bench w/ metal ends & retractable casters.
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Model 10E's S/N's 1076 & 1077 oldest ones I have restored. Mark 2 S/N 85959 restored. Others to be restored.
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