Loose-fitting router lift in cast iron table...ideas?


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Hey folks. I have an Excalibur/General International cast iron router table and a Jess-Em Rout-r-Lift II with a little PC router in it. I originally used the table as an extension wing for my table saw, but I am putting it on its own base for a variety of reasons. This setup has been in storage for a couple years but I still remember one of my greatest frustrations with it and hope one or some of you could give me an idea how to deal with it. 

The excalibur cast iron table's router opening is sized (and has tapped holes) for the same brand's lift, which I do not own, so I cannot take advantage of the table's attachment points. My lift fits in the opening, but the fit is sloppy. The opening is too large for my lift's sliding "snugger buttons" to actually get a grip on the table. When this gear was last in use I tried to bulk up the areas in line with those snugger buttons, and the snugger buttons themselves, with tape and shim stock to try to get the lift to stay locked in place. These attempts were mostly unsuccessful, and I had a number of bummer incidents where the lift plate shifted during a heavy cut. 

My current idea is to install the lift and simply caulk it in place with hot melt glue. I am a little concerned that might make a mess of the plate itself. Does anyone have any other ideas?

 

 

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I used melamine edge banding to snug up the fit on mine, but that was with a plywood top. It had the advantage that you could still easily remove the plate, even though I had tightened it up. Not sure I understand exactly the issue on yours without a picture, so I don't know it it would help.

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@VizslaDad, you'll have to confirm it, but I believe the tables and lifts carried by SawStop and Woodworker's Supply are identical to the General model.  I am sure their customer service people could answer the question.  If I'm right it might be worth it to replace the lift.

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Are there tabs under the lift, cast into the table that could be drilled, and tapped for leveling screws?  

Another thing that could help, and be dependable for strength, is plumbers epoxy putty.  You can find it in the plumbing section of box stores.  It comes in a tube.  There are two parts of different colors. It ends up a light gray.  Using Nitrile gloved hands, you roll the two parts together, kneading it until the color is even throughout.  Put some of that down around the four corners of the lift plate, and ease it down to the level that you want.

Wax the lift where it will go against the epoxy putty, and don't wipe the excess off.  That will allow it to release from the epoxy when you want to get it back out.

That epoxy sets fairly quickly, so don't waste time with it.  Babysit it while it kicks, and shave it off with a single edged razor blade when you can without smearing it, but before it kicks hard.  Clean with acetone on paper towel after that, before it kicks, and there will be no finishing left.

If it does have tabs, or a flange that you can tap threaded holes in, that will let you level it good first, and then use the epoxy to take up extra space.  Cast iron threads pretty easily.  Drill the proper sized hole, that's called for by the tap size, and use dark cutting oil, also found in the plumbing aisle.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the late reply folks. And thank you for your input. Here's a stock picture of the table (I don't have the stand or dust box, just the top and fence). Happily the flange/ledge on the inside of the casting does enable me to level the plate. The extra space is around the perimeter of the plate is the problem, so epoxy putty, melamine edgebanding, or shims sound like the way to go. I will definitely check out whether the Woodworkers Supply or SawStop lifts would fit perfectly because that would be nice. Maybe I can make that my christmas present this year. 

One other option I have thought about but might be overdoing it would be to tap some holes on the upright portion of the plate opening (so set screws could be turned against the plate horizontally). I have enough space to get a thin spanner in to turn a bolt. I think the simpler solutions suggested are likely better though!

 

917777157_routertablecopy.jpg.95bc2bb51acfb09ee6cb5fd5f0fd7531.jpg

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Check with Jessem customer service. If they have no help then repurpose the cast iron. Router table work can demand precision that likely won't be there. And then there is the element of unknown dangers. I have a jesses lift and a jesses table. I built the base. I have the big Porter Cable 3.25hp motor. I like my router table!847582E5-1326-438F-B0FE-1E736F23D621_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.d9c029ba09bffdd698368e36801e877c.jpeg

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2 hours ago, curlyoak said:

Check with Jessem customer service. If they have no help then repurpose the cast iron. Router table work can demand precision that likely won't be there. And then there is the element of unknown dangers. I have a jesses lift and a jesses table. I built the base. I have the big Porter Cable 3.25hp motor. I like my router table!

That's a sweet router table!

I'm building a similar one (just one drawer, though, and integrating a Rockler dust box I already have). Now I'm half-tempted to just make a top for it if I can't completely solve the fit issue.

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I have had homemade, low end, and now the Jessem top. Looking back, I wish I bought the Jessem or equivalent to begin with. My speed of set up and accuracy is much better and worth the price of admission.

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I don't know how much slop you have, but I think I would push the plate fully up to two edges and try to fill the gaps from that point.  1st having the plate pushed to the corner you will have to make sure the level tabs are useable.  If not you may have to start with the plate in the center.  Once you know all adjustments are available, now you can determine how much space needs to be filled. I guess you have two routs.....  fill with wood and epoxy or set up for a pour.  The pour may be the best  way because once harden, you can sand to fit.  Take your time making the mold.  I think I would make the mold all from some good duck tape.  It may not be the straightest, but you will need to sand to fix. I would not go out and get special epoxy for this. I think some two part will be fine and I don't this you will need that much. You are not looking a strength, you need filler........... I was just thinking, how about bando.........   this mite be the answer, easy to work with and easy to sand into what you need......  I like that.

I would not glue that plate to the table..... you will be sorry
 

Thomas

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

A couple updates on this one:

1. For posterity, I can confirm that the Woodtek that the Woodtek Router Lift (Woodworker's Supply) is identical to the Excalibur/General International. This is per: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?226552-Excalibur-40-125-Router-Lift-vs-Woodtek-Router-Lift-165-545 where the Product Manager who handles that particular item for Woodworker's Supply explicitly confirms they are the same and made in the same factory.

2. @man of wood I sort of used the method you described (pushed two perpendicular sides of the plate flat against the plate opening). Then I shimmed it with steel shim stock (not ideal corrosion-wise but this is temporary). I also sliced two fingers open on the shim stock. :|

3. Turns out my router lift's plate is nowhere near flat. I did not check this before spending an hour chasing flatness via the leveling screws of course. The lift/plate have had a rough life the last couple years temp and humidity-wise so I am not too surprised. I also dropped the whole assembly onto a concrete floor at one point.

Suffice as to say I will limp along with this suboptimal setup until I can replace my lift. I think from a pure cost standpoint I am going to try one of the Triton 3 1/4 hp routers and drill a Woodtek aluminum plate for it (https://woodworker.com/aluminum-router-plate-6mm-thick-mssu-171-812.asp). I will confirm with Woodworker's Supply that the dimensions on the router plate are identical between the expensive lift and the basic plate. 

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5 minutes ago, VizslaDad said:

1. For posterity, I can confirm that the Woodtek that the Woodtek Router Lift (Woodworker's Supply) is identical to the Excalibur/General International. This is per: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?226552-Excalibur-40-125-Router-Lift-vs-Woodtek-Router-Lift-165-545 where the Product Manager who handles that particular item for Woodworker's Supply explicitly confirms they are the same and made in the same factory.

I have the Excalibur brand of that lift & it is a thoroughly stout bit of kit.

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5 minutes ago, drzaius said:

I have the Excalibur brand of that lift & it is a thoroughly stout bit of kit.

drzaius, do you have an Excalibur table as well or did you mount the lift in a table of your own construction, or another brand? Any issues with the chains getting too gunky?

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4 hours ago, VizslaDad said:

drzaius, do you have an Excalibur table as well or did you mount the lift in a table of your own construction, or another brand? Any issues with the chains getting too gunky?

I made the table myself from 3 layers of 18 mm BB plywood with plastic laminate on both sides. There are leveling screws as per the cast iron table. The cast iron table is well over $400 here. Ironically, just as I finished and installed my DIY table, a local tool store had a sale on all old Excalibur & General Int. stock. The cast iron table was $99. :(

I was concerned about the chains gumming up, but that has not been an issue. Just a trace of dust has collected on the chain and a thicker layer on the threaded posts. But the stuff on the posts just falls off when the table is raised or lowered. I'm sure I'll have to do a good cleaning & grease every year or two. There is a cabinet below the table with a 4" collection duct, which keeps it really clean in there.

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