Ultra-cheap Router Lift

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Intro: 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.

Further notes:
- 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

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42 Discussions

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Ralphcs419

1 year ago

I MADE IT! Using a Craftsman plunge router. Had to sub a 3/8 16 thread rod. That's what the router had to begin with. Works so easily. Thanks

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lustreking

1 year ago

Wow, I've had this same router mounted in my saw for probably 10 years, but I've rarely used it because it's so hard to adjust without a lift. The springs are really strong. Since you have gravity working for you, did you shorten or remove the springs completely before reassembly?

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lustrekinglustreking

Reply 1 year ago

I read it again, and saw that you removed one of the springs. Thanks, definitely going to do this one!

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Poppy Ann

1 year ago

A great instructable showing all the important parts, does using one screw to lift itnot cause it to grab the guide shafts? on my router if I do not push against both sides at the same time it just jam's on the guide shaft.

I am in the process of building a router/saw table with the router fitted to one side of the table and the saw fitted to the center of the table the reason for my doing it this way is when using a router the work piece is always to one side of the cutter and when using the saw the work piece is on both sides of the table.

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The Local Handyman

1 year ago

Very instructive I've enjoyed reading this article I have been trying to figure out the best and cheapest way of doing this and I have just learned how thanks.

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AZjohn

2 years ago

This is a brilliant money saving idea.. (one of those "I wish I'd thought of that")

Great pics and instructions- - -THANK YOU MUCH john

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Fezder

2 years ago

Wohoo, there's hope for my cheapo router! not wanting to ''waste'' ~100-200 euros for another triton....

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dbynoe

3 years ago on Introduction

I made one of these for my old Craftsman 3hp plunge router about 2 years ago. I think it works as well as any router lift that I have seen. After real world experience, I suggest a few minor changes. First, lubricate the screw, I used a light grease, seems to work well, second, I had to replace the nails with very small self taping screws as the nails started backing out shortly after I started using it. Next I added some thread locker to the coupling nut as my router is heavy and the nut would occasionally back out. the last thing I did was lock a coupling nut on the trailing end with a small nut, so that I could use a nut driver to run the router quickly up for bit changes, I later started using a socket-ed hex driver on the end of my drill to make a form of power lift from the top of the table. Its been a while, but the power driving may have been why I needed the thread locker in the first place. In any event, my version cost me about 10 bucks for enough stuff to make 2 of these, only used one, but I had purchased every thing in pairs in case I screwed up the first try. Anyway, after 2 years of use, I think its brilliant, and now several new router designs have this feature built in, there was also a company that sold a somewhat more complicated version of this for around $70 to $100. I can't imagine it working any better than this one.

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dave01

4 years ago on Introduction

Great work! So simple and easy to do. I am making a new multi-purpose work bench and have the exact same router (Good reliable workhorse) so easy for me to do.

I will look at changing the threaded rod and replacing with an 8mm x 200mm hex cap screw.

Lastly I will try and think of a way to introduce an accurate way to measure height and come back to you if I work it out.

Thanks!

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ccraig8

5 years ago on Introduction

I love your homemade router lift idea. I just now started learning how to router and a friend gave me a Hitachi M12V. I was trying to figure out to make a lift and then I saw this. A couple of questions though: My threaded rod is 5/16, will that hurt?
Also, u said it's pulling down on the saw wing. What is it you are calling the saw wing?
Last, u said just replace the Mdf to make it more stable. What and where the Mdf to replace?
Sorry for all the questions. I'm just fixing to do mine.. U can email me if u want. nutbushchris77@gmail.com

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Vestusccraig8

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Two small factors against the 5/16th. Firstly, the Hillman 'connector bolts' are 1/4-20, so that dictated the size for me. (I can't find them in other sizes.) Also, a 5/16 t-nut may not fit in the flange. If you can find the parts in 5/16 you may find elevating the router easier than using 1/4". Great idea with the lower lift knob too.

As for mdf support, I was trying to install it in the side wing of my table saw, which was a single 3/4" particle board sheet supported on two sides. It all depends on where you're installing it, but preventing sagging is key (angle iron supports, extra mdf, etc) (Since I wrote this, I bought a new saw, new router, and I eventually made a router 'table' from a shipping crate. )

PS. I'd edit your post and remove your email before the spam bots get it.

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ccraig8

5 years ago on Introduction

I know it's been 5yrs since this project. Have u had anymore issues since? Also, if u put a knob on the other end of the threaded rod, u can control it from top or bottom.....

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scavanger

8 years ago on Introduction

 Nice instructable.
I did something very similar with my Porter Cable router a few years ago.
Some of you may find it helpful so I posted a link. Not all the nice detail that Vetus posted here, but a few photos on my blog you may find useful.
Hope it gives you a few more ideas to work with.

Homemade router lift mechanism 


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pfred2

7 years ago on Introduction

If you'd just bought the Hitachi you'd have gotten a lift accessory thrown in the deal. At least I did. Look familiar?

http://www.comparestoreprices.co.uk/images/hi/hitachi-m12v.jpg

The lift is the knob sticking up on the left. That and you'd have gotten a full power balanced tool too.

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Vestuspfred2

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

The m12v isn't available on our side of the pond. How much do they run?

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pfred2Vestus

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I think the old model is discontinued today. I paid $120 for mine years ago. The big ugly green machine. It is nice though electronic soft start, variable speed, smooth, gobs of power. It even came with a decent 1/2" straight carbide bit just to get you started. I'm not sure if they all came with the lift accessory or not but mine did. When I was in the market for a good tool it was the cheapest "real" 1/2" plunge router going.

The biggest complaint anyone ever had about them was the dumb base ears to hold guides stopped you from running the largest bits. But some folks just knocked those ears off. You could almost buy 3 M12Vs for what most other routers in its class cost.

I haven't always been the kindest to mine either

http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/3937/hitachilog.jpg

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dyril

7 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for this Instructable. Being new to woodworking I ended up getting a DeWalt 618PK but then shortly kicked myself for not having researched router-table-friendly routers. So I just modded the 618's plunge base like so (how lucky that I could find a nice spot to drill holes). Remove unnecessary things such as springs and plastic casing. Cut a 3/8"-16 socket-head bolt and graft onto another sawed-off bolt, joining with a connector nut. I couldn't find teenuts, so I carefully tapped the sliding portion (using the bolt).

router_lift1.jpgrouter_lift2.jpgrouter_lift3.jpg
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Vestusdyril

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I have a 618 that I planned to install on the table saw wing and never found a good way. Thanks for the pics.

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air-v

7 years ago on Step 6

Hello,
I've got POF1400 Bosch Router, and i would try your tips. Do you think it will be possible ?
Thanks