Side Winder or Thumb wheel...?

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Forum topic by 2bigfeet posted 02-05-2011 05:22 PM 4160 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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65 posts in 2676 days

02-05-2011 05:22 PM

Looking to get a router lift and a PC 7518. I’ve read all I can find here and still have a few questions that maybe some one can help with.

It looks as though the Kreg and Woodcraft lifts are made by Woodpeckers… correct? Only difference I see is the Kreg has four screws in the corners for leveling I presume, where the Woodcraft (Premium) and the Woodpeckers has four more around the table as well as a parallel gauge markings etched in the surface. I do have two Kreg router tables so the only advantage I see to the Kreg lift would be color coordinating. I like the idea of the markings on the others.

So now the question is: Thumb wheel or Side winder? Anyone have any experience with both. I went to my local Woodcraft but nothing was out on display… boxes only. They did open them to look at but that didn’t help with the action of them. I read somewhere that the side winder is little hard to crank things going up. And someone else mentioned backlash in the thumbwheel model…?

Still looking at the Jessem too I guess. Though whats grabbing me on the Woodpeckers is the quick height adjustment feature.


6 replies so far

View Blue Mountain Woods's profile

Blue Mountain Woods

110 posts in 2931 days

#1 posted 02-09-2011 09:58 PM

I’ve had a number of lifts over the years, mostly for the 7518. By far, the best setup I’ve seen (and have now been using for a few years) is my 7518 mounted in a Bench Dog ProLift, in a Bench Dog ProMax cast iron router table. The collet will raise well above the table, and can be cranked easily. The lift itself is alot heavier than the Jessem I was using. Really, really well made. It’s a bit pricier than most, but you’ll never need another router table. I built the cabinet inside a rolling stand available at Rockler.

-- Pete -----

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3133 days

#2 posted 02-09-2011 10:48 PM

I have the Woodpecker’s thumbwheel version for about 8 months now. I upgraded the router to the PC 7518 when Rockler put the motor on sale in December.

Mine is also stiff when raising the router, but that isn’t much of a drawback. I can’t really say whether or not there is backlash in the thumbwheel, but if there is it has not seemed to be a factor. The indicator wheel for the fine height adjustment (don’t know if the sidewinder version has it) is very helpful when fine-tuning the height adjustment by trial-and-error. When I have tried to make a small absolute height adjustment I have had better luck going by the graduations on the wheel than by measuring the displacement of the bit with a digital height gauge (not a permenently mounted one, however).

It took a bit of time for me to get comfortable with the quick height adjustment; not quite as slick in practice as it first looks, although it does work and I am glad I have it.

The lift costs a lot but it works as expected – I am happy with mine. My guess is the sidewinder is slightly more convenient to use, and slightly more of a hassle for dust collection. I am still trying to decide how much I like the Woodpecker’s fence I have.

BTW, the Woodpecker’s rep at the WW show last spring told me that they do indeed make the Pinnicle products carried by Woodcraft. Incra also sells this lift, but the inserts for that version are different (otherwise the same – the pads for the PC were cheaper through Incra than Woodpecker’s or Woodcraft).

That Bench Dog unit looks impressive. Maybe when I wear out my Woodpecker’s setup!

-- Greg D.

View 2bigfeet's profile


65 posts in 2676 days

#3 posted 02-10-2011 03:28 AM

I just took a look at the Bench Dog, but I notice they use a different size plate than the Kreg tables I have… so I think that eliminates the Bench Dog.

I actually just ordered my third Kreg table. Two I’m leaving setup for specific tasks with fixed plates and Bosch routers. The third table I’m going to put the PC 7518 and a lift in for the bigger bits and general routing. I’m leaning toward the Sidewinder but the lack of reviews worries me… somewhat. Is anyone buying these?

I want the lift for the fine tuning without getting on my knees and reaching under the table. I think I’m inclined to just lift the entire thing out to change bits rather than cranking away, which is why I still keep peeking at the Jessem Mast-R-Lift.

The process continues…LOL. Thanks for the input.

View Blue Mountain Woods's profile

Blue Mountain Woods

110 posts in 2931 days

#4 posted 02-10-2011 04:19 AM

Yes, the Bench Dog ProMax table is designed to accept their ProLift. I’ve used the Mast-R-Lift and it’s well-designed, and solid as a rock.

-- Pete -----

View 2bigfeet's profile


65 posts in 2676 days

#5 posted 03-01-2011 05:09 AM

I got a chance to play with the Woodpecker thumbwheel version made for Kreg. I wasn’t too impressed. The quick lift action was spotty at best. Sometimes it would engage, sometimes you had wiggle around and try and find the release point. The thumbwheel to me was tedious. Too much thumbing to get adjusted which also was dependent on where you were in the 3/4” travel limit. You would have to get the quick lift wrench out again to make an adjustment if you were topped out up or down. It was also definitely harder going up with the thumbwheel… even with the brake all the way loosened. Which by the way stuck up past the surface of the table even only slightly loosened. In order to get the set screw below the surface the brake was full on. The unit did seems beefy enough and well machined… just didn’t execute as well. I turned my attention to the Sidewinder version and the Jessem Mast R Lift II.

I had emailed Jessem with questions about compatibility with other table tops but received no response. I called three times and tried three different extensions, but nobody picked up the phone… leave a message only. I guess the things I’ve read about their CS are true… non existent.

I called around looking for both the WP Side Winder and Jessem. I stumbled on the Jessem first at a very good price… so I decided to give it a try.

Well I just took delivery of the Jessem Mast R Lift II. I must say it is very impressive. The lifting and locking action is like butter. It cranks up and down the full travel quick enough. I can see putting a hex wrench bit on a small cordless drill but it really isn’t necessary.

It fits perfectly in the Kreg table top cutout. However, the holes in the plate don’t line up with any of Kreg’s mounting blocks to lock this thing down. Kreg completely routs out the opening and leaves no rabbited ledge. It uses mounted plastic corner blocks. Each block has two leveling set screws a one larger lock down nutsert in the center of the block. The Jessem lift has two opposing countersunk hole in the corners of the plate… they just don’t line up with the Kreg system. The leveling holes and set screws in the Jessem plate are useless as they won’t hit anything because of Kregs through cut.

I like the lift enough to pursue a fix. I’m sure I can monkey a fix in the Kreg table somehow, or I might even pick up another top with a rabbited cutout. The Woodpecker MDF top looks usable and offers a way to mount just about any fence with its three slots, where the Jessem top just gives you one 3/4” slot.

I’ll post pics when its all said and done.

View 2bigfeet's profile


65 posts in 2676 days

#6 posted 03-06-2011 02:44 AM

I think I have a new addiction… router tables. As if I don’t have enough (three), I’ve decided to build a fourth.

I did end up buying the Woodpeckers MDF top. I had to make a few modifications for the Jessem’s leveling screws, but it was an easy fix. The new WP top screamed… custom table needs to under it. So it begins.

I’ve taken a bunch of pics of the build so far. Should I start a new build thread, keep it here, or start a blog? Kinda new here so I’m not sure of protocol.

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