Cast iron router table top vs others? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Default Cast iron router table top vs others?

Just dreaming at the moment. Have a rifle for sale. If it ever does I may upgrade my benchtop router table. Bench Dog makes a cast iron router table (don't know if others do). Seems like that would be the top of the line router table material, but let's hear your ideas. Are other types of equal quality or better? Pros and cons of types?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 03:09 PM
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Cast iron is kind of the "gold standard" in stationary tool tops. Lots of reasons to like it. It looks like those are going for a bit less than $500. Note that the rockler (they own BD) opening size is specific to them. So you will need to get a rockler insert and/or a rockler lift. Not that it's bad but it does somewhat restrict your choices.

Considering that you can build a really nice top for less than $100, it may not be the most economical choice out there. Personally, if faced with your choice, I would build my own and put the extra into an Incra LS.

My RT set up is a shop made table, Incra/JessEm Mast-R-Lift II, Incra LS positioner, PC 7518 and a wixey height gauge. After more than a year of frequent use, I am still very happy with my choices. I especially am happy with the LS as it has allowed me to significantly improve my skill level and produce some pretty professional looking results. I don't think a cast iron table top would have made a difference for me.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 03:32 PM
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The benefits of having a cast iron top are the flatness, weight, and durability. The drawback is the cost. This has been debated to death, but where you need the flatness for a router table is the insert, the rest of the table simply just holds the work piece up. In fact some table designs have had the router plate sitting above the table surface by a small amount.

My table is one I made, and is 2 layers of 3/4" MDF. Many of the commercial ones are a single layer. The benefit you get with MDF is still relatively flat, you get the weight and the cost is lower. When it comes to durability, yes the cast iron top is probably going to last decades longer than an MDF top, but that doesn't mean an MDF top router table is junk either. With my top, I edge band it with hardwood, and make sure it is well supported so it won't bow down over time.

For me, another benefit of an MDF top is it is easily modified for upgrades to fences and plates/lifts, where the cast iron, you are options maybe more limited.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 04:06 PM
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I think cast iron is a poor choice unless you have a climate controlled shop. It is just too easy for rust to take over. Even after careful prep and application of a rust preventative product I found some minor rust on this Excalibur deluxe cast iron table. My old overarm router was a constant maintenance nightmare to the point I got rid of it. I went with the Steel City deluxe 14" band saw for its granite table. I do maintenance on my old Craftsman table saw a couple times a year and the Johnson's paste wax is the best treatment I have found for combating rust.

Now if you have a climate controlled shop it eliminates a large amount of the problems I have. Even so I can not justify the expense of cast iron for a router table. My economy router table works just fine for any task. It is based on the Router Workshop table and neither of them has warped or sagged over the years.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 04:43 PM
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Interesting observations Mike.

Presently, the bulk of my tools are under a roof, but otherwise accessible to outside air. I'm going to have to check and see if there is any rust starting to accumulate anywhere.

Things will improve dramatically once that area gets properly closed in and heated.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cocobolo1 View Post
Interesting observations Mike.

Presently, the bulk of my tools are under a roof, but otherwise accessible to outside air. I'm going to have to check and see if there is any rust starting to accumulate anywhere.

Things will improve dramatically once that area gets properly closed in and heated.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 05:51 PM
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@Mike ...how dooo you keep them things so clean... even when I don't use mine it seems the sawdust just comes out of the "woodwork"...

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 06:03 PM
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^^^
Hey there's two of us here guys . No need to direct all the insulation jokes at me
his is work in progress and it is getting done...
no malingering in sight...
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 07:12 PM
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@Nickp

Dust collection Nick.

Look close and you will see some sawdust; nothing works 100%.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 08:31 PM
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I have the Bench Dog lift with Porter Cable's big boy and a Frued fence. It's all on my own table and I think it's gold. In fact, I wouldn't switch to the cast iron table on a free trade, simply because my table is bigger.


The JessEm get good reviews too. That may be because of differences in raising and lowering the two, but that's just a guess. I suspect it's as much a Ford/Chevy thing. Regardless, either will outlast both of us, even under heavy use.

I made the jump after growing tired of dealing with the plastic things that can break relatively easy, when pulling the corners down. I could have built one, but it still wouldn't be comparable in quality, and the labor made the price tag more attractive, at the time.


When I hook my collector to the top and bottom ports, not much dust escapes.

I don't worry about rust, I just deal with it, but not much, even though my band saw, table saw, ocilating sander, drum-disk sander, jointer and router lift are made of it. I've used a product call Corrosion-X and I'd set a can of pop on any of them treated with it. Some of them I only treat yearly, others a couple times a year, or as a problem "pops" up. Corrosion-X won't leave the surfaces pretty, but it will make them, in terms of water, nearly bullet proof.
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The reason I have what you want is, I never lent it out before.

Scraps are a myth.

Last edited by Dejure; 01-30-2016 at 08:43 PM.
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