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I recently purchased a JessEm Mast-R-Lift 2 and I was surprised when I opened the box and the surface of the router plate seemed (to me) very different than any of the JessEm lifts I had seen online. I had spent a lot of time researching before buying and I had looked online at lots of images and as many videos as I could find. In every instance the router plate appeared to be smooth and black. Some images were not excellent, but many of them were well-lit and I could examine the plate quite closely. The plate on the router lift that was sent to me had a series of approx. 2" wide "stripes" running vertically across the surface of the plate. They were obviously formed by some kind of milling/buffing operation. I got in touch with JessEm and they assured me that all of the plates look this way. I went back and searched for ONE image that resembled mine, but I couldn't. I wasn't that concerned about the cosmetics of the plate, but the thing that seemed very strange to me was that if I ran a finger across the plate (and across the "stripes") it actually tracked kind of like a needle on a record and wanted to veer slightly every time it met a new stripe. Of course it was subtle, but it seemed very strange that the work surface of a power tool would have any effect at all on an object passing across it. If I lightly pushed a piece of wood lightly across the plate it would also tend to "wave" back and forth slightly according to the pattern. I am curious to what others think. Are their JessEm plates the same as mine? I realize that it might seem I'm being fussy or difficult, but I can't get over the fact that I can't seem to find a plate that looks like mine as hard as I try. Any thoughts/comments? thanks
 

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after a few uses that plate will look a whole lot different...
more like you have been using your tool...

you will clean and wax the plate before use and periodically there after I trust...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
...I'm not so sure that the plate will be much different after use. The "buffing" marks I'm talking about are not on the surface. They are "baked in" to the plate. I don't think they will wear off, we'll see. As for cleaning and waxing the plate-in a way that's exactly why I thought it so strange that JessEm would sell a plate that had surface marks that can actually influence the travel (I admit, very superficially) of the workpiece. A lot of people put time, effort and $ into reducing friction on a work surface and the way JessEm machined this router plate they increased the friction!
 

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wow!!!
 

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Return it. A brand new router plate should arrive absolutely flat and in perfect condition.. And, you will never quite trust the thing.

You might also consider getting a Triton TRA001 router, which has a built in lift and probably costs less than the lift you are unhappy with. I had a lift, but got rid of it and went with the Triton and a WoodPecker's aluminum plate, which is overpriced, but very nice because of its twist lock inserts, which can be ordered in any number of opening sizes. I don't know what you paid for the JessEm, but the Triton is about $289 on Amazon, and a Bench dog plate is about $45. The JessEm on Amazon is about $345.

The Triton TRA001 is a terrific table router so I retired my 1617 to hand held use. No regrets and I like how powerful it is. My thoughts on the matter at any rate.
 

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Return it. A brand new router plate should arrive absolutely flat and in perfect condition.. And, you will never quite trust the thing.

You might also consider getting a Triton TRA001 router, which has a built in lift and probably costs less than the lift you are unhappy with. I had a lift, but got rid of it and went with the Triton and a WoodPecker's aluminum plate, which is overpriced, but very nice because of its twist lock inserts, which can be ordered in any number of opening sizes. I don't know what you paid for the JessEm, but the Triton is about $289 on Amazon, and a Bench dog plate is about $45. The JessEm on Amazon is about $345.

The Triton TRA001 is a terrific table router so I retired my 1617 to hand held use. No regrets and I like how powerful it is. My thoughts on the matter at any rate.
And I thank you Tom for the lift, I use it every day.

Herb
 

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I have a MRLII. It did not have those marks out of the box and does not have them now. You are paying premium $$ for that lift, expect perfect.
 

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Same as Phil here, I also have the MRLII and it's very smooth. I can see the large bands you show in the first photo (I see more than 4 in the photo), but the surface is very smooth. Send it back.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thanks to everyone for their responses. At this point JessEm insists that my router plate is "normal" and that all of their plates are identical to it. I pointed out that several posters in this forum stated that their JessEm plates are different than mine. JessEm than said that they have changed their manufacturing process to improve the flatness of the plates and that is what produces the buffing marks. It seems very strange to me that they are making a change to their manufacturing process that in my opinion results in a plate that is no longer "neutral". In other words the plate has an effect on the wood passing over it. On top of that I had never heard (or discovered when I was researching the lift before purchase) that there was any problem with flatness to begin with. This is all very strange. I had always heard that JessEm had a good reputation, but this entire episode leaves a bad taste. Their responses to me have seemed evasive in my opinion-not directly answering the questions/concerns I had. Furthermore, for what it's worth my "new and improved" router plate looks less "finished" than the earlier version. I'm not sure what to do. I like the router lift a lot (in the way it "lifts" my router) and there is no point in returning it if the replacement will have the same milling/buffing problem. not happy
 

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thanks to everyone for their responses. At this point JessEm insists that my router plate is "normal" and that all of their plates are identical to it. I pointed out that several posters in this forum stated that their JessEm plates are different than mine. JessEm than said that they have changed their manufacturing process to improve the flatness of the plates and that is what produces the buffing marks. It seems very strange to me that they are making a change to their manufacturing process that in my opinion results in a plate that is no longer "neutral". In other words the plate has an effect on the wood passing over it. On top of that I had never heard (or discovered when I was researching the lift before purchase) that there was any problem with flatness to begin with. This is all very strange. I had always heard that JessEm had a good reputation, but this entire episode leaves a bad taste. Their responses to me have seemed evasive in my opinion-not directly answering the questions/concerns I had. Furthermore, for what it's worth my "new and improved" router plate looks less "finished" than the earlier version. I'm not sure what to do. I like the router lift a lot (in the way it "lifts" my router) and there is no point in returning it if the replacement will have the same milling/buffing problem. not happy
Sorry to hear about the problem with CS from Jessem, They were always top shelf in my book.
Maybe if you write a scathing review on the plate that it will wake them up.

The Accountants must have taken over the company and that is the reason for changing manufacturers to save money, at the expense of Quality, name of the game these days.


Herb
 

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I have a suggestion, why don't you call Mark Mueller, Incra's tech, at 1 888 804 6272 and tell him about your experience and see if the plate on the lifts that sell have been changed or not. They sell the Jessem lift with Incra's name on them as I mentioned above. Let us know what Mark tells you, this is an interesting issue.

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #15
thanks for the suggestion. I did speak to a salesperson at Incra and he was the one who told me that JessEm had made a change in the production of the plate last year. He said that the plates on the Incra machines now have the same buffing marks as the JessEm machines. That is what I was referring to when I said that I felt JessEm was evasive. In my emails to them I repeatedly asked them why the plate on the router lift I received looked different than any of the ones I saw on the web-in videos, online dealers etc. They never directly answered this question. They would only say that there was nothing irregular with my plate etc. If they would have just told me first thing that they had changed the plate design it would have saved me a lot of time and trouble. It feels like they might not have wanted to declare this and if that's the case it makes me wonder why? It seems like the obvious first response to my question. Of course I'm just guessing, but I never heard anyone complain about the old style plate and in my opinion (of course I'm not a machinist) the newer style seems less "finished" than the old one. Why change it? Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but the fact that they wouldn't simply come out and tell me they had made a change (I had to find out from Incra) makes me wonder if it was a cost-cutting decision. I will call the person you suggested at Incra maybe they can shed more light on the subject. thanks again
 

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Sure is strange, why change something that has been just fine in the past, I will sure be anxious to hear what Martk tells you about the matter. You might want to see if Incra has an older model in stock.

Jerry
 

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I have just installed this router lift and mine has the lines on it as shown. If I run my finger across it I can feel a slight difference in "feel". A piece of wood run across it runs fine given the pressure needed to hold it down properly. I really don't see this as a flaw and suggest it is indeed a new process as Jessem state.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm sincerely glad you are satisfied. I can understand somebody thinking that I'm being unreasonable. It's just that (as I've said) I think the plate should be 100% neutral. You said the wood runs fine given the pressure needed to hold it down "properly". I don't think it should have ANY effect on the movement of the wood. What if there is a situation where the "proper" pressure is more than standard? Try pressing down a little harder with your finger (you don't have to be extreme-just a little extra pressure) and then attempt to drag your finger in a straight line across the plate. I am unable to do this. It is impossible (!) to draw a simple straight line-your finger will go from side-to-side in wavy pattern. Now, take a thin piece of wood and try to drag it on edge across the plate with a little pressure. The same thing will happen-you can feel the wood pull from side to side. Maybe this will never be an issue. But who knows, in a certain situation (pin routing maybe) it could create problems. With all of the things to plan for and be conscious of when routing why should you have to think for even a millisecond that the wood might move in a direction you don't want because of the router plate itself. I think the only "feel" a plate should have is smooth. just my opinion
 

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Mateo, if I were in your shoes and didn't like it, I'd return it. Just because others aren't bothered by the finish doesn't mean that you should be learn to live with it. If the finish bothers you, I'm betting it will affect your work.
 

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if you are gonna do that use a wooden finger...
 
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