Shopsmith 6" Beltsander Information, History & Review

Don't get so excited with eBay prices that you pay more than the price of a new tool! The current MSRP of the Shopsmith 6" Belt Sander is $429.99.

FYI, The Shopsmith Beltsander is one of the best on the market! You can power it on your Shopsmith 10er, Mark I, Mark II, Mark V, Mark VII and even with the Sawsmith Radial Arm Saw. It can also be powered by what Shopsmith calls a SPT Stand (Single (or Special) Purpose Tool), the Power Station or the Crafters Station.

I'm impressed at the genius of this design, which not only utilizes the same water-pump bearing Assembly that is used on the Mark V and Bandsaw, but it actually features two short sections of the same tube that us used for the waytube and bench tube on the Mark V! Because these two sections of tube are hidden from view and are only 7" or so long they allowed Magna to make use of bent or scratched waytubes. Clever.

It has a thumbwheel for making quick adjustments in tracking and an auto-tension using that works like a charm. Watch-out that you don't allow this to spring free when the belt is off for changing, but even if you do this is easy to reset by following the instruction in the owners manual.

There have been a few changes over the years to the SS Beltsander:
  • Originally the Belt Sander featured a 1 1/4" dust port, but 1987 ShopSmith changed this to accommodate 2 1/2" hoses used by ShopVac and others, including the Shopsmith DC3300. This dust port is available as an upgrade retro kit fro around $20, so don't let the small port discourage you from purchasing an older unit.

  • For many, many years following the formation of Shopsmith Inc. in 1972 they continued to make the SS Belt Sander with the old Magna castings. You can see the "M" logo cast into the side of these units up until the tooling finally wore-out in the late 1980's and was replaced by the Shopsmith logo. Over the years SS stopped sanding the paint off the Magna "M" and added a Shipsmith sticker to the side of the unit.
  • For a period of time Shopsmith had a batch of Beltsanders that just wouldn't track properly. I don't know the serial # range, but the problem was someone decided that it would save money if they used the same aluminum drum for both the drive drum and the idler drum. Now, the drive drum is perfectly cylindrical with a rubber sleeve glued to it, while the idler drum is bare aluminum with a slight crown. The genius who made the call to use a single drum had the crowned drum covered with rubber for the drive, so just like a Delta bandsaw the belt was supposed to track in the center of the two crowned drums. The problem with this plan is that bandsaws have bearings that help to keep the blade on, but belt sanders don't. So, is by some chance you have one of these bastard sanders be aware that the drive drum can be easily replaced.

Fitting Drawers with a Shopsmith Belt Sander with Nick Engler and Jim McCann