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In woodworking, finding the best router lift will help you make fine height adjustments above the table.
Many options are out there, so how do you even decide?
Choosing the wrong lift will make your work more challenging and your cuts less precise.
We have compiled a list of some of the best router lifts that match any woodworker’s budget.
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In a Rush?
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
The Best Router Lift with Reviews
Here’s a list of the best router lifts that we found:
1. JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift
Not so Good
As one of the cheapest lifts on the market, this JessEm lift is perfect for those of you who want quality without breaking the bank. It works well for the price, although some people are unhappy with the way the inserts work and would rather just spend the extra money on something higher quality. Anyone can use this lift though since it’s so easy to install and use immediately.
2. Incra Master Lift II Router Lift
- You can make adjustments that are as precise as 0.001 inches in your bit height
- The included lift crank provides quick precision
- Includes five sealed ball bearings on the lift screw and cam lock for smooth operation
- Requires very little strength and effort to operate
- Comes with five steel reducing rings for instant ring changes, all of which are magnetic
Not so Good
Anyone can benefit from a lift as durable, solid, and smooth as this. It’s highly recommended for all users who want their adjustments to be as exact as possible, but it may be a little large for some users to handle. The price is also higher than the average lift, which many people don’t mind considering how well it works. However, this cost makes it a less than desirable lift for those who only do occasional projects.
3. Router Lift FX
Not so Good
Those of you who work on the occasional project will find much use from this lift. It’s easy to make adjustments above the table and comes at a good price. It may not be best for those who do some serious woodworking though since it doesn’t work with certain routers and does not include a locking mechanism to keep your work stable. It’s fine for average projects but beyond that.
4. Kreg PRS5000 Precision Router Lift
Not so Good
Anyone seeking a router lift that they can use for multiple projects for years to come should consider this lift. It’s very precise but isn’t as expensive compared to other lifts out there, which is why everyone from professionals to novices like using this lift. Do keep in mind that it doesn’t work well for certain projects and may require slight shaving of the plate, but it’s so durable that anyone can use it efficiently.
5. JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift
Not so Good
This router lift is great for pretty much anyone, but it’s recommended to be used by people who intend to partake in more serious woodworking. We say this because the price is a little higher than what the casual woodworker usually pays. That said, this router lift is precise and durable, so even if you only dabble in your free time, you’ll love the ease of use and stability this router lift provides.
6. Woodpeckers Precision PRL-V2-420 Router Lift
Not so Good
If you do a good bit of routing, you may want something more heavy-duty than this model. For those of you who are casual woodworkers, you’ll find that this lift is perfect. It’s stable and allows you to make easy adjustments, even if it’s not as durable due to it’s lack of aluminum or steel. Even if it takes time to get used to it, you’ll never have to worry about the precision of this lift.
Router lifts are constructed from very heavy metals – cast iron, brass, stainless steel, machined aluminum – making them extremely durable and able to withstand the high-power motors that operate them. It also helps them last for much longer than others.
Along with top quality materials, here are some of the others features that the best router lifts should come with:
Bearing System Design
Ball bearings allow for smooth adjustment of height. The bearings are typically made of bronze, which is great because they will require less maintenance and provide the smoothest actions.
Some lifts might come with multiple bearing mechanisms, but it’s important to see whether the design is open or sealed as well as what type of material was used. That said, sealed is the best option.
You should be able to lock the lift in place, which allows you to make precise cuts. A good router lift must lock in your settings and adjustments. This will save you the headache of messing with height and depth and get the job done much faster.
There are many different types of locks, such as cam locks, bolt locks, and lever locks. Try to find one with either a cam or bolt lock as these tend to be the most stable.
Compatible with Multiple Manufacturer Models
It’s common for most router lifts to be usable with different models of routers, but not all. Before purchasing, you’ll want to check that the new one is compatible and able to work with the one you already have.
Not only will attempting to use two incompatible routers together result in poor performance, but it can also be very dangerous. Compatible models should be listed on the box, but you can also check with your manufacturer to see if they offer or recommend a specific one. You might also be able to find adapters that you can use with yours.
Built-In Plunge Router
A built-in plunge router allows to take the motor out of the lift and then attach it to a fixed stability lift. Some routers don’t have a removable motor. If you have one that doesn’t, check to make sure the one you’re buying is compatible with a router that doesn’t have a removable motor.
Considerations When Buying
Choosing your router lift can be difficult when there are so many different options out there that look relatively similar. How are you supposed to pick the right one for your project? There are many things you need to consider when you’re making your purchase, all of which will help you choose the router lift that will work for you.
The whole purpose of a router lift is to make fine height adjustments, but this can be done in two ways: with a crank handle and with a thumbwheel.
Pick out the one that will feel more natural for you, and don’t forget to check out how your lift changes the height. If you can, try out a lift in person to get a feel for which type works better under your hands. Ball-bearing technology will be best since it will provide you with a smooth height adjustment and little maintenance.
Speaking of height adjustment, regardless of which type you get, you’ll want to make sure your lift gives you adjustments very gradually. This will help you get the perfect cut every time.
Check out the construction of the lift you’re looking at. It shouldn’t be made from something cheap like plastic, since this will likely break and require you to buy a new one. You’ll want one made with aluminum at the very least. Cast iron is another good option. Steel will be the best quality construction material.
When you buy a router lift, you’ll want to be sure that it will work with your router. They don’t all work as a one-size-fits-all, so check out the product features when you look at your specific lift.
If you try to use a router that’s incompatible, you’ll end up feeling more vibration than usual, which most people find jarring and uncomfortable. This will make using your lift quite awkward.
Plunge vs. Fixed Type
Router lifts work especially well with fixed plunge routers. The motor of the router will not be removable in this case, but it will still be easy to fix the router to the lift and make any necessary adjustments. Those of you who have non-removable motor plunge routers should check that their model fits the router before you make your purchase.
Most of the routers on the market will work with a fixed base router too. These have removable motors instead, which may work better when you’re trying to make your adjustments, depending on your specific project.
As you adjust your router bits, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to lock them in place so that they won’t move around while you’re working. This is why you need a proper locking mechanism.
Check around for bolt or lever locks as they can help with both versatility and accuracy.
Great features on a router lift don’t outweigh being unable to properly lift the tool. If you’re unable to move the lift because it’s too heavy, you’re better off looking for something that you can use with greater ease.
Insert Ring Sizes and Plates
You’ll want a lift that provides you with various sizes of insert ring. These rings will help you change and use different diameter bits, which will help you keep the wood stable while you work. Having a lift that works with multiple types of rings is invaluable.
The insert plate will fit your router into tabletop openings, generally coming in sizes that aren’t standard for fixed for specific openings. Therefore you should check the dimension of your insert plate openings so that you can choose a lift that your insert plate will fit.
You might want to get yourself a powerful router lift, but you may be nervous about spending so much money only to find out you can’t use it for your smaller router.
You don’t need to worry about this problem if there’s an included adapter with your purchase. An adapter allows your lift will be able to work with any purchase.
Check to be sure your lift has the right insert holes too. If you need to buy a new router, these holes will allow you to fit it to the lift without having to drill holes in the insert plates.
The best router lifts can certainly get expensive, but if you use your router daily for any number of demanding tasks, then you’ll want a router lift that meets all of your requirements. The best features will be more than worth it as you handle your work with ease, even if the lift does cost a few extra bucks.
That said, you can still get a great lift for less than you think. For those of you who are only in the workshop occasionally, or just can’t justify spending too much, consider which features you need and if the price of the lift you’ve got in mind is justifiable. You can find a great lift with the features you need without breaking the bank. The right lift will ensure that all your work is much easiers to accomplish without sacrificing quality.
Benefits of a Router Lift
There are many benefits to installing a router lift in your shop. It will give so much more freedom and ease when working with wood and finishing projects.
Here are a few great benefits of using a router lift:
It Allows You to Have Optimal Accuracy
When you’re working on a project, you probably have some very specific plans and measurements that you want to make. A router lift will allow you to have more control over the types and sizes of cuts you make.
Thanks to the bearing system that router lifts have, you’ll also be able to keep things more stable, allowing you to be as accurate as possible. A lot of these models enable you to adjust as small as one-third of an inch, as well as precise fluid adjustments to the height.
Easy to Use and Install
Router lifts are installed above the table, which means you have easy access to making adjustments and don’t have to crawl under anything. They’re also usually made with a tool bench or work table mounting systems.
There’s nothing more valuable than being able to adjust the height and depth of your router bit while working. It allows you to get things done much quicker and much closer to how you originally planned.
Solid, Stable Base Plate
Since the heavy metal base plates of router lifts are sturdy and stable, they cause less vibration while during operation. The less shakiness, the higher the accuracy.
Frequently Asked Questions
A few common questions might come to mind when you’re looking to purchase router lift. There are a lot of factors to consider before making your purchase.
Does a good router lift have to cost a couple hundred dollars?
The quick answer here is that you can find a high-end router lift that costs under $200. However, being high-end doesn’t really mean that it will be worth the price.
If you use your router quite often or if you have a larger motor (3.5 inches or more), you’re best to invest in a higher priced lift. The sheer value of more natural movements and cuts make the price of these lifts worth the cost.
Is the router lift compatible with the router you already have?
Again, it’s so important to be sure that the lift will support your current router. This is especially important if your router has a horsepower of 3 ¼ or more. You should also remember this if you don’t already have a router and will be purchasing one along with your lift.
Can the motor be removed from the base?
Working with a router lift can make it quite difficult to remove the motor. So, if you do a lot of handheld work, a router lift might not be for you. In that case, consider looking into more compact, handheld routers.
Wrapping It Up
There are many benefits to purchasing a router lift and many things to consider. With many different brands and models available, it’s important to do plenty of research and read other customer reviews to get an idea of what might be the best option for you. Keep in mind that if you already have a router, you’ll want to be absolutely certain that it’s compatible with the lift you plan to purchase.
Overall, we recommend the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift due to its excellent build quality, sturdy lock, and great customer service. While it’s chiefly for experienced woodworks, it is a great tool for any workshop.