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Incra, Router Lift Reviews

Review: INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift

Review: INCRA Mast-R-Lift-II Router Lift

Design9.5
Features9.4
Performance9.1
Ease of Use9
Value for Money9
9.2 out of 10
What's Hot?
  • MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings
  • Doubled sealed bearings on the lift spindle which means that even the heaviest router on the market can be raised and lowered with one finger
  • Patented thread tensioning design which means it's not necessary to lock the router into position after setting the cutting height
  • Hard anodized top plate for long life
What's Not?
  • Nothing
Bottom Line The Incra Mast-R-Lift II shares all of the advantages of the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II on which it is based. It's got fast, incredibly precise height adjustments from above the table,  smooth, low-friction 'one-finger' carriage movement and compatibility with 18 of the most popular router models out of the box to name a few. But on top of that it's got Incra's MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings which give a number of real benefits compared to other brands' phenolic inserts - in particular, the height adjustment screws in the four corner tabs. Overall, we think that gives it the edge making the Incra Mast-R-Lift II our go-to router lift. buy-now-amazon-button4
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Introduction

If the INCRA Mast-R-Lift II looks familiar, it’s because it’s custom built just for them by JessEm in their Ontario, Canada facility and it’s the same lift as the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II except for the design of the insert rings. The JessEm uses phenolic insert rings which are fixed using their Tab-Loc system, whereas the INCRA Mast-R-Lift II uses Incra’s MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings.

Cast aluminum top plate

The top plate on the INCRA Mast-R-Lift II is the same hard-anodized cast aluminum construction as on the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II except for the cutout for the MagnaLOCK magnetic insert ring which is shaped differently to every other router lift manufacturers’ insert rings with 4 tabs to locate it in the top plate.

It has the same router height adjustment 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 and the same ball bearing driven shaft lock to lock the lift in position once you’ve set the height.

Under the top plate

Down below, the guts of the Incra Mast-R-Lift II are exactly the same as on the JessEm. 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.

Router Compatibility

Under the table the lift mechanism uses the same router mounting brackets, substantial spindle and rigid guide rods as the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II with a total of six, double-sealed bearings for long life and smooth, easy operation even with industrial-sized routers.

Just like with the JessEm version, the Incra Mast R Lift Excel II is compatible with the following fixed base routers: Porter Cable 7518/690/890, Bosch 1617/1618, DeWalt 610/618/616, Makita 1101, Hitachi M12VC and KM12VC, Milwaukee 5625/5615/5616/5619, Craftsman 17543/17540/28190 and the Rigid R29302. The four aluminum clamping blocks are simply repositioned on the carriage plate when changing from one model of router to the other.

(The carriage is set from the factory for the Porter Cable 7518 router motor.)

Router Table Compatibility

The standard version of the Mast-R-Lift II has a 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ x 3/8” plate size that’s compatible with all INCRA Router Tables and all other brands that have a 9-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ x 3/8” mounting plate.  There is also a special version available with an 8-1/4″ x 11-3/4″ plate size to fit Rockler and Bench Dog router tables.

Incra Mast-R-Lift II vs Jessem Mast-R-Lift II

It all comes down to your preference regarding the insert rings – phenolic on the JessEm, magnetic steel on the Incra. There are a number of factors to consider, most of them coming out in favor of the Incra:

The MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings will last forever, and you’ll probably have to replace the phenolic ones depending on how much you use the lift
You don’t need any tools to change the MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings on the Incra. It only takes a quick turn with the insert wrench on the JessEm, but it’s still not as quick and easy as on the Incra.
The MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings snap into position and lock down really well
The Incra Mast-R-Lift II’s top plate has height adjustment screws in the four corner tabs meaning you can adjust it so that the insert ring is 100% flush with the table top. It’s like a mini version of the adjustment for the top plate in the router table top. This alone settles it for me.
The Incra includes 5 steel reducing rings – 3/8″, 1″, 1-5/8″, 2-5/8″, 3-5/8″. The JessEm only comes with one and you have to buy the others as an optional extra.
The only downside with the Incra’s steel insert rings is the possibility of damaging the router bit if you happened to knock it with the insert ring. A phenolic insert isn’t going to do any damage.

Priced at $339.95, the Incra Mast-R-Lift II wins in terms of price, compared to the JessEm at $369.74. When you add in the fact that the optional JessEm 4-Piece Tab-Loc Insert Ring Set costs another $41, the Incra Mast-R-Lift II is the clear winner, saving you just over $70. That assumes you’ll want the additional insert rings, but it’s highly likely you will.

Bottom Line

The Incra Mast-R-Lift II shares all of the advantages of the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II on which it is based. It’s got fast, incredibly precise height adjustments from above the table,  smooth, low-friction ‘one-finger’ carriage movement and compatibility with 18 of the most popular router models out of the box to name a few. But on top of that it’s got Incra’s MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings which give a number of real benefits compared to other brands’ phenolic inserts – in particular, the height adjustment screws in the four corner tabs. Overall, we think that gives it the edge making the Incra Mast-R-Lift II our go-to router lift. buy-now-amazon-button4

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Chester is older than he likes to admit, a lifelong woodworker with a special interest in everything related to routers, router tables and router lifts in particular. His aim in life is to own everything made by the Kreg Tool Company, and his doctor says he's most likely addicted to anodized aluminum.