Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Colorado Springs
Unless you've migrated from the "integral to the router system" it's hard to imagine the difference or the benefit of a really good lift. I have a Porter Cable 890 series which has a mechanism (and a tool to operate it) for raising and lowering the router motor from above the table. I was really pleased with it generally. The price was right, it gave me flexibility, etc. I watched several demos of lifts and thought one would be "nice to have someday". When my neighbor down the street got one and let me play with it a bit, I have to say I was completely hooked. I wasn't hooked on the ease of use, although that was nice, too. I was hooked on the precision. If you are trying to sneak up on a dimension, you can see your height change on the dial and know that it is accurate, and not compromised by slop in your router latch mechanism (as mine always was).
Having said all that, it's one of those "in for a penny, in for a pound" things. If you are going to go to the expense of buying a really good lift, you may as well assume that at some point you are going to dedicate a router to it. The slope is really, really slippery. As I once read, "If I had a $1,000" to spend on a router, table and lift, I'd buy a shaper". But I must say, I HAVE NO REGRETS about my choice to go the lift path.