Is A Router Lift Worth it?

Is a router lift worth the money? I think it is for the simple fact that is saves a lot of time when changing out router bits. It also makes height adjustments easier, faster and more accurate. They’re easy to use and easy to maintain. Read on to find out what else you can do with a router lift.

Why Does Anyone Buy A Router Lift?

What can you do with a router lift? Router lifts are a nice addition to a router table especially if you use it a lot. Some of the benefits to having one is you can easily change out router bits by raising the router bit from above the table.

The raising and lowering of the bit can be done with the use of a crank that you insert through the router plate to engage the lift. By turning the crank you’re raising and lowering the router for easy access to the router bit.

By changing out bits from above, you no longer have to take the router out of the router table to do that. It’s a huge time saving piece of equipment.

Another advantage of having a router lift is you have more control over your depth of cut. By turning the crank you can achieve a more precise depth. One full turn either way will only raise or lower the router one sixteenth of an inch.

What’s even better is the router lift plate has a dial built into it so you visually see how much you’re raising or lowering the router. The dial has measurements of 1/64 of an inch.

What’s also nice about router lifts is you don’t have to reach underneath the router table to lock the router in place once the desired depth is where you want it. The mechanism in the lift is strong enough to hold it at that depth.

Is A Router Lift Needed?

No, you don’t need a router lift for your table. It’s more of a convenience than anything. Most routers come with a fine adjustment knob on the router itself to raise and lower the bit. 

However they don’t give you that control to finely adjust the height. This might be ok if you don’t need to have that kind of control. However you can’t beat the ease of use of a router lift.

There is another option if you don’t think that a router lift is right for you. Some brands of routers come with a crank so that you can access the raising and lowering mechanism of the router from above just like a router lift.

This is a nice compromise, however you’ll still have to reach under the router table to lock the router in place once you have the height set. This could be a viable option if you’re just starting out in routing.

What Can You Do With A Router Lift?

Router lifts aren’t just made to be installed in router tables. You can install them in other things. Your workbench is a good place to put one if it’s of good size. 

This is a nice space saver for your workshop if you’re limited on space. Plus it saves you the money of either building your own router table or buying one.

Another table to install a lift is on your table saw. Again the table itself has to have enough room where the lift won’t interfere with the saw itself.

Router Lifts: Are They Hard to Mount?

Router lifts aren’t hard to install especially if you bought a router table instead of building your own. One thing to keep in mind is that if you did buy one, you need to buy the router lift from the same place that you got the router table from. 

Also make sure that the router lift is compatible with the handheld router you have. Most router lifts come with a universal attachment system for a decent range of routers across multiple brands. 

The install will be much easier because the faceplate of the router lift should be the exact measurements of the faceplate that came with the router table.

When you buy accessories from different places you tend to run into problems. Mounting holes don’t match up or the plate won’t fit in the recessed part of the router table.

Now if you’re putting the router lift in a router table that you made, then the process is a little more difficult and time consuming. But it’s doable, you just have to think things through a little bit. Watch the video below to see how this guy did his.

Router Lift Install

Are Router Lifts Expensive?

Unfortunately router lifts do cost a lot. The cheapest ones you’ll find are just a little over two hundred dollars. The higher end ones come in at around four hundred fifty dollars.

As usual some of the things that drive these prices are the brand name and the size of the router lift.

By size I mean the diameter of the motor of the hand held router you have or one you’re going to buy. If your handheld router motor is bigger than 3.5 inches in diameter, it’s going to cost more.

The design of router lifts also drives up the price. Most are made from either aluminum which isn’t a cheap material or anodized aluminum which costs a little more.

What Should You Look for in A Router Lift?

  1. Router lifts should be made of good quality material made from either aluminum or cast iron. Anything else steer clear of.
  1. Make sure that it fits the router that you have or one that you intend to buy.
  1. Make sure that the lift you buy will fit the router table that you have. 
  1. Do some research on the brand to make sure that the product is of good quality. The best thing to do is read up on the reviews by others who own the router lift that you’re interested in.
  1. The one that you want should be easy to use and accurate when changing between different heights.
  1. The base plate should be solid so that it cuts down on vibration. This will make sure that the cuts are smooth and you don’t have any chips taken out of the wood.
  1. The motion of the ball bearing system that raises and lowers the router should be smooth and easily turned with the height adjustment crank. The maintenance of the bearing system should be very minimal if any.
  1. Leveling is important for a router lift to work properly. Before buying make sure that it comes with all the necessary accessories to level it out properly.

Router Lift Maintenance

Like any tool, there’s a certain amount of maintenance that needs to be done. Luckily it’s not that bad and all that’s required is pulling the router out of the lift and cleaning the sawdust out of it. 

You can do this by wiping it down with cloth or vacuuming it out. What’s even better is if you have one is an air tank with a hose and an air nozzle. You can use this to blow out the whole router lift.

It’s important to make sure that the height adjustment screws are kept free from sawdust. If they’re packed with it, this can hinder the up and down movement of the router.

References

How to install a router lift.