TESTED: Jessem Ultimate router table package
Reviewed by Damion Fauser
Around a year ago I upgraded my workshop router table to a full-specification set-up from Canadian manufacturer Jessem. Having run various table/router combinations over the years, I’d spent some time searching around and this set-up ticks all the boxes for me.
There are other package options or you can buy individual components and add-on accessories for a custom set-up. The Ultimate package* is designed as a ready-to-go set-up of the highest quality. Included are the table, AUK fixed-base router motor* (many handheld routers can also be fitted), TA micro-adjust fence, Mast-R-Lift Excel II router lift, Wixey digital readout, anodised aluminium stand and switch box with GPO. The stand is easy to assemble, stable and sturdy, and has a storage shelf.
The table is a fairly standard size at 810 x 610mm and coated with low-friction phenolic resin material for a slick surface. The aluminium mitre track accepts most aftermarket accessories and jig-making hardware. The clearance hole has a machined aluminium insert that suits Jessem cored insert rings (three are included), and there are several grub screws for ensuring everything can be made perfectly flat and level to the table.
There are also two threaded mounting points for locating the provided indexing pin when anchoring the start of cuts that don’t use the fence as a control mechanism, such as some templating cuts for example.
The AUK fixed base router motor is sound in its simplicity. Being designed purely for table-mounted use, it doesn’t have any of the excess hardware and engineering required for handheld router usage. At 1.8kw it is powerful enough to drive the largest bits when talking small cuts. It starts with a smooth build-up to full power, and the RPM control knob is easily accessible and smooth in operation. The collet is accessible above the table and locks securely and easily with the two supplied spanners that have nice ergonomic handles – 1⁄2" and 1⁄4" collets are provided.
A 100mm low-profile dust port is ducted directly to the collet, making below-table waste collection exceptional. This is a table that has clearly had significant thought and effort put into its design.
The TA fence is magnificent and with its many clever features adds versatility and safety. The fence attaches to the table via anodised aluminium rails that are fixed to the table sides. Built-in adjustability ensures each rail is perfectly level with the table surface for smooth and accurate movement, and with the included ruler scales it’s easy to ensure accurate and secure positioning of the fence.
The built-in 65mm outer diameter dust port is fairly standard to suit many shop- vacs but, like many other fences out there, will require additional accessories to step up to the 100/120mm ducting more common in larger shops.
The two side fences are perfectly co-planar, and the outfeed fence has two solid and secure adjustment knobs to offset in jointing operations. The fence face is nice and slick to reduce friction and has built-in mitre tracks to accept featherboards and jig hardware. The top edge of the fence has a ruler scale and a mitre track, which accepts some optional Jessem accessories. This is a very clever feature that makes this fence stand out.
The fence is secured in position at each end with two large and ergonomic lock knobs that require little tension to keep the fence securely positioned. An overhead clear safety guard mounts onto the top of the fence via a stainless steel rod and is easily adjustable both in protrusion from the fence and height above the table – another very good safety feature.
The included Wixey digital readout* is a nice feature, which mounts off the back edge of the table, high enough for easy viewing above the fence and allows for easy height adjustments of the cutter to 0.01mm fidelity. Calibration of zero when inserting different bits is also an easy and handy feature to further boost accuracy and save time and material making several test cuts.
One of the most outstanding features of this package is the Mast-R-Lift Excel II router lift. The operation of this lift is super smooth, allows for collet access above the table and is controlled by a very accessible and smooth control wheel off to the side of the table surface. When paired with the digital readout, height adjustments to 0.01mm fidelity are a breeze. The lift is secured in place with a strong and positive locking lever and it doesn’t move once secured. For me, this is one of the most outstanding aspects of this package.
This is a superb package enables safe and accurate table-routing operations. Components are superbly made from high-quality materials and the fit and finish is exceptional. I spent a lot of time researching different systems and I am extremely happy with my choice.
Optional accessories that I purchased include the Mitre-R-Slide II mitre gauge, castors for mobility, fence stops, cored insert rings, fence micro-adjust and clear-cut stock guides. These add significant versatility to the overall system. I believe this is exceptional value for a system of this quality and one that offers many features to users of all levels.
* Jessem products are now available in Australia from Carbatec however the inclusions differ somewhat. The JessEm Ultimate Excel II Router Table Package is supplied with a Carbatec RT-RPU2400 Router Power Unit and includes the JessEm Clear-Cut Stock Guides, and stand with in-built castors, see this link. The Wixey digital readout is supplied as an optional extra.
Damion Fauser is a Brisbane based furniture designer maker who also teaches woodwork classes. See damionfauser.com