The task of changing router bits in my router table became characterized by skinned knuckles, frustration, and a tendency to design projects around the profile of the bit that was already in the machine!
A great deal on a brand new PC 7518 gave me the justification needed to add a router lift - which would solve all the above problems. I researched the market and decided on either a Bench Dog or a Woodpecker-both in the $300 range. While mulling over the choice, I acquired a 3' linear slide with 4 ball slide carriages at a local surplus store- for $1.00. That got me thinking and I found a linear actuator with an Acme thread at an online surplus store -$35.00 with shipping. Also found a 1 to 1 right angle drive at the first surplus store- another $1.00.
In the course of a long weekend ,I built a adapter frame to hold the router, machined a few couplings,cut the linear slide bar, cut the leg off a large C-clamp to get an arm with an Acme thread, added a hand wheel and some switches and ended up with the motorized router lift you see below.
The unit travels a total of 5 inches- momentary switch controls up/down position and limit switches on actuator are set to determine top and bottom stops.-10 seconds to move from top to bottom! Handwheel is coupled to top of actuator shaft with right angle drive to allow fine setting of depth. I also wired in switch to control power to dust collector. Table top has router cut recessed opening with red plexiglas laser cut inserts and T-slot channels for fence.
I have to whole unit mounted at the end of my radial arm saw bench and enclosed in a plywood box with a 4" dust collection port/gate on the bottom, but 2" collection hose on fence seems to work great as router forces a lot of air upwards and keeps chips out of the box.
The end result is a rock solid setup with fast bit changes, fast height settings- and no bruised knuckles!- and all for less than $60 in parts and material excluding the router itself.
I have seen linear slides available on Ebay for $20 to $50. Also linear actuators for $20 to $100, but best deals are at www.surpluscenter.com/
which also has momentary switches.
Sprocket wheels and belt can also be used for handwheel drive if right angle drive not available.