Tool Review: Jessem Mast-R Lift Excel II (resolution)

I had the opportunity to go to the shop yesterday and reassemble the Jessem Mast-R Lift Excel II following the return of the parts from the manufacturer. I was coming in with high expectations that the problems which had led to an un-flat work table and non-perpendicular spindle had been solved and i could get back to work with this machine.

Unpacking the components, I could see that the table stiffeners had been placed on steroids, so to speak:

The new stiffener is to the left, with the old one to the right. Much better!

Here I’ve bolted the lift and crank mechanism into place, along with the new stiffeners and the vacuum port:

Next, I assembled the stand’s support members to the table, which is taking a different approach than described in the assembly manual where it is suggested that the table be placed on a pre-assembled stand. I changed the assembly sequence so as to ensure that there was no way the stand could place stresses on the table and warp the top:

At last the table is reassembled on the stand, and I have placed a stright bar in the collet of the router so I will be able to check spindle perpendicularity:

Another view:

A look at table flatness:

I checked it here and there and the worse I could find was one spot about 0.0015″ low:

Given the likely accuracy of my draftsman’s straightedge, which is not a precision instrument, I don’t feel I can really conclude that there is a low spot here. I think I can declare the table ‘flat’ – certainly as compared to the condition it was in prior to sending the carriage and top back to Jessem.

How about that spindle perpendicularity?:

Other side:

The crosswise direction is more critical however:


It seems that we now have a perpendicular spindle. Awesome!

I set the table back in its place and put the fence back on:


I should add that there had also been an issue with the DRO that I was wanting to resolve. When re-assembling the new DRO slide and reader to the table’s underside, I noticed that the metal tab on the sliding reader was slightly out of parallel with the magnet on the carriage. I straightened the tab and then the two parts mated flat. Then I ran the machine and adjusted the carriage height with the DRO on. Turning it on and off, locking and unlocking the carriage brake, and keeping an eye on the readout, I noticed the scrolling problem appears to be in the past. There was the occasion flutter back and forth between a pair of sequential numbers, but this is probably because the numerical value being read was in between the two numbers. I’ll keep an eye on the situation and see if the DRO keeps working properly. Frankly the DRO mechanism is a bit on the cheap side quality-wise and I may try fitting on a Mitutoyo DRO at some point as I am sure it would be problem free.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so I did a bit of trimming on some Jatoba tenon cheeks:

Any flex in the table or weirdness in cutter alignment, or movement in the carriage will produce marks in the cut surface. Here’s the clean surface produced by the machine now:

Well, I now have a working router table back in the shop and I am pleased at how well this has come out. Jessem found ways to improve their product and I have ended up with a great table. Testing a prototype invariably involves such teething problems and all in all the issues I had with the Excel II were fairly minor matters of a few thousandths here and there. I’m, confident that when this router table goes into production in the near future, that for those willing to spend the money, they are getting a fine product. Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way, and your comments are always welcome.