Router Lift

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Project by pfleming posted 07-15-2016 11:01 PM 1891 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, after looking at router lifts for a couple of years now, and really wanting one, but not wanting to shell out a few hundred bucks for one, I finally decided to break down and try my hand at building my own. I looked at several different plans on the internet, and ended up making kind of a hybrid out of a couple different designs. Please don’t laugh at my homemade router table, or the re-purposed grill cart for the stand. As much as I’d love to have a factory made set-up, I just don’t use it enough to justify (to my wife) spending the money it would cost. A friend of mine dropped off a good bit of 3/4” birch plywood that he didn’t need, so this is the first thing I made out of it. There were some unexpected issues I ran into, but in the end, this thing works great and is rock solid once you tighten the cinch knob. As you can see in the pictures, the router is held in place by metal automotive band clamps. I started out with one at first, but had to go back and add the lower one for extra stability. The holding blocks are made from scraps of 2×4, and were cut out on the band saw. Everything else is made from 3/4” birch plywood. I started to make it so it adjusted from under the table (since most of the time I squat down when adjusting the bit height anyway), but decided to go ahead and make it so it adjusts through the top. The main thing I wanted to achieve was to be able to replace the router bit without removing the router from the table. After I installed the lift and tried it out, I found that it still wouldn’t come up far enough for a bit change, but almost. That’s when I decided to go for it and cut the top so I could remove an insert for easy bit change. The best part about having a (basically) free router table top is that if I mess it up, I can make another one and all I’m out is some time. I did install two small screws in the insert to take up the room that was left by using the jig saw to cut out the insert. That actually did pretty well at tightening things up, and if it loosens up any, all I have to do is back the screws out a hair and problem solved. I installed a few screws under the insert to allow for level adjustment, since I had previously thinned out the top in that area for the factory router base to fit. The slide action is basically made from two pieces of ply with two more narrow pieces holding the “sandwich” together. I did have to do little sanding on the outer 1” or so of the center board (the one the router is attached to) so it would slide freely, but without much slack in it. I added another piece of 2×4 at the top of the assembly with hole drilled through it, for the adjusting rod (3/8” all thread) to go through, and a tee nut to the upper router mount, to raise and lower the assembly. At the upper block, I used lock nuts and washers so the rod would turn freely in the block, but wouldn’t move up or down when it was turned. The cinch system is simply a 1/4” slot cut in the front board of the assembly, with a single 1/4” hole in the board that the router is attached to. I used a 1/4” x 20 tee nut (behind the router) in the single hole, and a plastic knob and a 2” toggle bolt screw…..because it worked great and I had them already. The only things I had to go buy were the tee nuts, everything else I had lying around the shop. I know a lot of people don’t like Harbor Freight tools, but my router table is set up with the 2 hp fixed base router from Harbor Freight connected to one of their speed control units, and, at least so far, it seems to do just fine for me. The base that came with the router was lacking in a quality locking system and ease of adjustability, which is another major reason I wanted to make the router lift. When the original base was attached to the table top, I could see a little torque movement when I first turned the router on, but since I installed the lift system, once the cinch knob is tightened, there is no movement AT ALL when I turn on the router. After a few test passes, I have to say I’m very pleased with the way everything operates so far. Thanks to this project, I’ll probably be using my router table for a lot more things from now on. Sorry I didn’t do a better job documenting the process but, to be honest, I’m really not too pleased with the aesthetics of the lift, but the functionality of it is great…..and that’s what really matters.

-- Patrick, Mississippi

8 comments so far

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


306 posts in 3104 days

#1 posted 07-15-2016 11:55 PM

Frankly I would never laugh, in fact, I am fully impressed!
I’m in a similar boat, been thinking about getting one, but never could justify it.

Now I am having thoughts based on your excellent project!

thanks for posting.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View pfleming's profile


86 posts in 2130 days

#2 posted 07-16-2016 12:23 AM

Well I do appreciate the kind words. I probably do look at these kinds of things way longer than I should, but I really have to need it before I’m willing to invest the time into the project. This one did take a little while, but mostly because I had to figure a couple of things out during the process. I have a bad/good habit of taking a few different plans and taking bits and pieces from all of them to best fit my needs. Notice also that the height adjustment is in front of the fence. I have a Skil fixed base router that I modified so that I could adjust it from above the table (I’ve changed it back since then), but I had to move the fence to get to the adjustment nut. When I built this one, that was one thing that I looked at carefully, where is the adjustment nut? The formica table top (kitchen sink cut-outs) actually drills very cleanly, and you can sand it smooth if you need to, so it doesn’t seem to grab the wood at all. You can also wax it with some JPW (and I do). One thing I did before I started, but after I cut my pieces for the project, is to sand them all very good with my palm sander. This gives them a nice slick feel, and the sawdust should only add to that.

-- Patrick, Mississippi

View kiefer's profile


5812 posts in 3583 days

#3 posted 07-16-2016 03:08 AM

That will work just fine and I like the shop made approach .
I did something similar a couple years ago but used a different router which allowed me to use it as it was with a small modification and I could retain the lock .

-- Kiefer

View pfleming's profile


86 posts in 2130 days

#4 posted 07-16-2016 04:27 AM

Kiefer, that’s the same concept that I used when I modified my Skil fixed base router to be used with the router table. It worked pretty good, but it was my only router, back then. I decided to buy the Harbor Freight router just for use with the router table, that way I could use the Skil as a hand held unit in addition to having the table. I use the table, by far, more than the hand held. I just like the added stability that the table offers. I’m considering picking up one of the small trim routers from Harbor Freight and setting it up for nothing but doing box joints or dovetails, then leaving it alone. I did build a box joint jig for my table saw (for use with a stack dado blade) that actually works pretty good, so I wonder if I even need another router at all. the Skil is just so big, it’s kind of cumbersome.

-- Patrick, Mississippi

View Ivan's profile


16396 posts in 3783 days

#5 posted 07-17-2016 01:37 PM

Simple but efficient method.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View pfleming's profile


86 posts in 2130 days

#6 posted 07-17-2016 10:13 PM

Very simple majuvla, that’s kind of the way I like to do things, if I can. I guess there are many times that the little bells and whistles do serve a good purpose, but I just didn’t think this lift needed any bells or whistles. I built a coping sled for the router table today, and I have to say that the lift performed great, and the insert, combined with the lift, was a very welcome addition to allow easy above the table bit changes. I’ll post pics of the coping sled in a minute. It too is very simple, yet seems to work great.

-- Patrick, Mississippi

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3782 days

#7 posted 04-08-2017 10:49 AM

You did a really nice job on this. It’s a very creative router lift mechanism, which is the primary component of an efficient and accurate router table. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View pfleming's profile


86 posts in 2130 days

#8 posted 04-10-2017 10:54 AM

Thanks helluvawreck! Since I posted this, I’ve removed the router lift from my router table and purchased the Bosch 1617EVSPK to replace the router and lift. I have to say though, I’m not satisfied with the Bosch fixed base as the table lift. With it being upside down in the table, a lot of sawdust gets in the fine cracks and crevices, which causes the router to bind in the lift, making the above table adjustment feature practically useless. Not to mention that I can’t do above table bit changes with the Bosch base. I will, eventually, either break down and buy a router lift, or build another one similar to the one I had here…..but better :0)

-- Patrick, Mississippi

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