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October 24, 2008
I love going to as many woodworking shows as I can throughout the year. You get to see the latest and greatest from the "big names" which is fun. But the booths I like the best are the small one product companies and the local retail stores.
One such retail store that I can almost always count on having a booth at shows, in and around the southeast, is Peachtree Woodworking Supply.
One of the things that I like best about Peachtree Woodworking, is that they carry all the tools and equipment that you would expect, but they carry many items that the "big guys" don't.
We recently did a video review of one of those products. A solid cast iron router table top.
You can see the video review here.
The video goes through my experience of installing the router table top as a side extension to my table saw. The video covers most things, but there were a few things that I omitted to save time that I'd like to cover here.
First off, I want to briefly review the installation process, and my findings of the router table top.
Here is my review:
I have rated certain findings with a letter grade below, (A) - (F), with A being a superior rating and so forth.
Cast Iron Router Table Top from Peachtree Woodworking Supply:
Weight: 44 lbs.
Fit and Finish: (A) No visible defects, machining was good.
Flatness: (A) Table Top was dead flat using a straight edge that is
Table Size: 1 1/2" x 15" x 27"
Insert: Phenolic insert with two removable rings.
Router Plate Opening: 9 1/4" x 11 3/4" or 9" x 12"
Miter Gauge Slot: 3/8" x 3/4"
Installation: (B+) Everything went smoothly until it came time to install the
Instruction Manual: (A) Good instruction manual, very straight forward.
Dust Collection: (C) Dust collection seems to be a bit of an after thought. The parts supplied work well at pulling dust away, but there wasn't a clear way to attach it to the fence system. Double sided turners tape is what I used although epoxy would probably hold it as well.
Aluminum Fence: (B) The fence I used was 32" with a 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 3 1/4" mouth opening. I found that the aluminum fence needed to be shimmed slightly to get it to exactly 90 degrees. The instructions do state that the aluminum fence is made from a non-machined extrusion and shimming may be required to bring the fence square. For the price of the aluminum fence, I think this is acceptable (see price break down below).
Uni-T Fence: (A) There's a Mini T-Track mounted on the top (2 tracks) and front (1 track) of the
fence, which allows for the use of many add on items, such as:
Should you use your table saw's fence for your router table?
At first glance, one of the big conveniences of putting your router table insert into your table saw's extension wing is that you can also use the same fence. Many folks do just that and make it work. But my vote is to use a separate fence for the router table. Here's why:
Making very small adjustments to a table saw fence is difficult, (the exception to this would be the Incra fence) and let's be honest, not usually needed. Adjustments of 1/32" doesn't make much difference when you're ripping a board. However, that same measurement can affect the look of a profile cut with a router bit.
By using a dedicated fence for your router that is adjustable on both ends you can easily make adjustments of 1/32". Simply lock in one side of the fence and pivot the other end either in or out. Because the router bit is in the middle, but your adjustments are pivoting only on one end, very small adjustments can be made.
Whether you use an aftermarket fence system like the one above or build your own, you'll soon come to appreciate the advantages of a dedicated router table fence.
Cast Iron Router Table Top: $229.99
Aluminum Fence: $29.99
Uni-T Fence: $69.99
Fence Dust Port: $3.99
Cast Iron Router Table Top: (A)
Fence System: (B)
Having changed from a pressed steel extension wing on my contractor saw to this cast iron router table has made a big difference in the vibration level of my table saw. Plus I'm enjoying the added benefits of the router table being grouped together with my BIG THREE (table saw, jointer, planer). This is about as close to a European combo machine as you can get without forking out the big money!
You can find the cast iron router table and fence system, as well as many other unique woodworking items at Peachtree Woodworking Supply.