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Home Made Router Lift, Is it worth the time?

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Forum topic by rockindavan posted 12-28-2012 04:00 PM 1682 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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rockindavan

284 posts in 1360 days


12-28-2012 04:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: router

Im in the market for a router lift and I am considering making my own. I’m a mechanical engineer by trade and work with vendors all the time to get parts made for our machines. As I was looking at the lifts on the market, I couldn’t help but to think, I could make that.

We have a vendor who could laser cut me parts like the plate and other flat parts. I can machine other parts with my dad’s mill and lathe. Others could be made with CNC if I couldn’t make it myself, although those would be more expensive.

My thoughts are is it worth the time, and would it be less expensive. I don’t want to spend all the time modeling it on Solidworks and getting all the parts made for it to not work as well as models you can buy. If I made it myself I could add features I find useful, but I’m concerned I might overlook some details.


19 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

2534 posts in 935 days


#1 posted 12-28-2012 04:29 PM

Have you looked at Matthias Wandel's router lift? Even if you don’t use his exact design, it might be helpful to see what someone else has done.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

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johnstoneb

772 posts in 897 days


#2 posted 12-28-2012 04:42 PM

You will never be able to make a router lift with the same quality and features that are available on the market for less money. Simply because of the scale of production.
That said. If you want to make a router lift and have the skills and tools available to make it go for it. It won’t be cheaper.
For example, I build fishing rods. I could buy them cheaper, but I like to build them and when I am through with one. I have something that is custom built the way I want it. Is it better than one off the shelf maybe, maybe not. They both catch fish. I like mine better. I continue to build them and when I am out with my wife I make sure to look at the realy high-priced rods that I can’t afford so she thinks I am saving money by building my own.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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David

196 posts in 1387 days


#3 posted 12-28-2012 05:10 PM

I disagree that you can’t make one better than on the market for less money, that’s basically what Matthias does. I’d say go for it. Especially since you’re an ME, have CAD experience, and are already familiar with what goes into producing something.

Where do you work? I’m from Madison myself and am also a ME.

-- Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves possess. --Gandalf the Grey http://davidwahl.org/category/woodworking/

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3515 posts in 1537 days


#4 posted 12-28-2012 05:12 PM

No, it is not worth it. Neither is a manufactured router lift. Here is why…many modern routers come with full above-the-table adjustment. This is like having a router lift built in. The cost of these routers is often less than just a commercial router lift. One example is a Freud FT1700vce. It is a 13 amp router that is a real gem in a router table. Height adjustmant, bit changes and locking collet can all be done from above the table with the supplied allen wrench knob.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1882 days


#5 posted 12-28-2012 05:21 PM

Oh, I’d put my PRLv2 lift against anything home-made. And there is just no way a router with built-in lift will have the stability, functionality/speed, and accuracy of my production lift. Sorry to disagree there.

I agree with Bruce…you cannot match the level of performance with a home-made lift at a price point that will be worth your efforts. It really becomes a matter of pride…which is a good enough reason to build your own lift. For the best bank for your buck, I’d get Matthias’ plans and make it from wood.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View rockindavan's profile

rockindavan

284 posts in 1360 days


#6 posted 12-28-2012 05:29 PM

One thing I won’t be doing is making it from wood. I think there is a time and place for wood jigs, but I’m not going to spend the time designing a lift made of wood that has inherent slop and wear that you can’t avoid. If I made a lift it would be steel and aluminum, quite similiar to the models available, but with the features I like from all of them.

David- I work at Neschen Americas in Sun Prairie. They make laminators.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2372 days


#7 posted 12-28-2012 05:33 PM

the $$ is going to be the materials here. From my experience, and judging by the cost of commercially available options, unless you get the materials for free (aluminum, steel rods, etc) you won’t be saving much if any money at all and might end up spending more.

run a rough material estimation before delving into solidworks to see if it’s worth it.

To me, making a custom lift would probably not be to save money as it’ll cost more for materials, but more the ability to custom make it to do specific things I’d like it to do (if I was to make anything custom like that).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View MJCD's profile

MJCD

455 posts in 1095 days


#8 posted 12-28-2012 05:33 PM

I go with the purchase – it arrives precise and industrial strength.

I’ve yet to see a on-router adjustment that can compete with a 1/64”, no backlash increment available on modern lifts. My JessEm is many years old, and continues to be spot-on.

MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1882 days


#9 posted 12-28-2012 05:35 PM

David…I think that’s the issue…knowing enough of what’s out there to know how to duplicate it. For example, my PRLv2 has a quick-release to rough set your cutter height, change bits, or hide-away the router. I wouldn’t own a lift without one…but duplicating that might take some doing if you make it yourself. Mine also has a 32 tpi lead screw, so you can predictably microadjust as you need…though I also have Wixey digitals to make repeatability very easy. And as MJCD said, backlash is a big problem with most lifts, which is a major reason why I went from the Rockler FX lift to what I have now.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View rockindavan's profile

rockindavan

284 posts in 1360 days


#10 posted 12-28-2012 05:36 PM

I guess its not so much about whether I can build it for less, but more about whether its going to cost roughly the same. I would rather not spend over $500 to build one that could do the same or marginally better then what is on the market.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2372 days


#11 posted 12-28-2012 05:40 PM

that’s what I mean in RE to “saving costs” – it would have to be pretty significant savings to make it worth building it – unless you are doing this for fun.

the PRLv2 is a nice one.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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rockindavan

284 posts in 1360 days


#12 posted 12-28-2012 05:44 PM

This would definetly be a “fun” build. It wouldn’t bother me if it took 6 months to design, build, and tinker with it to get it working to my liking. I’m just a little worried if it takes 3-4 revisions on the design I could go way over the cost of a market lift.

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1882 days


#13 posted 12-28-2012 05:48 PM

I think that’s what we all agree with, David…if we all had the capability to make one ourselves, we probably would because it’d be such a cool project.

My grandfather built a lot of his own tools, including a machinist’s mill and lathe. I was always amazed that he could do such a thing. I think that if you don’t have an immediate use for a lift, and have the capability to do it yourself, then that would be a ton of fun…and that’s kinda what it’s all about for me.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View David's profile

David

196 posts in 1387 days


#14 posted 12-28-2012 05:51 PM

@Jay – That was mostly my point, a lot of the fun of woodworking for me is the learning and tinkering process.

I personally have a height adjustment knob on my router and combined with a dial indicator I can adjust the height very accurately. I always do a test cut on some scrap before doing the real work and so far it has worked well for me.

-- Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves possess. --Gandalf the Grey http://davidwahl.org/category/woodworking/

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1882 days


#15 posted 12-28-2012 05:59 PM

Two David’s here…lol. I recently purchased the plans for Matthias’ 16” bandsaw. I will be building it soon and I believe it will be as sturdy and as accurate as anything you can purchase…and I’ll spend a heckuva lot less.

But something like that up can be built with enough mass to make it sturdy and stable. A router lift out of wood, IMO, wouldn’t deliver the same stability and accuracy of a production lift just because something so small can’t be beefed up enough…and the need for precision in such a tool is critical…unlike a band saw.

But after I build the bandsaw, his pantorouter is going to get some serious consideration…not so much for the functionality (which is significant) but because I think it’d be so cool to build.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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