6 Best Router Lifts of 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks
Router lifts are often an afterthought, but they are crucial for opening up your router’s versatility. It also allows you to change your router bits from above the table, which is impossible without them. Choosing the best one can be challenging, though, because there are plenty of models available and it’s not something you find in every household.
We’ve chosen six of the most popular router lifts to review for you so you can get some behind the scenes information about how they work. We’ll tell you the pros and cons and give you our opinion on which one is the best. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide where we look at the router lift to see what it does and how it works to learn what’s important to look for while shopping.
Join us while we look at precision, travel distance, installation, and more to help you make an educated decision.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift||
|Best Value||JessEm 02310 Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift||
|Premium Choice||Woodpeckers Precision PRL-V2-420 Router Lift||
|JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift||
|SawStop RT-LFT Four-Post Router Lift||
The 6 Best Router Lifts – Reviews 2021
1. KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift – Best Overall
The KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift is our pick as the best overall router lift. It allows you to change your routing bits from above the table and complete control over all adjustments. Each rotation of the adjusting crank moves the carriage exactly 1/16 inch, so it’s easy to return to previous settings. It glides smoothly on a bearing guided carriage, and it features 3 inches of travel, making it very versatile. It only weighs 1 pound and fits many popular routers.
The KREG PRS5000 works perfectly, and the only negative thing we can think to say about it is that it doesn’t fit all routers.
2. JessEm 02310 Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift – Best Value
The JessEm 02310 Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift is our pick for the best router lift for the money. It’s a little heavier than our top model, but installation is quick and straightforward and results in an accurate lift with easy, precise height adjustment. It lifts the bit high enough to change it from above the table, and the sealed double ball bearing construction ensures smooth travel between heights. It works with any router with a 3.5-inch diameter motor it’s machined steel body is extremely durable.
The downside to the JessEm 02310 is that to install it in some tables, you need a specific plastic lift that only JessEm sells at a very high price.
3. Woodpeckers Precision PRL-V2-420 Router Lift – Premium Choice
The Woodpeckers Precision PRL-V2-420 Router Lift is our premium choice router lift. It features a spring-assisted wrench that allows for fast height changes. Once the wrench is locked in place, a micro-adjust thumbwheel lets you make tiny adjustments for complete accuracy. The aluminum construction is lightweight yet durable, and the single piece motor carriage improves stability. It also includes 3 self-leveling Twist-Lock rings for installing the lift on any table.
The Woodpeckers is a high-end router lift with some nice features, but one thing we can complain about is the thumbwheel. We use it quite often, and it’s difficult to turn, so it tends to fatigue the thumb.
4. JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift
The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02120 Router Lift features an exclusive cam locking system that prevents dropouts while you are working. Double sealed bearing construction ensures smooth movement during travel. Its 3/8-inch thick solid aluminum construction is durable and lightweight. Added tension to the spindle helps reduce vibration and backlash. It fits most fixed-base routers and features an anodized top plate.
The biggest downside to the JessEm is that it’s a bit hard to turn the crank, and it feels tighter than it should. We also found that the instructions are poorly written and didn’t help us install the router lift.
5. SawStop RT-LFT Four-Post Router Lift
The SawStop RT-LFT Four-Post Router Lift features a durable phenolic router table resting on 4 threaded steel posts. The table has a built-in chain mechanism that raises and lowers the table the same distance on all 4 posts at once. It includes several collars that allow you to use the lift with different sized router motors, and it also comes with the required hex wrenches.
The biggest downside of the SawStop is that it’s difficult to install correctly, and it took us a long time and several tries, despite having installed multiple router lifts. We also found no list of compatible routers anywhere, including their website, so choosing it for your table is a bit risky.
6. Incra Mast-R-Lift-II-R Router Lift
The Incra Mast-R-Lift-II-R Router Lift features a very precise height-adjusting system that uses a printed gauge that will tell you exactly how much distance the table moved. A ball-bearing mechanism uses 5 bearings to ensure smooth movement throughout the range of the tool. It has a 16 tooth per inch (TPI) lift screw mechanism for even more control over the table height. The INCRA MagnaLOCK reducing ring system magnetically snaps rings into place so you can change them instantly, and it includes 5 steel reducing rings for using different sized routers.
There is a serious downside to using the INCRA router is that it only works with Rockler tables, so unless you have one, this option is off the table. Another issue we had with this model is that you can’t zero in the height gauge, so the markings give you an idea of how far you’ve moved, but you will need to do the math.
Here are some things to think about before you choose a router lift for your table.
What is a Router Lift?
Many people may use a router as a handheld tool or attach it under a table. Handheld routing is not nearly as accurate as table-mounted routing, but it’s difficult to adjust the cutting bit’s height or change it without climbing under the table. If your router allows you to separate the motor from the base, you can attach the motor to a router lift. The router lift then raises and lowers the router bit using a crankshaft or thumbscrew. It’s like a manually controlled whack-a-mole, but it allows you to make all height adjustments and change the bit from above the table.
Benefits of a Router Lift
First, let’s look at some benefits of using a router lift.
Easy to Use
Without the router lift, you need to change the bit by accessing the tool from under the table. You would make all adjustments to the height the same way. It’s a very inconvenient and inaccurate way to set up your router. The router lift fixes the problem by allowing you to change the router’s height from above the table using a crankshaft. You can also change the router bit from above the table using the lift to extend it out. For many shop owners, the headaches avoided are well worth the cost of a good router lift.
Another benefit to the router lift is that it allows you to make more accurate height adjustments because you don’t need to climb under the table to make small changes. Ball-bearing systems allow for very smooth movement, and long crank handles make the tiniest adjustments possible.
Many router lifts provide the user with more stability and greater vibration reduction than their current setup. Fewer vibrations allow for more accurate material removal and a better-looking finished product.
The most important thing to consider before choosing your router lift is if it will fit your router and your router table. Each router lift will have a list of tools it’s compatible with, so you will need to find it for each model you consider. Remember, if you plan on changing your router or table in the future, you will have to check the compatibility again, so you may want to look at some of the options you’ll have.
To know if the router lift will fit into your table, you need to know the plate size and there are two widely used plate sizes, the 8¼ x 11¾-inch, and the 9¼ x 11¾-inch. Make sure you measure the plate in your existing routing table before you make a purchase and check the model you intend to buy as well.
You will need to worry about making table adjustments when setting up your workspace and some router lifts make it easier than others. Better lifts will allow you to make the table level from above, while budget models will require plastic inserts to level it. These inserts work well, but they are not as convenient as above the table controls.
Higher quality lifts will be easier to install than budget models, but they will both work about the same when complete. Some may also require you to purchase extra parts to set them up correctly, which takes time and costs more. The more complex the installation the more chance there is for error and the more parts you need to purchase, the better the chance they won’t be available.
Companies make router lifts from many different materials, including plastic, aluminum, steel, and iron. Weaker materials will deteriorate quicker; they will also allow more vibrations to occur, which can ruin the lift’s accuracy. Steel is the best balance between weight and strength, though there were aluminum bodies on a few of the models on our list that were extremely durable. Iron is durable but it’s heavy and it also corrodes and rusts quickly.
Having a locking mechanism on your left is the best way to ensure accuracy while you’re working. Models without the lock can slip from the vibrations created by the router causing the routing to be inaccurate. The lift is usually locked by a lever or sometimes a bolt that fastens to the table to keep it in place until you release the mechanism. We highly recommend looking for a model that provides locking functionality.
Ball Bearing Mechanism
The ball bearing mechanism allows for smooth movement as the lift up and down. It’s much easier to get accurate measurements from a lift that uses ball bearings. In general, more bearings provide a smoother movement, so a double ball bearing mechanism is an improvement over the standard.
Most router lifts used a crank handle with the hex end that fits into the lift and allows a user to turn it to raise or lower the router. It’s a good system that allows for accurate measurements with little effort. Some models can be a bit more difficult to crank, but it’s usually accurate and smooth.
Another way a router lift might adjust the height is with a thumbscrew. We like the crank handle better, but the thumbscrew allows you to make extremely precise height adjustments.
Some models come with accessories to help level the lift in the table, and they may also come with accessories called lift adapters that allow you to use the lift with different-sized routers. The more lift adapters you have, the easier it will be to find a router that will work with your router lift. Some accessories are hard to find afterward so make sure you have what you need before you make a purchase.
We feel that the KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift is the best choice for most people. It’s durable, accurate, and smooth. It fits most routers, that’s why it’s our pick for best overall. Another great choice is the JessEm 02310 Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift, which is our pick for the best value. This tool features easy installation and it works with large diameter routers. Double ball bearing construction allows for extremely smooth and accurate movement.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over our reviews and found them helpful in your pursuit of a new router lift. If our buyer’s guide has helped make it clear what you should look for while shopping please share this guide to the six best router lifts on Facebook and Twitter.
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- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 6 Best Router Lifts – Reviews 2021
- Buyer’s Guide