If you have ever used a traditional router and made some adjustments to it, you know how time-consuming and annoying it can get. Getting down the table, sometimes even taking the motor out and changing the bits – it’s tedious.
And if you are familiar with routers, then you probably have heard about router lifts. These tools are a blessing for anything ranging from changing the bits and adjusting the router’s height.
You save time, need to do less work, and the list goes on. But the issue is with finding the best router lifts and then choosing the right one for you. Therefore, we will help you with that in this review.
Table of Contents
- 5 Best Router Lifts Review
- What to Look for Before Buying?
5 Best Router Lifts Review
Choosing a router lift depends on various factors like compatibility, cost efficiency, adaptability, and so on. Here are our favorites.
1. JessEm Rout-R-Lift II
Our first pick comes from a manufacturer that is not only good at coming up with clever names but at providing superb products at affordable prices too. This product follows that trend as well.
First of all, it is 02310, which has its own set of compatible products. It supports routers fitting the standard 9-1/4” x 11-3/4”. That means you can use it with popular products from Bosch, Dewalt, and PC.
Now, you probably know how crucial it is to have a lift that allows you to change the bits from above. Thankfully, this product will enable you to change the bits without extra effort. Unlike many lifts, it does not require a bent wrench.
This feature alone makes it an outstanding option for you. Another crucial part is how smoothly you can raise the motor with the product. You will face no issues in that case, thanks to the double-sealed bearing to the spindle.
That also results in a correct increment and decrement of height without requiring too much force. And the product weighs only around 8.8 pounds. Moreover, you are not limited to just the brands mentioned above.
All you need to ensure is that your router’s motor has a diameter of 3.5 inches. Lastly, the shafts are directly attached to the top plate that allows it to spread the load evenly, resulting in better durability.
2. Rockler Pro Router Lift
Here, we have a compact and lightweight lift. This product is a high-rated one, and it is no surprise, given the manufacturer is Rockler. Before talking about its features, let us get the questions regarding compatibility out of the way.
It comes with a standard 8-1/4 inches x 11-3/4 inches plate out of the box, which is quite common in many router lifts. Hence, it should support most of the standard tables. What we really like about this plate is its build quality.
The plate uses 3/8 inches thick machined aluminum, which is lightweight but surprisingly durable. Moreover, it has heavy-duty steel guideposts with bronze bushings that make it rigid and suitable for your demanding daily tasks.
One issue with traditional router lifts is that the measurement is not as accurate. This product, however, comes with indexed marks on the adjustment screw. It will let you raise or lower the bit by specific increments with your naked eye.
What makes this tool even more unique is the insert ring that it includes. This ring has a 1-1/2” opening, and you can also buy zero-clearance inserts separately. It is part of the Snap-Lock feature that allows for tool-free insert ring changes.
All you need to do is push a button, and it will release the ring without doing anything else. Moreover, the Quick-Gear mechanism allows for extremely rapid height adjustments.
3. Kreg Precision Router Lift
If you have had anything to do with the woodworking community, Kreg is a name that you must have heard. As our third pick, we have got the PRS5000 – an affordable router lift that allows adjusting above the table.
That also includes changing the bits. It supports above-table collet access so that changing the bit does not require taking the motor out. This feature saves a lot of time off your workload. Another great feature is the plate it comes with.
You get a 9.5 mm x 235 mm x 298 mm aluminum plate in the box, which is exceptionally sturdy and resists scratches. It is miles better in terms of quality when compared to typical ones. Moreover, it fits most standard routers.
And a smooth operation is paramount for your lift. It uses a ball-bearing-guided carriage that provides a smooth process when adjusting the height. This mechanism is handy when making tiny adjustments.
In terms of those slight adjustments, when you rotate the adjusting crank once, it moves the bit upward or downward precisely by 1/16 inches. That means you can make alterations to the thousands of an inch, making it extremely precise.
It also has a built-in micro-adjust scale that you can set to zero at any point to create a baseline bit setup. With that, you can measure precisely how much of the bit you have raised or lowered effortlessly.
4. Rockler Router Lift FX
Not all of us can manage the funds or have the intention to spend a large chunk of money on a router lift. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of products that provide an outstanding balance between the price and features. This product fills that void.
It is another remarkable tool from Rockler. First, let’s talk about the plate it comes with. You might know that sagging is a severe issue if you have a mediocre plate on your router table. Thankfully, that is not the case here.
You get a sag-free heavy-duty plate out of the package that is remarkably durable and sturdy. Now, the compatibility. Unsurprisingly, all of the new router table from this manufacturer work with it.
Moreover, you get support for many small to medium-sized routers, including brands like Bosch, Dewalt, and Porter-Cable. So, the lift supports many of the standard table saws below the 2.5 horsepower mark.
The top surface also has a laminated covering along with sturdily attached fasteners. And the center hole is 3-5/8” in diameter, which is something usual. You also get an insert of ½” diameter included in the package.
In terms of the installation, this lift’s motor clamping system is surprisingly simple and allows for easy adjusting. Moreover, the quality bushing used in the 5/8” diameter shafts is efficient at keeping the product stable and accurate.
5. Bosch Under-Table Router Base
As our final pick of the list, we have the RA1165 from the renowned Bosch. An issue often found in many products is the lack of a simple mounting mechanism. And that makes them much harder to deal with.
That is where this product shows an impressive result. It has threaded holes (in the manufacturer’s standard 4-hole and typical 3-hole subbase pattern) that allows you to mount it easily to your router table.
Many woodworkers face one issue with their under-mount bases because those are not efficient when it comes to controlling vibrations and shaking. This one, however, is rubberized and does not budge even with heavy workloads.
Another impressive side is that the motor housing will not rotate when you adjust the bit’s depth. It’s superb that it has this ability, as this movement often results in a measurement gone wrong, resulting in worse outcomes.
Furthermore, you do not have to get concerned about getting the necessary hardware to mount the base to your table. Each of the required tools comes included in the package, in addition to the T-wrench to adjust the depth from above the table.
And if you want to change the base, it requires no tool at all. Furthermore, it has a broad 3-3/4” base opening that allows you to use comparatively larger bits if need be. Lastly, the price is reasonable enough for what it offers as well.
What to Look for Before Buying?
Choosing a lift for your router is often much harder than it initially may seem. That is because not only do you get a plethora of options, you also need to know what your router will suit.
Here is a short guide of things you should look out for in your quest to find the right lift.
Perhaps this part is the most crucial one for you when shopping for a router lift. And the reason is apparent – you will not be able to use a product that does not support your tool. So, how do you find out if yours is compatible?
First of all, there are two plate sizes that are the most common for routers – 9-1/4” x 11-3/4” and 8-1/4” x 11-3/4”. You will have to find out and decide which size you are going to buy. Otherwise, compatibility might be an issue.
And if you already own a router, you have to see the lift’s description or contact the manufacturer to determine whether it will support that product. Obviously, a chunky three horsepower motor will not work with the same lift as a 1.5 horsepower one.
Some lifts come with the ability to use adapters that allow them to fit more than one size of routers. If you have more than one or plan to upgrade in the future, you can try to find something you can use on both.
This way, you can save yourself from the hassle of spending more than you need to and make your investment last longer. Moreover, these adapters are relatively inexpensive. A quality adapter will allow for a snug fit and reduce vibrations.
Motors with Built-in Mechanisms
You can find some products with a built-in mechanism that will allow you to achieve somewhat the convenience that a router lift offers. For example, you might be able to drill the plate and access the inside to raise the bits.
However, this method is nowhere near as impressive as a full-fledged router lift. Some of these still do not provide a very convenient system to change the bits either.
Opting for the best lifts out there will set you back by a fair sum of dough; that much is undeniable. However, the convenience they offer is certainly worth whatever you need to spend on them.
Nevertheless, knowing what you need and don’t need will help you save some money. For instance, some products will have a high-end feature that another one does not, and therefore, cost more. Another factor is the size of the motor.
The cost of the product might fluctuate depending on the size, too. Especially, having a motor larger than 3.5 inches is generally much pricier compared to the smaller ones.
This part is crucial for anything related to woodworking. Compared to the traditional mechanism, a router lift is much more accurate and will allow you to make finer adjustments. However, there is still a bit of a difference between them.
Usually, the most significant distinction you will find is the increment and decrement of the collet and the bit. In a quality product, even the slightest movement will result in a measured increment.
This ability can be the difference between a proper fit and an average one. Therefore, you should keep an eye out for the amount of fine control your product offers.
Needless to say, the materials used in your product play a vital role in its longevity and results. Moreover, quality material also improves the ability to handle heavier workloads.
When it comes to choosing a material, we suggest you opt for something like aluminum. That is because it is lightweight, does not rust, and lasts for a long time. Therefore, it would be a wise decision.
Another part that relies on this bit is the reduction of friction and vibration. In a lot of cases, a subpar product will not absorb all the vibration produced during routing. On a quality product, those will be barely noticeable.
The locking mechanism in your lift makes sure that the height will not budge once you have settled at a particular position. Without a proper lock, your measurement will be off, and the result would turn out subpar. So, look out for this property too.
Ease of Usage
We cannot deny the fact that ease of usage somewhat depends upon the price of the product. However, you can squeeze the best value out of your lift if you know what to look for.
The distinction that you will mostly feel in these products is in terms of the leveling method. You can either do it from above the table (which is much more comfortable) or take the lift off the motor.
Try to opt for a product that allows you to make all sorts of adjustments without having to take the router lift off. In some cases, this might introduce some additional cost, but we think it is well worth it.
And following that same trend, we recommend that you do not opt for one that only allows for above-the-table height adjustments. That would mean you need to follow the same old tiring method of going below the table and changing bits. Also, compact ones are perfect for the best CNC router for small shop.
Merits of Utilizing Router Lifts
It is rational if there is a question bugging you throughout this review – do I need a router lift? What benefits will dishing out a fair amount of money bring me? So, let us explain why it is such a crucial tool to have in your arsenal.
The first benefit of having a lift is the sheer simpleness of adjusting the bit’s height. If you have been using a traditional router, you know how painful it is to have to go below the table every time you need to make an adjustment.
Not just that, but it is also much harder to achieve the precise height in one shot, as you cannot easily see what is going on over the table. And that is when a router lift can come in handy to allow every adjustment from above.
All you’d need to do is rotate a simple handle attached to the router below the table. That will increase or decrease the bit’s height depending on how you turn the lever (yes, it is that easy).
Another section where a lift excels is how easily you can change bits. In the traditional method, you usually need to take out the motor, take the previous bit off the collet, and then place the new one.
Then you would have to put the motor back again. Quite the tedious chore, eh? Especially if your workload requires you to change the bits frequently, the sheer amount of work will drive you crazy.
Well, a router lift can save the day (or at least a few good hours), once again. Remember how turning the lift’s handle brings the bit up? You only need to keep doing that, and it will keep coming up until the collet is completely visible.
From there, you simply need to take off the bit from the collet, connect the new one to it, and put it back down. And there is no need for getting under the table, which is a godsend for any woodworker.
Using a router lift means that the incremental adjustments are much more accurate in contrast to the traditional methods. That is because you can see what you are doing and fine-tune it with the slightest increments or decrements.
Moreover, the lift’s turns are measured. For instance, a single turn would raise the bit by 1/16th of an inch, and so on. This way, you achieve unparalleled accuracy.
Therefore, when you combine the right router lift with the best type of wood for carving, you get the most satisfying outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is a router lift mandatory for me?
Your workflow will not come to a stop without one if that’s what you are asking. However, if you want to save time, change router bits easily, and adjust their height from above the table, we highly recommend getting one.
2. Will a lift allow me to make precise adjustments?
Absolutely. Even if you buy a halfway decent router lift, it will mean that you can make finer adjustments in terms of height. That’s because even the slightest turn of the lift is measured precisely for higher accuracy.
3. Can my router fit a bigger motor?
The chances of that happening are low. You can use adapters to ensure support for a smaller motor. However, that does not work both ways. So, you need to make plans for that before you get the lift if you need a heftier product.
4. What difference is there between a plunge and a trim router?
Generally, a trim router is comparatively smaller and houses a lower horsepower motor. A plunge router has a fixed base and is much larger. As you can guess, the former is more suitable for lighter workloads.
5. Should I use the plate that came with the router lift?
You will generally find that the plate your product comes with has a better build quality in contrast to the one that came with the router. So, if you feel like that is the case for you, feel free to use it.
Investing some time to find the right one from our list of the best router lifts will turn into a blessing for you. It will allow you to save hours and require less work from your end. So, choose one and enjoy your newfound bliss (while maintaining safety measures, that is).