Router lifts are an up and coming commodity in the woodworking industry. Some people treat as a luxury to have because it’s not necessary. However, these router lifts are great additions to your woodworking equipment if you want to lessen the stress when working.
Thus, having best router lift will be a significant investment. It’ll help position the router at better angles to make it more convenient and efficient. The first step to this, however, is to know everything about these router lifts. Stay tuned to find out more!
Last update on 2019-06-20 at 09:58 PST - Details
Do I Need a Router Lift?
Before we discuss router lifts, it’s important to understand the idea behind a router and a router table first. These two are the essential equipment in your woodworking which the router lift supports. Without the two, there’s no need for a router lift.
Routers are a must-have hand-held machine that operates a bit. This piece is similar to how drill bits work, as it rotates continuously through the help of a device. Router bits have high rpm, which allow them to hollow out a segment of the project.
For example, if you have a sheet of wood that needs hollowing at the center, applying the router bit will help do this process. Now, for a router table, this is where you do your work if it focuses mostly on the router bit.
A router table is just a working table that has a fence for guiding, and a mounting area to place your bit. The router is positioned directly below the center of the table upside down.
Thus, it allows the router bit to protrude from the surface of the table. It will allow you to work on large pieces of wood with a lot of stability and precision. After all, having the router mounted on a table eliminates the need to control the router with your hand.
Using any machine with a hand can always lead to a lot of errors.
The purpose of the router lift
With a router and a table-top, everything is for all kinds of wood hollowing projects. While that may be true, it does not necessarily mean that there’s no room for improvement.
Sure, having stability and precision are the two most important necessities when using a router. However, there is still a matter of convenience and labor. In today’s highly innovated world, all of us would want to spare more time and spend less energy when doing work. It is why we rely on machines and tools like the router lift.
Although not mandatory, it’s great to have a router lift because it glues the router bit and table together by eliminating the problem of inconvenient adjusting and changing. Forstarters, if you’re a professional or a full-time hobbyist, changing the router bit while the installation in a table is hard.
Moreover, a lot of projects require different height adjustments and kinds of a bit. To change the bit and to adjust the height, you’d need to remove the router from the bottomof the table. It might sound petty, but if you put yourself in the shoes of a person who works for hours with a router, it’s a lot of wasted time and effort.
With a router lift, you’ll be able to adjust the router until it pokes out from the table. Thus, height adjustments and bit replacements will be one crank away on your router lift.More importantly, doing changes and adjustments are all done above the table surface.
With this tool, you’ll be able to work on the router directly without crouching or twisting your body. Furthermore, you’ll also don’t have to go through the trouble of uninstallingit or changing bits from the bottom.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Now that we understand the convenience that a router lift brings, it’s important to know the factors that affect a router lift’s performance. It might sound like a tool that just goesup and down, but there is a lot of differences between the leading brands.
As with all tools, it’s important for you to buy an extremely durable and robust item. It applies with router lifts as well. Remember, any equipment in woodworking is bound to get a beating because of the nature of the work.
Great products usually have materials that come from aluminum and cast iron, so consider finding these materials. Moreover, check its components and overall encasing of the router lift. Check to see if there are any faulty parts, most especially in itsmounting area.
A router that does not fit with your router lift is just junk. Hence, always remember the dimensions of your router so you can correctly estimate the size of the router lift that you’re buying.
Besides the fitting, make sure it conveniently accommodates the router with ease. A lot of companies have gimmicks nowadays with their routers, so consider listening to what they offer. Furthermore, be sure that the router table will complement the router lift without any trouble.
Mechanism and Convenience
Not all router lifts are the same. A lot of companies tend to separate their brand by innovating the mechanism of their router lifts, aiming for a more convenient way to raise and adjust the router.
A good example is that there are some that have a no-crank router lift, which even enhances the already convenient feature of a router lift. Remember, router lifts are traditionally cranked to lift up the bit until it protrudes from the surface of the table.
However, some allow you to set up the router lift by just raising the router table and adjusting it from there. Others also have features that do not require you to change the fence and disengage the cam-lock.
Some router lifts will need you to remove certain parts of the router table. Try to find products that do not require these as it will lessen the labor that you’re going to do.Again, these lifts can be pricey, so better choose the one that has the least work!
The Top 5 Picks
JessEm has been one of the leading brands in the router lift industry. It’s known for its durable yet efficient router lifts, which come from a top-notch material. You’ll enjoy JessEm’s solid construction which features an aluminum body.
Besides aluminum, this router lift also boasts a solid phenolic plate and a steel lift mechanism. Even if the JessEm takes a beating from long hours of use, it’ll still function like a newly-bought tool.
- Light duty lift
- It only weighs at 8.8 pounds, so it’s incredibly light, which allows the installation to be quicker and easier despite its light frame.
- It functions as a heavy duty router lift thanks to its solid construction
- Convenient design
- The insert rings lock while there is no sagging when it comes to the phenolic plate
- Two separate knobs make for easy lifting and closing, incredibly easy to use.
- Easy to install
- It’s one of the best router lifts when it comes to installment. It doesn’t have complicated
- Instructions that let you do a lot of work beneath the table
- It only comes with one insert ring which may be a bit priceycompared to others
- Not the most versatile
- This router lift does not work well with other router tables other than what JessEm sells.
- Thus, be sure to consider this before buying, especially if you have a router table already.
Incra is another well-respected manufacturer of router lifts, with the Incra Master Lift series being one of its best product lines. The Master Lift II-R proves Incra’s innovation yet again, boasting the exclusive MagnaLock system of Incra.
The MagnaLock system reduces the rings of your router lift, which then allows you to make quicker and immediate ring changes. The reducing rings that you’ll get are also worth the price, as it comes with five reducing rings when you buy the product.
- Comes with an efficient ball-bearing mechanism
- The ball-bearing mechanism is an excellent way to lessen friction and help prolong the shelf life of this router lift
- Helps the router lift to have a super smooth operation that requires the slightest of efforts.
- Unique MagnaLock feature
- The MagnaLock feature comes with a set of reducing rings for a faster and easier insert ring removal
- Has a 16TPI lift screw mechanism which makes the equipment very responsive to operation
- The lift increment dial is not in metric, which might be a problem for you if you’re used to measurements in the metric scale.
- It’s not the most versatile when it comes to installation, be sure to carefully check its fitting with a router table before buying it.
This part specifically prevents any back driving that comes from vibration when therouter bit is working. With this, you can avoid the excessive adjustment, whichis a common problem when using lifts. Overall, you’ll get a highly efficientand fast-acting router with the ProLift.
This nut specifically prevents any back driving that comes from vibration when the router bit is working. With this, you should avert this excessive adjustment, which is a common problem when using lifts. Overall, you’ll get a highly efficient and fast-acting router with the ProLift.
- Has twin ball bearings that make the lift extremely sturdy
- These bearings receive the weight of the lift and support it without much trouble
- Has a flat, cast-iron plate that lets you do precise hollowing with ultra-specific measurements
- Its direct drive lead screw prevents immediate accumulation of dirt or grease.
- It’s a big bonus because its self-cleaning feature lessens the maintenance required for the router lift
- The instructions about using adapters are quite vague, considering asking Bench Dog Tools customer service if you’re confused.
- The product only caters to Bench Dog Tools router tables, and the tables itself can have leveling issues with the router lift
JessEm makes a second return to our list, which is enough proof that this router lift brand is well-known in the market. Similar to the first product, JessEm boasts lightweight features in their products, while also showcasing its durability.
The double-sealed bearing construction of this router lift is one of the main foundations of its strength. Moreover, its hard anodized body with high-quality aluminum allows it to last in your workshop for a long time.
- It has an exclusive cam-locking system which provides maximum efficiency and ease in operating
- The router lift works well with the most basic and even complicated routers sold in the market; you won’t get much compatibility issues
- Innovative mechanism
- JessEm applies tension to the threaded needle to prevent any backlash upon using
- This feature helps remove vibration which causes a lot of adjustment when the router bit is rotating
- The surface has leveling issues Instructions in the box might be confusing when installing
Rockler’s Router Lift FX is a cheap and easy-to-use router lift. It’s a great tool for beginners and for those who don’t want to shed a lot of money.
Although it’s not as advanced as the other leading brands like the JessEm, it has the fundamentals of a router lift which makes it practical for weekend warriors.
- Great, sag-free support
- The high plate substantially supports the router lift thanks in large part to its construction
- Accepts larger panel bits
- You can use a lot of routers and router tables with this lift, highly versatile.
- Doesn’t give you a lot of advanced features
- It’s not fit for those who are looking for long-term investments because of its limited capacity
Wrapping it Up
A router lift shouldn’t be an extravagance. It’s a great tool that solves a lot of problems, in particular for professionals who spend hours working with a router. The best router lift award easily belongs to JessEm’s Rout-R-Lift II when you consider all of the factors included.
JessEm has been one if not the best leading brand for a reason. With this product, you can enjoy an extremely durable yet efficient and lightweight router lift. It’s also easy to operate, so you’ll get the most out of this router lift with minimal effort.
With this new list, you’ll have an easier time deciding on which is the best for you. Just remember, always consider the price, durability, and efficiency when choosing your router lift! Goodluck!
Thomas is a Pro himself, who has been in the business of home renovation & construction, working with various tools. He used to be the owner of 2 local construction companies with over 18 years experience. His works also include writing inspiring Do IT Yourself Tips & Tricks.