How To Make A Precision Router Lift Homemade Machines & Jigs
Back in November, 2011, after I finished my router table project, I started getting requests for plans. The majority of these requests were for the lift itself – some wanted the table as well, but most were interested in a lift that they could mount in a table saw extension wing or a table of their own design. Unfortunately, the lift I made was designed for the table it was in (or similar) and would be unsuitable for stand-alone operation. I then set out to come up with another lift design, one that could bolt onto any table. I went into this in some detail in this blog entry.
This article will not cover every detail of the build. It is meant to be consulted while building the lift and covers some of the methods used to do certain parts of the lift.
The first thing I did before starting was to print the plans and here I have the parts drawings:
I like to do these builds from plans in two stages – cut out and prepare all of the parts first, then move on to assembly. I find that the action of cutting out the parts and getting them ready makes me more familiar with how the project works.
To cut the lift slot in part A, I drilled the 7/8″ holes at the end, then cut out the rest with the jig saw:
This slot does not have to be perfect, it just needs to be smooth and the bearing needs to fit in there without getting hung up. I made a very short video showing how I smoothed and fine tuned the slot with a coarse file:
All of the parts for the build cut out and ready:
With the parts ready, I got the assembly drawings part of the plans to work from:
To help speed up the assembly, I used some short pin nails to clamp the parts while the glue dried, but regular clamps will also work:
My part B has a circular end to the slot, while the drawing shows a square one. I talked about that in this short video:
Putting the lift together is as easy as lining up parts and fastening them together and the plans step you through the process from start to finish.
Here parts E1 and E1 have been glued and pinned to the lift assembly. Note the grooves through each that the lead screw will fit into:
Prior to assembly, the edge of some parts of the lift need to be sanded with fine sandpaper to allow them to move smoothly. I covered that in this short detail video:
Although small, part F is a very important part of the lift. I needs to be the right size and the t-nut that the lead screw fits into needs to be accurately placed. As shown in the assembly video at the bottom of this page, drilling holes for the teeth of the t-nut is important to keep in from splitting. The screw holds the t-nut in the hole so that it can’t pull out:
With the lead screw installed, part F needs to sit flush on part A. To adjust, you can either shim it or trim some off:
The goal at this point is to have part A slide from one side to the other freely without binding or getting hung up. If there is a problem, the alignment of part F is the likely cause and you’ll need to adjust it. It’s a good idea to hold off on gluing part F until you are certain it is lined up correctly.
Also, don’t skip lubricating the moving tracks. I recommend using petroleum jelly to do that, since it is effective and long lasting. The lift can be disassembled in the future to clean, adjust and renew this lubrication.
If you want to finish the lift in any way, I highly recommend finishing each part individually and letting them dry thoroughly before assembly. I think that it is better to leave the lift in it’s raw state, then mount it inside a table that will give it some protection.
The lead screw is made stationary by a set of jam nuts on either side of E4. Tighten these but leave enough space for the lead screw to turn freely:
Moving on to the router carriage, the lift bearing should be close to centered in the slot in part A. Adjust this by taking out or adding more shim washers:
The washers I’m using on the 3/8″ threaded rods are actually 5/16″, since they are a snugger fit. Check that in the store while buying the parts, since there may be some differences with other manufacturers.
In mine, three shim washers worked out well to locate the lift beating in the middle of the slot in part A:
The assembly shows gluing parts M and N to part L, but I recommend checking the fit of the router you will use in this lift before permanently attaching those parts. The 1/4″ threaded rods will hold them in place while you do that:
With the router body put in, ideally it should fit like this:
Snug and tight up against parts L and M1 and M2. You can adjust the size of M1 and M2 to fine tune this before gluing the parts in place.
The finishing touch is to make a neat looking hand wheel to drive the lift, and I went over how to do that in this video:
The lift finished and ready to install in the table or extension wing of your table saw:
Here’s the assembly video: