The 5 Best Router Lifts 2021 (Unbiased Review & Guide)

The stability provided by a router table is the main reason for investing in a good quality router lift. The router lift allows for mounting the outer body in an upside-down configuration with the ability to make coarse and fine adjustments from the lift surface. The power of the router motor will require that the lift and table to which it is mounted be sturdy enough.

The best router lifts in order of choice are:

Router lifts can be mounted to a sturdy, purpose-built benchtop. The router lift table needs to attach securely to the sunken recessed top of the bench. Guides, safety accessories, and a dust extraction pickup can be mounted to make the operation clean and safe. Let’s look at the most critical aspects of router lifts and which models come highly rated.

JessEm Rout-R-Lift II

This model Rout-R-Lift II has all the same features as the much more expensive Mast-R-Lift II model from JessEm but at lower price. The aluminum lift table is 9.25-inches by 11.75-inches and is designed to be used with the following models of routers:

  • Porter-Cable 690/890
  • Bosch 1617/1618
  • De Walt 610/618/616
  • Craftsman 1754/17540/28190
  • Other routers with 3.5-inch diameter motors

The double sealed bearing ensures that the lift table can be adjusted smoothly with extremely fine increments and locked into position. The adjustment and locking adjustment set screws are located at the tabletop and are graduated and clearly marked.

The shafts connecting the lifting table to the router mounting clamp are pressure fitted. The shafts are attached to the lifting plate by one bolt that spreads the lateral load during the startup and operation of the router motor.

All the metal components that make up the Rout-R-Lift II are precision milled on a CNC machine to ensure accuracy and durability. The router bit changes can be quickly done from above the table.

Not included in the price is the JessUm 02030 ten-piece Ring Insert Set or any router bits or safety fence. At only 8.8 pounds, this router lift table is easy to install as it comes with pre-drilled holes on the lift table.

The lift bearings are not ball-bearing type, making adjustments less smooth, and the one-way locking mechanism is pretty basic. Building this router lift into a sturdy MDF-type recessed tabletop and base will be one of your first projects for this new acquisition.

Kreg PRS5000 Precision Router Lift

The anodized aluminum table is a sturdy 3/8-inch thick, and the 9.25-inch by 11.75-inch dimensions make it compatible with many other brands of router tables. The router lift mounting system is compatible with 20 well-known brands of routers.

  • Bosch 1617, 1618 
  • Craftsman 17543, 17540, 28190 
  • DeWalt 610, 616, 618 
  • Felisatti RF62 
  • Hitachi M12VC, KM12VC 
  • Makita 1101 
  • Milwaukee 5615, 5616, 5619 
  • Milwaukee 5626 
  • Porter-Cable 690, 890 
  • Porter-Cable 7518 
  • Ridgid R29302 

The Kreg PRS5000 Precision Router Lift provides precise control when making adjustments to the horizontal height or when making router bit changes and setup adjustments. No adjustments below the table level are required anymore. A crank handle is included for making an adjustment at the graduated adjustment screw in the center on top of the table.

Every rotation of the adjustment crank handle will result in precisely 1/16-inch, and further fine adjustments can be made to thousandths of an inch before locking the setting in place.

Bosch RA1165

The Bosch RA 1165 must be purchased in conjunction with the Bosch Under-Table Router Base and the Bosch 1617. The Bosch 4-hole pattern is compatible with the common 3-hole sub-pattern on other brands of router tables.

The Bosch RA1165 has a 3.75-inch wide opening allowing for the use of more significant router bits. The low price means this product comes without a lift table, but the whole pattern will make it compatible with most commercially available lift tables. Only the depth can be adjusted from above the table. Other adjustments will require that you bend your knees and make the adjustments from below. 

Incra Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift

The lift table has the standard dimensions of 9.25-inches by 11.75-inches, and the plate is made of 3/8th inch anodized aluminum. The plate is compatible with Incra Router Tables and will fit some other brands. The router lift mounting system is compatible with an extensive list of well-known brands of routers.

  • Porter Cable 7518, 690-699 series, & 890-899 series
  • JessEm PowRTek Router Motor 05200
  • Bosch 1617EVS,1618, GMF1400
  • Milwaukee 5625, 5615, 5616, & 5619
  • Portamate P-254
  • MLCS 9564
  • DeWalt DW610 & DW618
  • Makita RF1101 & RD1101
  • Hitachi M12VC & KM12VC
  • Craftsman 17543, 17540, & 28190
  • Ridgid R29302
  • AUKTools Mk II 230V

The Incra MagnaLOCK reducing ring system is designed for instant ring changes and a perfect ring fit. The five rings come in the following sizes 3/8-inch, 1-inch, 1&5/8-inch, 2&5/8-inch, 3&5/8-inch.

Router bits can be changed from the top of the table and adjusted to 0.001-inch from the fine setting adjustment keyset above the plate. A ball-bearing-based sealed mechanism creates smooth low friction adjustments. A 16 tooth per inch direct drive screw mechanism eliminates vertical lash.

For its price, this router lift table is aimed at the experienced woodworker, where the fine-tuning abilities of the device will be used to the full extent. For beginner woodworkers or woodworkers on a tighter budget, there are some excellent alternatives like the next one from JessEm.

JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02121 Router Lift

This model Mast-R-Lift II model from JessEm has an aluminum lift table that is 8.25-inches by 11.75-inches and is designed to be used with the following models of routers:

  • Porter-Cable 690/890
  • Bosch 1617/1618
  • De Walt 610/618/616
  • Craftsman 1754/17540/28190
  • Other routers with 3.5-inch diameter motors

Five double-sealed bearings provide the Mast-R-Lift II with smooth lifting, and the patented threaded spindle is tensioned to prevent backlash, vibration, and setting changes while in use. The height adjustment can be locked in by a heavy-duty cam lock system on the top of the table.

All router bit changes, fine adjustment, and locking can be made from above the tabletop. The lift top is made of 3/8th inch hard anodized aluminum. The lift table is available in the standard 9.25-inch by 11.75-inch or the smaller size 8.25-inch by 11.75-inch. The shafts have been press mounted and engineered, never to come loose.

The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II, 02121 Router Lift, has a higher cost than the JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift. Still, this premium is worth it when considering the better height adjustment and locking mechanism, the sealed ball bearing adjustment, and the better quality materials and finishes of this model.

What Are The Criteria Considered In The Top Five Routers?

A review of the top five router lifts was conducted based on my experience, consumer feedback ratings, and assessments from leading woodworking publications and experts. The agreed criteria for the review were the aspects:

  • Router & Router Lift Must Be Compatible
  • Ability To Make Micro Adjustments In Height Of The Router Bit
  • Height and Setting Locks Must Be Easy
  • Router Lift Build Quality

The five proposed choices provide something for every budget and all levels of woodworking proficiency. It must be noted that these product offerings do not include additional equipment such as router bits, safety guides. All models require installation into a branded router table stand or are designed to be compatible with most router table stands.

What Are The Advantages Of A Table Mounted Router Lift?

A project that requires a lot of repetitive router cuts to be made to a consistent shape and finish is best done by mounting the handheld router upside down in a table configuration. The up and down adjustment required to set the depth of cut on the router bit can be made from above the work surface.

A stable setup will allow you to concentrate on controlling the wood and not trying to control a heavy router with a fast spinning bit by hand. Many repetitive cuts can be completed with easy reference to the desired profile. Fine adjustment of the router bit height allows you to set and reset the machine to achieve a consistent output.

The addition of safety guides and dust extraction will also help keep the workshop a pleasure to work in and eliminate the safety risks associated with using a handheld router. Some aspects to consider before investing in a router lift are:

Router & Router Lift Must Be Compatible

Assuming that you already own a handheld router, ensure that the router lifts that you are considering will accommodate your router. Many router lifts are adjustable to fit almost any type of router in the market. The router lift must also integrate with your existing router table if you have one.

If you do not own a router yet, this is the ideal opportunity to buy a model which will integrate with the router table that is designed to be compatible. The power of the router will require that the router lift and mounting table be sturdy enough to prevent the router from causing movement of the table at startup.

Ability To Make Micro Adjustments In Height Of The Router Bit

A router lift must allow the operator to make micro-adjustments of the height of the router bit very quickly and accurately hold that setting. Sealed ball-bearing systems are best suited for smooth micro-adjustments via the vertical crank handle.

Coarse adjustments and the removal of the router bit must be equally easy to do from the height of the router tabletop.

Height and Setting Locks Must Be Easy

Several different height adjustment mechanisms for the coarse and fine adjustment of the height of the router blade are available from manufacturers of router lifts. The mechanism selected is often a matter of personal choice but must allow minor adjustments to be made and locked in place effortlessly.

Router Lift Build Quality

A wide range of materials is used to manufacture router lifts. The mass of the router lift must be such that the twist of the router motor at startup does not distort or bend the lift table. The lift table and mounting brackets should at least be made of aluminum or anodized aluminum, but the best option is for a sturdy cast iron lift table.

The mass of a cast-iron lift table and mounting bracket will provide stability required to counteract the inertia of the router spindle at startup. The guideposts and the adjustment mechanism should be made of stainless steel.

Conclusion

Guiding a router by hand is not recommended for repetitive tasks where consistency, control, and safety are essential. Most handheld routers can be mounted in a router lift and set up to perform more repetitive tasks. Selecting a router lift that is compatible with your hand router is essential.

The second most important consideration is the ability to set up and adjust the router when mounted to the router lift table. Coarse and fine adjustment of the router height must be possible from above the table surface. The locking in of a setting to prevent drift during the operation is critical.

The quality of the materials, finishes and the protection of the adjustment mechanism against dust intrusion is the final aspects to be considered when assessing a router lift. The market offers excellent router lifts ranging from as low as $60 to as high as $2,000, depending on your needs and application.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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