Router lift is an ingenious addition to the router table that helps in managing all the woodworking tasks with utmost ease. It helps in reaching work equipment to different levels where they are required. The best router lift can give you a vantage viewpoint above the table, lessening your muscle work and strain on the eyes(and much more).
That was so scientific and bookish of me to introduce a router lift. It was for the beginners who are still struggling to find a clear definition, what a router lift is and working mechanism of a router lift. Now, if you are in a hurry, jump to our router lift review section by clicking on our table of content. Otherwise, please continue reading.
My name is Will and I am an independent woodworking contractor with experience of more than a decade. Very early in my practice, I was familiarized with a router lift and its unparallel assistance in my work.
If you are a regular practitioner then perhaps you understand the need of a router lift. However, for the beginners, this guide will be a good place to start collecting relevant tools.
- Is A Router Lift Really Important To Have For The Beginners?
- What is a router lift used for and why you should buy a good router lift?
- Best Router Lift Buying Guide
- The 5 Top-Rated Router Lift Review and Comparison
- 1. Woodpeckers Precision PRL-V2-420 Precision Router Lift | Best Professional Router Lifts
- 2. JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift For 3-1/2″ Diameter Motors | The Best Router Lift
- 3. INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift- Advanced Router Lift Review
- 4. JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift, 9-1/4-Inch by 11-3/4-Inch- Most Compatible Router Lift
- 5. Bosch RA1165 Under-Table Router Base with Above-Table Hex Key | The Most Affordable Router table Lift
- Frequently Asked Questions
Is A Router Lift Really Important To Have For The Beginners?
Being a newcomer, people will recommend to you all kind of things. And yes, there are many tools that you don’t necessarily need to have as a neophyte in the woodworking. But router lift isn’t one of those tools.
This tool is pretty expensive. So, the dilemma is there whether you should buy it or not. Earlier when I started, I used to have an under-mounted plunge on an oversized plastic base. I had to either extract the whole setup to make the depth adjustments or crawl under the table like a reptile.
Trust me, none of the things was fun and both of them required several tries to get exact sized depth. Plus, there was also a constant hassle of changing the bits.
My life changed on purchasing a router lift. With it, I was able to make height adjustments faster and in a simple way by just turning a crank. To be precise, if you do a lot of routing then having a router lift is essential.
So, for all those that are looking for the best router lift, my guide below will sort a lot of things for you.
What is a router lift used for and why you should buy a good router lift?
More or less, every well-working router lift is going to cost you an average of $200. Keep in mind that the best for the money is rarely cheap. This is absolutely undebatable that whether a person who is deep in routing needs a router lift or not aside from the joy of how easy it is to use and getting your combos set up.
I am curating this section to help you understand the need for a router lift and how it will be beneficial for the user. Let’s check out:
- Quick Maneuver: Do you know how much efforts does it take to maneuver the router bits up and down? You might just have to crawl down the table, release the locking mechanism, make the settings that can’t be sure if they are accurate or not. Oh well, I don’t know about anyone else but this is one heck of a deal for me, extremely cumbersome. A router lift frees you from all these troubles as you can enjoy quick maneuver.
- Accuracy: As I said before, you cannot be sure if the adjustment that you have made is accurate or not. For this, you need a device that does not call for a lot of trouble. You need to raise the bit by 1/16th inches then simply make a single turn of the adjustment crank. Same way, when you need to raise the bit by 1/28th inches then turn the adjustment crank a 1/8th The kind of accuracy that you get with the lift is incomparable.
- No More Under Table Acrobatics: You can forget crawling down the table for any kind of bit adjustments. All the tasks can be handled from above the table.
- Firm Base Plate: Honestly, I sometimes get agitated over the insert plates on the router table. They are flimsy. However, the base plates that comes with a router lift are more robust and stable. This helps in limiting the vibration so that we guys can perform the task with more efficiency.
- Standard Mount: Router lifts have standard mounts to bolt the insert plate. You will also find pre-drilled holes in these inserts. If not, then you can also drill them with ease.
Check out this video for the visual explanation of the importance of having a good router lift.
Best Router Lift Buying Guide
Before we go towards what’s my favorite models, I want you to know some important points and tips to find the product that will suit your need.
Most of the router lift systems have table cranks on the side. This way, you can adjust the bit height and also rapidly change the bits. Isn’t it the main purpose of buying the router lift?
These lifts also come with a plate made of high-quality material. I find it better than the one that comes with the router table. If you are concerned about the fitting then don’t be. These plates are compatible with a wide range of motors and are so made that they stick around for the longest time.
There are some key things that you should look in a good router lift system:
1. Durable Construction
These router lifts are excruciatingly expensive. Imagine spending hundreds of dollars on a single tool. Where do you think the total budget is heading?
Well, least you can check is the construction of the lift and how tough and long-lasting it is. You don’t want to make a repeat purchase after a few months, right? Then you better invest in materials such as cast iron or aluminum. If you don’t mind spending some extra bucks then go for steel material. It is less in maintenance and also quite durable.
A non-compatible router lift will only cause more trouble. People who don’t give enough heed to figure out if the lift is compatible or not usually end up with disappointment. In an attempt to use an incompatible lift will cause excessive vibration and awkward usage.
3. Locking Mechanism
If you couldn’t lock the machine then how can you expect accuracy and versatility? With a high-quality locking system, you can expect less play on turning-on the router. There are two types of locking mechanism common in these machines- lever locking system or bolt mechanism.
4. Height Adjustments
This feature is absolutely on the personal choice of the buyer. The router lift has either crank handle or thumbwheel for height adjustment. I personally have a crank handle and I found it really easy to use. But you can select it personally. No need for a recommendation on that one, I guess!
5. Ball Bearing Design
Well, one can ensure smooth height adjustment with the ball bearing design on the router lift. This feature also helps in reducing maintenance needs.
6. Lift Adapters
You cannot be certain that for all your projects, a standard router lift will be the solution. I personally recommend purchasing a lift with multiple adapters and insert holes. This increases versatility.
I guess now you can understand all the key points to keep in mind while purchasing the best router lift.
I know my friends, some of you must be confused about the finest model available in the market when the options are so many. Don’t sweat, I am getting there. Below, I am going to mention the star models in router lifts that I personally found really helpful.
The 5 Top-Rated Router Lift Review and Comparison
I will discuss the most simplistic base that I have created for the people who genuinely wants to know about the product and how these products can be helpful to them.
1. Woodpeckers Precision PRL-V2-420 Precision Router Lift | Best Professional Router Lifts
Honestly, one of my friends got the Woodpeckers PRL-V2-420 and because of its high price, I was a little in disagreement about the purchase. But once after getting to know about it, this came out like a machine that every professional must have.
Things I Liked
So, the first thing that I would like to highlight about this product is that it is extremely convenient to use. You have got an amazing thumb wheel micro adjuster that removes the usage of crank for setting the height. Plus, it has got great precision through easy-to-read scale.
For those who greed for the product that is extremely long-living, who doesn’t want such a machine, this product is extremely suitable. It also doubles the capabilities of a basic router plate.
I also quite liked the patented quick lift wrench which helps you to raise the router collect without having to use the micro-adjustment device. The rigidity is ensured with the one-piece motor carriage. Moreover, there are 3 self-leveling twist-lock rings to safeguard the security of the user. The Woodpecker PRL-V2-420 is meant for the professionals.
Things I Did Not Like
While there are so many good things that I can say about this little machine. However, I still found that the coarse adjustments require practice. Plus, fine adjustments also need multiple attempts. But honestly, this is not a holdback of any kind. You quickly get used to the product.
Bosch 1617 – 1618, Craftsman 17542, 17540 – 28190, DeWalt 618, Porter Cable 7518, Porter Cable 690, 890, 1617 and 1618, Milwaukee 5625-20, Portamate Router
The manual for the PRL-V2-420 Router Lift can be found here.
2. JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift For 3-1/2″ Diameter Motors | The Best Router Lift
My love for the router lifts took me to this model from JessEm. What can I say about the brand? It is just amazing. All the products are modeled to last and provide utmost help to the users.
Things I Liked
My interest was first caught by the price of the machine. It’s below the radar of $200 and a highly suitable product for the beginners.
It’s like a younger sibling of the big router lifts available in the market. But at such a cost, all the features that you are getting are something extremely commendable. The parts and quality are however same to that of those highly-expensive machines.
There are various pre-drilled holes crafted on the insert-plate to be used with a variety of routers. The locking system mechanism is also extremely candid.
The lift gives smooth and easy operation of height adjustment by simply cranking the handle. With an offset wrench, you can easily change the bits from above the table.
What We Did Not Like
This machine makes a perfect product for the hobbyists and beginners. However, its lack of compatibility with a variety of motors is definitely a push back.
Porter Cable 690 series and 890 series, Bosch 1617 and 1618, DeWalt DW610, DW616 and DW618, Craftsman 17543, 17540 and 28190, and any 3.5” diameter motor
The manual for the JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift can be found here.
3. INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift- Advanced Router Lift Review
Yes, the price is high but it is worth every penny spent.
Things I Liked
When I first came across this model, many people told me that it is an entry-level router lift. Although, I was astonished by the kind of craft that is given to the machine and features are extremely useful to the professionals.
The versatility and accuracy are unparallel and everything can be performed from above the table, even changing the router bits. The fancy part is that there is a 5 sealed ball bearing system which gives you amazing control.
I can go on and on with the praises. There is the cam lock that secures the table in place as you turn the cam lock to the right. Additionally, there are 5 steel reducing rings to ensure the finest fit which will ensure less vibration. Oh, I can’t tell you how amazing this is.
The height can be adjusted using a thread tensioning system through smooth movements. Anyone from the beginner to a professional will love to have this machine in their workshop.
Things I Did Not Like
As per my opinion, there are no technical flaws in this model. However, to an average user, the high cost could be a little troubling.
Porter Cable 7518, 690-699 series and 890-899 series, Bosch 1617EVS and 1618, DeWalt DW610 and DW618, Milwaukee 5625, 5615, 5616 and 5619, Craftsman 17543, 17540 and 28190, Rigid R29302, Makita RF1101 and RD1101, Hitachi M12VC and KM12VC. The INCRA Mast-R Lift II Router Lift Manual can be found here.
Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars
4. JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift, 9-1/4-Inch by 11-3/4-Inch- Most Compatible Router Lift
JessEm never disappoints its customers. This machine is also one of the most incredible pieces of work and surely a contender in the race of best router lifts.
Things I Liked
As you make a high-price choice, you want everything to be just right with the machine. Well, this product nails everything just right.
I will start with the superior cam locking mechanism that not just locks the router lift but also secure it in place only through a twist of the wrench. There is a double seal bearing that gives many conveniences in height adjustment.
The lift comes sealed so you don’t have to worry about the debris and the dust. This also encourages its life. The bit change system is compatible with standard bit sizes from most of the industry’s models.
One thing that I liked a lot here is the material used in the making is anodized aluminum, unlike others in my recommendation list. I give it full marks for being so super splendid.
Things I Did Not Like
Again, with this machine, I couldn’t find any flaw other than some people find it overpriced. This is especially the case with the beginners or professionals on a budget. And of course, as much as I am happy with the material, some people have their personal favorite- steel. If you are one of those people then pick some other product.
Porter Cable 7518, 690-699 series and 890-899 series, Bosch 1617EVS and 1618, DeWalt DW610 and DW618, Milwaukee 5625, 5615, 5616 and 5619, Craftsman 17543, 17540 and 28190, Rigid R29302, Makita RF1101 and RD1101, Hitachi M12VC and KM12VC
For operating instruction and compatible part, read more on the Mast-R-Lift II manual.
5. Bosch RA1165 Under-Table Router Base with Above-Table Hex Key | The Most Affordable Router table Lift
You must be thinking why I mentioned this model on the list. Guys, sometimes the simplistic things are better than complex counterparts. I just wanted to provide my readers with all kind of options that are available in the market.
Things I Liked
The mechanism of this machine is quite simple. It justifies the cool cost of the product and I just find it really fascinating aspect. It has its fair share of pros and cons but can work well for a beginner or for someone who just has fun routing.
The design is compatible with most of the router tables. There is a large bit hole probably 3-3/4” in measurement that has the tendency to accommodate all kind of fixed router bits.
You will find mounting and unmounting the router base pretty straightforward. The depth adjustments can also be made from above the table with the help of leveling wrench. Oh, you need to have your own leveling wrench.
The fit is quite extraordinary. However, there are few drills with the machine but you can still find it pretty useful and durable. It is good for the woodworkers that use a single motor router for small projects.
Things We Did Not Like
Firstly, it is an extremely simple machine. You won’t find any fancy features here. Next is the minimal compatibility concerns. You should be careful while buying this product and check for the compatibility first. Nevertheless, it is still the best value router lift on the market.
Bosch 1617, 1617EVS, 1617EVSPK, 1618, 1618EVS
Amazon Rating: great
Frequently Asked Questions
Now, I often come across some questions that beginners and even professionals sometimes ask about the router table lifts. I have tried to solve all the questions above. Some more that I think must be told are listed below:
Is the router table that you have compatible with the router lift?
There are two universal plate sizes. The dimensions are 8-1/4” x 11-3/4” and 9-1/4” x 11-3/4”. Be sure while making a purchase and select as per the need of your table.
Will your router be compatible with your router lift?
Before making a purchase of the lift, make sure that the router you have could support it. This is critical if you have a router which is 3-1/4 horsepower model or more. For those who do not have a router should keep this in mind while purchasing one.
Readers, to my best knowledge and experience, I have listed some of the top models in the router lift review section. These models are well deserved as they possess the qualities of durability, robustness, versatility, compatibility, and so much more.
Now that we have all kind of models for choosing the best router lift on the market. If you are on a budget and want something semi-dynamic in nature then choose JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift. This could be used by the professionals as well but only if their needs are less. If you are on the lookout for a wood router, find more about plunge router and trim router on our wood router section.
Identically, there are various other models that are tested by the professionals and have passed their stringent tests with flying colors. I hope that my guide will help you in making the right purchase. For more woodworking updates, stay tuned with me. Check out this video for what to look for when buying a router lift. FAQ when using router lift from Popularwoodworking.
Sources: Rockler, PopularMechanic, thefamilyhandyman.