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Thread: Best router lift for installing in a saw extension table?

  1. #1
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    Best router lift for installing in a saw extension table?

    The universe has aligned such that I think it's finally time to upgrade my router table arrangement. I hate the current one, and the laminate is bubbling up off the table as the old contact cement is failing, so time to make a new table. It's in the extension on my PM66 table saw, and I use the back side of my Biesemeyer fence as my router fence, with some appropriate attachments.

    I'm not committed to the routers I currently have, so that's not a limitation. I'm guessing my little PC 690 will fit in all of them, I'm guessing my big Bosch 1611 plunge router will fit none of them.

    I'm assuming that all will allow me to adjust the cutter height and change bits from on top of the table. I'm hoping some provision for dust collection from underneath is a possibility.

    So I see offerings from Incra/JessEm, JessEm, Kreg, and Rockler which all look similar and sell for similar prices. Is there a clear favorite? I'd very much like as few tools required for adjustments as possible.

  2. #2
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    Woodpecker offers the PRL 2. I have the original version and am very happy with it. Can easily dial it to the exact height needed. The newer one has a thumb wheel for fine adjustments. Might want to take a look at it.

    no affiliation , just a satisfied customer.

  3. #3
    Check out the shop made one from Woodsmith. There are several you tubes on builds. Parts from McMaster-Carr are less than fifty bucks. Plans appeared originally in ShopNotes issue 121. One modification I'm incorporating into mine is, instead of filling a hex head on threaded rod, drill and tap for a bolt. Use Locktite to secure bolt

  4. #4
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    I have the woodpeckers PRL2 in a standalone router cabinet and a Jessum Master Lift Ii in the right end of my Sawstop table.

    Both work well.

    The Woodpeckers gets the most use, mainly because it's more convenient. Tools wise, there is a wrench to remove the insert ring around the router bit. Then Woodpeckers has a spring loaded rod, that you insert in the lift, twist and then raise or lower the lift. After that, it's two wrenches to change the bit. I keep all of these in a small draw in my router table.

    The Jessum Master Lift II uses an Allen key built into a crank handle. The lift is raise or lowered by cracking the handle. Then it's a couple of wrenches to change the bit. Keep these on the support legs of the router table with magnets. I have the Incra plate with the magnaloc inserts, so those just pop in and out by hand.

    I've had issues with the Woodpeckers, their fine adjust gear is nylon and I've had that wear out, easy to get to to replace, except WP warranties it for life but require you to return the entire lift, so about $30+ in shipping for a 35 cent part, plus a 5 week delay and that was before COVID.

    If buying my first one again, I'd probably opt for the Jessum.

  5. #5
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    Wow, the Woodpecker model everyone likes is nearly seven hundred bucks. I got my JessEm Mast-R-Lift II for about half that by watching for price drops. It's $349 today on Amazon with Prime shipping, a relative low point for this lift. It's time to jump.

    I really like the JessEm; it is a precision tool. But I notice that others have expressed a preference for Incra's magnetic inserts to the red phenolic ones on the JessEm. Other than that and the color, the JessEm and the Incra Mast-R-Lift IIs are the same. Rockler sells the Incra for $399; it fits their tables. But you're making your own, so you're not limited to one plate size.

    Mine enables me to adjust the bit height to within 0.001". That's hard to beat at twice the price.

    You say you want a minimum of adjustment tools. For the JessEm you need the crank, a proprietary spanner to remove the inserts, and the same collet wrenches that every router needs to change the bit. Very simple. My crank and spanner live on 3/8" rare earth magnets on the legs of my extension table, right where I need them.

    You asked about dust. I screwed together a simple box out of 1/4" MDF, with 1x1 corner braces, and screwed the box onto the underside of the table extension. So easy. Here is a view of it upside down; you can see the little slider door I put in for the power cord. There's a larger slider door on the other side I can fit my hand through, to adjust the speed on the PC 7518 (a recently extinct species). That's a full 4" dust port. I also sometimes use a 2-1/2" port on the fence, depending on the cut. I never have dust in the room from the router table.

    dust box.jpg

    Note that if you make your own table extension, as I did, you would be wise, I think, to buy the MDF template for routing the recess. Mine was 3/4" thick. Some you find are 1/4" thick. I'd rather have the 3/4", and it might even be less expensive than the 1/4".

    JessEm template.jpg

    It's something you use exactly once, but I wouldn't want to do the job without it. Well, twice maybe: I did a dry run in Baltic Birch just to see where the failure causes might be. When I was done with the template I found a home for it in my local woodworking club and got him to promise to pay it forward to another member when he was finished with it.

    One other tip: with the way the height adjustment screws work, you run the risk of digging into your table if you use wood (and don't we all?). So I recommend getting a 1/16"-thick steel mounting plate to rest the heavy lift on. That's something you use every day for the life of the lift. My lift plus 3-1/4 HP router assembly weighs a total about about 28 pounds. Very solid on the steel rim. Here's where I got mine:

    https://www.mobilesolutions-usa.com/...er-lift-insert




    Size of router: I don't know about the Bosch 1611 plunge router (I couldn't find it anywhere), but the Mast-R-Lift II fits the Bosch 1617 and 1618. Does that help? JessEm makes a big thing about fitting virtually every router motor made, but there is no need for a plunge mechanism in a router lift.

    Now, about customer service: With the JessEm, I messed up the mechanism through my own error: I overtightened something and it broke. I called JessEm and spoke with a knowledgeable live person who sent me the replacement part I had broken, free of charge. I don't know about you, but that seals the deal for me. Plus: 0.001" fine adjustment! I love this thing.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 03-04-2021 at 1:29 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    So I see offerings from Incra/JessEm, JessEm, Kreg, and Rockler which all look similar and sell for similar prices. Is there a clear favorite? I'd very much like as few tools required for adjustments as possible.
    I've had a JessEm Rout-R-Lift in my table saw extension for over 20 years. Never had a problem with it and I've used it a lot. It's got a Bosch 3-1/4 HP router in it. Together they have handled everything I've put to it over the years.

    The fence is DIY. I made it with a door on top to hold the JessEm inserts, insert tool, wrench and collets. It has a face to accept zero clearance inserts. I made up about 30 or so blank inserts. Dust collection is off the short side of the fence to avoid a hose coming up and over the table.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  7. #7
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    I like the box idea for dust collection! that would be easy to implement with a tee off the line for the saw. Appreciate the hint on adding the steel reinforcement as well.

  8. #8
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    I have a Woodpeckers aluminum insert plate (not a lift). To me it's more important to pick a size. If you make a nice table yet decide that the lift you bought isn't what you want it's much easier if you don't have to also make a new table. The woodpeckers plate was easy to install. The corners were 1 1/2" diameter so I just used a Forstner bit to make all 4 corners and then the tablesaw's fence and a board clamped to the table for a guide. My main router table is also in the extension table on my PM66. But I have found that there are times when I'm using both the saw and the router and don't want to move the fence back and forth. So I modified my cast iron stand alone router table to accept the insert. Since it just drops in place it's very easy to move. Since (like most) I have a collection of routers I suspect I'll buy a second insert with a lift.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Jones 5443 View Post
    Wow, the Woodpecker model everyone likes is nearly seven hundred bucks. I got my JessEm Mast-R-Lift II for about half that by watching for price drops.
    Uh, that includes the router motor. Price of the lift alone is MSRP $399. That's up about $100 from the PRL-v1 15 years ago. When they announced the PRL-v1 was to be discontinued I bought another one before they disappeared. Alex is correct on selecting your plate size and corner radii. There have been more than one post on here about people having to hack their table opening for a new corner radius or plate size change.
    I always forget . . . Is it the letter "S" or the letter "C" that is silent in the word scent?
    - Glenn (the second "N" is silent) Bradley

  10. #10
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    I have the Jess-Em in a Sawstop CI table attached to the left side of a Powermatic 65. I used two pieces of 2" square tubing to move the table far enough to the left to clear the motor. Works great for me.

  11. #11
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    I've had both the Jessem and the Woodpeckers, and liked the Jessem much better.

    My Woodpeckers is sitting in a box if you're interested in a deal. Nothing wrong with the Woodpeckers, per se, I just thought the Jessem was more convenient to use.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    Uh, that includes the router motor. Price of the lift alone is MSRP $399. That's up about $100 from the PRL-v1 15 years ago. When they announced the PRL-v1 was to be discontinued I bought another one before they disappeared. Alex is correct on selecting your plate size and corner radii. There have been more than one post on here about people having to hack their table opening for a new corner radius or plate size change.
    Glenn,

    OK, I'm an idiot. Sorry about that! I didn't read the fine print. I think that's probably my selection bias for the undoubtedly absolutely perfect rig I most thoughtfully paid for (and my other probably wrong bias that a Woodpeckers tool must be too expensive!). Thanks for setting me straight. I'll try to look more carefully in the future. Anyway, from the comments it seems to be a quality lift. You liked yours well enough to buy two; that says a lot.

    Bob

  13. #13
    I am very happy with my https://jessem.com/collections/route...-lift-ii-model in my SS table, which I frankensteined onto my Delta saw right hand wing. The only thing I don't like is it doesn't have measuring gauge like the 50$ bosch insert had, so for situations calling for the fence to be parallel to the miter slot I have to use a square. Stick on measuring tape didn't survive the first board. The other thing I don't like is that the allen head adjustment cam and the lock fill up with saw dust, which I have to blow it if I want to adjust the bit and lock it. Minor complaints, and I'd buy it again. Tech support was very helpful with my pre-sale questions.

  14. #14
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    If you already have a plunge router, maybe consider a router raizer. Less than $100. I have that on a Freud FT2000E and it works well. The lead screw is 3/8 - 16 so 1 turn = 1/16" movement.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Jones 5443 View Post
    Wow, the Woodpecker model everyone likes is nearly seven hundred bucks. I got my JessEm Mast-R-Lift II for about half that by watching for price drops. It's $349 today on Amazon with Prime shipping, a relative low point for this lift. It's time to jump.

    I really like the JessEm; it is a precision tool. But I notice that others have expressed a preference for Incra's magnetic inserts to the red phenolic ones on the JessEm. Other than that and the color, the JessEm and the Incra Mast-R-Lift IIs are the same. Rockler sells the Incra for $399; it fits their tables. But you're making your own, so you're not limited to one plate size.

    Mine enables me to adjust the bit height to within 0.001". That's hard to beat at twice the price.

    You say you want a minimum of adjustment tools. For the JessEm you need the crank, a proprietary spanner to remove the inserts, and the same collet wrenches that every router needs to change the bit. Very simple. My crank and spanner live on 3/8" rare earth magnets on the legs of my extension table, right where I need them.

    You asked about dust. I screwed together a simple box out of 1/4" MDF, with 1x1 corner braces, and screwed the box onto the underside of the table extension. So easy. Here is a view of it upside down; you can see the little slider door I put in for the power cord. There's a larger slider door on the other side I can fit my hand through, to adjust the speed on the PC 7518 (a recently extinct species). That's a full 4" dust port. I also sometimes use a 2-1/2" port on the fence, depending on the cut. I never have dust in the room from the router table.

    dust box.jpg

    Note that if you make your own table extension, as I did, you would be wise, I think, to buy the MDF template for routing the recess. Mine was 3/4" thick. Some you find are 1/4" thick. I'd rather have the 3/4", and it might even be less expensive than the 1/4".

    JessEm template.jpg

    It's something you use exactly once, but I wouldn't want to do the job without it. Well, twice maybe: I did a dry run in Baltic Birch just to see where the failure causes might be. When I was done with the template I found a home for it in my local woodworking club and got him to promise to pay it forward to another member when he was finished with it.

    One other tip: with the way the height adjustment screws work, you run the risk of digging into your table if you use wood (and don't we all?). So I recommend getting a 1/16"-thick steel mounting plate to rest the heavy lift on. That's something you use every day for the life of the lift. My lift plus 3-1/4 HP router assembly weighs a total about about 28 pounds. Very solid on the steel rim. Here's where I got mine:

    https://www.mobilesolutions-usa.com/...er-lift-insert




    Size of router: I don't know about the Bosch 1611 plunge router (I couldn't find it anywhere), but the Mast-R-Lift II fits the Bosch 1617 and 1618. Does that help? JessEm makes a big thing about fitting virtually every router motor made, but there is no need for a plunge mechanism in a router lift.

    Now, about customer service: With the JessEm, I messed up the mechanism through my own error: I overtightened something and it broke. I called JessEm and spoke with a knowledgeable live person who sent me the replacement part I had broken, free of charge. I don't know about you, but that seals the deal for me. Plus: 0.001" fine adjustment! I love this thing.

    Good luck.

    Working in a fab shop allows me the fortune to understand costs associated with manufacture, that being said $30 for a hunk of laser cut galvanized steel seems really steep. Your looking at roughly 2 sq of material and about 1 minute of table time. With overburden and table rate of $70 an hour that should be about $10-$12 with 20% profit per part.

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