Quick Action Lever Router Lift

The idea for a quick action router lift started a few months back. Since then I’ve made three working prototypes to work out the bugs. Lift number four is what I will call the final design. It’s a quick action lever router lift. A lever raises and lowers a router carriage that tracks on flat metal bars. A stop block is incorporated to allow you to quickly return to a previously used position if the need arises.

To keep things simple I made everything out of 3/4” plywood. I often get asked what kind of plywood I use so for this one, and pretty much every other shop plywood project, I used “Blondwood” that I picked up at the blue store. It’s just BC birch plywood with the C side primed white. While the quality is nothing like that of Baltic birch it is a huge leap above cheap pine plywood. I had my fair share of working with cheap pine plywood when I was working on my vanity builds.

For anyone who is interested I put together a detailed 30 page PDF plan for this router lift. The plan includes two versions, one for connecting to a ShopVac through the fence and the other for connecting to a 4” dust collection hose at the bottom. Each version has the router lift, an extension wing for a table saw, and a table fence. The plans are at the bottom of this article.

The entire router lift, extension wing, and fence are made from a 48” x 48” piece of 3/4” plywood. I followed the layout diagram in the plan to cut the majority of the pieces before assembly.

lever router lift (1)

I optimized the layout diagram to batch most of the same size parts together. After all the main cuts are done the sheet looks like this.

lever router lift (2)

And then the individual parts can be crosscut from all of the larger blocks cut earlier.

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The first part I wanted to assemble was the router carriage. It’s just a couple rectangles with two 45 degree blocks to hold the router in place. The angles don’t have to be 100% at 45 degrees so I used my speed square to save some time. No need to get the digital gauge out every time.

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It’s easier to make the 45 degree cuts on larger stock so I made those cuts first. Then cutting them to length was easy. Especially with a sacrificial fence on the miter saw. I picked this up from Jon Peters on YouTube. It’s just an L shape formed by two boards tacked together and spring clamped to my miter saw fence. It really takes the guess work out in regards to lining up cuts.

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After the blocks were glued on a quick test with the router to make sure it lines up properly.

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To hold the router into the angled blocks a rabbet is cut on the top and bottom of the router carriage blocks for the use of hose clamps. To make the rabbet I set the blade to the height of the hose clamp and used a sacrificial board on my fence. This way I can cut a perfect 1/8” rabbet as needed.

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After the rabbet is cut the corners are rounded over so it’s not such an abrupt corner for the hose clamps. I just used a cheap pull saw and a file.

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The router carriage blocks are secured to a larger panel with a couple screws from the back side.

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Prototype one and two used drawer slides for the movement of the router. They worked pretty well at first but the more I stressed the lift to test it out the more the slides disappointed me. So I went with steel bars instead. Not only will this method last longer but it’s a lot less expensive. I cut them to length with a hacksaw.

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And drilled all of the through holes on the drill press. Remember that if you are cutting metal it’s always best to slow the machine down as much as you can and use some type of oil.

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After the through holes I set the depth stop on my drill press and used a larger bit to make a countersink. Drilling the holes was actually the most time consuming step of this build.

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The slides could then be mounted to the side of the router carriage. It’s important to get the screw heads below the surface and to file off any burrs that may be sticking up. Also the slides shouldn’t overhang the front side of the carriage as they will prevent the front face of the carriage from clamping securely to the front panel of the router lift. It’s OK for the slides to overhang the router side of the carriage.

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A carriage bolt goes through the carriage so a counter bore is needed to recess the head of the carriage bolt. Followed by a through hole.

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The lever arm can be positioned anywhere really. I did some experimenting with the previous prototypes and found what I will call a sweet spot for the lever pivot. I drilled four holes but honestly I doubt I will ever take it out of the first position I used.

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Two holes are drilled in the front panel to form the ends of the front slot.

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To connect the holes I used my jigsaw and a 12” speed square. Speed squares are so handy. I use my 12” square all the time. One of the best purchases I’ve made.

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The other half of the slides attaches to the sides of the router box. But before actually attaching the front mounting strip needs to be attached.

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Then the slides, followed by the top mounting strips.

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To mount the sides to the front the router carriage is first positioned with a speed square.

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And with it properly located I could find the exact location of the first box side. Again, I love my 12” speed square.

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The second box side can be attached next. It’s important to have the router carriage in the top position when attaching the top of the side. And have the router carriage in the bottom position when attaching the bottom of the side.

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Wax makes everything slide effortlessly. I’m not sure if I want to apply any finish to the outside of the lift so I only waxed the metal slides. In the previous prototypes I waxed the front pivot block as well.

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The back panel is installed and a hole is drilled near the bottom for the router cord. I don’t see a need in covering this hole up after the cord passes through. When used with a dust collector and a 4” hose the router bit opening will be choking the dust collector as it’s not going to be anywhere near 4”. The cord hole will provide a little bit of relief while still allowing the dust collector to do its job.

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Speaking of dust collection… I wanted to mount half of a Harbor Freight blast gate to the bottom for a dust collection port.

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After tracing the port and drilling a starter hole I cut the roughly 4” hole out with my jigsaw. And then mounted the bottom panel in place.

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Finally the router can be installed in the carriage. This router lift accommodates a standard 3-1/2” diameter router. 4” dryer vent pipe hose clamps are used to secure it in place.

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I rounded the top of the pivot block to prevent the top corners from hitting the bottom of the router table top once installed.

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A 1/4” copper pipe coupling has the perfect interior diameter to slide over a 3/8” carriage bolt. But before I could use it as a bushing I had to file down the two locating bumps inside the coupling. Then I could pound it into the front pivot block.

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All the knobs are just a rectangle with a tee nut in them. You can get crazy fancy with star knobs and such but I prefer simple and functional.

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With the front hardware installed everything is working as planned.

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For the stop block I needed to embed a carriage bolt into an undersized hole. A couple locked nuts make this process easy. A little time consuming….but easy.

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And then the stop block can be installed on the side. All of my previous prototypes had the stop block riding in a slot. I ditched the slot idea as this does the same thing and is much easier to make.

lever router lift (33)

And finally the lift is completed and ready to install under a table saw extension wing or a router table top. Hopefully, within the next couple weeks I’ll be able to get the extension wing and fence done.

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As I mentioned earlier, I put together a 30 page, detailed plan for this router lift with a few extra options. For those who are interested the plans are below.

Quick Release Lever Router Lift Plans

Quick Release Lever Router Lift (BOTH VERSIONS) PLAN


SKU: Quick Release Lever Router Lift PLAN Category:


This router lift is lever activated for quick movement while still allowing precise positioning. An included stop block will allow you to easily drop the bit if needed and quickly return to the exact position you were at. Two versions of the plan are included. I redesigned the plan to incorporate a larger 4-1/4″ 3-1/4HP router for use with raised panel bits but a smaller router can also be used. The plan for the new version is in both METRIC & IMPERIAL units. The original version was designed for a smaller 3-1/4″ diameter router and that plan is in imperial units only. Both the old version and the new version work very well but I recommend building the new version for the slightly updated dust collection and router carriage design. I used this router in the new version http://amzn.to/2z7zJaj. Included in the lever router lift plan:

  • Original version plan with 30 detailed pages
  • New version plan with 20 detailed pages
  • shopping list
  • plywood layout diagrams
  • reference diagrams for specific part dimensions
  • step by step 3D assembly diagrams with written instructions


The entire plan is included in one PDF document. Most everyone will have a PDF reader installed on their computer already but if you do not you can use the free program Adobe Reader to view the plans. You can download Adobe Reader HERE. The checkout process for this plan uses PayPal. You can use major credit or debit cards through PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account. To purchase the plan follow the link below. After you purchase the plan you will receive an email receipt from me containing a link to download your plan. Make sure to check your inbox and spam filter for the receipt. If you do not receive the email within 10-15 minutes or encounter any problems please contact me.



  1. Jay, you are my hero! Your video’s/ photo’s/plans are exactly what I need to motivate me as I get back into my first love-woodworking. Thank you for all that you do. I am in awe of your shop layout and design-beautiful. My area to work in is smaller then your garage but I’ve gained so much confidence from you (and few others like the gals at Shanty2Chic) that I am making all my stands portable and therefore movable. I’m about 7-8 years away from retirement and don’t want to wait till then to get my shop together. Being empty-nesters now I have the time and am having a lot of fun slowly but surely learning/borrowing from you. Thank You. Now with all that said I have to tell you your videos that you set into fast motion f r e a k me out! Your use of the table saw, in fast motion, wow! I have to keep telling myself now remember he’s doing this at normal slow speed and taking every precaution for safety (read: keeping all your fingers on your hands) but as a person who just got a nasty cut needing 9 stitches from a cordless circular saw I am saying assuage my fears and do a video showing “OK folks, you seen this-and then show you cutting on the table saw in fast motion and then show the same clip at normal speed. I guess you can call it a safety video. You can have some fun with it also, I guess. Great job though and thank you again. Oh, and one more thing: GO BLACKHAWKS! hehe

  2. I’m in the middle of building a small, mini router table (using a trim router) and would like to ask if you would mind if I used/modified your lever lift to suit my needs? Thank you for the informative videos.

  3. Good Morning:

    Enjoy your enthusiasm and your mechanical design talent. It would appear, to me, that one of the problems with the lift is the degree to which the router needs to be raised of lowered and that in many cases is in 1000’s. How to do either would seem to be very difficult with only a bar. Seems like there should be a screw action near the end of the bar with would raise and lower in very accurate degrees.

    Do you have a background in mechanical design?

    • I have no background in mechanical design but I do have a CAD degree. I can Precisely adjust the router as needed without complicating the lift for precision adjustments. I’ll show it in a vlog video or a wrap-up video.

  4. Jay – Brilliant in-feed supports you used when feeding sheet goods into the table saw. In all my 64 years, I have never seen that before. Router lift project is inspiring, thanks for spending the time presenting that to us.
    Udie (Canada)

  5. Looks good jay wow shows you what can be done from a free plan maker to 5 and 10 dollar plan maker. Witch is a good thing.We just have to download what we plan to make or need there was a time would grab everything and then sort them out.

  6. jay you should mark the lift by the stop block in 1/4″ increments so you can set it quickly. great build… is that just 1/2 sheet of ply? and would you or rather could you implement this in the tv stand router table you made?

    • Marking increments on the router lift wouldn’t do much for initial setup of the bit as not every bit is the same height and every time you change the bit in the collet the starting height will change. The router lift, extension table, and fence will all come from a 1/2 sheet of plywood. You can incorporate this lift into any table that has the space.

  7. Jay, I have been out buying the parts today, and have come unstuck over the 1/4″ pipe coupling, they don’t have them here, the smallest is 1/2″, do you think I would get away without a bushing, or would it be better to drill out a couple of 3/8″ nuts and expoxy them in place?

    • Sorry for the delayed response Phil. In my prototypes I cut a piece of a pen to use as a bushing with good results. Anything you can put in there that is a little bigger than the diameter of the 3/8″ carriage bolt will work probably longer than you think. I imagine not even using a bushing would last a year or two, maybe longer before needing to be replaced. With that pivot block being an easy to reproduce part I think you’re good regardless of what method you go with.

  8. Couple of questions if you don’t mind. 1) Do you think there would be any benefit to using some UHMW tape between the router and the side where it locks? To make it slide easier or does it do just fine? 2) Any benefit to using UHMW tape on the metal slides instead of wax? Seems like wax would just “invite” dust to stick and gum up the works.

    Thanks and I LOVE the simplicity of this design. Will be adopting to use my Bosch router real soon now.

    • Hello Bill.
      1 – I don’t think so. Wax works just fine for making it slide great.
      2 – There is such small of a space between the carriage and the slides that prevents dust from building up. Dried wax doesn’t really accumulate dust.

  9. Jay you are now my wood working hero. I love your down to earth way of doing things. You are funny and smart, so I love watching your videos. Thank goodness you do not have the affected snobbery, and gradiose delusion of many wood workers who think carpenter squares and Harbor Freight is beneath them. I love your ideas…as a matter of fact, reading your article on your table saw purchase, made me also get one and other tools from Grizzly. Thanks for that.

    • Thank you very much Suzan. I appreciate your feedback. I have zero complaints with the three grizzly tools that I currently own. I’m sure you will love the table saw.

  10. Hi Jay, terrific videos. I’m looking to add a router extension wing to my table saw, and love your dust collection solution. The enclosed router and fence system look to get as many chips and dust as possible.

    A couple questions:

    1. I’ve only got one router, and I’d like to be able to easily access it (to remove it, to adjust speed, etc). Have you got any recommendations for modifying your plans? I could skip the glue on the back panel of the lift box, but it’s still a bit of a pain to have to unscrew each time, especially as that would be close to the cabinet of my saw.

    2. How do you adjust alignment? You could easily shim the lift assembly when adding to the table, but if I’m going to remove/reinsert the router, I imagine the alignment might need semi-regular adjustment.


    • 1 – I designed the router lift so that the entire router carriage can be removed very easily. Remove the front locking nut and the insert plate and the entire router and carriage can be lifted out from above. No need to mess with the back of the box :)

      2 – All of the cuts are made square and perpendicular so as long as you make straight, square cuts when building it everything should reference perpendicular every time and not need adjustment.

  11. Thanks for the plans and videos, Jay. Worked a treat!

    And Chippy the router table says, “Wood is yummy! *BZZZZZRRRRRPPPP*”


    A few notes about the plans for anybody considering the build:

    1. I could only find 1/8in steel bars for the lift rails. Still, it worked fine. Very slight dimensional changes to make the back/bottom of the box fit precisely, but these weren’t actually necessary. I could have just let those pieces overhang by 1/4in, and it would not have affected assembly at all.

    One note of caution using 1/8in steel bars instead of the 1/4in the plans call for… Because they’re so thin, you have to be careful countersinking the screw holes and *very* careful screwing the screws in straight. If your screws aren’t perfectly straight, one side of the screw head will be proud of your carefully-crafted countersink, and you’ll have to spend a bit of time filing down the screw heads so they won’t interfere with the sliding action. Don’t ask me how I know this.

    2. I recommend not waxing the wood of the lift. I waxed the wood sliding surfaces after assembly, when I waxed the steel runners. As a result, when the router is running and vibrating, there is a tendency for the router to drop unless it is screwed down really tight. Screwing it down quite tight does the trick, but it wasn’t necessary to do that when I tested it before the waxing. I’m not even sure it’s necessary to wax the steel runners, but I did it anyway to prevent rusting.

    3. For the lifting arm attachment, I’d recommend a >2in bolt. With the 3/4in ply, the 1/2in bar, and the two washers, a 2in bolt didn’t leave quite enough length to get two bolts on the back and lock them in place. Maybe I have thick washers or a slightly thick bar, but I’d go for a slightly longer bolt to be safe.

    Overall though, it was a treat to build. Thanks again for the helpful plans and videos!

  12. Hello Jay…just completed your router lift/table/fence build! I’m fairly new to woodworking but thankfully your plan was easy to decipher and when I had any questions, I reviewed your videos to ensure I was on the right track. It works as advertised and I’m now anxious to use my router! Thank you for taking the time and effort to put your thoughts on paper for folks like me…I have a pretty good idea how much time and energy you devote to making your plans. My next big project is the miter saw station; I’ve already made Sketchup mods to your plan to accommodate my space and will send you a quick comment once complete. Thanks again!!

  13. Jay, this is an awesome router lift design! :) If you can find a way to add a “micro-adjust” feature for the height adjustment after setting with your “quick height” lever, that would make this absolutely perfect. Mad props on all of your designs! Good ch!t, mang!

    • Replying to myself, LOL. Jay, it looks like you addressed this “micro-adjust” question in another reply post. Do you have a Link to your answer about why this is not needed and works perfectly without needing this addition? THANKS!

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