If you are into the woodworking industry, then you may already have used the router and router tables even without the lift. These are, after all the most essential parts for any woodworking job. You have probably done a lot without needing the help of a lift but that is not to say that the lift is completely useless. With the lift, the whole process becomes a lot easier. Besides, who would not want to make their tasks even just a little bit easier? Everything else in our technology-filled generation is becoming more and more convenient too anyway.
These router lifts keep the router bit and the table together. Even professionals will have a hard time changing the router bit. Woodworking projects themselves would need different kinds of height adjustments meaning different kinds of bits as well. Changing it once would be quite simple. All you need to do would be to detach the router from the table. However, the repetitiveness of this can get very tiring especially for a regular woodworker.
How to Choose A Router Lift?
Getting router lift for your router table may seem like another simple task to do. However, there are still a few things you may want to check before getting a router lift. Often is the case when people might buy the wrong ones only because of simple mistakes they could have avoided had they checked these 3 following things:
Like any machine or literally anything you buy for your use should definitely be durable to prevent buying another one. Getting a durable router lift has its benefits too especially given the context it is in. Since this is used for most woodworking jobs, it will definitely get a beating. A good of rule of thumb when looking for router lifts is if it is made out of aluminum and or cast iron as most durable router lifts would usually have these. You may do can do a general check on the router lift itself as well. Check every part and see that they are placed together especially the area for mounting.
If you have already tried searching for a router lift, you will know that there is not just one unified lift. There are different kinds made by different companies so you will have to expect that each product has their own features providing their own kind of convenience, especially when adjusting the router. Some routers would not have cranks making it easier, other allows its users to set up the router by just lifting it. There are even some models that do not need you to change its fence. It is safe to say, however, that the more convenience you get, the pricier it will be so better make sure you get one with enough convenience that fits your budget.You may do can do a general check on the router lift itself as well. Check every part and see that they are placed together especially the area for mounting.
Sometimes people can even make the simple mistakes. Not all router lifts will fit all routers, of course. Make sure you remember the size of your router when buying the router lift. These lifts will also have to fit the table. For reference, there are 2 common plate sizes 9 and 1/4 inches by 11 and 3/4 inches, and 8 1/4 inches by 11 3/4 inches.
JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02121 Router Lift
JessEm has continually produced quality router lifts which have caught the eye of many woodworkers and has raised standards to a new high whenever they develop a new tool. This list even features 3 of them with all of them sure to be of great quality. Ironically, just to put it out there already, some of them are ironically not made for table tops from JessEm. Nevertheless, the Mast-R Lift II 02121 is for a plate-sized 8 1/4 inches by 11 3/4 inches. It features a cam locking system which is only available to few and a double-sealed bearing construction. It is made from solid aluminum which is hard anodized and remembering what was mentioned in the above paragraphs, router lifts made of aluminum will have great durability.
This is the most expensive router lift on the list but many of the router lifts available in the market are relatively high-priced anyway. But you will definitely find getting a Mast-R Lift II 02121 to be a great investment. This allows you to adjust the router bit height easily and even perfectly for your needs. The gliding is intentionally made ultra smooth. You can even level it without having the need to buy any extra parts online. If you have any of the common table tops, this could be a great choice since it fits these easily.
The adjusting and leveling of the router bits were made super easy because of the smooth glide it provides. Its cam-locking system makes a big difference when compared to other router lifts.
It can still be too expensive for many people since there may be other options that are cheaper while only sacrificing only minimal quality. Some parts may be missing in the package. Few users suggest that there should have been pulling down screws at every corner.
JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift
This is the second JessEm product on the list and if you judge it by its name, there is not much difference between the 02121 and the 02120. Aside from the 1 number difference in its model, this router lift is made for the 9 and ¼ inches by 11 and 3/4 inches. It’s cam-locking system, the double-sealed construction, and it’s being made of hard anodized solid aluminum remains the same. Although when comparing the two, this one is used more than the 02121 that my only due to compatibility issues.
Unlike the 02121, the product package has every tool needed for the setup. It is extra sturdy so you know that it would not break easily since woodworking materials would generally get a beating. It is also the bit cheaper than the previous JessEm product mentioned while still giving the same quality.
While it is a bit cheaper, there may be other cheaper products that can give almost the same quality. Although the whole thing would not break easily, some parts may seem quite off. Lastly, the customer service for JessEm is not that great so expect this when dealing with the other router lifts listed here as well.
Bench Dog Tools 40-150 ProLift Router Adjustment System
Moving away from JessEm, Bench Dog Tools makes it to the list as one of the best router lifts. When using router lifts in general, the strong vibration can cause back driving. However, with this router lift by Bench Dog Tools, it features a bronze pre-load nut that helps in preventing this from happening. Its direct-drive lead screw would not get blunt or sloppy the longer use as it is self-cleaning. That is definitely better than your usual belts, chains, and gear. Instead of the usual sleeves of other router lifts, this one uses twin ball bearings to support the router’s weight. Plate measures 8-1/4-Inch by 11-3/4-Inch.
If you have the Bench Dog router tables, then this will definitely be must a buy for you. Additionally, if you have the Bosch 1617 or 1618, Dewalt 610, 616 or 618, and Porter Cable 890 or 690, you can purchase the 40-002 ProLift adapter and the 40-003 adapter for the Akita RF 1100 or 1101.
The ProLift 40-150 is powerful enough for large panel cutters. It also features a speed control where you can change the speeds at different variables. The build of the router lift is great and its height can easily stay put once you set it. This fits perfectly if you get the older versions of the Porter Cable 7518. If you get the one from 2015 and later, you can read about them below.
The plastic insert can be a bit of a problem if you decide to get this router lift. This is especially if you pair this with Rockler Porter Cable 7518, as I have mentioned above. Apparently, the company has changed the configuration of this that only plastic inserts can be used. Doing this changed the size of the hole making it hard for the Porter Cable 7518 to fit through it.
INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift
It was mentioned that only 3 JessEm products are listed but INCRA is actually also from JessEm or rather they collaborated so that technically makes 4 of their products in this list. This INCRA router lift features and MagnaLock which is exclusive to its model which reduces the ring system. You can instantly change ring sizes to make the perfect ring fit. Plus, you can also change router bits faster and easier from the top of the table with exact precision at 0.001-inch height adjustments. This works best if you have any of INCRA’s router table. The ball bearing was also made extremely smooth with minimal friction. Plate size is 9-1/4-Inch x 11-3/4-Inch x 3/8-Inch.
Even when using at the most demanding of situations, the lift never goes up or down. One user mentioned that he used it for a total of 24 panels and the left never moved until they were all done. The magnetic rings also make them stay in place. The rings are adjustable as well. You would not have to worry about the insert top warping over time.
If you are going to matching bit sets, you would not be able to change out the bit unless you actually raise the whole lift. And by doing this, the height setting would not be the same as the first time you set it with the first bit. It may also be a bit difficult for some to have to adjust the height from the top since it is difficult to somewhat plunge any application. Lastly, the dial showing the amount of lift cannot actually be zeroed.
JessEm Rout-R-Lift II 02310 Router Lift
Finally, the last entry on this best router lift list, which is, not much to anyone’s surprise, another JessEm product. But what will definitely catch your eye here is the price; it is nearly half of everything else on this list and is a lot cheaper than most other router lifts especially for its quality. If you use any of the following, then you will want to get this router lift: Porter Cable 690 or 890, Bosch 1617 or 1618, Dewalt 610, 618, 616, or Craftsman 1754, 17540, or 28190. This router lift is a more portable one since it only weighs 8.9 pounds. Even for long-term use when router bits start wearing out and lots of wood has gone through, the quality remains the same. The lifting is smooth as well that you would not need any sort of lubrication.
The fact that it is the cheapest on the list and the cheapest for a JessEm product is already a big plus. It was advertised that this router lift is made to be light but even if it is only 8.9 pounds, that does not mean that its construction is any less solid. As a JessEm product, it is made of solid phenolic plate and aluminum and steel. Most of the satisfied customers have used this same product for nearly years now and agree that the quality has not deteriorated. This definitely gives you your money’s worth.
Although the product itself is the cheapest in the market, the company’s inserts are more expensive than most other brands’ inserts. Often is the case when it is even hard to find. When you do find one, not all inserts work as well as others. It can give you a certain paranoid feeling not knowing whether it is locked or not seeing that difference between it being actually locked and it flying away is only a small fraction of an inch.