Jane Bell Design and Illustration, New Router Table
Comments 10

New Router Table: To Lift or Not to Lift – That is the Question

The Woodpeckers 420 Router Lift - image via Woodcraft

The Woodpeckers 420 Router Lift – a handsome piece of equipment (image via Woodcraft).

I knew this moment would come. Going back to the earliest days of this project, I knew I would have to make a big decision regarding my new router table: determine what to do about a router lift.

If I had all the money in the world, the decision would be easy (or at least much easier). I would probably combine a Woodpeckers Sidewinder router lift with the burly Porter Cable 7518 3 1/4 hp motor. The price for this package? Over $600.00 and the PC7518 is currently on sale at Woodcraft.

But, I have very little money in my workshop savings account. And, we have a costly home improvement project coming up soon. It’s just difficult and even irresponsible to make a significant power tool purchase now.

As the week developed, this budget problem caused a lot of twists and turns along the path to finishing the router table. I have changed my mind many, many times. In addition to the Sidewinder/PC7518 combo, I considered these options…

  1. A Sidewinder and a smaller fixed base router
  2. A shop made lift and a smaller fixed base router
  3. The smaller fixed base router with no lift
  4. Continue using my DW621 plunge router with no lift; no new router

The Shop Made Lift Option
I gave serious consideration to all of these options. But I knew I would have to be sensible with my money (the reason for options 3 and 4 above). Option one was quickly marked off the list; I gave a lot of thought to the home-made router lift. I had seen the video Steve Ramsey made about his shop built router lift. There are other videos out there with very different lift methods – many of these shop made lifts are large things which would not work in my router table.

Plans for a shop made router lift.

Plans for a shop made router lift.

I purchased a router lift plan from 3D Woodworking Plans. This plan is high quality and well worth the price. While it isn’t stated in the plan, it seems to be the same process Steve Ramsey followed and the completed lift would be both affordable and sized to fit within the interior of my router table.

But my concern here is the nature of shop made fixtures that have moving parts: do they offer the precision needed; will the wooden parts change, even slightly, with seasonal wood movement; will it lead to frustration in use?

I did purchase something and I’ll reveal the solution in my next blog post.

Adding the Dust Port to my Router Table
In addition to the lift research, I finally added the dust port to the back of my router table…

Making a template - the dust port taped to some template stock.

Making a template – the dust port taped to some template stock.

To create the dust port, I needed to make a template which my router, equipped with a flush trim bit, can ride against.

My flush trim bit rides along the inside of the dust port and cuts the opening for the template.

My flush trim bit rides along the inside of the dust port and cuts the opening for the template.

The template after trimming.

The template after trimming.

Dust port hole cut.

Dust port hole cut.

With the template formed, I duct tape it to the inside of the router table (I was surprised how well duct tape worked). After drilling a starter hole, I ran the flush trim bit against the template – note the red arrow above; it points to the template. The result is a copy of the dust port’s hole is created.

The dust port installed.

The dust port installed.

The current view.

The current view.

I’ll begin basic work on the top today and my router lift solution will arrive the middle of next week. Hopefully, I’ll have the table top installed by next weekend.

Move to the next post in this series by clicking here.

NEW WOODWORKING PLAN: How to make a large painted bookcase – this plan covers the construction of a bookcase I built for a co-worker and was designed to be simple to build, yet stylish. See the free plan by clicking here.

10 Comments

  1. Jeff,
    While I think you’ll have a nice, functional router table no matter which option you take, I recommend the following: use a dedicated plunge router now (so you’re not constantly swapping it in & out). Then, when the budget allows buy a good lift & 3 HP motor. With the plunge router in the table, there’s no immediate need to upgrade, so you can watch for sales and even pick up the lift and motor at different times.

    • Hey Dyami, one thing about a plunge router, or at least mine is the difficulty getting a precise adjustment in bit height since the router’s spring is always wanting to raise the height, basically working against me. So, my current thinking is that a fixed base router is better in a router table.

      But, your point is well taken because I did consider simply waiting until I had some money built up for a rockin’ router lift and heavy duty router and look for deals.

      Even if a lift like the Sidewinder comes with a different size plate, I could easily make a new table top since as designed, the top is going to be economical and easy to change out.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. David says

    Really like look and the way it is going and the lift solutions looks to be the way to go.

    • Thanks David. I can’t wait until I get the top all sorted out and attached to the table because the router fence will be next – a part of the project I am looking forward to.

  3. Looking good Jeff! I’m curious, will your dust port pick everything up being down low like that. My experience is you get a lot up above by the bit that doesn’t fall through. Just a thought, can’t wait to see it done!

    • I will have a dust port on the fence as well as this one for anything that falls into the cabinet. As far as your question about the dust ports being effective, I hope so – time will tell. 🙂

  4. Jeff, router table looks good. I looked at the sidewinder as well, but went for the woodpeckers PRL-V2 precision router lift. Got the one with magnetic plates. Bought it through Sears, mostly with gift card rewards through my credit card. Been very, very happy with it. Beats reaching underneath all the time. I have a similar vacuum set-up but don’t think the under side vacuum has been very effective. I put peg board on the back to allow some airflow, and some holes in the plexiglass door. I find the shop vac I have hooked up above the table removes most of the debris. Good luck. Any lift makes routing more enjoyable.
    Dave

    • Thanks for the comment Dave, and thanks for your insight from your cabinet dust port. I am not sure how much dust it will remove – I may have to modify the set-up after I use it a while. The space isn’t tall, but it is deep, so I am thinking not a lot of suction will be happening.

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