Home » Tools » Accessories » The Best Router Lifts For Your Router Table

Woodworking Tips & Guides

The Best Router Lifts For Your Router Table

Updated: September 7, 2022
A router table without a router lift is like a table saw without a blade height adjustment. Sure, you can use the routers height adjustment. But it is slow, inaccurate and can be dangerous. In this guide learn what the best router lifts are for your workshop and the features that matter.
Jessem Ultimate Router LIft
Our content is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

The Best Router Lifts For Your Router Table

After years of using a router table with an inadequate lift my research lead me to a complete table replacement: the JessEm router table with the Mast-R-Lift Excel II table and lift. While this combination is the premium solution on the market, and priced like it, the quality and precision is something no woodworker would be disappointed with. 

While not every woodworker can afford a package in the $1500-2000 range, if your plans are for decades of use the decision is simple: invest in a JessEm. 

There are, however, many solutions for router lifts that start as low as $200. In this guide learn what the right lift is for your current or future router table.

In this guide learn about key features like:

  • Hard anodized base plates made from aluminum
  • Compatibility with your router and table
  • Sealed bearing lifts for smooth operation
  • On-table bit changes to keep the router in the table
  • Micro-adjustment
  • Height lock to avoid slippage over extended router usage
  • Over-table adjustment or turn-handle adjustment

Top Picks

Best overall:

Best on a budget:

Top JessEm alternative:

› Kreg PRS5000 at Amazon ($349.00)

Best for plunge routers:

 JessEm Prestige at Amazon ($389.99)

Upgrade pick:

Four post chain drive option:

Last updated on 2023-01-26 at 19:33 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Router Lift Features to Consider

Woodworkers know that a router lift must raise and lower a bit. But there are subtle features that make the best router lift accurate, durable and of course easy to use:

  • Standard lifts fit a router motor of 3-1/4″ or 3-1/2″
  • However, there are plunge router lifts and even router-specific plates
  • Lift plates are generally included and a standard size is 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″
  • Look for a high quality, precision adjustment drive system
  • Heavy aluminum plates will eliminate sagging from weight of lift + router
  • Hard anodized surfaces are best for durability
  • Easy to use router bit height adjustment – and ball bearing assisted lifts are the top of the line
  • Adjustment locks on top of the table are a must (cam locks are best)
  • Look for a lift that allows for bit removal without lifting the plate from the table


When shopping for a router lift you’ll want to consider the following brands:

  • JessEm makes models that fit just about any router
  • Incra is known for top-end, professional grade solutions
  • Kreg offers models that fit both their router table and others
  • Bosch makes all-in-one bench top router tables and basic lifts
  • Rockler has solutions that fit both their uniquely sized table and a standard size
  • Woodpecker 
  • SawStop offers a model that works with their in-saw router tables

JessEm Mast-R-Lift II Router Lift

Compatibility, Accuracy and Durability

JessEm manufacturers lifts for just about every brand and style of router; and this model is widely compatible with todays most popular routers.

What Woodworkers Like About It
  1. Compatibility: Universal fit for the router you own today … and tomorrow
  2. Features: Above table lock, double sealed ball bearings, hard anodized table, above table bit changes, metric and imperial options, and more [a]
  3. Brand Reputation: JessEm specializes in high quality woodworking tools and is know for their router lifts.
  4. Dimensions: Standard 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ (metric or imperial) plate or 8-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ plate. 

When to Choose The Mast-R-Lift II

Most router lifts are for serious woodworkers.

While you can do many tasks on a router table without a lift, the speed and accuracy gained by using a lift far outweighs the “extra cost” a lift introduces.

So why go with this lift over the others? Simple. It is the most widely compatible lift on the market. And with the accuracy, technology and durability of JessEm you’ll have it for years (or decades) to come. 

Why Shop Elsewhere

The most common reason to choose a lift other than the Mast-R-Lift is you prefer the higher horsepower a plunge router offers. And, for that, you’ll find the JessEm Rout-R-Lift Prestige is a unique solution for mounting high-horsepower plunge routers to.

What about cost? Well, most of the best router lifts start in the mid-300’s and go up to $500. Which gives you an option of a cheaper lift, but forces your choices in the future to a lift that may not be compatible with your preferred router in five years.

JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift

Key Features, 3-1/2″ Motors and Value Priced

While the Mast-R-Lift II is a top end lift, this lift has many of the features of its big brother but sticks to a lifts bread and butter compatibility: supporting just a 3-1/2″ router motor. 

What Woodworkers Like About It
  1. Price: There aren’t imitation lifts or knock-offs that compete with this model in price. 
  2. Features: Above table lock, double sealed ball bearings, phenolic top and above-table bit changes [b]
  3. Brand Reputation: JessEm specializes in high quality woodworking tools and is known for their router lifts.
  4. Dimensions: Standard 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ base plate

When to Choose The Mast-R-Lift II

If you have one of the following routers with a 3-1/2″ motor (removable from its base) then check out the JessEm model that is right for you:

  • Model 02310 – Porter Cable, Bosch, Dewalt
  • Model 02311 – Makita 1101
  • Model 02312 – Hitachi M12VC-KM12VC
  • Model 02313 – Milwaukee 5615/5616/5619
  • Model 02314 – Rigid 29302

Why Shop Elsewhere

If impressing your fellow woodworkers is a goal, you’ll check a box that you have a router lift but not turn heads with this model. While the Mast-R-Lift supports a top end hard anodized aluminum top, this model features just a base phenolic plate. Good enough? Absolutely. Risk with heavy routers it will sag? Maybe.

Other than features, and similar to the Mast-R-Lift, if spinning a large cabinet door panel bit is your intention you’ll want to consider a lift that supports a plunge router.

Kreg PRS5000 Router Lift

Key Features, 3-1/2″ Motors and Value Priced

With support for over 20 routers and a standard sized 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ base plate the Kreg offers many of the same JessEm features. And (usually) at about a $50 savings.

What Woodworkers Like About It
  1. Price: Slight savings versus the generally comparable JessEm Mast-R-Lift.
  2. Features: Above table lock, double sealed ball bearings, sag-free hard anodized aluminum, indexing ring and above-table bit changes [c]
  3. Dimensions: Standard 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ base plate that fits Kreg router tables and many others.

When to Choose The Kreg PRS5000

While a JessEm Rout-R-Lift is a quality lift, if your tool buying instincts take you to a hard anodized table this lift is about the next price point up to check into.

With many features comparable to JessEm, this lift is preferred if you have a Kreg router table or one of the following routers (always check the manufacturer site for final compatibility!):

  • Bosch 1617, 1618 3.5″
  • Craftsman 17543, 17540, 28190 3.5″
  • DeWalt 610, 616, 618 3.5″
  • Felisatti RF62 3.675″
  • Hitachi M12VC, KM12VC 3.267″
  • Makita 1101 3.218″
  • Milwaukee 5615, 5616, 5619 3.32″
  • Milwaukee 5626 4.143″
  • Porter-Cable 690, 890 3.5″
  • Porter-Cable 7518 4.2″
  • Ridgid R29302 3.625″

Why Shop Elsewhere

While Kreg is an established and trusted brand, for a few more bucks you can buy into the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II which offers the best router lift line-up out there. And, like the options shown so far, you’ll need to look at the JessEm Prestige for a plunge router compatible option.

JessEm Prestige Router Lift

Mast-R-Lift Features, Plunge Router Support

Most woodworkers know that the highest horsepower in a router is found with a plunge router. But, most router lifts don’t support the up to 3-1/2HP beasts. JessEm has solved this problem with its Prestige lift.

What Woodworkers Like About It
  1. Price: Comparable to the Mast-R-Lift, but supports higher powered routers.
  2. Features: Above table lock, double sealed ball bearings, sag-free hard anodized aluminum [d]
  3. Dimensions: Standard 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ base plate that fits Kreg router tables and many others.

When to Choose The Jessem Prestige

The only reason to go with this style lift is if your router table will be spinning large panel bits. And, with that size bit, you’ll need the extra power and continuous duty capability of a plunge router.

While some woodwork’s opt for two lifts (one standard, one for plunge), this lift will support all your projects.

There is a caveat: no above-table bit changes.

Why Shop Elsewhere

There isn’t a comparable model on the market. 

Woodpeckers Router Lift

Premium Features, Micro Adjust Wheel

At the top end of the price range but featuring one piece carriages and a unique micro-adjust wheel sits the Woodpeckers brand. 

What Woodworkers Like About It
  1. Precision: The Woodpecker lift is the only one of the top lifts featuring a micro-adjustment wheel that is made for precision projects.
  2. Features: Above table lock, spring assisted lift for above table bit changes, double sealed ball bearings, sag-free aluminum plate[e]
  3. Compatibility: Like JessEm, Woodpeckers offer this model in almost a dozen product codes (all unique, all matched to your router) for compatibility.

When to Choose The Woodpeckers Lift

The Woodpecker lift is an upgrade lift for many woodworkers. With advanced features like micro-adjustment and spring-assisted lifts for fast bit changes the team at Woodpeckers solved a few of the “I didn’t realize that until I owned it” issues from other lifts.

Of note, be sure to check the model # when ordering. Woodpecker offers a 3.5″-compatible lift under the PRL-V2-350 part number that fits a wider range of motor-only routers.

Why Shop Elsewhere

Look elsewhere if a price tag around $500 isn’t in your budget. Or, if your router isn’t compatible with the lifts available from Woodpeckers

SawStop Router Lift

Unique Four Post Chain Drive

SawStop won’t make tools like everyone else. While known for their blade-stopping table saws, their router lift features a chain drive unique to the market.

What Woodworkers Like About It
  1. Precision: The four post chain design lifts the router from all corners, ensuring a precision rise.
  2. Features: Chain drive, sag-free hard anodized aluminum plate[e]
  3. Compatibility: SawStop router lifts support routers from 3-1/4″ to 4-1/4″.

When to Choose The SawStop

If you have the SawStop table saw with a fence built for a router table insert then their router table is well worth purchasing to conserve table space. And, to keep your brands the same this smooth acting and highly precise lift is well regarded and fits into their standard-sized router plate opening (9-1/4 x 11-3/4″). 

Why Shop Elsewhere

This lift is known to have un-published incompatibility with routers. While SawStop has reducer collars, there isn’t a well published list of routers it is compatible with. Which, for many woodworkers, makes it a pass for current and future router compatibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which router lift should I buy?

The first decision in purchasing a router lift is making sure it is compatible with both your router table and router. While most router lifts are a standard size of 9-1/4 x 11-3/4 inches, some router tables such as Rockler are a custom size. Once you have decided on the router plate size, look for a router lift with sealed ball bearings and on-table router bit changes.

Do I need a lift for my router?

The simple answer is no. You can use a plunge or fixed based router with a fixed plate, but you will need to constantly be under the table for all height adjustments and bit changes.

Do you need a router plate for your lift?

Yes, a router plate is required for your lift. And, fortunately, all router lifts for full sized tables come with a plate that includes all of the adjustment slots and dials to make the lift operate.

Will my router fit a router table?

Most mainstream routers will fit a router table. With a wide variety of lifts supporting a 3.5″ motor base you will find major brands like JessEm, Kreg and Woodpeckers fully supporting these routers.

Can I use a plunge router in a router lift?

JessEm is one of the few manufacturers that makes a special router lift (the JessEm Prestige) that will support a plunge router in their lift. While certain features like on-table bit changes may not be supported, this type of lift offers woodworkers the ability to use the higher horsepower of a plunge router for larger router bits.


While the best router lifts depend on the router you’ll insert into them, one thing is clear: the alternative to these unique devices is manual height adjustments that are NOT easy to do.

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts
( Woodworker )

Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.

Leave a Comment

Need Wood?

Subscribe for a FREE directory to 300+ hand-selected local and online hardwood retailers.

How To Make a Cribbage Board

Learning how to make a cribbage board can be as easy as cutting a piece of wood to length, using a template to drill the holes and applying a simple finish. In this guide learn the tips and tricks to making this classic game.

Read More »
Festool DOMINO Joiner Alternatives

The Best Festool DOMINO Alternatives

While there is no replica or copycat of the Festool DOMINO there are a few tools that make a loose tenon joint. in this guide learn what the alternatives to the popular Festool DOMINO are – and why you should invest in this hand-held engineering marvel.

Read More »

Disclaimer: DIY projects can be dangerous, hire a professional (link to Home Advisor) if unsure.