MLCS - PowerLift Model 9450 (Rating: 4)

I had decided to upgrade/build a new router table and wanted to add a router lift. When I started looking at options I found that there are many to choose from. Starting at the Woodpecker Side Winder lift at $245 upto the MLCS motorized lift at $389. Most of the better manual lifts were in the $325-$360 range. I decided to get the MLCS lift. I ordered it in early November and was put on a waiting list. The next shipment was scheduled to come in on Dec 31st. I found that all of those were spoken for and mine finally came in around mid March.

In the box was the lift fully assembled, an arm to hold the control box that clamps to your table, three router plate inserts, (two drilled and one you can drill your self) and all the cables. Since the aluminum plate is slightly bigger than most I also got the installation jig kit (#9331). After building the new router table (see picture, stock picture, not mine) I routed the top to install the router plate/lift. There are 4 setscrews in each corner of the mounting plate to make the plate flush with the top. I found that if you make the cutout the exect thickness of the plate (1/4") and don't screw in the leveling screws any, the top of them sticks out enough to scratch any material that you might be routing, it is better to make the cutout just a little deeper, about 1/16".

The lift will work with any router that has 3 1/2" diameter motor body. I used a Poter Cable 690 that I had in my old router table. I did have to file off two of the "location studs" to get the router to fit. The fit was very tight when I put it in. The arm for the control box just clamps onto your table top, my top is 1 1/2" thick and it fit well. It looks like it can work on tops upto 2" thick. The arm is two piece that can adjust up and down. There were four cables that plug into the control box, the power cord, control line to the router lift motor, the height feedback and the line to the foot switch.

Here are my findings and why it got a 4 out of 5 stars.

There is a control for the speed that the lift moves up and down that is adjustable, from 5% to 100%. At the highest speed the operation is not very smooth, there were some "jumps" when moving both up and down at the highest speeed. At the lowest speed it was very smooth, moving about .001 to .002 with each touch of the pedal, great for setting the height you want.

The lift will lift the router high enough to change the bit from above the table which is nice. Once the bit is mounted you can lower it so the top is flush with the table and zero out the height gauge. Then raise it to the height you need. Once you are at the height you want you can also press the "hold" button that keeps it at the height you select in case you happen to hit the foot switch.

The the mounting screws for the rings are very small, they use a #1 phillips. There are three of them and one of the holes is covered by part of the lift and can't be used.

I tested cutting some mortices raising the bit into the wood and it worked great. It is nice to keep your hands on the work piece and raise the bit into it and then retract it.

All in all it works very well and I think is worth the extra over a manual lift. It looks well built and has mostly metal parts and not plastic. Here are some things that I wished it had:

There is a height stop that can manually be set from under the table. It is a simple slide that hits a micro switch. It works okay but is hard to get it exect. A digital stop in the control box would be nice.

Variable speed on the foot switch would be nice. So that the further you pushed it the faster it would go. Having to change speed on the control box removes you hands from the work piece.

There are lots of cables, it would be nice if they included a piece of spiral wrap to combine all the cords.

Not too many cons, it is a nice addition that I will get a lot of use out of.