Router lift vs. router with built-in "above the table" height adjustment

Hi all:
When I built my router table last year, I decided to buy a router with built-in above-the-table height adjustment (Freud FT1700). My reasoning was that it was less expensive than buying a router and lift separately, and would be just as good. My experience has been dissapointing. When I first used it, I found that the router spindle would move horizontally when reversing the direction of height adjustment. This was remedied by always adjusting height from the same direction - a pain, but acceptable. I also found that the height adjustment socket built into the router base was blind, which allowed it to fill up with dust quickly, rendering it useless without blowing out the dust. Then, the spindle lock stopped working, making bit changes difficult. Last week, the above-table height adjustment stopped working altogether. I disassembled the router, only to find that the internal parts of the height adjustment are plastic, and that one of them stripped out. So now I have to adjust the height from under the table. Yesterday afternoon, the motor died, so I'm in the market for a replacement (and I'll never buy another Freud power tool).
I've been comparing various router lifts, and considering buying a PC 7518. However, I am once-again tempted by the Milwaukee router with built-in height adjustment. After reading reviews on Amazon, I see that a couple of users have had problems with the height adjustment stripping, just like on my Freud, so I'd like to hear from other owners of this router.
Here's what I want: 1: Height adjustment from above the table without significant backlash or horizontal spindle movement. 2: Height adjustment that doesn't collect dust - either covered to prevent entry or with a hole in the bottom to let dust out. 3: Spindle lock that does not require extending spindle all the way up to actuate, but has a separate mechanism that can be activated at any time. An alternative would be a two-wrench collet. 4: Robust lift mechanism that will last more than a year - prefereably with no plastic parts to wear out.
I would appreciate your recommendations.
BTW, I considered a shaper, but I don't have room for another stand-alone machine in my shop right now.
Regards, John.
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the_tool_man wrote:

I think the first thing I'd do is contact Freud about your router. If it's only a year old, there is no reason why any/all of those things should have gone wrong with it. You should be able to get them to repair/replace your router at no charge.
FWIW, tools that have been "remanufactured" or "reconditioned" from the manufacturer are usually pretty good. I think that when they rebuild a tool, it gets a much higher level of attention and ends up being a really solid tool.
As for deciding between a router lift and a router with built in adjustment, it sounds like you use the height adjustment feature a good bit. A dedicated router lift is likely to have better components and should work better - that's what it is designed to do. Built in height adjustment is more likely to be a gimmicky feature that will not stand up to daily use - as you have already discovered.
Mike
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I'm using Porter-Cable 7518 in a Mast-R-Lift. While there is no horizontal movement I find that it is still helpful to always come at a height setting from the same direction--there is a little bit of play in the adjustment and by going past and coming back when going in one direction that slack gets taken up.
This was remedied by always adjusting height from the same

The socket in the Mast-R-Lift is open at the bottom--this is not usually a problem but there's a relieved area at the top of the hold that will occasionally get a chip stuck in it--if I notice and blow, vacuum, or pick it out then it's not a problem--if I sock it down with the wrench before I notice that it's there then sometimes I end up having to push it out from the bottom--I've only had to do that a couple of times in several years though.

That's really an issue with the router, using a lift wouldn't address it.

The Jessem seems pretty rugged in that regard--at least I haven't broken it yet <grin>.

The PC has this--works nicely.

It's an expensive solution, but Jessem has teamed with Milwaukee to produce a router motor specifically for router table use--it comes as a bare router motor with no base and has an external speed control that can be mounted on the front of the table. If I had it to do over again I'd be sorely tempted to go that way.
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Snip

I once that above the table adjustment was important. "Kinda need" but not necesssary. I use the built in knob below the table. I have to get down there any way to adjust the speed and or unlock the height adjustment lever anyway.

Again if you simply reach under for height adjustment you do not have the problems associated with above the table adjustments.

Good luck finding one. Extending the spindle all the way up keeps you from having to work the wrench in a confined space.

Mine is relatively new it has been hanging under the router table for about 3 years. It replaced an old Bosch that had been hanging for 15 years.

I use the UGLY looking Triton. It is built to hang under the table. It had a coarse and fine tune height adjustment knob. The coarse is great for raising the bit above the table for quick bit changes. The fine tune does alloe a bit of wiggle during adjustment but after tightening the clamp lever everything is rock solid. All adjustments on the bigger one are below the table. Spindle lock is automatic when the bit is raised all the way through the table. Additionally, theis router can be used as a fixed base or plunge router with out changing bases. Normally fo rhand held use I prefer 2 wrenches to loosen and tighten the collet. For use on a router table I prefer a single wrench with spindle lock.
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I use a 7518 in a Woodpecker's PRL...

The PRL has an above-the-table adjustment that uses an allen-wrench-head crank. I keep a dial indicator on mine when adjusting, and I've never noticed any backlash or horizontal motion. It's rock solid. It also has top-side height indicators for fraction of a turn settings and zeroing.

Both holes go all the way through, so no dust. I have a DC on the cabinet too.

The PRL/7518 works by raising the router up enough to use the two wrenches. Conveniently, the height crank acts as a stop for the lower (spindle) wrench so you can focus on the upper (collet) one.

All my parts are aluminum, mine's about four years old now. I occasionally take the lift apart to clean out the dust and re-wax it, but I do that to all my tools.
http://www.delorie.com/wood/projects/router /
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"the_tool_man"

I use the PC 7518 in a Mast-R-Lift. It works great and I have no complaints. If I need another, I would replace it with the same setup. Dave
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I have the Milwaulkee 2.25 hp in a hoime-made table. I bought it specifically for the above the tabel adjust. The hole for the wrench (supplied) has a rubber cover that prevents (supposedly) dust from getting in. I drilled a hole in the plate i made, and it worked ok. After a little while i found that the under the table adjust was so easy to use, that I use it exclusively now.
My other router is a dewalt 621 - nice router, but a PAIN under the table. The Milwaulkee is a very nice router as well. The handles come off for table use, and it has a left/right hand strap for use like a orbital sander! - haven't tried it - the router went right in the table
It's also pretty quiet, and the controls are easy to use without seeing them All in all, I'm very happy with it.
I'd like tro take this opportunity to thank the members of this group. I've read it for a few months now, and I've learned a lot. When it came time to buy stuff, the advice posted here was the best .
thanks again, and I hope I can make a worthwhile contirbution or 2
shelly
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Benchdog. www.benchdog.com www.routerbits.com
I have a Bosch router in mine. I use my cordless drill to run it all the way up for bit changes, then down to close to where it should be, then use the speed handle supplied for fine adjustments.
Not cheap, but if you want precision and durability - - - Benchdog.
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On Mon, 23 Oct 2006 05:43:53 -0700, the_tool_man wrote:

John, I just bought the Milwaukee 5625 and it arrived today. I made the purchase based on a review I read some time ago about it being the only router the reviewer felt worthy of undertable mounting (opinions are like ... well, you get the picture).
It IS a monster. I note that there is a clamping mechanism holding the body to the motor and wonder if having that too tight would not cause stripping of the gears.
It DOES have a rubber covered access hole for the built-in raiser.
It DOES use two wrenches for the collet.
I haven't had a chance to mount it and try it out yet but it looks to be built like a tank. An M1-Abrams.
Bill
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Hi Bill:
The 5625 is the router I am considering. However, on Amazon, 4 out of 27 reviews noted that the above-table height adjustment feature either stripped completely, or allowed the router to slip. That kind of failure rate has me concerned that I'll end up with another lemon.
How is Milwaukee's documentation?
Let us know how yours works out.
Regards, John.
Bill wrote:

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You're right in looking for other opinions. I have found Amazon's reviews to be far less than reliable. Some real bozos on there.

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I would imagine that they have made some improvements in the M1 over the years but if that router was built like they (the M1) used to be, I'd have gotten my money back.

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Thanks to all who replied.
I decided to go ahead and order the Milwaukee 5625-20 router. With the SAVEMORE promotion at Amazon, I got it and the 1/4" collet for about $250 with free shipping. If the lift mechanism fails, I'll get a Woodpecker PRL-5625, which is made to fit it. This lets me get back to work for less money, but also lets me upgrade later without starting over. Thanks again.
Regards, John.
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    --Well here's my low-budget solution that allows you to use a P-C router and still get accurate height adjustments: http://www.nmpproducts.com/router.htm
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : Proud to be the
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : family crackpot!
  Click to see the full signature.
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FWIW, I sent the Freud to my closest repair center. They replaced it with a new one. This one won't see table duty, so hopefully it will hold up. The Milwaukee in the table is doing just fine :)
Regards, John.
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Spartan, practical, see the http://patwarner.com/cutter_depth.html link for cheap alternative.
****************************************************************************************** the_tool_man wrote:

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I used a Rockler router table for years and hated it. I recently bought a Jessem mast-r-lift excel and love the darn thing. It's height adjustment is a handle out the side and I crank it up to change the bits with two wrenches. The fence is nice, the two sides loosen and slide in and out and the bridge is high enough to clear larger (high) bits like the adjustable slot cutters. Dust clooector ports (above and below) work well and the sliding miter gadget works very well. Was expensive with all the gadgets but works sooo sweet. Rockler also sells them only anodized blue insted of red.
m
MAST-R-LIFT EXCEL

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