Router Table, Do I need a lift?


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Hi folks,

 

I received a bunch of Rockler gift cards this Christmas, mostly because I was looking for a router table.  I was just going to get a basic table, however, If I buy the whole package, I can save about one hundred bucks.  Buying the table, stand, fence and lift all in one.  How important is a lift? would the one I am looking at be satisfactory?  If I don't get a lift, will I regret it and want one later. BTW, this is my first router table other than the 1970 aluminum, not flat, craftsman I had borrowed from a neighbor.  This is what I was considering.  

 

http://www.rockler.com/rockler-high-pressure-laminate-router-table-fence-stand-and-fx-router-lift

 

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Thanks,

Aaron

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I have been dabbling in the wood for years, mostly fulfilling needs rather than enjoyment. I have never had a lift, I would like to have one and I have been researching my options. I currently have 3 craftsman routers (ranging in age from 6 months to 25).  I find them all very adequate. what I did not realize is the last craftsman router I bought is build so it can be adjusted from the top like a lift, it has a counter sunk  allen head that works the height from the bottom so I am thinking about just getting a router plate and recessing it in my work table along with some slots for a rip fence.

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I have the Bosch 1617 that has the adjustment from the top with an allen wrench.  I used it for a few months but it was very tedious and slow.  You still have to reach under the table for major adjustments.  I ended up building the same lift as Steve Ramsey and have been very happy with it.  It is from the Woodsmith plans.  It was very easy and inexpensive to build.  The only thing I wish I would have done differently is the threaded rod.  The plans call for a rod that is 16 threads per inch for the ease of one rotation being 1/16".  I find that all of my router applications vary and the bit height never depends on it needing a perfect 1/16" adjustment.  This type of rod is not available at the home centers so you will need to find a Fastenal or similar hardware retailer which means it costs a bit more.  If I were to build it again, I would use the threaded rod readily available at the home centers which I believe is 10 threads per inch for 3/4" diameter.

 

http://www.woodsmithplans.com/plan/router-jig-router-lift/

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I have the Bosch 1617 that has the adjustment from the top with an allen wrench.  I used it for a few months but it was very tedious and slow.  You still have to reach under the table for major adjustments.  I ended up building the same lift as Steve Ramsey and have been very happy with it.  It is from the Woodsmith plans.  It was very easy and inexpensive to build.  The only thing I wish I would have done differently is the threaded rod.  The plans call for a rod that is 16 threads per inch for the ease of one rotation being 1/16".  I find that all of my router applications vary and the bit height never depends on it needing a perfect 1/16" adjustment.  This type of rod is not available at the home centers so you will need to find a Fastenal or similar hardware retailer which means it costs a bit more.  If I were to build it again, I would use the threaded rod readily available at the home centers which I believe is 10 threads per inch for 3/4" diameter.

 

http://www.woodsmithplans.com/plan/router-jig-router-lift/

 

 

good to know about the slow adjustment. I may just have to spring for the porter cable motor, a good lift and build a table

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I'll toss in another option. My shop-built router table uses a drop-in plate, from which the router hangs. For bit changes and height adjustment, I just pop the whole thing out and lay it on the table. Doesn't get much simpler, or more reliable.

I got the idea from watching these guys on PBS: http://www.routerworkshop.com

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 I'm sure a lift would be the cat's meow, but I don't what I'm missing, so we've managed to find plenty of other places for the money.  Thanks to a full compliment of topside features on my Freud FT1700, I've never felt the need for a lift.  The MW5625 has topside height adjust, but I still need to lock and unlock from underneath, and bought a bent wrench to access the collet from the top.  

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Do you need a lift? No.  However, I do think they are worth the money.  I have a Bosch 1617, which allows for above the table adjustments, and I used that for many years.  For the router table I built last spring, I decided to go with a PRL-V2 lift (the incra version).  The first thing I noticed out of the box is that the lift is far more robust than the router's fixed base.  Next, once I got the lift and router in the table, once I got a feel for how the height adjustment works, I have found I am able to get the bit set to height a bit more quickly than I was before.  Where the lift saves me a LOT of time is with bit changes, since I do not have to pull the router out of the table, and can do it all above the table.  The lift is definitely a luxury, but a good option to add to your table if your budget allows.

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My wife bought me a second hand router and table for a song but it was under table adjustments and after using it that way for a day I bought and retro fitted the router with the Router Raizer. Chalk and cheese.  That table does look nice Aron.

 

John

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I have an older Rockler router table, and their products are solid values for what you pay.  My issue with them now is that they are for mid-sized routers.  I've used a router table with a big Porter Cable router, and my next table will handle a heavier duty router that has no issues handling big bits like panel bits for cabinetry. The best thing about the really haevy-duty router lifts is beig able to change bits above the table.  I have to pull my plates up and lay the router on its side to easily get to the collet nuts.

 

And after buying a Festool track saw, I've decided my future routers are going to be Festool.  Their router tables are very expensive but I'm at a point in my life where I'm willing to spend the money to get the very best I can find.  Their routers can use the track saw guide rails, as well as go into their tables, or of course, be used freehand.

 

That said, I still have a really fond attachment to my old 70's-era Craftsman router with trigger handle, and use it for lighter routing -- it only has a 1/4" collet.  And I love my littel Ridgid palm router.  It has a dedicated roundover bit for knocking the edges off a lot of projects I build. 

 

And I will keep my old Rockler table.  I have two plates -- one holds a heavy duty Craftsman, which I use for 1/4" bits (although it does have a 1/2" collet as well).  My second plate carries a Ridgid router (with fixed base, I can remove motor to put in the plunge base that came in the kit) for 1/2" bits, and I bored a hole in the plate to use the included wrench to raise and lower the bit from above the table. (It is like the Porter-Cable lifting mechanism, but not in same location, so I had to bore my own hole rather than use the P-C plate.)

 

Four routers here, and I want at least 2 more!

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I don't think you "need" a lift, but they're nice to have.

 

I used a Bosch 1617EVS in a table for 12 years, and I had to open the front doors, bend down, and adjust bit height from inside.  It's not that big of a deal...  However, many lifts are also more substantial mounts than typical upside down router bases, so they absorb more vibration and provide a better surface, as well as convenience.

 

If cash is tight, don't sweat the lack of a lift.   You can always add one later.  If you can swing it, a lift is helpful.

 

BTW... Even with a lift, I still have to reach inside to adjust the motor speed.

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