Introduction: Ultra-cheap Router Lift
Though the real solution for a router table involves a lift kit, there's little point in spending $200 to tie up my good Dewalt router for possibly infrequent use.. A sale at Harbor Freight netted me a 1.75hp plunge router for $40, and Amazon delivered me a Rousseau Router Base Plate for $39. All that was left was to make my router lift on the cheap. The only visible damage I'll do to the router is two small (1/16) holes drilled into the motor assembly near the depth stop.
This is not as robust as a lift kit with a professional grade router, but can be assembled for under $100 (As low as $70. One commentor has noted that HF also sells an identical plate for about $20 +$7 S&H.)
(Note: As usual, this will probably void your warranty.)
Step 1: Design Overview
The plan is to replace this fixed, rudimentary height adjuster with a setup that will compress the plunge router motor (and bit) upward toward it's base with accurate height adjustments. Instead of the height adjustment preventing compression beyond the nut, we'll use it to crank the motor upward like a normal lift system.
Step 2: Depth Adjust Replacement
To do so, we will replace the depth stop with this mechanism, mainly a bolt that tightens to compress the motor to the base. The 'lift' is comprised of the following:
A tee nut anchored to the motor housing, about 8" of threaded 1/4-20 rod, a 1/4-20 coupler, and a "Connector bolt" (unseen below the coupler) through the bottom base.
Total required parts: One 1/4-20 x 40mm(1.5") Connector bolt ($3.50 for 4 in the Furniture parts drawer at Lowe's), 8" of 1/4-20 threaded rod, 1 Tee Nut ($.70), and one 1/4-20 coupler( $.85 each)
(Skip the washer as it is unnecessary. )
Step 3: Drill Through the Base
Remove the depth adjustment rod to disassemble the router. Mark the other side of the depth adjustment socket to drill a 1/4" hole for the connector bolt.
(It may be easier to drill from top to bottom through the socket. Start with a bit just small enough to fit the socket and make a divot in the bottom, then re-drill with a 1/4" bit through the base.)
Countersink this side of the hole (as seen where the drill bit is) to match the shoulder of the connector bolt.
Step 4: Mark and Drill Recess for Bolt Head on Router Plate
Placing the router base on the bottom of the plate, mark the plate through the hole we just drilled.
-Once marked, remove the router base, drill through the plate (from bottom to top) at the mark with a small (1/8") bit to make a pilot hole.
-Using the hole as a center, use a Forstner bit to make a clearance pocket deep enough for the connector bolt.
-Flipping the plate, re-drill the 1/8" pilot hole wide enough to pass the Allen wrench through the plate into the top of the connector bolt.
Before assembling, lubricate the flange of the connector bolt where it meets the base.
Step 5: Construct the Compression Bolt.
(Final view, after assembly)
-With the base still separate, attach the Tee nut to the motor flange. (I drilled two 1/16 holes and hammered two brass nails through the Tee nut flange into the motor flange. JB weld may work just as well.
-Join the 1/4-20 threaded rod to the connector bolt projecting through the base with the coupling nut.
-Reassemble the base to the motor*, with the threaded rod through the Tee nut to compress the motor towards the base. (*Only replace the plunge springs in the tube nearest the new compression bolt, as both are unnecessary with it in an inverted position under the table.)
The complete assembly order should be: Phenolic plate, Connector bolt, Router base, Coupling nut, Motor flange, Tee nut. (Skip the washer I added, it's unnecessary once under tension.)
Step 6: Completed Product
Once sure it is working correctly, disassemble the coupler, lubricate the connector bolt and tee nut, and add some Lock-tite to the coupler before reassembling. The connector bolt and attached threaded rod will now compress the motor upward toward the base elevating the bit.
- As this is my first Instructable, let me know if anything is unclear.
- 1/4-20 threading was dictated by the connector bolt, but the thread count is a pain. 1" of travel is 20 turns. 1/4" is 5, and 1/16" is 1 1/4 turns. 5/16-32 would be better, but harder to find tee-nuts.
- As you can see, 8" of threaded rod looks unnecessary, but I'd rather have extra than too little.
- The only visible damage to the router is where I drilled two small holes for the brass nails to prevent the tee nut from turning. The only other hole I drilled is in invisible at the bottom of the threaded socket for the depth stop. I will have no problems reassembling the router with it's original parts. (Provided they don't get reused elsewhere.)
3/8/2008: - One thing I overlooked in the reassembly is the locking mechanism (black lever on the right in below pic). It relies on a small metal disc to press against the post, but falls out easily.
3/13/2008: It seems that the router in the middle of the saw wing is bowing it down a little (1/8"), so I'm rebuilding it by replacing the strips of MDF on the bottom with a full sheet. Add a couple bars of angle or box tubing from HD and it should be much more stable. Router still works like a charm.
Continuation project to come: Dust collection