Granite Table Top Machines

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Forum topic by BlankMan posted 04-02-2009 07:25 PM 3173 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1490 posts in 3964 days

04-02-2009 07:25 PM

I’ve been wondering about this for a while and been thinking about asking it here so here it is. I’d like to hear what people think about them.

I personally am not sold on the concept although I know the merits of granite and purchased a Toolroom Grade Granite Surface Plate for a flat surface for honing and such a long time ago.

I personally would not buy a machine with a granite top, I’d stick to cast iron even if there is more maintenance required. I have to think the only reason manufacturers have gone to granite is to reduce their costs and I highly doubt they are passing that savings on in its entirety to the customer. I’m still on the fence whether this qualifies as just another gimmick.

One drawback I see to granite is, you drop something heavy on it, like a hammer or a Bessey Tradesman Clamp or Pony Pipe Clamp ( I say that because in my case my clamp storage is overhead between the joists in my basement and when grabbing a clamp they have slipped and dropped) and were it to hit the edge of the slab or the mitre slot edge there’s a good chance you will chip it. Another drawback being along the same lines, using a mitre gauge in the slot that has the washer on the end and through some mis-movement when sliding it out you angle it and and chip off part of the top of the T-slot (I think this would be rather easy to do). Granted both of these scenarios may not happen but there is some likelihood that they could happen and boy, I sure would be one PO’d woodworker in that I just damaged my nice granite table top.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

20 replies so far

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 4477 days

#1 posted 04-02-2009 08:24 PM

I’ve read too much about granite counter tops being full of uranium to want that stuff in my home. I read an article (sorry I can’t locate it) a while ago about a service that would scan your granite tops with a Geiger counter to make sure they were not poisonous. The gist of the article was that they kept having problems with counter top and rock companies not letting them in to scan the merchandise before it was installed in the client’s home. Almost like they knew there was a problem…

-- He said wood...

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Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4603 days

#2 posted 04-02-2009 09:05 PM

If you do chip it though it’s pretty easy to repair with some epoxy…

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View 1banger's profile


12 posts in 3990 days

#3 posted 04-02-2009 09:44 PM

I thought long and hard about this when I was looking for a new 3hp cabinet saw. Saw one in person at the
local Woodcraft store. It looked nice, but already had a chip on one of the corners.

Ended up buying the Grizz 1023. No regrets…

-- BarryR Virginia

View blackdogwoodshop's profile


72 posts in 4339 days

#4 posted 04-02-2009 10:28 PM

The granite looks nice, but I share your concerns about this. I noticed that Steel City offers a 10 year warranty on their granite tops. This sounds good, but the fact that they need to offer the warranty may indicate that it won’t hold up as well as cast iron. I think only time will tell whether or not this material holds up well in the shop.

-- Daniel, Southern Indiana -- "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." --

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3964 days

#5 posted 04-02-2009 10:44 PM

High humidity areas, where would that be, like Florida? Is that really a problem? Mine are in the basement and during the summer our outdoor humidity can range in the 80’s, 90’s and it’s all of that in my basement. I do run a dehumidifier on a timer for some hours everyday in the summer months (it has an internal humidity level control also), I’ve never had problems with rust forming on anything. Unless I splashed some water on one and didn’t wipe it off. Or, left pressure treated lumber sit on my table saw overnight, that does it in a hurry, unbelievably in a hurry.

Does Steel City’s warranty hold if it gets chipped they’ll replace it, or the usual, against manufacturing workmanship and/or defects? Which, if you get a 5 year on cast iron for manufacturing workmanship and/or defects verses 10 years on granite for manufacturing workmanship and/or defects that doesn’t mean much to me, If you get past the 5 years, probably even 2 years, you’re pretty much home free anyway. But, 10 years, if it suddenly developed a crack, that would be a good thing, as long they don’t try to say you caused it, and as long as Steel City’s still around… Anyone remember Star?

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

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768 posts in 4285 days

#6 posted 04-02-2009 11:37 PM

Well a little wax, etc to keep them from rusting and make the top nice and slick is not exactly a huge issue.

You should really wax the granite too, its porous and wicks up water like the cast iron does. This just poses a different issue.

Using Granite is about stability. IE they don’t need to treat the cast iron with destressing heat prior to machining. Just cut a slab, machine it flat and stick it on a saw. This amounts a a HUGE savings in not only labor and energy, but warranty claims.

The import cast iron is not exactly great stuff. How many people have you seen complain about warping? Didn’t use to happen when it was made in the US with mehite iron. Started with the Taiwan machines and improper processing.

Now with granite they can get around that. They just need to get over the acceptance hump. I’m not going to argue if its good or bad for machine tools. But I can guarantee you that this is what it is about. Reduced labor, energy cost, and QC issues. AKA China doesn’t need to learn how to cast iron properly ;)

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1490 posts in 3964 days

#7 posted 04-03-2009 12:01 AM

Yeah, cast iron you’ve got to cast, let age a while, then machine, if you don’t, that’s when it warps. Didn’t know the problem was that wide spread now, but I can understand. Haven’t run into that myself.

Ok, so it appears it’s for the manufacturers benefit and not necessarily ours, and they’re trying to convince us it’s better, I suspected that. I’m not implying it’s not, I don’t know, but I don’t want it. At least not at this time.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View Albert's profile


535 posts in 4201 days

#8 posted 04-03-2009 12:20 AM

Like a new car model, don’t buy any new concepts till they’ve proven themselves.

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 4415 days

#9 posted 04-03-2009 12:27 AM

A granite top for a piece of machinery is just like any other material – if it is not made to rigid specifications it is worthless. You should look very closely at the top surface of any woodworking machine to make certain that all the channels are milled to exact tolerances. I have seen tops of some table saws where the miter gauge slot was so sloppy the it would have been next to impossible to get accurate cuts.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

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1490 posts in 3964 days

#10 posted 04-03-2009 01:02 AM

Thanks bentlyj, read the thread, realized after I started this thread I should have searched, my bad.

People seem to have a fear of cast iron warping, I guess I would too if it had happened to me. But, correct me if I’m wrong, if something cast iron is going to warp it’s going to warp relatively fast, like within the first year, if not before you even get it, not five, ten years down the road? That being the case, I would think the warranty covers it.

I also realized that part of the reason I don’t have rust problems may be because I use Bostik Top-Cote on my Unisaw and DJ-20 (got a free can of it with my Unisaw and quickly discover it really works). But I don’tt (haven’t) used it on the cast iron table on my Jet spindle sander nor on my 12” Delta disk sander and I’ve not experienced rust on either.

I also looked up some climatic data on where I live and the annual average humidity is said to be 80%. I compared that with the places that people have said they live in high humidity areas and have rust problems and found their’s to be at a 90% average. So my location isn’t too far off that but that 10% may just be enough to push it over the edge.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

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Bill White

5243 posts in 4572 days

#11 posted 04-05-2009 05:59 PM

Granite in NOT “full” of uranium. I don’t know where that came from. It is a semi-porous natural stone that MAY have some radon traces. If this were not true, what do you think all the granite owners (countertops) would do about the issue?
Surface plates have been in machine shops forever.
On any given day, I can damage anything I own (just ask my bride), so any top material is subject to abuse in a working environment.
The granite top is a selling tool. Point of differentiation.

-- [email protected]

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 4375 days

#12 posted 04-05-2009 06:16 PM

I buy into it as a selling tool as much as I believe that a plastic jobsite saw is worth $800. NOT !

View Joshua Howe's profile

Joshua Howe

71 posts in 4085 days

#13 posted 04-21-2009 05:01 PM

I work in a granite shop doing counter tops for a living and also have a MFA from the University of Montevallo with a concentration in sculpture. So I have cut, ground, and sanded just about every stone you can think of. As far as Uranium I think you would be more likely to get lead poisoning from a pencil(FYI-pencils have graphite in them, so don’t worry!) But kidney stones maybe a problem if you are cutting marble on a regular(calcium).
And as far as the tops are concerned I have only looked at on closely at homedepoots rigid and it isn’t an actual granite surface it is what we call man-made stone like silestone, cambria, or any other quartz material. And yes chips are a possible but the strength of these quarts is close to cast iron I have gouged cast iron and repairing a gouged cast iron piece is difficult not every one has the ability to weld potted metal but we can all go to Lowe’s or home depot and by a two part epoxy and tape two pieces of wood on a corner and mix epoxy pour and sand square. A lot of use use these materials to mix with saw dust to fill in spots in something we are building. So having the ability to repair a saw top with stuff already in the show I would consider a luxury. And as far as strength a piece the size they are putting on these machines I have thrown across the shop and dropped of tables while working on then and they don’t break in half worst case they chip a corner and I cant say this is true for cast iron. I have casted bronze (16’ tall sculpture quad montevallo “Becoming”)and cast metals can be under tension when cooling because of shrinkage and if it is dropped later in its life can cause fractures or warping! BUT THIS IS ALL JUST MY OPPINION!

-- Wood,clay,metal, and stone are all just materials, until an artist's hand touches them.--TreeFormDesign

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8 posts in 3997 days

#14 posted 04-22-2009 06:20 PM

There seems to be benefits to both materialsm, but ganite is not a common material to us woodworkers which can make it a bit iffy.

-- Let there be sawdust

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 4047 days

#15 posted 04-23-2009 05:47 AM

I think the cast iron is more functional, the granite tops I’ve seen look absolutely beautiful though. I don’t have much experience there, though, but thought I’d pitch in my two cents..

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