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October 24, 2008

Review of Cast Iron Router Table Top from Peachtree Woodworking

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.

lrg_cast_iron_250.jpg

Manufactured: Taiwan

Fit and Finish: (A) No visible defects, machining was good.

Flatness: (A) Table Top was dead flat using a straight edge that is
machined flat to within .003 over the entire length.

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
fence rails to the router table top. The holes didn't line up for my particular brand fence. If a slot had been machined into the edge of the top instead of just a hole, it could accommodate more fence systems. Not a big deal though, a new hole had to be drilled into the edge of the top. (Instructions did state that this could happen).

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).

deluxeRouterTableFence.jpg

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: featherboards,
stop blocks and more. The UHMW insert fences are replaceable, & sacrificial, so you can make zero clearance cut outs for any router bit.


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

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.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Pricing

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 with Supreme Fence Package:  $339.99


Overall Scores:

Cast Iron Router Table Top:     (A)

Fence System:                              (B)

Value:                                            (B)

Overall:                                         (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.

Comments (9)

Rik Minnich:

Hi Craig,
This is something I can really use. I'm so tired of dragging out my router table and putting it away so I can drag something else out. So it looks like I'm going to save my chump change or my income tax comes in..
Thanks
Rik

Fred:

Hi Craig,

First, I want to thank you for the video and review of the Peachtree Woodworking router extension table for the tablesaw. I have been researching a new tablesaw and new router table for quite some time now.

My initial contact with woodworking was as a child - sitting on a board and waiting while my father would cut it to length - very boring and disinterested me in ever wanting to do anything with woodworking.

However, necessity demanded that I learn something about woodworking when I bought my current house - do it myself or pay someone to do it. I'm to cheap to pay someone else so I started to buy various tools as needed or the project demanded and made the repairs and modifications myself. There are always maintenance and repairs to be done somewhere. As time progressed, I found that I wasn't half bad at woodworking, did a better job than many "professionals", could make changes if needed as the project demanded and the work progressed, we could design the project ourselves, save tons of money, and it gave me alot of self-satisfaction.

I'm an attorney by trade (basically a legal aide type attorney so I don't make that much money) - so I can read and write. I found myself buying "How-To" books (lots of them),reading them, studying them, and then "going" for some project (whatever that was to be). As our/my projects got larger, more demanding or different - I purchased tools that I thought would do the job without doing alot of research before I bought them. Some of those tools were expensive - the tablesaw being one of the most expensive. Although I bought a decent saw - it is a portable unit (Makita) that does what it's suppose to do. However, it definitely has it's limitations and I wouldn't part with it because it is so portable - it does do a basic job. I have made a number of cabinets with it so it's not unreliable nor totally unprecise. I does work very well within it's limitations. The biggest problem with it though, is the miter slot - it's not the standard size but much smaller and definitely limits what you can do with it (jigs and such).

I now find myself wanting to expand my woodworking ability on projects which demand better tools but I don't want to (actually can't afford, don't have the available space, and my wife won't let me) dedicate my whole garage to woodworking.

First, on my list of upgrades is the tablesaw - I don't want to make the same mistake I made before and get something that won't do the job for whatever is needed in the long run. I have decided and put a down payment on the Steel City hybrid cabinet saw with 1-3/4 hp which I should be receiving in January 2009. I'm totally excited and can't wait for it to get here. With that table saw I will be able to (hopefully) make/use all the jigs and do all kinds of new projects. Eventually, I want to make the cabinets when I remodel my kitchen.

Second, on my list is to attach the router table to the tablesaw. I have been researching router table extensions for the table saw and want a cast iron extension table if possible. I had been looking at the Bench Dog but the insert plate size is special to their cast iron table and I therefore didn't want to be "stuck" down the road with not being able to make changes or use someone else's products with their table. I knew that Peachtree Woodworking also sold a cast iron router table extension but until recently they, too, had basically a proprietary router insert size. Now that they make a cast iron extension wing with the standard insert opening (for inserts made by almost all manufacturers) I have really been looking at that. After watching your video and reading your review - that's the router table extension wing I'm going to buy! Now I'm doubly excited and can't wait till everything gets here to assemble it all and start making something - anything!

I don't have a jointer (I plan and using my router within it's limitations) or planer (maybe someday if I'm allowed to take up more space or I get more creative in how I store things in the garage) so I will be limited to projects that don't need those tools.

Third, I really appreciate a good website that's informative and gives an honest review - all the pluses and minuses of whatever your then discussing. That gives me reason to come back and see what else your reviewing or discussing because I believe that I'm getting an honest opinion. I want to thank you for your effort and this review of the Peachtree Woodworking cast iron router table extension for the tablesaw. I hope to be watching or reading many more reviews in the future.

Thank you.

Woodworkers Resource:

Fred,

Thanks so much for your kind email about our site and the cast iron router table top review. I'm excited for you on your purchase of the Steel City table saw. I think you made a great choice.

I appreciate your trust in my ability to make honest reviews of products, and I will always try my best to keep earning that trust.

Just keep building useful pieces of furniture that your wife wants. She'll come around to letting you have that whole garage space before too long! Worked for me (-;

Regards,

Craig Stevens

Ed:

Craig, thanks for the video. I had searched for a good while and finally came to this Peachtree cast iron router table. Am glad to have found this. I plan to mount this as a standalone with the incra router fence. The table I had bought from incra warped, but the fence is excellent.

Right now I'm pondering how best to mount the peachtree cast iron router table (pcirt) in front of the incra fence. The old incra table is the same 27 inch width as the pcirt, but the incra table runs 43 inches long to accommodate the fence. A 28 inch wood base that matches up to the 15 inch pcirt would probably work, or I could screw the pcirt into a "spare" cast iron table saw wing to give some additional cast iron works area, etc. Am open to any suggestions. Thanks again for the video!, I'll be checking out others...Ed

Woodworkers Resource:

Ed,

You certainly have a great fence in that Incra. If you already have a spare cast iron table wing that you could use, that would be my pick.

If not, the wood base would work just fine. Of coarse, if funds aren't a problem you could buy two cast iron tables from Peachtree and mount them back to back. This is great if you use rail and stile bits or any combination bit sets like that. One can be set up in one router, the other bit in the second router. What a sweet set up that would be!

Of coarse money always seems to get in the way of those kind of dreams.

Craig

Ed:

Craig,

I went ahead and purchased the Peachtree cast iron table. Not yet mounted to a table but it looks ideal. A friend suggested using marble instead of a cast iron table wing for mounting with the Incra fence, so I'm planning on that (I happen to have some marble top for this). I'll let you know how that works out.

I'm now looking at router lifts. Any suggestions?

Woodworkers Resource:

Hey Ed,

I don't own a router table lift (at the time of this writing : )) but I have spent some time looking. There are two that I've researched and will probably pick one when I bite the bullet.

Take these recommendations for what they are, just my own research, I don't have first hand knowledge with either of these products.

The first is the Rousseau 3002 Router Lift LS.

This is the least expensive of the two but I've read good things online about it.

The next one is Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift.

This one is about $100 more but is solid as a rock from what those that own it tell me. Very well made.

Do you're own research, but I don't think you'd be unhappy with either lift.

Good luck in your search.

Chris:

Hi there;
First I would like to thank you for the material you make available on the web. Learning new skills is so much easier with great contributors like you.

Although I have been doing quite extensive renovations for years now, it is only about 18 months ago that I started making furniture. The first router table I bought 18 months ago is a relatively cheap Ryobi "intermediate" table. Now I don't know if it was not flat when I bought it or I am only now getting precise enough to notice the effect but I was thinking about getting a cast iron table. My only concern, about the wing extension type, is the size. It appears much smaller. In your experience is this a factor to consider. Doesn't the extra size add stability and support to the work piece. What kind of work would dictate a larger router surface?

Also, my table saw already has two cast iron wings, one on each side. It is advisable to try to bolt the router wing to the end of another wing or is it going to be too heavy for the bolts on the saw to hold in the long run?

Thanks in advance for the guidance

Chris

Woodworkers Resource:

Chris,

Here's my take on router table extension wings for the table saw. If space is a premium in your shop (and for many this is a BIG concern) then putting a cast iron router table top on your table saw's extension is a great space saver. The size really doesn't limit you too much, the only time that it could hamper you is routing long pieces like molding. I have a dedicated router table that I have used for years which does have a larger table surface, but for long pieces I still have to use hold downs of some kind or rollers to help support the work. So I think the size limitation is a wash.

After having used both kinds, a dedicated router table and a cast iron extension wing, I still prefer the dedicated one just because the router is contained in a "box" that helps with dust collection and sound control. Plus, all my bits and spare routers are stored in the cabinet.

Good luck in your decision!

Craig

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