namluke

Phenolic vs Cast Iron

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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

 

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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. 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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. 

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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. 

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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:

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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.

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