Router Lift Suggestion


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I have the ability now to dedicate a router to my router table and buy a lift. I used to pull he router in and out often to use it handheld so i kept with using the fixed base mounted to the table. I'm looking for suggestions for a good router lift. Right now I'm checking out the rockler lift, mostly because i can go buy it today in person and I like Rockler. Does any one have any experience or recommendations?

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I have had an Incra Master lift for about 5 years and have been real happy with it.  It is made by JessEm.  I think it is sold at Rockler also, maybe you can see them side by side.

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I have the woodpecker prl 2 and the Jessem lift which is built in to the table. I like the Jessem better because it has a side handle and makes height changes much easier. 

If I were to buy new today I would go with the newer Incra mast-r-lift with the magna lock inserts.  The slots on the inserts allow for better dc and are tool less to change.  Incra also makes the same lift for woodpecker and Jessem. 

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I have an older Rockler lift @Chestnut and for the most part I like it, my version has no lock for the height, I’ve had it slip a couple of times in the last 6 years, it gets loose and can be tightened, just something I have to keep my eye on, the hex height adjustment is in the top of the table and always gets filled with chips-dust and has to be cleaned out to get the wrench in. Plastic inserts are ok and have not been a problem for me, I haven’t checked out the newer models but I know I’ll never be without a lift again

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Chestnut, don't know if you're aware, but the Rockler lift is a different size than normal. It's width is an inch shorter (8 1/4 x 11 3/4 vs 9 1/4 x 11 3/4) . I have a Rockler table and looked at both the Rockler Pro and Incra Master Lift side-by-side. I chose the Incra over the Rockler because of the lock. The fast raise option wasn't as appealing.

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9 hours ago, fcschoenthal said:

Chestnut, don't know if you're aware, but the Rockler lift is a different size than normal

I noticed, I'm going to template route it into my homemade table, so that shouldn't matter.

The fact that the rockler lifts don't have a lock gives me pause but at the same time there aren't a ton of 1 star reviews regarding it not holding settings. It could easily have some sort of internal cam action that only allows the lift to move with the wrench.

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Back in 2014 FWW did a review of lifts.  Of the 8 or so they evaluated the one from General was the top rated.  Then General went out of business.  SawStop now makes a lift that appears identical, so I'd be sure to at least take a look at their lift before buying. 

I purchased the Incra from Rockler and have it in a cast iron Rockler table.  I don't have that much occasion to use it, but it works fine, goes up and down.  Good or bad, I never remember to use the height lock.  

The problem I do have is trying to get the lift and table to be coplanar.  No matter how much I adjust the 12 screws it seems there is always a tiny step off on some corner or edge.  

I have no idea if this my fault, due to the cast iron table, or the lift plate, or maybe the plate distorts under the weight of the router.  But since I'm usually running a sled on the router table it's annoying.  If I ever buy a lift again first thing I'd check is that the plate is flat.  And frankly I might not go with a cast iron table in the next life.

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I seriously considered  the Sawstop lift.  What concerned  me was the chain driven  mechanism.  Not the function of it but the constant cleaning it would need.  I honestly don't know if this would be a problem, but I use my router table a lot, and the thought of having to constantly clean it sent me to the Jessem.  

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I think I've narrowed it down to the Rockler SL lift and the JessEm Rout-R-Lift. The biggst bit i run is a 1" slot cutter so i don't need to be able to mount the 15 amp monsters and the extra stiffness isn't needed.

So it's literally between the locking lift of the JessEm and the easy of lock ring changes (and bit changes because you have to remove the insert right to change bits). I think i'm going to run to rockler after work and ask some questions. Then i'm goign to swing by my car dealer and ask them why my brake pads rusted to the rotors and how to un stick them so i can drive my car.

4 minutes ago, Just Bob said:

I seriously considered  the Sawstop lift.  What concerned  me was the chain driven  mechanism.  Not the function of it but the constant cleaning it would need.  I honestly don't know if this would be a problem, but I use my router table a lot, and the thought of having to constantly clean it sent me to the Jessem.  

I have been considering that one as well. It is more expensive than I think i was willing to spend especially as i don't use my router table that long.

It also concerns me cause I'm afraid it'll try and make it illegal to use another brands router table... this is a joke on sawstop because they tried to make any saw that wasn't their's Illegal to own.

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@Chestnut this is what holds the height on the Rockler lift, tighten the brass gear/nut to the desired tension to keep the height “locked” lock it with the Allen screw, as I’ve said I have had to tighten mine a couple of times over the years and mine has screws for the inserts but I don’t have to remove it for but changes, I like the idea of no screws on the model you’re looking at, good luck, 9159490B-8AE4-442E-BB56-015ACDDD6045.jpeg.67434bfcb8f526d67874cd1bd5fef95f.jpeg

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I just realized how Neanderthal I must be. My router lift is my left hand and the lock is done with my right! After watching a couple of videos, do all lifts require offset wrenches to install and remove the bits or do some lift the collet and shaft above the table. 

With the router and collet in the vertical position, how do you keep the bit from bottoming out while tightening the collet? 

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12 minutes ago, Coop said:

I just realized how Neanderthal I must be. My router lift is my left hand and the lock is done with my right! After watching a couple of videos, do all lifts require offset wrenches to install and remove the bits or do some lift the collet and shaft above the table. 

With the router and collet in the vertical position, how do you keep the bit from bottoming out while tightening the collet? 

I can use the regular flat wrenches on mine Coop the lift raises the collet up just high enough, but offset wrenches would be nice, I hold the bit just off the bottom and tighten the collet by hand till snug then wrench it tight

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Time to get with the plan @Coop and get a lift, I hated going under that table to make adjustments, giant PIA in my opinion, very fine adjustments and bit changes all from the top of the table, no bending down again. I put a PC 690 variable speed router in mine, I don’t often use large bits but when i do it handles it quite well I think, you’ll never regret a lift

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Good info @Chestnut I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with it, you don’t hear much about the Rockler brand of lifts and I don’t know why, mine has performed great and the price is reasonable, nice score, be sure to post some pictures when you get it installed

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Coop, I doo all my bit changes and adjustments from above the table, but that is because my 'lift' is just me lifting the entire plate out of tge recessed hole in the table. Ever see 'The Router Workshop' on PBS?

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11 hours ago, Coop said:

With the router and collet in the vertical position, how do you keep the bit from bottoming out while tightening the collet? 

To answer this again. Yes. It does require a lot of cranking if you have a long bit. The offset wrenches that rockler sells look pretty nice they are defiantly durable and hefty looking. My router bits don't slide by themselves in the collet. Just the normal collet grip is enough to hold the bit where I want it while I tighten. I change bits in the vertical orientation now.

9 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Coop, I doo all my bit changes and adjustments from above the table, but that is because my 'lift' is just me lifting the entire plate out of tge recessed hole in the table. Ever see 'The Router Workshop' on PBS?

You could probably do that with the lift that I bought if you wanted to.  It could be a good idea for the long flush triming router bits to save from 30 seconds of cranking. That 30 seconds feels like a lifetime though.

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I can lift the collet above the table and use flat wrenches to change bits.  Removing the ring is no biggie, it's held in by magnets.   I usually run with a large opening ring, the big gap improves dust control.   But the workpiece needs to span the gap.

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I have the Woodpeckers PRL 2 also. Recognizing up front that it's not for everyone, what I love about it is its ability to make very precise adjustments and hold them. When I say not for everyone, it is slower to adjust and set, requiring a special wrench, but that doesn't bother me much. It's a fair tradeoff for the micro-adjust precision.

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1 hour ago, Mick S said:

I have the Woodpeckers PRL 2 also. Recognizing up front that it's not for everyone, what I love about it is its ability to make very precise adjustments and hold them. When I say not for everyone, it is slower to adjust and set, requiring a special wrench, but that doesn't bother me much. It's a fair tradeoff for the micro-adjust precision.

Mick how do you like the Micro adjust? I have been seriously considering swapping mine for this one in my table redu project

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