MOTHER’s Combination Shop Tool Survey

article image
ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
MOTHER's combination shop tool survey manufacturer's charts.

Combination shop tool survey charts of tool manufacturers’ offerings in part of MOTHER’s continuing Design Your Dream Workshop series. The wood lathe-style into a table saw, a horizontal borer, or a disc sander and a drill press. Accessories, driven by the headstock, include a jointer, bandsaw, jigsaw, and belt sander.

MOTHER’s Combination Shop Tool Survey

Design Your Dream Workshop Part VIII

In this final installment of our eight-part series on stationary woodworking tools, we’ll look at an engineering marvel: the multipurpose, or combination, shop tool. True to their names, these machines each combine the function of five or more popular wood shop tools into a single unit . . . one that takes up far less floor space than even a carefully chosen assortment.

European woodworkers, who put a premium on space, provide a good market for combination tools. Here in the States, we tend more toward single-function machines . . . but lathe-based multipurpose designs (Shopsmith and Total Shop) are still popular in home shops.

The lathe-style machines use a variable-speed headstock equipped with a quill feed. With the tool positioned horizontally, the addition of a table converts the lathe into a table saw, a horizontal borer, or a disc sander. In a vertical mode, the lathe becomes a drill press. Accessories, driven by the headstock, include a jointer, bandsaw, jigsaw, and belt sander.

European manufacturers generally build their combination machines around table saws, which also drive jointers and thickness planers. A spindle shaft extended horizontally works together with a three-axis table for slot mortising or side-boring, and a vertical shaft is included for spindle shaping. Options include sanders, tenoners, and jointer-planer blade sharpeners. One exception is the Emcostar 2000, which is a combination table saw and bandsaw. A spindle shaper and disc sander are included in the basic machine, and lathe and mortiser attachments are optional.

For the cost of one of the bigger machines, you could fill a large shop with individual tools. But if your budget and work space are small, a moderately priced combination machine might be the answer. Just make sure that each component has the same characteristics you’d look for in a solo tool.