The Precision Router Lift (PRL) is an insert plate for a router table with a mechanism that also allows the router to be raised and lowered from above the table. The PRL is a seriously heavy duty device, pictures of it do not do justice to its size and heft.
|Included with the kit are three insert rings that
allow one to match the opening to the cutter. The aluminum insert rings are cammed into
the plate, a special tool is provided for this. Also, one of the insert rings is sized to
accept PC style guide bushings. A starter pin and two sizes of crank handles are also
included. The PRL is designed to accept large routers such as the PC 7518, smaller routers
will require an adapter to "bush" them down.
insert plate itself is 3/8" thick anodized aluminum. There are several setscrews
installed around the perimeter that will allow it to be installed flush with the router
table surface. There are also two small spring loaded balls imbedded into the sides of the
insert. These take out any slop between the PRL and it's opening in the table.
The router is held in position by a large yoke milled from a solid 2" thick piece of billet aluminum. The yoke is guided by two 1" diameter posts on large oil impregnated bronze bushings. Two chain driven stainless steel screws running through the yoke lift the router up, these screws are 1/32 pitch but a 1/16 pitch screw will soon be available. The yoke has dust seals around the screws to keep them clean and operating trouble free.
To install the router it (and its adapter if required) are slipped into the yoke and the removable section is tightened down, this all there is to assembly.
|On the top of the plate is a large hex socket the
crank handle fits into that allows the height to be adjusted. When the crank is inserted
the brake is automatically released and the height can be adjusted as desired. I use the
PRL with a Bosch 1617 router which requires an adapter; with this setup I can raise the
router so the collet is 1.6" above the table or as low as 2.5" below it; that is
a significant amount of stroke. Your results may vary a little depending on the
router used and how the adapter is installed.
Also on top are two dials that rotate when the height is adjusted. They can be zero'd out and used for fine tuning the height numerically. Two dials are provided because one may be covered by a fence in operation.
One of the common inconveniences of a router table is that it is often difficult to change the bits. With the PRL bit changing is about as easy as it will ever get. One simply raises the height to access the collet nuts (removing the insert ring may be required also).
The other problem with router tables is adjusting the height of the cutter; the PRL makes this easy to do. The two chain driven screws move the cutter absolutely straight up / down in a very smooth and controlled fashion; in fact, the controlled motion will probably put all your other large machines to shame by comparison.
The 1/32 pitch (on my unit) is pretty fine, this of course makes raising and lowering the cutter take more turns. One way to speed this up is to use an Allen driver in a (cordless) drill to speed the process up.
Of course the PRL is more than just a lift, it's also an insert plate. On many precision joinery operations it can be critical that the plate is flat. My example measured absolutely flat compared to my machinists straight edge. Not only is the plate itself flat but when installed the insert rings are also level with the plate. Compared to the 3/8" thick lexan insert plate I was using previously, the PRL is much flatter and more stable. This directly translates into improved joinery (for me).
Obviously router lifts of this type are not cheap; however, when I take a look at what the PRL is made of and the machining involved I'm actually surprised it can be sold as cheaply as it is. To put this into some kind of perspective, the mechanics of my very expensive Hammer B3 saw / shaper are nowhere near the level of quality of the PRL.
Obviously I am impressed with the PRL, aside from its high quality it performs its task very well and is directly attributable to improving the quality of the joinery operations I do using it.
In the interest of full disclosure WoodPeckers provided this product to facilitate this review.