I probably used a router table for the first time when I was about 14. It was a sheet metal stand from Craftsman my grandpa had mounted his router to. It didn’t have a fence, we just clamped a piece of 1×2 to it and hoped everything stayed in place while we worked. He was helping me make some picture frames for some friends and looking back, I was defiantly doing things the hard way ;0). Nothing new there, it must be how I learn.
For the longest time, I never wanted to use a router without table, it just seemed like too many things could go wrong with what you are doing. Most routers were big and a bit scary when you turned them on. Buying a Palm Router changed that and I use mine exclusively by hand. There are times however when it’s better to have the router in a table.
There are two basic options for router tables:
- Fixed mount – You adjust your depth on the router itself from below.
- Router Lift – it holds the router and you adjust your depth from above.
After learning they exist, having a router lift was the only way to go. There are several good options, it was down to choosing between Jessem and Incra for me. What swayed me in the end to the Incra lift was the ability to have dust collection from below rather than in the fence. Both of these lifts are on the hight end….but I have a thing with being frustrated. There is nothing more frustrating than a tool that almost does exactly what you think it should…so I try to buy things that are high enough quality they should do exactly what their designed for.
Meet the Incra Router Lift
When we built the Table Saw Station, I designed it so the fence could be used with the router lift as well if needed. If I need the whole work top for the table saw, I just lower the bit on the router and remove it’s fence. If I’m using the router to put a dado or in the center of the board, I slide the fence over and use it as a guide.
From the top of the lift, there are two spindle inserts that you use to lock and adjust the height of your bit. I might mounted my router so I could change the bit completely above the table. It’s possible you’re not technically supposed to do this….it’s been working fine so far.
The ring set I use has holes in it so you can mount your dust collection from below. I really like this system, building a plywood box under the router to collect dust from seemed easier than trying to build a fence that allowed for dust collection. You could also buy the CleenSweep system from Incra.
I also like using Kreg’s set-up bars. They’re easy to use for setting both height and depth. Then last of all, here’s a photo of what the lift looks like from below. I have a Porter Cable 2 1/4 hp router mounted in there. I finally broke off the safety switch so I can change bits without reaching under to manually turn it off. If it’s unplugged, it isn’t going to start ;0)
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