Make a Router lift out of recycled closet door rails.

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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)
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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.
ToolNut3 years ago
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)  ToolNut3 years ago
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 urant9 months ago

Did your friend ever returned that camera?

urant (author)  padbravo9 months ago

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

padbravo urant9 months ago


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

earlyflyer3 years ago
I agree with glorybe. Well done and thanks for taking the time to share!
vicbab3 years ago
That is a "threaded insert" or threaded bushing
Great piece of work. Well written and executed.
urant (author)  steveastrouk3 years ago
Thanks for overlooking my typos :S
I unfortunately over rely on the built in autocorrect and forget to prof read before hitting submit.
Yes, I was surprised about "Puting"
that's insanely clever!
urant (author)  captain Jack3 years ago
My wife would agree with the insane part.... :D
alois3 years ago
Very nice!
What about the dust getting into the rails and wheels?
Where did you get the router table fence?
That is an Incra Fence. If you want an accurate and amazing system, you can't get anything better than that.
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)  calikoala3 years ago
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.
urant (author)  alois3 years ago
I got the fence at Amazon, a really great deal and since a had a birthday coming up.....
urant (author)  alois3 years ago
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.
glorybe3 years ago
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)  glorybe3 years ago

Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging post!

You just made my day :D
lesteryoder3 years ago
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)  lesteryoder3 years ago
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.
Vultz3 years ago
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
dacker3 years ago
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:
chavoD83 years ago
Nice instructable, i think that is very useful and gives a high precision to make exelent routing.
CementTruck3 years ago
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)  CementTruck3 years ago
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.
Eviljonbob3 years ago
Nice instructable! I will have to give this a shot!
nice, great first instructable!
rimar20003 years ago
Very good work!
urant (author)  rimar20003 years ago
Thank you very much!