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Bench Dog / Rockler Quality- **BIG THUMBS DOWN**

by noone
posted 05-16-2013 08:34 PM


31 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2394 days


#1 posted 05-16-2013 08:38 PM

links to the product you have? if we know which one it is, we might be able to suggest alternatives/modifications/fixes/etc so that you’ll be less fed-up and more fed well ;)

EDIT:

by the way, router table plates can often lose their flatness depending on how you attach your router to them – for the same reason, a router plate which is not flat on it’s own , could be bent into flat once you do attach your router to it as the bolts will pull the plate to the router base and could potentially flatten it. worth a try.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1032 days


#2 posted 05-16-2013 08:43 PM

Damn, noone.. that sucks! As you know I have the same setup, and I just went out to the shop to check mine with a Veritas straightedge and feeler gauges. Both the table and the plate are dead flat on mine. I did check my plate with the router installed, but I doubt that will make a difference with 1/4” thick aluminum plate. Hope you can get it sorted out. And yeah, that cast iron top is heavy—be careful hoisting that thing around.

-- John, BC, Canada

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3554 posts in 1559 days


#3 posted 05-16-2013 08:46 PM

Surprising you received bad products from Bench Dog. I use their router table and fence / inserts, and they work great. I didn’t hold a straightedge to them, but in actual use they work great. Very helpful for building furniture.
Their aluminum fence is built like a tank.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#4 posted 05-16-2013 08:57 PM

Ok, i’m calm now.

:)

I don’t see how anything could be designed to pull itself flat. :) Especially since different routers will weigh different amounts. This thing is a 1/4” thick piece of metal. It should be flat right out of the box.

Alternatives are greatly welcomed.

link-
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=21293

View JayT's profile

JayT

2610 posts in 957 days


#5 posted 05-16-2013 09:10 PM

PurpLev is on it. I’ve talked to Kreg reps and that company designs the router plates with a slight crown in the middle for two related reasons—I’m assuming the other manufacturers do the same.

First is the weight of the router will pull it down. If it starts dead flat, you end up with a cup down after hanging a heavy router. They design based on the heaviest 3+HP units so a lighter one won’t affect it as much.

The second reason is so the cut will be uniform depth throughout. By having a slight rise at the point of the cut, you are guaranteed the board riding the highest spot and your depth setting will be precise. If there is any dip at all, the depth of cut will change as the board rides into and out of that dip.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

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noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#6 posted 05-16-2013 09:24 PM

Hmm. Ok, well I guess my router is not heavy duty enough because it still ain’t flat even with my router under it.

It’s a new Ridgid router.

I just ordered another Bench Dog Plate so hopefully it won’t be the same, but at this point, I don’t have high hopes. Any alternatives out there in this funky size?

View Pimzedd's profile

Pimzedd

467 posts in 2549 days


#7 posted 05-16-2013 09:26 PM

When I worked in manufacturing most tolerances for such items were +/- .015. 1/64 = .0156. Looks to be in tolerance to me unless one were to consider it out by .0006.

Keep in mind .015 is equal to about the thickness of three pieces of copy paper.

More than close enough for me but that’s just me.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#8 posted 05-16-2013 09:31 PM

I hear you Bill. But it’s off by 1/64+ going from the right edge of the ring hole to the right edge and 1/64+ going from the left side of the ring to the left edge. Therefore, if i’m pushing a piece of wood through my overly priced cast iron flat table and stopping the cut at the left side of the plate, pushing down on the left side is going to pop up the piece and make a slightly curved cut. This isn’t right nor normal. It’s supposed to be FLAT. Period.

View YanktonSD's profile

YanktonSD

190 posts in 1277 days


#9 posted 05-16-2013 09:39 PM

My understanding from my own router table is the plates are made with a slight rise in the middle to accomadate the router over time. I have a Rousseau and it was the same way when I first got it but after a week it was perfect.

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#10 posted 05-16-2013 10:21 PM

I just put the insert ring into it and that doesn’t even sit flush.

Crap.

I give up….

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#11 posted 05-17-2013 07:21 PM

Question-

Is the cast iron table top supposed to be flat?

Incredibly, the table I just received is not flat. I put a straight edge across it left to right and there is a dip in the middle that tapers to the router plate hole slightly less than 1/16”. Again, this is cast iron we are talking about here.

Is this normal or do I have the worst luck in the history of the world?

In summary-
Cast iron router table – not flat
1/4” aluminum insert – not flat
ring that goes into 1/4” aluminum insert – doesn’t sit flush with the surface of the plate.

So when I push a piece of wood across the surface, it bumps.

I never thought it would be this hard to buy a decent router table. I’m starting to think I should make my own and buy a Woodpecker’s plate for it.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1032 days


#12 posted 05-17-2013 07:30 PM

Per their website:

Ultra flat surface is machine-ground to within .008”

http://www.benchdog.com/ProMax-RT.cfm

-- John, BC, Canada

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2394 days


#13 posted 05-17-2013 07:33 PM

got pictures to show what you are seeing. it starts to look like you are either super unlucky which I find odd (but obviously possible), or something else is at play here.

hopefully the replacement plate will be better.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1032 days


#14 posted 05-17-2013 07:37 PM

Can you also verify that the straightedge you’re using is good? Sorry if it seems like a silly suggestion, but I have seen reference tools that weren’t suitable for their purpose before. Just a thought.

-- John, BC, Canada

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#15 posted 05-17-2013 08:06 PM

I will snap pictures when I get home.

nwbusa- i’m pretty sure the cast iron table is more than .008” out of flat. It appears to be a fat 1/32” out (.03125”) to me. .008 would be pretty hard to see with the naked eye.

The straight edges i’m using are solid. I referenced the 18” straight edge against a flat bosch 3/8” router plate from a Bosch RA1181 router table package which is what I am trying to replace here. It registers flat. I referenced the 36” straight edge against my table saw’s cast iron top which shows flat.

Thanks for the responses gentleman.

View RonInOhio's profile

RonInOhio

720 posts in 1610 days


#16 posted 05-17-2013 08:26 PM

Not sure if an accurate measure can be done without everything set-up and actually making some
test cuts.

I suppose if it isn’t within the manufactors stated tolerances there is an issue. Just wonder if being that much out of flat will effect the work. Certainly I would think for smaller pieces. I’m not an expert on this issue but maybe it will work ok once everything is setup.

Hope you are able to figure this out.

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#17 posted 05-17-2013 10:08 PM

Pics.

You can see the gap around the edge where the router plate fits.

.012” out of flat, measured with a feeler gauge. Pretty shoddy IMO, especially for something this expensive. As a quick comparison, the cast iron table on my $500 Ridgid table saw is perfectly flat.

I’m thinking I can do the same or better just gluing up two pieces of MDF and laminating it and cutting a hole in it.

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2710 posts in 1322 days


#18 posted 05-17-2013 10:27 PM

If you decide to build your own (a great way to go btw!), I’d skip the woodpecker plate for an incra magnalock plate. It’s the best out there. The insert rings are held in with rare earth magnets and are adjustable for level with the plate. They also don’t require a tool to change. No other plate can make these claims.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#19 posted 05-17-2013 10:38 PM

nwbusa-

Didn’t you say you had this same exact Bench Dog cast iron table? And you said yours is flat? Wondering if I should try to order another one and return this one….. Or just give up and make an imperfect one myself.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1032 days


#20 posted 05-18-2013 06:28 AM

Yes, I have the same setup. I went out rechecked mine. It’s flat within specs—.007” low toward the center at the front of the table. In practice this has not been a problem for me at all. My plate is better, at .003” which is as close to perfect as I care to be.

As Ron suggested above, I’d try some test cuts and see how the results look. I understand it’s a lot of money for a router table top, and you want to be satisfied with its quality.

-- John, BC, Canada

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#21 posted 05-18-2013 12:13 PM

Thanks John.

Mine is off by .012 in the dead center of where you push wood through, not the front of the table like on yours. I still feel that a piece of cast iron that costs $500 bucks should be manufactured flat. Period. It is technically possible and I thought that was the purpose of cast iron- to achieve a flat surface.

In my opinion, if its not going to be flat, I may as well go back and buy a $200 HPL table kit or make my own top.

I will test the setup today, but I’m pretty sure the insert ring that protrudes and bump the wood as I push it through is going to cause bumps in my cuts.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile

RibsBrisket4me

1414 posts in 1251 days


#22 posted 05-18-2013 03:09 PM

noone…bottom line is you’re not happy, and this thing will grate on you as long as you have it in your shop.

Go ahead and return it. The shop is supposed to be relaxing.

I am a rare Craftmam fan, but I had a really big C-man belt/disk sander that I hated. I ended up putting it at the end of my driveway with a “FREE” sign on it and have not missed it at all.

-- http://www.PictureTrail.com/gid6255915

View Stephenw's profile

Stephenw

273 posts in 1131 days


#23 posted 05-18-2013 04:12 PM

Are you sure that ruler is straight?

If I was checking something to see if it was flat, I’d be using a precision straight edge, not an aluminum ruler.

-- http://www.garagebulletin.com/

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2710 posts in 1322 days


#24 posted 05-18-2013 07:07 PM

I agree that if a cast iron surface isn’t going to be flat, you might as well make your own for a lot less.

As for straight edges, I have the 24” and 38” veritas aluminum straight edges and they’re good enough for me.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#25 posted 05-28-2013 08:49 PM

Update-

I took a look at the Kreg Precision Router Table in a local Woodcraft, and had him drop a straight edge on it and guess what? It’s dead flat. And that’s a piece of MDF. The phenolic router plate was perfectly flat too.

Dead flat tables are not an urban myth after all.

I am still planning on making my own table as an insert for my Ridgid table saw with a Woodpecker’s plate though…...

View Kelby's profile

Kelby

133 posts in 1156 days


#26 posted 05-28-2013 09:13 PM

NiteWalker, I don’t think aluminum is a problem, but there is a difference between an aluminum straight edge and an aluminum ruler, which is what I think Stephen was concerned with.

I would certainly trust that Veritas straight edge you have. However, while I don’t know anything about the Johnson ruler shown in the photos, it wouldn’t shock the conscience if a 48” aluminum ruler had a .012” bow in it.

With all that said, I’ve never understood the need for a cast iron router table. The MDF/Formica table top I built many years ago still holds up great. It may have cost me $30 in materials, including the oak edging.

-- Kelby

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#27 posted 05-29-2013 01:57 AM

I think the Johnson straight edge is straight. I tested it by using it on a cast iron table on my table saw, and also a 48” slab of granite and a few other things. Those all registered as flat. Maybe everything else I have is bowed and the bench dog cast iron is not, but I doubt that.

At any rate, I now think cast iron is a waste of $600 and there are better ways to spend that kind of money around the shop.

View noone's profile

noone

410 posts in 1018 days


#28 posted 06-25-2013 06:44 PM

Kelby-

Unless i’m missing something here, the cost to build a router table top has gone up significantly.

Here is what I came up with as a pre-tax cost. Let me know if i’m missing something:

3/4” sheet of MDF – $32
30” x 8 ft sheet of laminate – $38
contact cement – $10
router plate – $60-$100
t-track – $20

This sounds like i’m almost at $200 and I have to build it myself.

Is there a cheaper way to make your own?

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2710 posts in 1322 days


#29 posted 06-25-2013 10:20 PM

Skip the router plate. It’s not necessary. You could instead rout a spot for shop made inserts. I did just that on a quick router table to test out the idea; I’ll post a pic when I get back up from the shop. You can make it as big or small as you’d like. I made mine 5” square and offset it a bit so the router base mounting screws would be under the inserts. My initial ones were made of 1/4” polycarbonate, but I ordered some 1/4” phenolic on ebay as it’s stiffer. 4screws, one in each corner are used for leveling the inserts. I made a few inserts with different hole sizes so I can change them to suit the task at hand. I very often use 1/2”, 1 1/2” and 2” diameter bits in the same day, so I made inserts with 1”, 1 5/8” and 2 1/8” holes. So far it’s been great and I see no need for a router plate. That’s why you’re seeing sagging where the insert plate hole is; those big holes compromise the structural integrity of the table top. You could make one with a plate and design it to stay flat; you would just need proper bracing underneath.

Some will say otherwise, but I like t-track in a router table. A piece along the top of the fence for featherboards is all that’s needed though IMHO. The fence can be held down with a shop made clamping system. I made mine just like in the plans here, and they hold great.

Miter track is not needed IMHO. Anything you think you’d need a miter slot for can be done without.

A couple of other things too.
The mdf and laminate sheets will be very useful in the shop. You won’t use all of each on the router table, so I see a tablesaw outfeed there too. I would get the 4’x8’ sheet of laminate btw. At lowe’s, a full sheet is only $42 near me.

Now, to answer is there a cheaper way to build your own, aside from skipping the router plate, you could skip the laminate and use shellac or oil based poly with a coat of paste wax after on the table top. I used dewaxed shellac followed by paste wax on my tablesaw zci made out of mdf and it’s held up amazingly. For a router table top I’d probably go for oil based poly since it will likely hold up better than shellac.

You also don’t need a full 1 1/2” thick table top; using thick hardwood braces underneath you could get away with 3/4” or even thinner for a table.

Sorry for the long post; much of it is from studying various designs across the web and in magazines and in videos. A lot comes from pat warner, probably the most influential router guru I’ve studied. I’m on my own quest for the perfect (for me) router table. I’m close…

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

6272 posts in 1546 days


#30 posted 06-25-2013 10:51 PM

Your other thread about the Rockler table being off you said they made it right. Is this a different situation, and did they make this right too?

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

View bannerpond1's profile

bannerpond1

276 posts in 644 days


#31 posted 06-26-2013 12:35 AM

I got a Jess Em and have been happy with every aspect of the tool and using it.

-- --Dale Page

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