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Sommerfeld Router Table and Fence

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Review by akdale posted 08-14-2009 06:27 AM 10700 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Sommerfeld Router Table and Fence Sommerfeld Router Table and Fence No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Large top and well made.

Ordered this top 2 years ago. Took a while to arrive and when it did the center section was crowned. The table comes in 3 sections of extruded aluminum that you bolt together. I email Sommerfeld and they explained this was a manufacturing issue and that a new section would be mailed. It was, 2 months later. I was told to keep the old section, was only billed for the table, no shipping for the first one or replacement section and they tossed in a well made shop arpon. The wait was no fun but I was treated well and continue to purchase from them. Customer service from this has been superb Anyway on the to the review.

The table is pretty massive at 36’ by 27’ with a fence of 48 by 4 3/4. The sections are anodized aluminum and bolt together. They are extruded with tongue and groove to make this easy. Once bolted together it is suggested that you mount to a 3/4 ply top which I did. The hole patterns they had in the instructions were incorrect but no big deal there.

Side rails are bolted to the top for fence installing/adjustment.

Once mounted to my cabinet I noticed one small nic in the aluminum top so I sanded that down flat so my wood items did not get marred. This removed some of the gold anodizing. Other than that everything was perfect with the top. The top is dead flat at any angle.

The router I chose was the triton 2 1/2hp. It mounted no problem. The top has a predrilled hole for the raiser that comes with the router so making above table height adjustments is very easy.

The original table came with three round inserts for the different sized bits. These were aluminum. I noticed the new table selling at Sommerfelds came with eight of these. I emailed them asking how much for the additional five. The sent me all eight for free. The new ones are plastice but they do lock into the table better than the original ones and did I mention…..they were FREE! Again, superb customer service.

The fence has a spring loaded post that you use to pivot the fence for making adjustments easy. the other end uses a large knob to tighten and losen the fence in the track. This system works great. The plastic fence inserts were not dead flat so I ran them through my planer and shaved a very small amount off the back of one of them. This corrected the problem.

Dust extraction is very good. I have a Jet dust collection system attached to the table via a somewhat cheezy ducting system and it works great.

To date I have made a complete set of kitchen cabinets with raised panel doors (actually in progess on this one but almost done as of Aug 09), laundry room cabinets, bathroom vanity and a walk in closet using this table. I have no complaints about the performance. there were only the minor issues with the table and I have come to learn that NOTHING is perfect. The cusomter service of Sommerfelds is top notch. I have purchased the table, router and bit sets from them. Will continue to buy from them. I only gave the table 4 stars because well as I said NOTHING man made is perfect.

-- Phil 4:13------Our family motto




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akdale

54 posts in 2056 days



12 comments so far

View oldwoodman's profile

oldwoodman

137 posts in 2246 days


#1 posted 08-16-2009 05:58 AM

Thanks for the review. I watched a demonstration of this system at the Sacramento Woodworking Show last April. I was intrigued, but did not purchase the setup. But I will have to keep this setup in mind for the future.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

113162 posts in 2425 days


#2 posted 08-16-2009 06:17 AM

Looks like an interesting table but 2 years?

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View akdale's profile

akdale

54 posts in 2056 days


#3 posted 08-16-2009 07:05 AM

yep 2 years. bought in 12/06 but ended up early 07 before I received all the pieces.

-- Phil 4:13------Our family motto

View Ed Elizondo's profile

Ed Elizondo

81 posts in 2371 days


#4 posted 08-19-2009 01:25 AM

I saw the demo at the Houston Woodworking show. Mark was not there but his partner was. He made the set up look easy, Hmmm. He ran thru all of the router bits that they offer and again it all looked easy. I have thought about buying the system but then what I currently have, doesn’t look great but it works, is good for what I need now. Later on maybe. I like their matched pair of router bits and I bought the Triton 3 1/4 HP from them while there. I think that the table is a little more than what I want to pay, alomost $600. I also bought their videos and when I applied their principles on the bits they were great. I hope you have many good hours of use on your table. Ed.

-- Ed E. " Taking one board at a time "

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akdale

54 posts in 2056 days


#5 posted 08-19-2009 07:17 AM

Prices have gone up. I paid $499. More than I wanted to but 2+ years later I am glad I did it. I am now making my complete kitchen cabinets. Setup and transitions from bit to bit are fast and yes, easy. It was a one time purchase and the money I am saving on building my own cabinets has more than paid for it. There are others out there that look quite good and are in the price range so if I were doing it again I am not sure what road I would go down.

-- Phil 4:13------Our family motto

View Woollymonster's profile

Woollymonster

31 posts in 1089 days


#6 posted 02-24-2015 08:32 AM

I just ordered this table with the Triton 3 1/2 hp router, cabinet making bit set, and the steal stand that Sommerfeld sells. I am still in the assembly/setup stage but will post more after some time building with this system. Looks like Sommerfeld pretty much has everything in stock these days. Mine took less than a week to arrive via UPS. All parts present or accounted for. No missing parts/pieces.

The table is pretty massive at 36 by 27 with a fence of 48 by 4 3/4. The sections are anodized aluminum and bolt together. They are extruded with tongue and groove to make this easy. Once bolted together it is suggested that you mount to a 3/4 ply top which I did. The hole patterns they had in the instructions were incorrect but no big deal there.

Apparently, there has been quite a few changes, upgrades, and fixes over the last couple of years with these tools. The table and fence are no longer anodized, just bare aluminum. No big deal. The videos and assembly instructions that are provided are a little lacking and out of date. Any torque at all applied to the lock washers and lock nuts that connect the 3 table wings together will pull them severely out of level. The other 4 rails must be attached and leveled before snugging up the wing bolts. And then you can only just collapse the lock washers. There is conflicting instruction on how to do this in the video vs. the printed instructions. This took some fiddling and trial and error but once I got it right, the table is level and solid.

I bought the steal stand to use temporarily until I get my router table cabinet built. The tubing on the stand is a bit flimsy. It will collapse if you over torque the hex bolts. But, once together, it makes a solid base for the table that does not rack. The leveling feet are heavy duty and work well. It’s cheap, made in China I think but I can’t even buy the tubing (to build my own) for what this stand cost.

If you build the table i.e. as per the video, it will not fit the stand. The longer bolts have to be to the outside vs inside and you cannot use the plywood backer with the supplied bolts. The backer makes the bolts too short to reach through the stand tubing. After disassembling and reassembling the table 3 times, I finally got it right. I also wasted over an hour (and some good plywood) building that backer.

All this was not intuitively obvious until the table is assembled. When I originally put it tother the first time and nothing fit, I called the company. Mark himself called me back in about an hour but by then I had if figured out. So yes, good customer service.

You also need to take the plunge spring out of the router before you put it in the table. This is only mentioned at the back of the router manual. So if you watch the video before reading the little router manual as I did, you will have another “do over”.

Dust extraction is very good. I have a Jet dust collection system attached to the table via a somewhat cheezy ducting system and it works great.

Yes I am still trying to figure out how to adapt the dust port on the fence to my Delta dust collector. So far, the only thing in my shop that I have found that fits the dust port is my shop vac. I may try also to adapt it to my Festool collector if it has enough power.

I will give it more review once I have had a chance to build with it. The setup hassle will be worth it if the system performs as advertised. I should be cutting joints with it later today. Wish is was made in the USA. Wish the videos were more up to date.

Cheers,
Woolly

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Woollymonster

31 posts in 1089 days


#7 posted 02-25-2015 01:46 AM

I finally got my table together today. Solved the dust extraction problem too. I connected a Shop Vac hose to the fence and used a reducer and a 2” flexible plumbing coupling to hook it to the Delta. Works perfectly.

I only had time to do one test cut so I set up the Sommerfeld tongue and grove set as per the instructions using the easy set. Wood used was 13/16” southern maple. I cut the tongue, changed bits with no readjusting on the grove cutter and to my pleasant surprise, the joint was tight and dead flush.

I have used a lot of different joinery in the past but never has it been so easy, fast, and accurate as this. I can’t wait to get started building cabinets and drawers!

View akdale's profile

akdale

54 posts in 2056 days


#8 posted 03-14-2015 06:15 AM

So it’s many years in use. I do concur on the issue of bolting together the top. Go slow, take care and don’t over tighten. The current instructions say this. This table has stayed flat and I do not regret getting it since I use my router so much. I had the carbide on my tongue and groove set break. They replaced it right away. Customer service is great

-- Phil 4:13------Our family motto

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Woollymonster

31 posts in 1089 days


#9 posted 03-14-2015 10:17 AM

My cabinet is coming together nicely. Will start on the drawers today.

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Woollymonster

31 posts in 1089 days


#10 posted 03-14-2015 02:30 PM

One minor problem I had, which would be true using any Tongue & Groove or Cope and Pattern joinery, was that my wood moved after I milled it.

As I said, I used soft maple. It was already planed to 13/16th by the mill I bought it from. I did not have my meter with me at the time but when I got it home it registered 11% moister content. I noticed that some of the panel pieces had cupped a bit when I cut the grooves.

If you can’t get the groove to the full depth, it will never mate flush with the tongue on the opposing piece. So I had a couple of spots that had a 64th gap or so. Does not seem like it will be an issue as the cabinet is square around all the drawer boxes. I planed the bottom perfectly flat with a 7 1/2 jointer plane.

I guess the solution would have been to check the fit more carefully on each piece before glue-up. But once you get the panel made and have to cut groove around the top or bottom, you are stuck unless you want to remake the entire panel. I did not want to do that.

I also think that if the groove was cut on the outside of a bow vice the inside of a cup, the piece could have been pulled perfectly flush will clamps. I am sure more experienced cabinet makers already know this. Now I do too.

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

64 posts in 24 days


#11 posted 03-14-2015 03:30 PM

I purchased this table several years ago while at a woodworking show. It is the older version since it had the gold color. No matter what I did I could not get the three pieces to align perfectly. The best I could achieve was a step of about 1/64 of an inch. I called customer service and they said that was acceptable.

I guess this would work if the wood was ran parallel to the joints in the aluminum. But, I run pieces across the joints and keep hitting the step as I push the wood through.

I agree that the bits and easy-set are great! But, I would never buy another Sommerfeld table!

View Woollymonster's profile

Woollymonster

31 posts in 1089 days


#12 posted 03-14-2015 03:45 PM


I purchased this table several years ago while at a woodworking show. It is the older version since it had the gold color. No matter what I did I could not get the three pieces to align perfectly. The best I could achieve was a step of about 1/64 of an inch. I called customer service and they said that was acceptable.

I guess this would work if the wood was ran parallel to the joints in the aluminum. But, I run pieces across the joints and keep hitting the step as I push the wood through.

I agree that the bits and easy-set are great! But, I would never buy another Sommerfeld table!

- WoodNSawdust

I would call and insist on speaking to Mark. Let him know that a 64th out of level is not acceptable to YOU. I bet he would replace it.

It took a little “trial and error” but I got mine perfectly flat and it has remained that way.

Good luck with it.

By the way, which table do you wish you would have gotten? Who has the best rep out there now?

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