The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II is the the latest version of JessEm’s Mast-R-Lift router lift which has kept all the great features which made the original Mast-R-Lift so popular and added some new features as well. JessEm invented the router lift back in 1999 and continues to concentrate on producing top quality, innovative router lifts which make router table work easier and more accurate than ever.
The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II has got all the essential features that you’d expect in a router lift of this quality and a few added extras: hard-anodized top plate with Tab-Loc insert; accurate micro-adjustment that stays put; a good range of adjustment and heavy-duty construction.
You’ve probably noticed that you generally get a lot of pretty anodized aluminum in router lifts but looks aren’t everything and the top plate on the JessEm is black because it’s hard anodized which is an engineered surface treatment that provides a thick abrasion resistant coating and is not just a cosmetic treatment that will wear off.
The Mast-R-Lift II also comes with a 2″ Tab-Loc insert ring to reduce the size of the cutter opening. For smaller diameter cutters up to 2″ diameter you use the insert ring but remove it for larger cutters up to 3-1/2″. You should always have the smallest opening possible for the size of cutter you are using as this gives maximum support to the workpiece.
Additional Tab-Loc inserts are available as an optional extra. It’s a minor niggle, but on a router table of this quality and price, we feel they should be included. The JessEm 02025 4-Piece Tab-Loc Insert Ring Set costs $37.50
The inserts on the original Mast-R-Lift had to be screwed to the top plate, but this was one of the improvements made with the introduction of the Mast-R-Lift II – on the new model the insert rings are released/fastened with a quarter turn of the supplied insert wrench.
Router height adjustment is via an accurate and responsive 16-thread-per-inch spindle which means that each complete revolution of the crank handle raises or lowers the router 1/16-inch, so a quarter turn would give you a 1/64-inch adjustment. Adjustments are silky smooth without a trace of free play.
All JessEm Router Lifts feature their patented thread tensioning design which means it’s not necessary to lock the router into position after setting the cutting height. With the latest Mast-R-Lift II they’ve decided to go even further and have added a cam lock that is accessible from the top surface and is engaged with the use of the same crank handle used to raise and lower the lift. A simple twist ensures the lift is locked securely in place so you know it’s not going anywhere.
It’s important that you have a good range of adjustment so that you can raise the cutter and collet all the way above the top plate for above-the-table bit changes and without the need for cranked wrenches.
The image shows how good the range is on the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II with both collet nuts above the table top. This is due to the low profile design of the Mast-R-Lift II. It’s been designed so that if your router works with this lift, then you can definitely perform above-the-table bit changes.
The router lift carriage rides on 3/4″ solid steel shafts and, for extra rigidity, the shafts on the Mast-R-Lift II are pressed into the shaft mounts with hydraulic pressure – not just threaded to the top plate, so there’s no chance of the shafts working loose with the vibration from the router.
All the machined components on the Mast-R-Lift II are CNC machined and all the aluminum non wear components on the Lift are anodized for appearance, corrosion resistance and some wear resistance.
Video: JessEm Mast-R-Lift II Set Up and Use
Everything about using the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II is about making things fast, easy and accurate. The video demonstrates how quick and easy it is to mount the router, level the top plate, change out bits and adjust the cutting height, all with the minimum of tools supplied.
The first area of compatibility is between the router and the router lift and the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II is compatible with 18 of the most popular fixed base routers right out of the box. If you’ve got one of these it’s going to fit: Porter Cable 7518/690/890, Bosch 1617/1618, DeWalt 610/618, Makita 1101, Hitachi M12VC and KM12VC, Milwaukee 5625/5615/5616/5619, Craftsman 17543/17540/28190 and the Rigid R29302. The carriage is set from the factory for the industry standard Porter Cable 7518 router motor.
Once you’ve fixed your router in the router lift, the lift has to fit into your router table top. This is dependent on the size of the router lift top plate and the size of the cutout in your router table. Most router table manufacturers use a 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ mounting plate. This includes JessEm themselves plus Incra and Kreg, but Bench Dog are different – they use a smaller 8-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ mounting plate.
JessEm like to cover all the bases so the Mast-R-Lift II comes in two versions:
The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II is the the latest version of JessEm’s Mast-R-Lift router lift which started a complete new woodworking category back in 1999. They’ve kept all the great features which made the original Mast-R-Lift so popular and added some new features as well including a cam lock and Tab-Loc insert rings. JessEm continue to concentrate on producing top quality, innovative router lifts which make router table work easier and more accurate than ever. If you own one of the 18 most popular fixed-base routers on the market and a router table with a removable mounting plate, there’s a JessEm’s Mast-R-Lift II for you.