Best Router Lift – Reviews and Buying Guide 2018

PreviewNameAwardsPurchase

Bench Dog Tools

High End

INCRA

Medium Priced

Bosch RA1165

Affordable

If you are serious about your router table usage, then the benefits of owning the best router lift are huge for you. With the use of a router lift, all your height adjustments are made from the top of your table instead of underneath. To change a bit, you no longer need to remove the router completely from the table.

A router lift is basically a router-table plate that is mounted with an attached carriage to hold the router. The removable crank handle then inserts into the plate. This turns to raise or lower the carriage while providing superior precision.

There is also a dial that is built into the mounted plate or fastened to the crank which measures height adjustments down to 1/64-inch or finer. As you’ll find the majority of router lifts don’t offer a cumulative readout. This means you’ll need to keep track of the crank revolutions when using height changes higher than 1/16-inch.

Other lifts allow you to zero out your height indicator which is an excellent feature when you want to set the bits to the same height each time. Some people find this to be a handy feature when making rails and stiles for panel doors.


Router Lift Reviews


Best High-End Router Lift (Usually over $340)

To get the best router lift, you will be looking at spending near or more than $340. These are going to offer the advanced features best for daily users, so they are geared toward the professional carpenter.

1. Bench Dog Tools 40-150 ProLift Router Adjustment System

Bench Dog Tools 40-150

Bronze pre-load nut prevents back driving due to vibration. This exclusive design eliminates the constant adjustment required on other lifts

The Bench Dog is an obvious choice for best router lift but it is only designed to work with Bench Dog router tables featuring an 8 ¼-inch plate opening. Most other tables will not fit this lift properly unless you purchase an adapter. If you already own the Bench Dog table, then choosing the lift to go with your brand is a great option.

Some of the features of this table include the bronze pre-load nut which ensures the height adjustments are easy while preventing back driving caused by vibration. This is an exclusive design to the Bench Dog table.

The direct drive lead screw is self-cleaning and fast-acting. This means there is little maintenance required and the longevity of the router lift are boosted. You don’t have the unnecessary worry over gears, chains or belts.

This router lift is engineered as a flat surface which is made from cast-iron materials. This allows for all your work to sit flush. Also, the dual-ball bearing system provides excellent height adjustment which is comfortable to use. This system supports the weight of the router while some other lifts use cheap sleeves.

This router lift is the perfect addition to most any workshop equipped with a router. The advanced features make it a good value for the money. If your current router is compatible with this router lift, it would be an ideal choice for the best router lift.

Compatible With:

  • Porter-Cable 7518/7519
  • If using the ProLift Adapter 40-002: Porter-Cable 690 Series, Porter-Cable 890 Series, Bosch 1617/1618, DeWalt 610/616/618
  • If using the ProLife Adapter 40-003: Makita RF1100 and RF110

What Customers Say:

Overall customers are satisfied with this as the best router lift if they purchased it for the right model. One person stated that even after a year of use there are still no complaints. Another agrees that this can change the life of anyone that does a lot of routing. In fact, one person labeled their review, “Bulletproof Lift.”

Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 25 pounds
  • Dimensions: 14.4 x 13.6 x 9.9 inches
  • Model Number: 40-150
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
PROS:
  • Perfectly flat cast-iron surface
  • Comfortable making height adjustments
  • Back driving mechanism
  • Bronze pre-loaded screws

CONS:
  • Price
  • Only fits certain router lifts

 


2. Woodpeckers Precision Woodworking Tools PRL-V2-420 Precision Router Lift

Woodpeckers Precision

Fits Porter Cable 7518 router

The Woodpeckers PRL-V2 seems to be a customer favorite for the best router lift for multiple reasons. There is a spring-loaded motor feature that does the raising and lowering. In addition, the thumb wheel is accessible easily to make the micro adjustments needed to your motor height.

With these features, you’ll notice an ease of operation that isn’t featured with some other brands. Just be careful when purchasing that you grab the correct version for your router. With three versions available: 350, 414 and the 420 with an 8 ¼-inch plate or 9 ¼-inch plate on any of them, you need to buy the lift that matches your model of router and table insert size.

With the basic router plate capabilities plus a bulletproof lift mechanism, you are sure to save time on all your projects. This router lift is precise and allows for access to the features from the top of the plate. There is even an easy read scale built right into the top of the lift.

There is also a patented Quick-Lift wrench to bypass the micro-adjustment. This allows for elevation of the router collet to use your wrenches above the table.

This router lift works well in a heavy-duty workshop equipped with a router that is often used. The advanced features make sense if you need them on a regular basis.

Compatible With:

  • Bosch 1617 – 1618
  • Craftsman 17542, 17540 – 28190
  • DeWalt 618
  • Porter Cable 7518
  • Porter Cable 690, 890, 1617 and 1618
  • Milwaukee 5625-20
  • Portamate Router

What Customers Say:

Customers have been thrilled with this choice as a router lift. One user stated that it was “high quality” while another mentioned it was, “better, faster and easier than a solid router plate.”

There was a customer that had some trouble with his router lift, but he contacted Woodpecker’s support and still gave the lift a 5-star review due to the customer service and care he received.

Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 14.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13 x 10.2 x 10.5 inches
  • Model Number: PRL-V2-420
  • Warranty: Standard manufacturer warranty
PROS:
  • Solid build
  • Easy adjustments
  • Simple to move router up for quick bit changes above the table
  • Supports a variety of router motors

CONS:
  • Coarse height adjustments take a little practice
  • Fine adjustments require many turns

 


Moderately Priced Router Lift (Usually Between $200 – $340)

If you find that the high-end router lifts are too much money for your budget or you don’t use it that often, you might do better with a moderately priced router lift instead. While the price will be slightly lower, these models might not have as many of the features as a higher-end model will.

1. INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift

INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II

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

This INCRA is not your entry-level router lift but offers many features of a professional lift at a lower price. There is some extreme versatility when changing heights on the router as well as high levels of accuracy. The best part is that all of this is performed from above the table, even changing out router bits.

The system features a five sealed ball bearing system allowing ultimate control for the user. There is also an auto protection from dust so that the lift remains durable for many years to come. This lift is lightweight at just 14 pounds so there is no extra weight to consider to your router table.

The cam lock secures the router table in place when you turn the cam lock to the right. Once it’s locked in place, there is no give or wobble. In addition, there are five steel reducing rings for a perfect fit to the router. This flush fit means less vibration and an enhanced comfort level.

The thread tensioning system adjusts the height of the lift with smooth movements. Any professional user finds that this is a good addition to the workshop thanks to the easy adjustments and superior accuracy.

Compatible With:

  • Porter Cable 7518, 690-699 series and 890-899 series
  • Bosch 1617EVS and 1618
  • DeWalt DW610 and DW618
  • Milwaukee 5625, 5615, 5616 and 5619
  • Craftsman 17543, 17540 and 28190
  • Rigid R29302
  • Makita RF1101 and RD1101
  • Hitachi M12VC and KM12VC

What Customers Say:

The praise from the customers is free-flowing with one user raving about how it’s a great product made in North America and another calling it, “amazing” and “well-worth the extra money.” If that wasn’t enough, read the review that says this is “one of the best lifts out there.”

Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 14.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12 x 10 x 9 inches
  • Model Number: INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II
  • Warranty: 1-year
PROS:
  • Superior accuracy
  • Amazing thread tensioning system
  • Comes with sealed ball bearings for ease and comfortability
  • Premium look and feel
  • 1-year warranty

CONS:
  • Pricey for the average user
  • Dial cannot be zeroed

 


2. JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift, 9-1/4-Inch by 11-3/4-Inch

JessEm Mast-R-Lift

Double sealed bearing construction

As one of the contenders for best router lift, you know this comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from the higher priced choices. It is also popular among those in the wood-working industry and you’ll soon see why.

There is a superior cam locking mechanism to lock the router lift securely in place with just a twist of your wrench. In addition, the double seal bearing adjusts the height up and down with ease. Because it is sealed, you don’t have to worry about debris or dust which also extends the lifespan.

The above table bit change fits most industry standard bit sizes. The lift is also manufactured with anodized aluminum for long life. You’ll love that this option is compatible with most common routers.

This is an ideal router lift for any professional who needs to use the router often but doesn’t want to spend premium prices. It is comparable in qualities to the INCRA we reviewed above but the price is slightly lower.

Compatible With:

  • Porter Cable 7518, 690 series and 890 series
  • Bosch 1617 and 1618
  • DeWalt DW610, DW616 and DW618
  • Milwaukee 5626, 5615, 5616 and 5619
  • Craftsman 17543, 17540 and 28190
  • Rigid R29302
  • Makita RF1101
  • Hitachi M12VC and KM12VC

What Customers Say:

Customers have been pleased with this router lift; one user even bought it for the high school shop. A customer commented on the innovative design and solid construction. Finally, a happy woodworker stated that “this lift will give you many years of satisfaction and help to create project after project.”

Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 13.69 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13.7 x 11.2 x 12 inches
  • Model Number: 02120
  • Warranty: 1-year free from defects
PROS:
  • Solid build
  • Nice style for a workshop
  • Ball bearing technology
  • Smooth adjustments
  • Lower price than others

CONS:
  • Not made from steel
  • Might be too high in price for the budget conscious

 


Best Affordable Router Lift (Usually Under $200)

For those that desire the best router lift, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, there are some options for the best affordable router lift. While many of these are going to be fairly basic, they should do the trick for an average user.

1. JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift For 3-1/2″ Diameter Motors

JessEm Rout-R-Lift II

8.8 pounds Product

This entry-level lift from the JessEm series is more affordable than the one reviewed above. Despite the lower price, there are still many features and qualities that make this a good investment.

First of all, the lightweight router lift is just 8.8 pounds so you can take it to your workplace with no issues. The small size will take up a lot less space on your router table. It’s also easy to handle and mount which is ideal for anyone that doesn’t want to bother with a lot of tinkering.

There are varied, pre-drilled holes located on the insert plate for a variety of routers. If the lift isn’t compatible with yours, there are adapters you can purchase. There is also a locking system that consists of a simple one-way lock.

Not only does this lift offer a smooth raising and lowering simply by cranking a handle, but it also has an accurate height adjustment. Change the bits from above the table if you have an offset wrench.

This is the ideal lift if you are a hobbyist or budget-conscious user. You don’t want to sacrifice quality for the price and with this JessEm Rout-R-Lift, you have your perfect match.

Compatible With:

  • Porter Cable 690 series and 890 series
  • Bosch 1617 and 1618
  • DeWalt DW610, DW616 and DW618
  • Craftsman 17543, 17540 and 28190
  • Any with a 3.5-inch diameter motor

What Customers Say:

An overwhelming amount of customers felt this tool was well-built and easy to use. In fact, one commented that it is one of the “most well-made tools ever purchased” while another labeled it his “dream tool.”

Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 8.56 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13.6 x 11.3 x 10.2 inches
  • Model Number: 02310
  • Warranty: 1-year free from defects
PROS:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Sturdy construction
  • Handles heavy-duty jobs
  • Pre-drilled holes in the insert plate to accommodate multiple routers
  • Smooth operation

CONS:
  • No fancy features like ball bearing systems
  • Bits don’t come to insert plate level

 


2. Bosch RA1165 Under-Table Router Base with Above-Table Hex Key

Bosch RA1165

New base for the 1617/1618 series routers

This Bosch is recommended if you need the best router lift that doesn’t cost much. It is simple in design and quite basic in the features, but it gets the job done. For those that don’t have a lot to spend or for occasional use only, this might be your best option.

This simple design appears to be compatible with most router tables and there is a large bit hole measuring 3 ¾-inch which is ample space to accommodate all fixed router bits. The router base is easy to mount and unmount and depth adjustments are easy to make from above the table if you have a leveling wrench.

You’ll notice the clean casting and machining of this unit as well as the superior fit. There may be few frills associated with the unit, but you can depend on its longevity. It is the ideal choice for a woodworker who uses a single motor router for hobbies or minimal projects.

Compatible With:

  • Bosch 1617, 1617EVS, 1617EVSPK, 1618, 1618EVS

What Customers Say:

Most people who purchase this lift found it to be just what they needed at a price they were happy with. One customer said, “it is very convenient for moving my Bosch router motor from the table to the plunge router base and fixed base.”

Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 8.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Model Number: RA1165
  • Warranty: free from defects
PROS:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Portable
  • Easy to mount
  • Works with most tables
  • Easy to control

CONS:
  • Simple design and features
  • Doesn’t work with powerful routers as it isn’t built solid

 


Best Router Lift Buying Guide

Before you decide on which is the best router lift, you’ll need to have a basic understanding what you are looking for. Start by watching this video on why you want a router lift:

Standard Features of Router Lifts

Most router lifts feature an above table or table crank located on the side. This makes it easy to adjust the bit height while also enabling quick bit changes. This is the main purpose of purchasing a router lift.

Most lifts also include a plate that is made of higher-quality materials than the one which came with the table. They generally fit a wide range of motors and are made to be long-lasting and durable.

If you want to understand more about how a router lift works, you can watch this informative video:

Benefits of Using a Router Lift

While there are many benefits to using the best router lift, here are some of the most important.

  • Ease of Use – This is the biggest benefit to owning a router lift. Instead of adjusting the height of your router bit from underneath the table, the router lift is adjusted above the table. This is usually performed with a T-wrench on the base plate or with a thumbwheel setup.
  • Accuracy – The best router lift provides a smooth device generally made from a ball bearing system. This allows your height adjustments to be accurate and fluid. Many of them will adjust to a fraction of an inch.
  • Solid Base Plate – The best router lift is going to come complete with a stable, solid base plate. This provides less vibration and gives you additional stability during routing.
  • Standard Mount – The best router lift also features standard mounts to bolt your router plate on. These should be pre-drilled.

What to Look for When Buying a Router Lift

When you are looking for the best router lift, here are some of the key components to take notice of.

Durable Construction

Take into account the materials which make up the router lift. If you purchase a lift that is made from cheap materials such as plastic, you won’t have a long-lasting system. It is wiser to invest in something made from aluminum or cast-iron. Ideally, the best router lift will be made from steel.

Compatibility

Not every router lift will work with each router. Each product features recommendations that work best for the lift. Attempting to use a router that is incompatible could lead to excessive vibration and awkward usage.

Locking Mechanism

With a locked lift, you’ll gain accuracy and versatility. A high-quality locking system provides less play once the router is on. Some of these are made as a lever locking system or a bolt mechanism.

Plunge

Each router lift is designed to work with a specific fixed plunge router. Simply put, it’s where the motor of your router is removable and fixes to the lift. If your router features a non-removable motor, then you need to ensure that it will fit your router lift.

Height Adjustments

Router lifts feature either a thumbwheel or crank handle to make height adjustments. Each person has a preference as to which works best for them, so you’ll want to pick the ideal choice for your needs.

Ball Bearing Design

To ensure a smooth height adjustment, you want a ball bearing design on the best router lift. These also feature low-maintenance qualities that keep you focused on getting the work done.

Lift Adapters

If you aren’t sure that you’ll be using the same router down the road, purchase a router lift that features various adapters and insert holes.

Do You Really Need to Spend a Few Hundred Dollars for the Best Router Lift?

This is a common question when looking for the best router lift. As you look around your workshop, you probably feel inundated with various tools you’ve already spend a couple hundred on each.

It is possible to maneuver the bit without a lift but that is going to cause quite a good amount of difficulty. In the best case, you have to duck underneath the table, find the adjustment and release the lock. Then, attempt to set it at a workable height and go back to your business. This is not efficient at all.

With the router lift, everything occurs above your table. To make any adjustment, you simple raise it or lower it as instructed. Accuracy is achieved without all the hassle of maneuvering your unit.

For most people, that in itself is enough to warrant the cost of the best router lift. Think about how much stress you’ll save your knuckles in the process!

It is possible to purchase a high-end router lift for under $200, but the majority of them aren’t going to be worth their money. If you plan to use the router often or if your motor is larger than 3 ½-inches, then stick to purchasing a lift from the high end.

If you just can’t seem to find the money to invest in the best router lift, you might be interested in building one yourself. Here’s a handy guide on how to start this process:

One More Thought about Purchasing the Best Router Lift

Save yourself some hassle before you make that purchase and evaluate these few final technicalities:

Will your table be compatible with your router lift?

There are two plate sizes that are universal: the 8 1/4″ x 11 3/4″ and the 9 1/4″ x 11 3/4″. Make sure you choose the one that your table requires.

Will your router be compatible with your router lift?

If you have a router, ensure that the lift is going to support it. This is most important if you have a router that is a 3 ¼ horsepower model or higher. If you don’t currently have a router, this is something you’ll want to keep in mind as you prepare.

Are you removing the motor from the base?

If this is something that you plan to do, you’ll need to keep in mind the difficulty that having a router lift could create. If handheld work is essential to what you are planning, you might want to consider a smaller, handheld router instead.


Conclusion

As we’ve shown you, purchasing the best router lift is a great way to add to your existing woodshop. This simple tool frees up more of your time plus allows you to use your router with accuracy and speed. Investing in the best router lift is essential to a job well done.

Read through the reviews above with your list of needs and wants in front of you. Then, you will be able to find the piece of machinery that is going to work best with your router setup. In no time, you’ll be using your lift like a pro and will be thankful for the investment you made.

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