David Maynard said:
A milling machine would be cool, but toy machine is a toy machine. Years ago I bought a Harbor Freight, bench top drill press, and while its not production grade, it does for me what it was advertised to do. And with a little creativity, I have turned some wood forms on it too, even though its not a lathe.
Why would you look at that machine when you have a shop-smith?
Couple reasons. First my wife would have a real problem with me bringing my shopsmith inside, (http://largescalecentral.com/externals/tinymce/plugins/emoticons/img/smiley-wink.gif). This started out because I want a small drill press, Not a shop bench top, but a hobby bench top one I can use for repetitive drilling on my small projects and then have it tuck nicely away somewhere. Basically the same concept as why I bought a small belt.disc sander. I don’t like going out in the shop and setting up the shopsmith to sand a tiny piece. The little sander works great and can fit in a cabinet. A small drill press would be the same way. While looking for them I cam across that and thought some of the other features would be fun to have as well; a mill/lathe mainly, for turning small brass and plastic pieces. I can do plastic on my shopsmith, never tried brass but I am assuming the light duty stuff I want to make I can pull off with it. But it would be nice to do it inside at my hobby bench. So a drill press snowballed into wondering about this and for 130 bucks if people found them useful for hobby work then it would be a cool little tool.
I was fully expecting the “don’t buy a multi-tool, because they are never as good as individual machines” response, I hear it all the time on wood working forums about the ShopSmith. But as a ShopSmith owner I find great usefulness in its flexibility. Sure its not as good but a guy who is going to make a few bird houses it would work great as a single tool. Do I prefer my table saw to my shopsmith, yes. Do I prefer my router table to my shopsmith, yes. But it does great for a drill press for my needs. It is also very practical as a lathe, for most anything I will ever do. So on and so forth. Would I recommend one to a cabinet maker, heck no.
I also fully expected the “don’t buy cheap tools or you will be disappointed” answer. The same type of response I got on pin nailers and my harbor freight cheapy is still going strong as is my small belt disc sander. Again I wouldn’t recommend them to someone who uses them professionally or intensively in a particular hobby. But they are more than adequate for what I do. So not all cheap tools are worthless. You expect limitations and work around them. The price point allows you to buy more of other stuff. And if it works to a persons satisfaction then why spend more just to say you spent more.
So I know for 100% certain I will not be buying a quality mill or metal lathe. Just not gonna happen, way out of my price range. I don’t want to just throw money away either. So if this tool sucks and will not do what I expect it to do adequately enough for what I want to do, then I want to know that too. But if people have used them with passable results for working on model parts then it would be a cool little toy to play with at a price point that won’t be prohibitive. I am still on the fence. It has very mixed reviews with enough bad that I am leary still.