Understanding How a Hydraulic Scissor Lift Table Works

If you’ve ever been in an industrial setting, you’ve seen or worked with a hydraulic scissor lift table.

The lift table is one of the most common pieces of industrial equipment. When using it, most people don’t give much thought to how it works, but understanding the mechanics behind it will make you safer.

Five Essential Parts Of The Hydraulic Scissor Lift Table

Before diving into the operation side, let’s look at the parts that make up the lift:

The Platform

The top of the table, where you place items, is the platform. It is typically 1/4″ steel. There isn’t a standard size for scissor lift table platforms: how large they are depends on the needs of the job site.


The base of the table is the structural foundation of the unit. It has tracks which guide the rollers at the bottom of the legs. The base’s size depends on the size and capacity of the platform.

Scissor Legs

These legs allow the hydraulic scissor lift table to reach its height. They sit between the base of the platform and come in different varieties depending on the intended use of the unit.


These high-pressure hydraulic cylinders are what raise and lower the platform. There are normally 1 to 4 cylinders on each unit.


Most lifts have a self-contained electric motor that is powered by a high-pressure air compressor. There are a few models with a remote power pack on the side of the unit, however.

How These Parts Work Together

As the motor pushes oil into the ram cylinder, the hydraulic scissor lift table rises. Once raised, the lift stays in place due to a check valve that keeps the oil in the hydraulic cylinder. The lift lowers when oil is released slowly from the cylinder. The check valve determines the speed of fluid release, and thus the speed of descent. Only a professional should attempt to alter the valve.

If a lift has a higher travel and weight capacity, it will rise slower. Some companies will try to speed up their lift speed by using a motor with higher horsepower. Use this solution with caution, however, as a higher HP engine will cause increased wear on the structure, lowering the life of the lift. In fact, a 1 HP increase could cut the life of the hydraulic scissor lift table by 33%. Another way to increase the speed is a motor with higher voltage. More volts will lift quicker, but also cost more.

It is important to remember that no one should ever attempt to raise the scissor lift higher than recommended. Many accidents happen each year due to non-compliance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

As with all pieces of equipment, there is always a trade-off. For the best long-term financial results, using the lift as intended without alterations is usually the best option.

Let Us Meet Your Lift Table Needs

Knowing how hydraulic scissor lift tables operate makes it easier to determine your business’s needs. Whether it’s manual, electric, battery-powered lifts, or even floor locks, we have you covered. We make our products in the US, never forgetting the dedication to quality that our customers demand.

If you need more information about lifts we offer or want to purchase the highest quality products for your industrial job site, contact us today!