Introduction: Make a Router Lift Out of Recycled Closet Door Rails.

Picture of Make a Router Lift Out of Recycled Closet Door Rails.


This is my first instuctable, and in it I will show you how to make a Router lift for your router table out of recycled hardware.

This is based on 3 closet sleds and rails, that are in tension.

Another thing, the design is very forgiving of small manufacturing errors

I´m also submitting it for the makebot contest, so if you like it, please vote!
Thank you for reading

You will notice that I don´t include a lot of measurements, this is due to the fact that it´s unlikely that you will find the exact same closet rails that I used (there really old).

Just follow along, using the stuff you have at hand and at the end of the day you to will have a recycled router lift (or a vertical lift for any other project you have)

Step 1: Finding the Closet Rails.

Picture of Finding the Closet Rails.

These are the rails out of our old closet door.

Step 2: Cutting the Bottom and Top Plates.

Picture of Cutting the Bottom and Top Plates.

As you could see from the first picture, the list is based on a triangle. I did this because I´m still learning woodworking, and my miter cuts are still not that good, so I wanted a design that would be very tolerant of a little manufacturing error but that would still be rock solid.

The principle behind the design is that the router sled is actually held in place by the tension exerted on the sliders. Since there are 6 sliders in all, it has a lot of support and a lot of places to make fine adjustments.

Since it's a triangle I used a piece of scrape 1/2 inch plywood cut at 60 degree angle. 

Cut 2 of these. Now, I wanted this to fit under a standard router plate (9-1/4" x 11-3/4") so that means that the high of the triangle could not be over 9-1/4"

You can see 2 set of lines at each corner. the outer one is where the end of the rail reaches, and the inner one is the one where the sliders reach. These are important because that's the template for the sled.

Step 3: The Sled Part 1

Picture of The Sled Part 1

This part is a bit complex, so I'll brake it down into parts.
On the tablesaw, use the miter slider to cut 2 identical pieces, based on the template you made from the top plate.

Step 4: The Sled Part 2

Picture of The Sled Part 2

Now cut 3 pieces of plywood (or whatever you are had on hand). These are where the rails slider screws are going to fit into. This is also the place where the tension is exerted, so use strong material.  

From the pic, you can see all the hardware that came off the closet, and our little piece of ply

Step 5: The Sled Part 3

Picture of The Sled Part 3

Assemble the sled, mark and drill the 2 hole for the screws.

Step 6: The Sled Part 4

Picture of The Sled Part 4

Glue all the pieces of ply together and put a couple of screws in to keep it nice and tight. I used some clamps to help me keep thing together while I screwed them together

Step 7: The Sled Part 5

Picture of The Sled Part 5

Now, you place your router on top, mark where you have to cut out the ply in order to fit the router into the slide

Step 8: The Sled Part 6

Picture of The Sled Part 6

Now, the way we are going to move the router up and down is using a threaded rod, and the way to mechanically attach it to the wood sled is by using a kind of screw in nut (I don´t now it's name, but you can see it in the pic and i`m sure someone will now the name ant post it in the comment section)

I put it there because I wanted it as far away from the router as possible, but that it would not get in the way out getting the router in and out of the lift.

Step 9: Puting It Togeter 1

Picture of Puting It Togeter 1

Now, we start putting it together. I cut 3 pieces of plywood to screw the rails into.

Do a dry fit and if everthing fits, screw the 3 plywood pieces to the bottom plate, and then screw the rails in place.

Step 10: Puting It Togeter 2

Picture of Puting It Togeter 2

Attach the sliders to the router sled using the nuts and bolts. then place then all in the lift.

Step 11: Puting It Togeter 3

Picture of Puting It Togeter 3

Screw the top plate in place and put in the threaded rod. I used a small metal plate that came with the closet rails that I did not use.

Cut the rod to size and place a nut at the top. This nut servers a double function; it keeps the rod in place and when you turn it, it moves the sled up and down.

Step 12: Place It in You Table and Enjoy!

Picture of Place It in You Table and Enjoy!

I screwed the lift under a plywood faceplate in my table. It works great and i don´t have to remove the router and plate to make hignt adjustments in the router bit height anymore!

Thank you very much for reading!


kbbaktha (author)2016-01-12

Excellent design and yet within reach of an average skills of DIY woodworker. Thanks for sharing

urant (author)kbbaktha2016-01-14

Thank you!!!

ToolNut (author)2011-05-08

This is a great build - I need to work on a router lift and this may be the key. I would love to see pics of the router installed - how exactly does the router secure to the lift? Just pressure from a tight fit? Thanks!

urant (author)ToolNut2011-05-09

Hi ToolNut!

Yes, just pressure from the tight fit. To keep it from spinning, I routed a notch in the hole that corresponds to a slot on the router body.

A friend borrowed my camera, but as soon as he returns it, I'll take the pictures you want

padbravo (author)urant2014-06-25

Did your friend ever returned that camera?

urant (author)padbravo2014-06-25

He did, but unfortunately no before I had a break-in at the house and my tools "found" a new owner :(

padbravo (author)urant2014-06-25


(well, if u ever redo this project, some of us will be happy to get more detail)

earlyflyer (author)2011-05-06

I agree with glorybe. Well done and thanks for taking the time to share!

vicbab (author)2011-05-06

That is a "threaded insert" or threaded bushing

steveastrouk (author)2011-05-05

Great piece of work. Well written and executed.

urant (author)steveastrouk2011-05-06

Thanks for overlooking my typos :S
I unfortunately over rely on the built in autocorrect and forget to prof read before hitting submit.

steveastrouk (author)urant2011-05-06

Yes, I was surprised about "Puting"

captain Jack (author)2011-05-05

that's insanely clever!

urant (author)captain Jack2011-05-06

My wife would agree with the insane part.... :D

alois (author)2011-05-04

Very nice!
What about the dust getting into the rails and wheels?
Where did you get the router table fence?

Eviljonbob (author)alois2011-05-04

That is an Incra Fence. If you want an accurate and amazing system, you can't get anything better than that.

calikoala (author)Eviljonbob2011-05-06

the idea behind this project is something you build yourself and is not expected to be of the quality of a professionally engineered device. mast-r-lifts run upwards of $300. This looks to have cost less than $50 and a few hours of work.

most things that can be built by home crafters and woodworkers can be found somewhere and usually cost alot more.

urant (author)calikoala2011-05-06

you know, since I recycled all the hardware from my old closet and all the ply was salvaged from my scrap bin (I even had the treaded rod left over from another project), it only cost was my time and the electricity to power the tools. If you look around a bit (craiglist comes to mind) I bet you could also build one for pennies.

Eviljonbob (author)calikoala2011-05-06


urant (author)alois2011-05-04

I got the fence at Amazon, a really great deal and since a had a birthday coming up.....

urant (author)alois2011-05-04

Hi Alois,

As a mater of fact, dust getting into the wheels did worry me. So I did an "extreme" test: I dumped a bunch of sawdust into the rails and made sure that the sleds were chocked full of it. I moved the sled up a down about 10 times (no noticeable hindering of movement).
I cleaned up the sawdust and looked to see if any sawdust had managed to get between the wheels and rails. Fortunately, it didn't happen.
What I think happens is that since the sled wheels are pulled really tight against the rail by the sled, there really is no much of a chance for sawdust and grim to gummy up the slider wheels.
If in the future it does clog up, it's really simple to clean up.

glorybe (author)2011-05-05

I think that you have potential as a professional designer and builder of similar fixtures. You have a very well designed fixture here. Obviously it was built for a home shop or small shop and the highest quality materials and supplies were cost constrained. And that is just fine as the build matches the needs of the potential user. But you have though it out nicely and should pursue this kind of project frequently as you honestly do have a contribution to make.

urant (author)glorybe2011-05-06


Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging post!

You just made my day :D

lesteryoder (author)2011-05-05

Very nice design and I would like to try it. How do you secure your router into the two holes that you have prepaired for it? It seems that it would need to be secure so the motor torque would not turn it and it would stay tight and not vibrate.

urant (author)lesteryoder2011-05-06

Hi Lesteryoder,

Well I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I forgot to mention that since my router has a notch in it's body (so that it wont spin in the hand grip) i routed out the notch in the sled. It fits nice a snug in the sled, and the notch prevents it from spinning.

Vultz (author)2011-05-06

I thought it may be a t nut but they are the hammer in variety. I used one of these to repair a mortise gauge but can't think of the name of them either. They were in the specialist screw aisle of my local bigbox hardware store

dacker (author)2011-05-05

In step 8, the part you are trying to identify is a "threaded insert". They come in different sizes as well as different external threads for softwood and hardwood. I'd consider most plywood a softwood.

Here are many examples at Amazon:

chavoD8 (author)2011-05-04

Nice instructable, i think that is very useful and gives a high precision to make exelent routing.

CementTruck (author)2011-05-04

Nice job!

I have been in the process of sourcing an cheap(free) old automobile scissor jack to use as a height adjuster for my router. Your design would be more work, but would, ultimately, be more elegant.

urant (author)CementTruck2011-05-04

Hi CementTruck,

I did think of using a jack at first, but since I also wanted to be able to adjust the router hight from above the table, modifying the jack to do that was beyond my abilities. That's how I came up with this.

Eviljonbob (author)2011-05-04

Nice instructable! I will have to give this a shot!

iminthebathroom (author)2011-05-02

nice, great first instructable!

rimar2000 (author)2011-05-02

Very good work!

urant (author)rimar20002011-05-02

Thank you very much!

About This Instructable




Bio: A tinker since the cradle, I love looking at things and trying to figure out how they work and the best way to mod them
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