Chapter 8: 1961-1970

 8:5. Technological development

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Refinements in power tool options for amateur woodworkers continued at an accelerated pace. Availability of affordable electrical woodworking tools, including development of offshore Taiwan manufacturing of cheaper tools  and specialized hand tool makers in America. After-market accessories, such as Biesemeyer saw fences, accessories for the high-speed router, such as the Leigh and the Keller dovetail jigs. Emergence of importers of European tools, such as Laguna Tools.

In the 1960s, woodworking -- the editor of Popular Woodworking, Steve Shansey, notes -- a huge shot in the arm when enterprising businessmen went to Taiwan to have inexpensive equipment made, making ownership of power woodworking equipment within reach of any American who wanted to pursue the hobby.

Source: Popular Woodworking, June 2004, page 8


Ernie Conover , assures us, Taiwan-made power tools are "well-built," an argument that I too support. (Conover, incidentally, an expert in the truest sense of that term, has, as they say,"paid his dues". For at least three decades, he has operated a school for woodworkers and wrote articles for woodworking magazines.)

Source: "The Answer: On the Table Saw and the Jointer," American Woodworker, September 1985, page ?

[Check FW no 47 for notes on Taiwan imports; FW no 48, p. 6, has notes on Taiwan machines, including comments by Grizzly].

The box below contains info from the pen of R J Decristoforo that is significant about the strange fate of the Shopsmith combination tool. Exactly what happened to Shopsmith -- an American success story in the late 1940s -- but evidently through mismanagement in the 1960s, fell onto difficult times,  is  sort of a mystery. At the moment, the story is not clear for me, but is something that I intend following up.

In the late 1940s a multi-purpose tool called the Shopsmith was introduced, causing lots of excitement among workshop enthusiasts. One bench-type rig (designated the Model 10ER) could be converted to do the work of several individual tools. 

The Shopsmith caught on and flourished but the people who made it sold out to Yuba Consolidated Industries. They then sold to Magna American. This was about 1966 and two models later -- despite the administrative troubles of the manufacturers -- the Shopsmith had progressed from the original 10ER to the Mark V in the mid '50s and finally to the Mark VII. Its popularity continued until 1968, when the bumpy road of the Shopsmith came to an apparent dead-end and everything ceased to be available. 

The blackout lasted until 1972, when a man named John Folkerth bought the rights to the line, formed Shopsmith, Inc.,. and set up manufacturing in Tipp City, Ohio. He chose the Mark V as his one and only model (the Mark VII included the same features as the Mark V plus a built-in vacuum and the ability to tilt at either end) and it is this model that we report on.
Source: R.J. DeCristoforo “Return of the Shopsmith” Mechanix Illustrated 71 October 1975, pp 96+

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