Exclusive: Steel City Will Rock Your World

In a completely inspired move, newcomers Steel City Tool Works is unveiling a line of machinery later this year that will use granite , let me repeat that , granite as a key component.

Steel City’s new hybrid 10″ table saw will sport a 150-pound black granite top that is flat across its width (measured diagonally) by .001″ to .002″ at most. This top will never warp and never rust. It will add extra weight to reduce vibration. And it looks incredible.

We’re not talking about a piece of granite like you would find in a kitchen countertop that’s about 3/4″ thick. This top is 50 mm thick (about 2″). In addition to this granite top, this new hybrid saw will feature a European-style riving knife and guard (hurrah!), a trunnion system that adds many extra pounds of cast iron mass and an improved fence system that glides over the tabletop.

Once you get over the shock of a granite-topped table saw, you’re probably thinking it’s going to be expensive. Nope. The base-model table saw with a granite top will come with 30″-long rails and a 1-3/4hp motor for $1,049 after a rebate is applied. (You also can get the saw with a cast-iron top for $999 after rebate, but for $50 the granite is the hot ticket.)

Steel City plans to release the granite-topped table saw in November or December, according to company officials.

The underside of the granite-topped 14″ band saw.

In addition to adding the granite to the top of the hybrid table saw, Steel City is also putting the granite top on its new 14″ band saw (other band saws from Steel City will follow suit), and a 6″ jointer and 8″ jointer.

But the granite on the jointers won’t be on the tops of the machines. It’s going to be the fence. I personally don’t think I’ve ever used or owned a jointer that had fence that was free from twist or bow. We put a straightedge all over the fence on the 8″ granite-fenced jointer and that thing is flatter than any fence I’ve encountered. That granite fence is a huge upgrade for accuracy with jointers. The granite on the band saw and jointer should be available in the late fall, possibly as early as October.

Scott Box places a straightedge on a granite jointer fence.

The Idea for Granite

When senior editors Glen Huey and Robert Lang and I first saw the granite machines we were skeptical of the idea. It seemed like it might be fragile. But then we actually saw it. Now we want one.

So how did the company officials come up with the idea for granite? Scott Box, one of the founders of Steel City Tools, says it all started over a couple beers while the American and Chinese officials of the company were in the city of Quindao, where Steel City has a factory.

The surrounding Shandong province is known for its granite quarries, so the raw materials and skilled labor were right there.

“We’ve always been fighting cast iron,” says Box, who has worked his entire life in the woodworking machinery business. “It warps on its own. When you cut it, it’s like wood. You never know which way it’s going to go.”

When the idea of a granite-topped machine came up, it seemed like a lark. But the more they talked about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. So they picked out some black granite from a nearby mountain (about an hour away from the company’s factory) and started investigating.

The granite can be machined like cast iron on CNC machines, but it doesn’t move when you mill it.

“Cast iron we stress-relieve for six months,” Box says. “These tops have been stress relieved for 150 million years.”   

There are some minor differences in a granite top. You cannot tap it. So there are special stainless steel insets epoxied into the rock. The wing of the table saw weighs about 50 pounds so there is additional bracing below (and a micro-adjust system). And the T-slot for the miter gauge is more like a dovetailed way , with a slightly different design for the bar that keeps the gauge from tipping (though the bar is still a true 3/4″ x 3/8″).

We’re impressed. We think you will be, too. Steel City Tools impressed us last year with its new offerings of tools, and this innovation proves that the company is moving fast.

- Christopher Schwarz

Read all our AWFS coverage at popularwoodworking.com/awfs

6 thoughts on “Exclusive: Steel City Will Rock Your World

  1. Ken Meltsner

    Cool — buy a table saw and get a surface plate (almost — they’re usually flat to 0.0005 or so) for free!

    Should make aficionados of the Scary Sharp system very happy.

  2. Jamie

    I love that SC is "thinking outside the box." The biggest drawback to the granite, for me, would be the inability to use magnetic accessories, specifically magnetic featherboards.

    QUESTION: Does anyone know if the new hybrid saw will have cabinet- or table-mounted trunnions? I’m wanting one in which the blade-to-miter slot alignment is done by tweaking the table, not hammering on the trunnion(s).

  3. Peter

    What I need to know is how much blade height above the table will be lost with a 2" thick top. If that problem is solved to my satisfaction I may be in the market.

    Peter

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