If you have been into woodworking for any length of time, you’ve probably come across the JessEm name a few times. JessEm is one of the leading manufacturers of wood routers and other woodworking tools, so it’s practically impossible to avoid them if you are in the business. But who is this company? What makes them so special? Well, JessEm’s claim to fame is their Rout-R-Lift, a device that helped push them to the forefront of the industry. Let’s take a look it and find out how it thrust JessEm into the spotlight.
In the past, if you need to make an adjustment to your router while you were working on your router table you had to pull it out entirely or reach under the table. It was a real pain that you simply had to live with as a woodworker. Router tables were all pretty much the same in this regard.
In 1999, however, the JessEm Tool Company created the Rout-R-Lift to get around this issue. The Rout-R-Lift is essentially a hand-cranked lift that allows you to make adjustments to your router right at the tabletop. The handle is easily removed and attached via a hex-shaped shaft, so it never gets in the way and can easily be re-attached for quick adjustments.
The small company based in Tennessee did not rest on its laurels after the success of the Rout-R-Lift. Even before the Rout-R-Lift was named “one of the top 25 innovations in woodworking in the past 25 years” in a Wood Magazine article, JessEm was continuing to improve upon their design and apply their innovation to other designs.
The next few years saw the creation of quite a few innovations:
- The Rout-R-Lift II
- The Mast-R-Lift (I and II)
- The Mit-R-Slide
- The Rout-R-Jacket
- The Mast-R-Lift
As you can imagine, the Mast-R-Lift (are you seeing a name trend here, yet?) is quite similar in design to the Rout-R-Lift. The main difference here lies in durability. The Mast-R-Lift II is wholly designed around durability and interchangeability. It features a dedicated cam lock, five double-sealed bearings, and fits practically every modern fixed-base router on the market. The Mast-R-Lift is just as popular as the Rout-R-Lift and JessEm is quite proud of it.
Dedicated to the Craft
In the end, it’s fair to say that JessEm is a company that is wholly dedicated to those people out there that work with wood routers and router tables every day. Day in and day out, this company is always looking for innovative ways to make the woodworker’s job easier. They know the job and they know what it takes to makes some of the beautiful cabinets and furniture we see out there every day.
It’s one thing to appreciate the work, but quite another to immerse yourself in the craft for the sake of it. JessEm is one of those niche companies that has managed to truly thrive because of the quality of their tools and the recognition and loyalty they in turn receive from their customers.
About the Author: Mike Rocha is an engineer from Florida with a passion for woodworking. As an engineer and hobbyist woodworker, he uses wood routers regularly and recognizes the ingenuity and versatility that they represent. Being an electrical engineer who designs and develops medical imaging systems, Mike appreciates more than most the ingenious simplicity of these tools. Check out his website if you are looking for wood routers or router tables for your next big project.
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