Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 30

Thread: Newbie Table Saw Question- Alum vs Cast Steel?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    33

    Newbie Table Saw Question- Alum vs Cast Steel?

    New here and new to working with wood beyond 2x4 storage shelves and such.

    I see all the best saws are all cast steel and some have options for cast or stamped steel wings but always steel.

    Why? Purely for mass and vibration control (actually lowering the natural frequency)? Why are there no good table saws tops made from Aluminum? I know some jobsite saws have alum tables as does my Bosch.

    I my day job I design aerospace equipment and we make extremely high performance accurate equipment and fixtures from Aluminum. Surfaces can be hard coated providing a hard slippery surface.

    Thanks and I hope I am not beating a dead horse subject topic

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Griswold Connecticut
    Posts
    6,420
    John

    I would say for the above reasons you stated and cost.
    Cast iron is relatively cheap compared to the grades of aluminum you have experience with.
    There is a huge third party aftermarket for many woodworking fixtures that are made from aluminum. Fences, router tables, extension tables, sliders, and many more.
    No reason aluminum could not be used for a table surface that I can think of.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    162
    I had and Inca Swiss made 12" cabinet saw for 30 years and it had an aluminium top never had issues with it. I just sold it, I also have their little band saw which has an aluminium top.

    You want as much weight and mass as possible for the reasons you mention - cast iron being the best, the job site saws have alum for lower weight more than likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by John McKissick View Post
    New here and new to working with wood beyond 2x4 storage shelves and such.

    I see all the best saws are all cast steel and some have options for cast or stamped steel wings but always steel.

    Why? Purely for mass and vibration control (actually lowering the natural frequency)? Why are there no good table saws tops made from Aluminum? I know some jobsite saws have alum tables as does my Bosch.

    I my day job I design aerospace equipment and we make extremely high performance accurate equipment and fixtures from Aluminum. Surfaces can be hard coated providing a hard slippery surface.

    Thanks and I hope I am not beating a dead horse subject topic

  4. #4
    You want accuracy with a table saw and cast iron will give that to you. Aluminum and stamped sheetmetal is prone to warp and bend. You would really have to pamper an aluminum or sheet metal top.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    162
    I will agree with you on the stamped metal but you are incorrect on the Aluminium when it comes to industrial equipment, could be true with "contractor saws" or other low cost equipment the same is also true for cast iron even some of the best prepared cast iron (properly aged before machining, etc) can warp twist etc and you see that mostly in any low cost Asian import machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Dyas View Post
    You want accuracy with a table saw and cast iron will give that to you. Aluminum and stamped sheetmetal is prone to warp and bend. You would really have to pamper an aluminum or sheet metal top.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    33
    I know a fair amount about Aluminum and I don't see warpage as any more of an issue than iron. Aluminum can come close to softer steels for strength and exceeds steel in performance per pound and for corrosion resistance aluminum wins hands down. Of course aluminum is generally softer and and can get gouged and scratched easier. I can see weight being a desirable goal for a table saw but the mass doesn't have to be in the top, can be added elsewhere.

    Just the designer in me asks these questions.

    I wonder how much is what I call "old-fartitis" which I suffer from which essentially says "That's the way did it back in the day"

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Dyas View Post
    You want accuracy with a table saw and cast iron will give that to you. Aluminum and stamped sheetmetal is prone to warp and bend. You would really have to pamper an aluminum or sheet metal top.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    N.E. Ohio
    Posts
    5,613
    First time you try to stick one of those super handy magnetic feather boards on your Aluminum table saw, you'll know why you should have gone with cast iron.... .

    I wonder how much is what I call "old-fartitis" which I suffer from which essentially says "That's the way did it back in the day"
    It's more of - something that touches on what I mentioned above - that things have been done that way for so long, all the goodies and accessories are geared towards that method of construction.

    Prior to picking up the Ridgid TS3660 I have, I had a Hitachi job site table saw. It had a flimsy fence & Aluminum top & direct drive & light weight non standard miter slots with little nubs in them.
    No magnetic goodies, no cross cut sled, no stacked dado, no real accuracy & cutting whole sheet goods down was an exercise in terror - as the saw was prone to tip over and bind...

    Heavy granite tops came and went pretty quick, so, sheer mass isn't the whole answer.

    IMHO - it's a multifaceted reason w/ tradition & cost being heavily involved in the answer - along with several practical things.....cleaning and restoring being right up there also.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Landenberg, Pa
    Posts
    214
    I believe you’ve already hit on the answer. Keep vibration down. No vibration, maximum accuracy. I can stand a coin on edge on my tablesaw and it will stay there startup to shutdown. My old aluminum tablesaw shook, rattled, and had trouble holding settings. Also, to follow up on your other thread for table saw recommendations, there seems to be a new Laguna offering in the 1.75hp, 110V flavor that might be worth your attention.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,653

    Mafell Erika..

    Quote Originally Posted by John McKissick View Post
    Why are there no good table saws tops made from Aluminum?
    The very best small-sized tablesaw has an aluminum top. https://produkte.mafell.de/en/pull-push-saw-erika-85



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Richardson, Texas
    Posts
    159
    John,
    My opinion would be cost of raw material and processing. The weight of the cast iron also can hide inaccuracies in the manufacturing process.

    No question an aluminum saw cold be designed to equal any cast steel offering.

    Jay

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Upland CA
    Posts
    4,341
    Peter,

    I watched all the videos, and that Mafell saw reminds me a bit of the ShopSmith table saw thy sold a couple decades back, but much more thought out.

    Can you tell us what it costs? I bet it will make a SawStop sound like a bargain.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Phoenix AZ
    Posts
    178
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kelly View Post
    The very best small-sized tablesaw has an aluminum top. https://produkte.mafell.de/en/pull-push-saw-erika-85


    Nice saw- would be great for smaller shops!
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,653
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    Peter,

    I watched all the videos, and that Mafell saw reminds me a bit of the ShopSmith table saw thy sold a couple decades back, but much more thought out.

    Can you tell us what it costs? I bet it will make a SawStop sound like a bargain.
    A top-end Erika 85c with all accessories shown in the video, including a sliding table, can be had for just over $4k. The slightly smaller Erika 70 comes in at around $3k.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    1,877
    Cast iron has more mass and is better able to dampen the transfer of energy because of the irregular grain boundaries in its structure. High quality cast iron is very stable if stress relieved and left to cure/stabilize for period of time after the casting process. CI also has much better wear properties.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    33
    Interesting. Thanks for the info but it's still a small TS

    Aluminum is pricey. I wonder how well vibration is controlled.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •