namluke

Phenolic vs Cast Iron

Recommended Posts

Hi, Im looking to get a router table.

The one im looking at has a Phenolic top, is that any good or should i go for cast iron?

This is the one im looking at is: Jessem Mast R Lift Excell II Table Package with Phenolic Top, Fence & Stand.

https://www.rutlands.co.uk/sp+power-tools-router-tables-jessem-phenolic-table-with-lift-jessem-mast-r-lift-excell-ii-table-package-with-phenolic-top-fence-stand-jessem+2202kit

Another brand im looking at is a UJK Cast Iron one

https://www.axminster.co.uk/ujk-technology-professional-router-tables-ax887924

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Woodpeckers table with a phenolic top. It’s dead flat and plenty strong. No complaints with it whatsoever. Personally, I would not spend significantly more money for a cast iron top. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always used particle board for my home made router tables so i don't know why phenolic would be a negative. I'd focus on what features you get for your money. Most importantly are said features that your paying for worth it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

I've always used particle board for my home made router tables

that's what I've always used, thick, flat, and contact cement on a light colored laminate, as long as its flat and stable i don't care what its made of, a friend has the cast iron top, i wouldn't pay extra for it, good top but expensive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phenolic is great... and cast iron can be too but it has to be taken care of like any of your other cast iron tool to prevent rust.  Phenolic is pretty much maintenance free.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Chet said:

Phenolic is great... and cast iron can be too but it has to be taken care of like any of your other cast iron tool to prevent rust.  Phenolic is pretty much maintenance free.

This is right on the money!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed on not paying up for the cast. Once you bolt a heavy ass router under it, it'll be plenty strong and vibration free. Jessem seems to know how to build things based on the price they command.

 

I'm personally a proponent of building yourself a router table/cabinet. If you're newer, it's a good exercise in designing and building. If you're salty, it's a good exercise in restraint as Its Soo easy to go overboard. My router top is a 1 3/4" thick, hard Maple lamination that was a work bench top at SpaceX before a renovation. I cut it into  the size I wanted, dropped a channel in from woodcraft.  The frame was built with hardwood scraps . Cut a cool board into bookmatched mirrors. Skin and drawers are all scrap ply. It's solid, kinda cool looking, and exactly what I wanted.  I don't mind building for in the shop. Your mileage may vary. Proof.

Attach221942_20180901_074514.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Brendon_t said:

Agreed on not paying up for the cast. Once you bolt a heavy ass router under it, it'll be plenty strong and vibration free. Jessem seems to know how to build things based on the price they command.

 

I'm personally a proponent of building yourself a router table/cabinet. If you're newer, it's a good exercise in designing and building. If you're salty, it's a good exercise in restraint as Its Soo easy to go overboard. My router top is a 1 3/4" thick, hard Maple lamination that was a work bench top at SpaceX before a renovation. I cut it into  the size I wanted, dropped a channel in from woodcraft.  The frame was built with hardwood scraps . Cut a cool board into bookmatched mirrors. Skin and drawers are all scrap ply. It's solid, kinda cool looking, and exactly what I wanted.  I don't mind building for in the shop. Your mileage may vary. Proof.

Attach221942_20180901_074514.jpg

That is one sweet cabinet!! Nice job. What are those panels some kind of quilted something? They're amazing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you. They are solid 1/4" skins cut off of the back (least impressive) side of a quilted maple block. Not sure if it was originally a guitar blank or what but I got some great stuff out of it. I opened up some amazing figure on the block and these I believe are just enough. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would go with cast iron if I could. Every non-metal top I have seen sags eventually if you have heavy router. When Fine woodworking did a test.on router tables, every single one, except cast iron sagged. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Robby W said:

I would go with cast iron if I could. Every non-metal top I have seen sags eventually if you have heavy router. When Fine woodworking did a test.on router tables, every single one, except cast iron sagged. 

Probably true but did they sag enough to matter :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like what kind of time frame are we talking about? 1yr 5 yr 10yr? Does it help if you don't have a motor in their full time? I remove the motor from my table more often than it's in there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/10/2018 at 4:02 PM, pkinneb said:

Probably true but did they sag enough to matter :ph34r:

The average in the test was around .018-.022, more than enough to matter. I built a top out of two 3/4" layers of Baltic birch ply laminated top and bottom with plastic laminate. The top isn't very big and even that sagged a little over time. We tend to forget how heavy a router and lift are. The steady weight will cause it to sag over time.

Cast iron won't have that problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always add cross bracing in the cabinet to support the top as close to the router & lift as possible. This has prevented sag quite well for me. Just enough clearance to remove the motor/lift without snagging. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the bench dog table with a phenolic insert. Granted I have a large, Triton 3 1/4 hp router in it, but bottom line, it does sag, and it’s a problem. Eventually, I will fix it, but for now, I get by. I like the suggestion of building one. Whatever you use, given the right thickness and span, it will suffice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Diagonal braces that get under the corners of the plate can give the best clearance. 1x3 or 1x4 vertically would be my recommendation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.