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Shop-Made Router Lift


Shop-Made Router Lift

Features you can't buy at a price you won't believe.

By Bruce Kieffer and Richard Tendick

Router lifts are hot items these days and for good reason. Veteran router table users love their ability to make super-fine micro adjustments or rapidly raise the bit right from the tabletop. No more fumbling under the table like a contortionist. 

The only drawback is the price: $200 to $500. Ouch! That’s why we were so thrilled when Richard Tendick walked into our offices with his idea for a shop-made router lift. Not only does Richard’s lift offer above-the-table height adjustment (see “Benefits of the AW Router Lift,” page 40) but it costs less than $100. Plus, unlike the expensive commercial lifts, this lift allows you to change bits without cranking the router all the way up. It also features effective below-the-table dust collection. When combined with dust collection in the fence it results in near-perfect dust collection. This design also isolates the exhaust end of the router in the cavity. That leaves the router air intake sucking only clean, dust-free air. And, unlike all the other mechanical lifts on the market, Richard’s lift hangs off the back of the router table, not on the top where the excess weight can lead to sagging. 

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Simple Router Table

Build the slide and clamp blocks by gluing up plywood blanks in pairs. Keep the edges as flush as possible. Trim to finish size after the glue dries. 

Click any image to view a larger version.

Drill holes for the bushings, steel rods and threaded rod on the drill press. A simple jig registers each blank so each set of holes is drilled in exactly the same spot. Important: Clearly label each block and mark the back edge to prevent mix-ups. 

Cut relief slots in the clamping blocks on the bandsaw. Cut each slot 1/4-in. past the hole so the clamping blocks can squeeze tightly on the steel rods.

Screw in three washer head screws around each bushing. Place these screws about 1/16 in. away from the bushing edges. Don’t over tighten; you want the bushings to turn freely in their holes. 

Attach the threaded rod to the lower slide block with a pair of teenuts, one on either side. Screw one teenut on the top of the block. File the prongs off the bottom teenut so it can spin freely in the hole, then tighten it until the threaded rod turns with just a bit of resistance. Insert the mounting screws and remove the rod. 

Glue the upper slide block to the lift back plate. Make sure the side and top edges are flush with each other. 

Clamp the lower slide block in place and check its alignment. The steel rods should slide smoothly. If they bind, give the lower slide block a tap with a mallet to the left or right until the rods move freely. Then secure the lower slide block with screws.

Lock an acorn nut onto the top of the threaded rod. Really jam it on! You want the nut locked on the rod so it can be turned in both directions without coming undone. Clamp the locking pliers close to the nut so any damaged threads get buried in the upper clamp block. 

Attach the threaded rod to the upper clamp block by locking two nuts together. Finger-tighten the first nut against the block so the rod turns with just a slight amount of resistance. Then add a lock washer and tighten the second nut against the first.

Tighten the clamp blocks on the steel rods. Make sure the tops of the rods are flush with the surface of the clamp block.

Hang the lift mechanism on the cabinet back. Washers keep the moving parts of the lift clear of the back. Note: The cabinet back must be 3/4-in. thick to support the lift.

To make the carrier for your router, drill the hole in the router clamp using a heavy-duty circle cutter. Make test cuts to ensure a snug fit on the router motor body. 

Bolt the router carrier to the lift mechanism. The lip around the back edge of the router carrier makes it very easy to align the two components.

Mount the router in the clamp. Chuck the 1/2-in.-diameter steel rod in the router and check that it’s square to the table. If you find the router is not perfectly perpendicular to the table, shim the router clamp. Note the notches cut in the clamp to accommodate pins on the motor housing.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker March 2004, issue #106.

March 2004, issue #106

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