cast iron router table top?

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Keith made a beautiful job of that. All I would do differently is due to my access to quartz. A solid black quartz top wouls be just loverly.
r
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wrote:

...and paint it Ridgid orange? ;-)
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Nice base - made to look like a cast iron machine.
Martin
Morris Dovey wrote:

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Morris Dovey wrote:

Yep. Keith Bonn used to post here. That was an awesome table project.
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On Sat, 06 Mar 2010 20:31:18 -0700, the infamous Mark & Juanita

Hey, _I_ remember Bonn, Keef Bonn! I preferred it in blue tape. Now it looks like a Naval deli counter. If it weren't gray, it'd be a nice deli counter, though.
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Personal Opinion Follows:
I know this sounds blasphemous but how perfect of a table do you need? One of the most gifted woodworkers I have met used a pretty basic table to do beautiful work (CAREFULLY). It consists of a piece of plywood with a very ugly Formica top that he got from a scrap pile. He used a Rousseau phenolic plate. His fence was a piece of 2x with a notch cut out for the bit and held to the table with two clamps.
Mine is a little nicer but still cheap. It is mounted between the wings of my table saw and consists of a double layer of 3/4" Baltic birch P/W banded with oak. I too use the Rousseau plate. My fence is much more elaborate; adapted from some of the commercial tables. The framework is Baltic birch P/W and the face is MDF. The face uses sliding lower panels (for bit clearance) and a T-rail. It also has a dust collection port that works pretty well with my shop vac. With the exception of the dust port fittings and some threaded lever handles, the entire table came from my remnant bin.
The point is.....If you have that bunch of tools in your shop, a little web-surfing, ingenuity and the scrap bin can often provide a good solution.
RonB
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Wow, thanks for all the responses guys, you've been a great help.
I've taken on board the points of simplicity and sufficiency and will go the build route. I can always change it later..
My plan now is a simple benchtop table, a box made of 3/4" birch ply (because I have some), with webs from side to side to support the top (ie. enable me to clamp the top down to it when I fail to make it properly flat).
For the top I'm uncertain - I could use more birch ply, or go the MDF route. Either way I'm uncertain of the laminating - surely wide areas like this require a great deal of force to provide enough pressure on the glue joint? And with all that force (presumbaly via curved battens) it seems likely that the panels will flex and then set non-flat? Adding the Formica (UK trade name for phenolic sheet) ditto, and that's not cheap stuff either - though I could always (not) add this later.. For starters I think I might just go with a single sheet of thick mdf/ply - whatever the yard has in.
Biggest issue of the moment is what insert plate to buy - I want to be able to get the router nice and high for bit changing, so I don't want to clamp it to the underside of a thick table. Phenolic seems to be the material of choice - strong and more vibration damping than aluminium. I'm inclined to either the Kreg (http://www.kregtool.com/products/prs/product.php?PRODUCT_ID ) or Woodpecker (http://www.woodpeck.com/tlrphenolicplate.html ) as both have solid fixing reducer rings. Is there anything to choose between these? There is also one made by Trend (http://www.trend-uk.com/en/UK/product/RTI_PLATE/3/215/router_table_insert_plate_.html ) which interestingly has a 0.8mm crown; I'm not convinced this is a good idea - surely a flat table with a flat plate is the best?? It also has snap-in reducer rings which doesn't seem great if a guide bush is then used in that.
On the subject of guide bushes, the only ones in that screw-in style seem to be made by Trend (bottom of this page http://www.trend-uk.com/en/UK/productlist/4/200/Guide_Bushes.html ), and extend 6.35mm - ie. just a bit more than you'd want for a template made of 1/4" material! What's the point in that?
I'll probably knock up a simple fence with something like this http://www.tilgear.info/products/88/237/fence_and_dust_hood/ and use that until I know what I really want.
thanks again, graham.
ps - I bought the Freud FT3000 for its above table features (above table bit changes, shaft locks when fully raised, height adjustment from above the table - it seems like a basic but functional router). It felt more solid and I liked the collet better than the big Triton (I especially dislike the triton insert for the 1/4", not that I suppose I'll use many 1/4" bits).
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On 3/7/2010 4:01 PM, graham wrote:

If you use 3/4" MDF that's usually pretty damn flat; if you glue two of them together any warping will almost certainly be canceled out and the result will be DAMN flat. Applying the laminate should be done with contact cement, and no battens or undo force is required; just a rubber roller. Apply contact cement to both surfaces (the MDF and the back side of the laminate) according to the instructions on the product (usually you let it dry about 10 or 15 minutes); the MDF will need a second coat because it's very absorbent. Lay a series of long 1/4 dowels down on the MDF (if the cement is dry they won't stick) about 6" apart, then set the laminate down on the dowels (so the glued surfaces don't meet; you have ONE chance to get the positioning right or you're screwed). Once you have the laminate positioned correctly, pull out the center-most dowel and push the laminate down towards the MDF surface with your rubber roller. This will adhere the two together hard and fast, then you gradually work the roller from the center towards each end, pulling another dowel out as needed; this lets you get the laminate glued in place without trapping any air pockets underneath. Be firm and thorough with the roller, making sure the laminate is completely adhered before progressing further towards each end. Use the appropriate router bit to trim the laminate flush.
The advantage of having a smooth surface such as laminate is that you can pass the workpiece through the cut with little to no friction. Keep the laminate clean and waxed, and you'll never have a workpiece grab or drag while you're cutting it, which can be very frustrating and sometimes downright dangerous.
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Steve Turner wrote on 07/03/2010 23:52:

I was thinking that under the pressure of my battens I could flex both pieces in the same direction.. Or have I misunderstood?
<snip - Great tips for applying the laminate - thanks>
graham.
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The principle behind it is that when you have the weight of a heavy router pulling down underneath it becomes flat. If you start flat you are likely to finish up with a slightly dished effect unless you have a nicely ribbed bit of cast iron or Al.
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Stuart wrote on 08/03/2010 09:32:

Yikes - that's a bit hit or miss then as it would depend on the weight of the router; presumably there should be different amounts of crown for different routers! More importantly, with a 6kg router how much deflection should one expect in a standard sized ~9"x12" insert?
thanks, graham.
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On 3/8/10 11:40 AM, graham wrote:

I was thinking the same thing. What if you don't have an 80 pound router? :-) Then you're stuck with this annoying crown. All things being equal and given the choice of a crown or dip in the mounting plate, I would choose a dip every time.
You can't adjust for a crown-- you will always have long stock rocking on the table, as it travels over the crown. You can easily adjust for a dip-- just raise the bit a tiny amount to compensate, and long stock with never rock up and down on the table.
In any case.... get Phenolic and don't worry about it.
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wrote:
I have not read the other responses to your post but I hasten to suggest that you at least look into a granite top. They are being used now as table tops on cabinet saws. Though I suspect the manufacturers are motivated by the need to avoid the long curing time required to prevent cast iron from warping (though even properly cured cast iron does occasionally warp).
In any case the granite (particularly a close-grained granite, i.e. "absolute black) will stay flat, is just as resistant to shock as cast iron and should cost you a lost less money. I am having a 36" x 36" x 1 1/4" table made of absolute black for $325 including recessed cutout for the router and polished edges. I will not be worried about rust, warping, drag. etc. I am certain I have made the right choice and as soon as I complete the stand and put it to use I will post pics and give a report. I will also be installing my Triton router in it. I have been using my Triton for more than a year and I absolutely love it. I have at least 10 worn-out top brand routers laying around my shop. For years I kept them because I thought I would repair them one day but now that I have the Triton they are going to be going to the trash. Good luck to you.
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I'd be afraid of chipping it and no "T" slot.

It's an idea, but overkill for a router table, IMO.
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