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Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2
The best gets better - and faster
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 12-25-2008
The original Woodpecker PRL (Precision Router Lift) is widely regarded as the best there is. It is totally made in the USA using high-end materials and CNC (computer numerically controlled) machining centers. It also sports some innovative engineering that makes the PRL exceptionally accurate and a pleasure to use. Then, Woodpeckers conjured up with their Quick-Lift that introduced instant up and down capabilities to the router lift world. Now, Woodpeckers has combined the core technologies from the PRL and Quick-Lift and then tweaked them with another wave of innovation to produce what is sure to be the new standard for the router lift industry.
Materials and Machining
The Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 is entirely made at Woodpeckers high-tech design and manufacturing facility in Ohio. It just doesn't get any more USA than that. Another Woodpecker tradition continues with their insistence on using the finest materials and machining processes to produce the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2. The heavy-duty design and computer-precise machining mean the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 will be dead on accurate right out of the box and for many years to come.
The Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 is based around the 9.260" x 11.763" by 3/8" thick, high-quality aluminum plate. The material and thickness were chosen to insure a rigid platform that will resist the weight of even the big horsepower router motors woodworkers like to use. The Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 plate has eight leveling screws spaced around its outside edge for rocking free leveling. Woodpeckers also builds in spring loaded side plungers on two sides that keep the plate steady in the table opening. These plungers are adjustable so you can fine-tune their pressure to best suit the opening. The surface of the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 is finely machined and has a pair of etched scales that make adjusting fences more accurate. Each Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 comes with a high-end solid brass starting pin that screws into pre-drilled holes to the front, back and both sides of the bit opening.
The Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 also comes with three of Woodpeckers very trick Twist Lock rings that size the bit opening down. Included are the 1-3/16"-diameter stepped-hole ring that fits the popular Porter Cable guide bushings, one with a 1"-diameter opening and another with a 2-5/8"-diameter hole. When left "ringless", the bit opening in the plate is 3-9/16" in diameter.
The Woodpeckers Twist Lock rings fit the plate opening very well, snug down easily and stay put. These rings also remain flush with the surface better than any other router plate rings I have seen. A special Twist Lock ring wrench is also included.
Up and Down
At the heart of the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 are the mechanisms that move the router up and down. Gone is the crank handle that used to plug into a socket on the plate surface. That handle was turned to adjust the cut height or to bring the bit above the table for changing. Fine
bit height adjustments on the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 are made with a micro-adjust thumb wheel that resides slightly below the plate surface. This textured micro-adjust thumb wheel is very easy to turn and each complete revolution equals 1/16" in bit height change. This micro-adjust wheel has a total adjustment range of 3/4" from the height set by the Quick-Lift system described later. A hex-drive screw in the plate surface next to the wheel adjusts the built-in brake that prevents "creeping" of the height adjustment. Adjusting the brake will seldom be needed but it is readily accessible if you do have to do it.
They also added repositionable, dial-based reference scale that shows the amount of height change being made in real time. The outer ring can be set to zero from any bit position. Then you can make bit height changes in increments as small as .002" with complete accuracy!
Fast Up and Down
Incorporating the Quick-Lift technology into the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 means you can move the router from full down to full up, exposing the spindle/collet nut for changing bits above the table in a couple seconds. The new all steel, spring-assisted lift wrench inserts into a hole in the plate and engages the Quick-Lift system below with a simple 1/4-turn. In the case of my Milwaukee #5625-20, I can get the top of the collet nut 2-1/2" below the table surface or bring the collet completely above the table. The adjustable spring makes lifting or lowering the heaviest of router motors easy and smooth. This spring assist also affords more control that makes coarse adjustments more accurate. Then use the micro-adjust thumb wheel to fine-tune the bit height as needed. It just doesn't get any easier, or faster.
The motor carriage slides up and down on a pair of massive 1"-diameter precision-ground steel posts, guided by widely spaced bushing sets on each post. The movement is smooth and free of play. The gears that drive the fine up and down adjustment are built into a box below the table where they are protected from damage and contamination.
The motor carriage itself is precisely machined from a massive chunk of high-grade aluminum. Specially designed pads provide a firm, stable grip on the router motor to insure routing accuracy. Accessory motor pads are available for many router models and more information on those and variations of the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 are available on the Woodpeckers web site at the link below.
In the Shop
I have long been a fan of Woodpeckers products and the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 is a prime example of why. They keep raising their own industry-leading bar with top-notch material, machining and innovation.
Installing my #5625-20 Milwaukee router motor was simple. Slip it into the motor pads and tighten the screws on the single adjustable motor pad. Very quick, secure and easy. The Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 in these photos came with the correct pads installed for the Milwaukee #5625-20, 3-1/2HP router motor and a properly-sized hole in the carriage boss for the threaded rod used for setting height in the fixed base it came with. Installing the router motor literally took under a minute to do.
The micro-adjust thumb wheel is not only cool looking and easy to use, it eliminates the hand crank which can simplify making small bit height changes in a big way. All too often, the crank would conflict with the fence, jigs or fixtures making it impossible to use full rotations. Of course, you also have to find the hand crank for each adjustment, another problem the permanently attached micro-adjust thumb wheel fixes.
Adding the Quick-Lift system eliminates having to turn the hand crank through bunches of revolutions to get the router spindle above the table for bit changes. Insert the Quick-Lift wrench, give it a twist and move the router where you need it, up or down in seconds. The assist spring means that in addition to being super fast, the only way it gets any easier is for someone else to do it for you.
The rest of the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 is first rate throughout in terms of materials, machining and engineering. Even the repositionable height indicator dial is finely machined aluminum rather than a plastic insert. Classy.
I love the thumbwheel for making bit height adjustments. The 3/4"range of travel may sound small but considering how easily the Quick-Lift system works, this just is not an issue. I adjusted the brake slightly during the initial setup of the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2. After that, the bit never changed height unexpectedly during the evaluation process. Not having to find and then use the hand crank is easier, faster and seems more accurate because I can focus on the easy-to-read scale dial rather than trying to miss the fence or jig with my hand and/or crank. I suspect that suspiciously similar versions of this adjustment system will appear on other companies lift plates as soon as they figure out how to get around the patents.
If you are looking for the best router lift plate you can get, the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 should be at the top of a very short, if not a one-item list. This is a top-notch piece of equipment throughout with no weak spots to be found anywhere. With a street price of $299.99 (12-20-2008) the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 is an outstanding value on its own. Consider the price of the decidedly lesser competitors along with the probability that the Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift V2 will be the last router lift you ever have to buy and the value of this investment should be a no-brainer!
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