cast iron or granite?

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Forum topic by shelly_b posted 10-10-2012 07:18 PM 2499 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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850 posts in 2115 days

10-10-2012 07:18 PM

I am looking at jointers and the steel city has some that loom like a good deal. They have some that are granite and some that are cast iron. Neither look like the nfeed and outfeed tables are supported well and i saw reviews that the iron ones were not flat. It seems to me the granite would stay flat better as i wouldnt think it would bend at all…any suggestions? They are around $500-$600 and have the spiral cutter head so seem to be good deals but there are no reviews for the stone and one for the iron…i also like tue idea of not battling rust

17 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2512 days

#1 posted 10-10-2012 07:24 PM

The granite tools have played to mixed reviews. Sounds like a winner going in, but read the reviews on other granite tools from Steel City before you purchase.
Personally, I’ll stick to cast iron, as much as I drop things.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View knotscott's profile


8013 posts in 3373 days

#2 posted 10-10-2012 07:42 PM

There are pros and cons with each material. Granite is flatter, heavier, and won’t rust, but it’s more fragile. Cast iron is the devil I know, and I’m more comfortable with it. With proper care and good manufacturing, there’s no reason that either can’t work well.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2881 days

#3 posted 10-10-2012 07:58 PM

I had a granite TS that I loved, I’d consider getting a granite jointer, however the reviews that I’ve read about the Steel City brand have been mixed. Now if another company came out with a granite jointer I’d be interested….

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2284 days

#4 posted 10-10-2012 08:25 PM

I have a Steel City granite table saw (35990G). When they make something out of granite, they have to do some things differently (like supporting it). I was putting some frame and panel doors together today. Had one on its side on the wing of the table saw and had to persuade it together a little bit. Thought to myself, “I probably don’t want to be pounding on this on my table saw.”

Probably shouldn’t be pounding on your table saw if it’s cast though either. In some respects it’s more fragile I’m sure. I think you’d have to REALLY mistreat it to break it though. I fuss over the cast iron tops on my jointer, band saw, etc. I set coffee cups on the granite. :) It’s easier to keep the granite slippery. I think I waxed it once since I got it. It’s still very slippery. My shop is only heated when I’m in it. The granite will not rust. Period.

In general… everything else being equal… I wouldn’t be afraid of the granite. I kinda like it. Forget about using MagSwitch featherboards or anything like that though.

Oh, and my experience with Steel City tech support and/or customer service has been spectacular. They are responsive even when asking dumb questions and they go out of their way to help.

Just my 2 cents. :)

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2631 days

#5 posted 10-10-2012 08:38 PM

Without ever owning a granite machine, here are my thoughts.
Granite seems like an ideal material for jointers beds and fences, where flatness and rust resistance is paramount. Granite is certainly less durable than CI in that it can break if the machine were ever tipped over or a if the stone took a hefty blow from a dropped tool. It might be a good idea to investigate the cost of a replacement bed, should the original ever break. Heck, maybe a local granite shop could make a replacement? In any case, I’d look into it before buying. Of course, CI can also break under extreme circumstances and has the mentioned pitfalls of rust/warpping. But all said, CI has a long(er) track record of ‘bulletproofness’.

I’m not sure I see any advantage to granite on any other woodworking machine though. I love my magnetic jigs, featherboards, and bases. While less useful (if not useless) on a jointer, they are indespensable on the tablesaw and bandsaw.

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2115 days

#6 posted 10-11-2012 11:41 AM

Everyone has good points. The thought of not worrying about rust really makes me want it. I don’t know that we will be able to keep my shop heated 24/7 this winter and I hate to think of what is going to happen if my CI sweats! I have never had anything granite, but my thought is that it has to be straight b/c it is stone and not possible for it to warp right? The biggest complaints I see about jointers is the beds not being straight or being warped. I am a bit worried since I know it is much more fragile, but I also know that you can get granite cut offs for very cheap. The biggest problem with that is I am not very close to any big cities so would probably have to travel at least an hour to find a place that cuts granite…I have a cabinet job coming up soon so my decision needs to come quick!! I like the thought of not having to worry about my boyfriend and his friends putting their drinks on it. I don’t know how many times I have went to my table saw and yelled “Who put their drink on my CAST IRON table saw?? Do you know what that does???” Then give the lecture that it will rust overnight:/

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jim C

1472 posts in 3096 days

#7 posted 10-11-2012 11:49 AM

Cast Iron.
I like the option of magnetic guides, stops, hold downs etc.

View Jeff's profile


433 posts in 3192 days

#8 posted 10-11-2012 11:57 AM

I’ve always wondered about the supposed superior flatness of granite. The rock itself isn’t inherently flat. It has to be machined that way the same as cast iron. Is it the potential of warping with heat? Is this really a possibility given the relatively low temperatures we experience? In other words we don’t heat enough to turn the metal red. Therefore, is granite really “flatter” than cast iron?
My tools are cast iron. I live in a moist humid environment. I periodically coat all surfaces with paste wax and don’t have rusting problems.

View knotscott's profile


8013 posts in 3373 days

#9 posted 10-11-2012 12:06 PM

Cast iron is more prone to warping. How’s its made and cured are critical manufacturing steps. Proper curing can take a long time….months. Cheaper manufacturers have a tendency to not let cast iron cure long enough before final machining, which increases the likely hood of warping after it’s milled and made part of a tool. Granite is machined flat and doesn’t need to be cured….it holds its shape. If that shape is flat and square like its supposed to be, it stands a much better chance of staying that way.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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jim C

1472 posts in 3096 days

#10 posted 10-11-2012 01:05 PM

Cast iron, when properly processed, becomes a “dead” metal that doesn’t move or warp at all. A version of this processing is called a “meehanite” casting, which is used in and on machine tools. (Look it up on Wikipedia)
We used meehanite in the building of high precision stamping tools and dies, and no matter how much material we milled and drilled out of it, it stayed consistently flat and stable.
Having said that, I’m sure the chinese don’t follow the rules of processing cast iron for uniformity, so it could be a stability problem on any tools manufactured over there.

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2108 days

#11 posted 10-11-2012 01:40 PM

I have heard too many bad things about Steel City to consider purchasing anything from them. You did not mention what size jointer you want, take a look at Grizzly.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2115 days

#12 posted 10-12-2012 05:59 PM

I would prefer an 8 in but for the price of the 6in steel city with granite and spiral cutter head it looked like a good deal. They have the same one made in cast iron but the in and outfeed tables don’t seem to be well supported at all so i was afraid they would warp…which was why i considered the CI. I have looked at grizzly and will hopefully get one of their 8in. My other question would be what are parolellogram beds? I have never heard of this and have no idea what difference this makes other than in the price…

View SoCaAl's profile


5 posts in 2564 days

#13 posted 10-12-2012 06:03 PM

I prefer cast iron so I can use a magnetic featherboard or guide. Just my $0.02

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3460 days

#14 posted 10-12-2012 07:18 PM

Cast iron. How can you use a magnetic guide on granite?

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View cutmantom's profile


405 posts in 3033 days

#15 posted 10-12-2012 08:13 PM

parallelogram beds are attached to the machine via short arms with a pivot on each end, i think the advantage is supposed to be easier adjustment

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