Are you in a rush and just want to know which router lift is the best? We think that JessEm Rout-R-Lift II is the best one.
Convenience. It is the word that I use to describe my favorite accessories for hand or power tools.
As you progress in woodworking, you start to appreciate products that save time and make tasks easier. I learned to look for these qualities in the equipment I buy, and one such accessory is a router lift. Let’s take a closer look to see what makes the best router lift and review some products that you may want to add to your tool arsenal!
Top-Rated Router Lifts Compared:
What Is A Router Lift And Is It Worth Buying?
A good routing table allows you to perform a variety of jobs, including cuts that would normally be difficult or impossible to make when using your router by hand. The router lift aids with adjusting the router.
A router lift is a mounting plate for a routing table that attaches the router with an adjustable carriage.
One advantage of this type of system is that adjustments can be made from the top of the table, allowing a user to avoid having to reach under the table to alter the bit height. Another feature that users enjoy is that the adjust mechanism itself allows you to make very fine alterations that would take a long time from under the table. A router lift also allows you to change bits without having to detach the router from the table, making change-outs easy and fast.
If you rarely use a router it might seem like such an accessory is not necessary. If, on the other hand, you use your router often this type of mounting plate is worth every dollar you spend on it.
The advantages of having a router lift on your table
If you make lots of repetitive passes on your router table, the time saved can mean the difference between a weekend project vs something that will take multiple sessions. This allows you to concentrate on other steps of the build instead of being distracted by long sessions of moving and then testing your router bit heights. You can limit your workflow interruptions with quick bit changes without having to disconnect, change out, and then re-install your router every time you need to cut a different profile.
Let’s face it, most of us have limited time in our shop, to begin with. A big advantage of saving time is that I find myself more motivated to work. Nothing saps your desire as quickly as time-consuming tasks that need to be repeated often.
Things to consider when shopping for a router lift
Router lift compatibility
A new router lift will do you little good if your router does not fit it. Make sure that the lift you are looking to buy will fit the router that you have. If you have an older router, you should consider a lift model that accepts a large number of routers to better cover your needs.
If you plan on upgrading your router in the near future, keep this in mind when buying a router lift and try to purchase a product that will fit your new router as well.
Another thing to look for is how the router lift will fit on your current router table. Some products are not compatible with each other or they may require a conversion kit. If you were thinking about upgrading your current setup, it would be a perfect time to purchase a lift plate that fits both your new router as well as your new table.
One of the main advantages of using a router lift is the ability to make fine adjustments. A quality router lift will include components and controls that promote smooth micro-adjustments.
Quality build materials provide a stable plate that reduces vibrations, as well as negating movement during adjustments. Ball-bearing systems are a great way to transfer small adjustments from the crank to the plate.
Adjustments on most models should allow you to alter bit height by thousands of an inch. This micro-adjustment may be overkill for a beginner, but it will allow you to produce professional results from the start.
Height and locking mechanisms
Manufacturers use bolts, cranks, levers, and wheels for these types of controls. You may find one style more comfortable than another, but it should be noted that this is of personal taste.
With height adjustments, make sure that the control allows for small changes with minimal effort. The easier micro-adjustments are made, the more time you will save and the less frustrated you will become.
Locking mechanisms should provide secure placement with no give once the control is activated.
If you use your router enough to justify a router lift, you will want to make sure that the lift you choose is built well. Avoid plastics if possible and go for at least an aluminum housing. Cast iron and steel plates provide the best durability, and they also transfer less vibration as you work.
Five Best Router Lifts: The Reviews
JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift #02310
- 8.8 pounds Product
- Dimensions: 9.25 x 11.75 x 10.1 inches
- THIS MODEL IS DESIGNED FOR USE WITH PC 690/890, BOSCH 1617/1618, DEWALT 610/618/616, CRAFTSMAN 1754/17540/28190
The design and price point of this product make it more in line for first-time users when compared to the JessEm Mast reviewed below. Its smaller size will accommodate most 3.5-inch diameter motors, a router size many users will have.
- This product is lightweight, coming in under nine pounds. This is great for those who need to break down their router table when it is not in use. A necessary feature for shops with limited space.
- It is fairly easy to install, and it comes with many pre-drilled holes in the plate for a large selection of routers. These holes will not affect the strength of the plate, however, as it should be adequate for most routine work.
- Leveling and machine screws are included in the kit to expedite the installation process.
- It comes at a price point that is friendly for budget-conscious users. That does not mean that it lacks features that most beginning or intermediate woodworkers are looking for though.
- It lacks a ball bearing system. This makes adjustments less smooth, placing this router lift in the mechanical lift category.
- A friendlier price point also means that the locking system on this model is fairly basic. The controls consist of a one-way lock placed at the top of the lift.
Kreg PRS5000 Precision Router Lift
- Allows precise above-the-table setup changes for table-mounted routers
- Above-table collet access allows fast, easy, above-table bit changes
- 3⁄8" x 9 1⁄4" x 11 3⁄4" (9.5 mm x 235mm x 298mm) Hard-anodized aluminum plate won’t Sag, resists scratches
Kreg’s entry on this list represents a nice middle-of-the-pack offering. You will be able to achieve a smoother lift and adjustment compared to the previous entry. At the same time, this model has a mid-range price point without overkill on controls.
- You can use the crank for making larger height adjustments on the bit, and the micro-adjustment for fine-tuning the desired height. This allows you to move the bit a little or a lot, depending upon your needs.
- Its carriage is bearing guided. That will help to create smooth movement as you make adjustments.
- An anodized plate provides a rigid surface that can also resist scratching. This keeps a clean look even after heavy use.
- You may find that you need to purchase an adaptor unless your router is one of the 20 models listed as compatible. This may prove inconvenient with older routers or off-brands, especially if you cannot test your routers fit before purchase.
- While this product allows you to make adjustments and bit changes from above, you will still need to level the router from under the table. This can prove more difficult as you must transfer your attention back and forth during router installation.
- NEW AND IMPROVED: The Bosch RA1165 Under-Table Router Base is the new base for the 1617/1618 series routers, replacing the RA1164
- ADUSTABLE: The RA1165 conveniently allows depth adjustment of bit height from above the table. The router base is designed for use with 1617, 1617EVS, 1617EVSPK, 1618, 1618EVS routers
- MOUNTABLE: The RA1165 base has threaded holes positioned in Bosch’s 4-hole subbase pattern and common 3-holes subbase pattern for mounting
Basement price point and simplicity in design distinguish this base from Bosch. The low price point provides you with a router base bt you will need to fork over extra cash if you are looking for a plate to mount it to as well.
- The standout feature of this model is the price. You won’t find many router lifts as budget-friendly.
- It has a 3.75-inch opening for larger bits. This should allow you to use most router bits without having to switch out to a different base, saving you time and money.
- This product should fit a large variety of tables and routers. That design should make it easier to fit your current gear with this unit and will make future upgrades easier to adapt to as well.
- A low price point means that this product lacks features, including a base plate. Bosch supplies the router base with three and four-point mounting holes, but you must supply the plate it will connect to.
- You can only adjust the depth above the table, requiring that you make other adjustments from below. It uses a hex key for height adjustment which may not provide super fine movement.
INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift
- Exclusive INCRA MagnaLOCK reducing ring system (3/8-Inch, 1-Inch, 1-5/8-Inch, 2-5/8-Inch, 3-5/8-Inch) for instant ring changes and perfect ring fit
- Change router bits from the top of the table. Quickly make super precise, 0. 001-Inch height adjustments from above
- 9-1/4-Inch x 11-3/4-Inch x 3/8-Inch plate size is compatible with all INCRA Router Tables and fits some other brands
INCRA’s product represents a step up in quality and function. This heavy-duty system is a professional level router lift that will excel in a busy workshop. I can see this unit providing accurate cuts for intermediate and advanced woodworkers.
- It uses a five seal ball earing system. This protects against dust while delivering high accuracy for height adjustments.
- Thre is a cam lock design to hold things in place once you make adjustments. This feature will prevent slips after you get the right height.
- You get five reducing rings. These steel items should allow you to find a great fit for the router while reducing vibration.
- This product represents the most expensive item I review here. While the price would prove worth it for experienced woodworkers, beginners may have trouble justifying the cost.
- This item may be more limited in the number of routers and/or tables that it will fit straight out of the box. You may find that you need to purchase an adaptor to make this work with your current gear, which would add to the price.
JessEm Mast-R-Lift II
- Exclusive Cam Locking System
- Double sealed bearing construction
- Bit Changes above the table for all routers
This particular model is popular among woodworking enthusiasts for a good reason. It includes all of the features that users are looking for in a durable design. This is an ideal purchase for those who do a lot of router work.
- A patented design that adds extra tension to the threaded spindle. This helps to eliminate unwanted movements and vibration during operation.
- It has a cam lock that is designed to handle heavy routers. The extra attention to this detail should help extend the life of the lock mechanism.
- This product should be compatible with many routers. That might include your older model, so keep this in mind for current or possible upgraded tools.
- It uses aluminum in the construction. For the price point, this product sits at, I would have expected cast iron or steel for more durability.
- The added tension in the spindle threading can make operations feel a bit stiff. This will be more noticeable when the router lift is new.
Which Router Lift Stands Above the Rest?
I do believe that each product listed above will serve users well, especially if the lift is matched to specific needs. With that being said, I feel that the JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift is the best router lift on the list.
It is lightweight, allowing those who have limited space to break down and setup their tables more easily. There are plenty of holes in the plate, as well as mounting equipment, that should let you connect a wide variety of routers to.
It might include a simple locking mechanism design and lack of ball bearing lift, but the overall design is made for beginners and intermediates alike. The price point of the lift reflects this as well, making it an easier accessory to justify for your shop.
Don’t have a router yet? Check out our review of the best wood routers.