View Full Version : ArduLift - DIY Arduino controlled Router Lift

Gary Liming
11-09-2017, 11:05 PM
Well, I just wanted to make a lift from available plans, but...

I ended up building a computer controlled router lift using a stepper motor for precision, with controls placed so that I wouldn't have to get under the table to adjust or tighten anything.

Makes me smile when I use it.

Before anyone asks why I bothered, please look at my blog about it here (http://www.liming.org/router/lift.html), which probably has more than you wanted to know. :)


Frederick Skelly
11-10-2017, 7:45 AM
"Before anyone asks why I bothered......"

You bothered because you wanted to. What more reason do you need to build a tool that you wanted? :D I think it's neat and I bookmarked your blog for future reference (though I probably don't have the skills even with the Arduino).

Good stuff Gary. Thanks for sharing it!

John K Jordan
11-10-2017, 8:48 AM
Incredible! I've been playing with Arduino for a while now and they are amazing, the hardware interfacing is so flexible and the software easy (easier if you already know a little C). Did you use one of the little plug-in stepper motor boards? (I haven't looked at your blog yet.) I used a bluetooth module for one project and was impressed at how inexpensive, easy, and functional it was.

For anyone curious about microcontrollers an Arduino kit is so cheap. A book or two will get you up and running quickly. Just type "arduino" into Amazon.


marlin adams
01-08-2018, 12:43 AM
I am in the process of building me a router table and am pretty familiar with computer control hardware and such and was looking into arduino. Some of the hardware I would have to buy off the shelf and put together like the ready2router setup except a DIY version. It would take a will because of being on ssi but heck it would be fun :).

Mark Canada
01-13-2018, 10:32 AM
Very Cool! Awesome writeup - but I couldn't find the download link to the arduino project? Are you going to make that public? GitHub is a great place to drop it if you do!

I built one last year using waterjet cut aluminium plates (had a waterjet at work, and scrap plate... so why not right?!) , supported rail and a cheap ballscrew. I sold it and moved country before I had a chance to program a controller for it though. I used a 2.2kW watercooled VFD spindle though, as it was cheaper than buying a router and precision collet. My previous router in the router table died, hence the upgrade. The cost of the rails and ballscrew from RobotDigg was only about $30 all up.



Gary Liming
01-18-2018, 11:18 AM
Very Cool! Awesome writeup - but I couldn't find the download link to the arduino project? Are you going to make that public?

Hi Mark,

That looks like what I ended up with on my CNC machine (http://www.liming.org/cnc) - in fact I think that is the same spindle and VFD I ended up with. For my router table I wanted something less complicated and less expensive though.

The arduino code will be published as part of a two-part article for Digital Machinist magazine this summer, and a zip of all relevant dxf, arduino source files, BOM, etc. will be available from their website. However, I am beta testing it with a few intrepid early adopters right now to make sure its is complete and ready to go.

Mark Canada
01-21-2018, 2:03 PM
I wouldnt be surprised, it's a pretty typical 2.2kW 4 bearing spindle with HY VFD, i've been using them in various projects for over a decade.

I needed a precision, low runout solution for some of the things I was doing, so the VFD worked out cheaper than a good router + precision collet.

Chris Parks
01-21-2018, 9:20 PM
It has been my thinking for some years now that using a router in a table is a dopey idea altogether. I don't think a water cooled spindle is necessary as the duty times are way shorter than a CNC but others with experience may correct me there. Taking the weight of a router + lift away from the top means the top can be made much thinner and hinged or even removeable using registration pins. Here is a router lift designed in 2009 so nothing is new in this world. https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/aw-extra-8912-shop-made-router-lift

Using a VFD to drive a spindle means better speed control, motor braking etc can all be utilised and the spindle will have less run out than a router motor with a wider selection of better quality collets.

Mark Canada
01-22-2018, 10:00 AM
Don't forget that VFD spindles are WAY quieter than even high end routers. I'd use my router table for 4-5hrs straight, when doing roundovers on all my parts. I'd also run it for several hours as I did bits on it then turned around to feed new parts into the CNC router. Watercooling is probably overkill, but you can get these spindles in air cooled models too - i've never used one however so I went with what I know :)

The 2.2kW spindles are heavier than most routers i've used, they are pretty much solid metal with a bit of water filling the gaps haha. For me, I found that even the waterjet plate was perhaps a little bit light duty as I could get some chatter from deflection if I pushed material through a bit too fast - I'm not sure which bit in particular was flexing however - I wasnt able to induce any flex by pushing on the end of the bit, but it was definitely deflecting under load.

The other advantage of the spindles is being able to run tools with shanks other than 1/4" or 1/2". Its great being able to use any endmill or tool in my cnc router's collection.

If the writeup on your website is anything to go by, that's going to be a great article in the magazine!

Gary Liming
02-13-2018, 3:58 PM
Don't forget that VFD spindles are WAY quieter than even high end routers.

My experience from upgrading my CNC from a router to a spindle was two main points. It may sound trivial to some, but the noise factor is a big deal. When I had 4 to 5 hour CNC jobs to do, it became clear that most routers are not designed for continous duty - I burned out several routers before switching. Also, I have a basement workshop, so a 5 hour job is a burden for the whole house - I needed to wait until my wife went shopping before running it. (I admit it was not a long wait, though.) Now I can talk to someone in a normal voice standing right next to a running job.

Chris, I don't seem to be able to relate to the idea that a router in a table is a dopey idea. Has lots of advantages, IMHO. Could you explain why?

If the writeup on your website is anything to go by, that's going to be a great article in the magazine!

Thanks Mark!

Chris Parks
02-13-2018, 6:14 PM
The router has too many disadvantages and was a no choice option forced on us when spindles weren't available and the use of a router in a table was simply the only choice and then lifts were developed to facilitate the ease of use. The spindle takes away all the problems in one easy package

Noise levels are lower
No lift needed
The top can be removeable and much lighter in construction
The duty cycle is better
Better speed control
The spindle has more power
Several spindles can be used in the one table
A better designed table can be used
A single lift installation will be a lot cheaper than a single design router installation
Less routers needed in the workshop as one is not tied up in the table
Better chuck system, way better
Less things to go wrong


I can't think of any