Router Lift and the Triton Router

(Updated Oct 08)

It has come up a number of times in discussions whether there are benefits of a router lift.

The router lift has a single purpose: to accurately control the height of the router bit, and provide a stable platform for that bit in operation. The reason for having one, is if your router’s features are not fulfilling this requirement already. Many (most) routers are not designed for table use. They may be plunge routers (with or without a microadjuster, or one that you have to engage then wind through the whole plunge range to set bit height), fixed base routers etc. Setting the bit height when the router is inverted is an absolute pain. They also may be cheaper construction, so are not particularly stable until fully plunged.

Then we have the whole issue of bit changing. Trying to get 2 spanners (or 1 and engaging the shaft lock) while under the table can be an absolute nightmare. Or, you have to design the table in a way that it lifts out of the way providing better access to the router.

For all these reasons, the router lift is a god-send. You plunge the router to full depth (stability), and lock the plunge mechanism. You mount the router in the lift, and never see it again! All height adjustment is done above-table, and you rely on the quality of the router lift mechanism to maintain the bit height when subjected to the vibrations of a router running at speeds up to 20,000RPM. A good lift has no problem with this. To change bits, you buy a bit extender ($A120 – $A180)- which is simply a collet on a 1/2″ shaft, so at full height, it is accessed above the table. Some secure the router bit with a simple cam others have a more traditional collet mechanism. So now we have: above table height adjustment, above table bit changing, and any weaknesses in the plunge mechanism of the router (reasonably) taken care of.

The Triton router does overcome a fair bit of this (although I now use a Triton router with a router lift!) What does the Triton router give me? Easy height adjustment, with geared macro, and micro adjusters that work through the entire range of the router, and you can start using the micro adjuster at any point. Through table bit changing built into the router. (And not to mention, 3 1/4 horsepower, 1/2″ collet, and a whole heap of other features built in). So you don’t have above table height adjustment, but that isn’t critical. Why? Because I am already kneeling down when setting my bit height as I am sighting across the bit to the ruler, or the bit of stock that is about to be machined etc, so it makes no difference whether the handle is above or below the table – either way it is right there in easy reach. While there, I then lock the plunge mechanism, and turn the router on. (A good router table has a second on-off switch that is easy access, especially for stopping, so you only turn the router off at the router itself for bit-changing).

My solution is both a router lift, and Triton router.  I don’t need to use an extender, so long as I am prepared to use the Triton quick plunge (reaching under the table).

Did I say that I really don’t like router bit extenders? They have a purpose, for the occasional job, but I don’t like seeing them in every day use. There is a lot of load on a router bit – why multiply that load with an extender? (Like putting 2 kids on a seesaw- one much further from the centre than the other – it multiplies the load) All that extra load has to be borne by the router’s bearings, and collet. And I really concerned about extenders that use a cam to hold the router bit – one small contact area on the cam itself, and by it’s nature, you are pushing the router bit off-centre against the opposite wall of the collet to secure it. Did I mention 20,000 RPM?

Food for thought?

 

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