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.