Routers #1: Porter Cable Routers

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Blog entry by RouterManiac posted 07-27-2009 05:59 PM 21485 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Porter Cable Routers have always had a home in my workshop. Over the years they have changed and its interesting to see in what ways. I have noticed several things about how the routers are viewed. Rumor has it that Porter Cable has been bought out and that has several mixed emotions to it. I also have noticed several comments about the way that they are built and the quality of the parts used. I am really interested in some comments and thoughts from seasoned woodworkers. I read an interesting post that (I will link at the bottom of the article) featured reviews from newer woodworkers. some of those are slightly skewed, so this is a good place to get some experienced commenting.

Fixed based routers
I have always been a proponent of fixed based routers in router tables. Although you can use a plunge router, the fixed seems a better choice. Nowadays you can get some great value by purchasing the combo packs that have both bases. This is like getting two routers for just a tad more money. The fixture router use to be the Porter Cable 690, but now it seems like people are moving to the 892 series router. I am assuming because it has a little bit more horsepower and most men seem to think more is better (ouch, could not resist).
I found a couple of interesting reviews, but was wondering if anyone had any good feedback from this router and fixed based routers (especially porter cable) in router tables.

I found this review of a Porter Cable 892 it also had several other links on it.

Whats your opinion?

I would like to add some more articles about routers, so I will use some of your feedback to build a couple.

-- Ken, Florida,

16 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5333 days

#1 posted 07-27-2009 06:13 PM

I can tell you two things for sure:

1) I have a 5-year-old 690 and it works like a charm.

2) Porter-Cable, Delta, and DeWalt are all now owned by Black & Decker.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View RouterManiac's profile


96 posts in 4396 days

#2 posted 07-27-2009 06:28 PM

I loved my old black and decker router, it eventually gave up the ghost. It was one of the good ones that had a metal case.

-- Ken, Florida,

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

798 posts in 4947 days

#3 posted 07-27-2009 06:38 PM

I have an 893PK kit. The motor and fixed base work great in my router table. I’m less than pleased with the plunge base, though. It does not move very smoothly and could have been designed much better.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View RouterManiac's profile


96 posts in 4396 days

#4 posted 07-27-2009 06:40 PM

Interesting, is the plunge mechanism awkward or clunky? I have an older 7529 and the vibration of the router jiggles the tension knob.

-- Ken, Florida,

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 4463 days

#5 posted 07-27-2009 07:21 PM

The idea that a combo kit is ‘like getting two routers’ is marketing hype passing for conventional wisdom. It is far more accurate to state that a combo kit has more convenience/capabilities than a fixed based but a combo kit does not compare to the flexibility of having more than one router setup.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

798 posts in 4947 days

#6 posted 07-27-2009 08:01 PM

The plunge mechanism sticks and has way too much play. It also doesn’t like to lock into position. My cheap $30 Skil plunge router had smoother movement than the PC. If you check the reviews you’ll see it’s a common problem.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4385 days

#7 posted 07-27-2009 08:19 PM

I have not purchased a new PC router…although I have a couple old ones (that still work great) ... I haven’t purchased any PC items lately until I see what comes out of the rumored buy out.

Lately I have come to like my Milwaukee 5625-20…in the plunge/fixed kit….I have one on my router table and it works great (3.5 hp…kind of heavy to use by hand – but excellent table model).

I also use a Hitachi kit KM12VC (couldn’t resist buying – it was on sale at an excellent price) and I use it almost exclusively for hand routing – it is one of the lightest 2.25 hp routers I’ve seen.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View RouterManiac's profile


96 posts in 4396 days

#8 posted 07-27-2009 08:46 PM

Great feedback, thanks. I need to look at the milwaukee line next, I hear there are some loyal fans of that.

-- Ken, Florida,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4423 days

#9 posted 07-27-2009 09:30 PM

I have the porter cable 893PK kit, a bosh 1617 kit, a milwaukee fixed base and the porter cable 3 1/4 hp in my router table. I like the 893 and the 1617 for using with my dovetail jig. The 893 is very well designed and the feature of the on/off switch on top is especially convenient for setting it down on the table after use and having it automatically shutting off. I find the soft handles are especially comfortable.
The bosch is also a fine router with a very smooth motor, but i do not especially care for the wood handles. The plunge base is the smoothest I have used.
The milwaukee is very smooth and I fond the fine tune adjustments work great. I like the adjustable hand strap for hand routing. Unfortunately the milwaukee baseplate is not compatible with guide templates and therefore I am unable to use it with templates and my dovetail jig.
All routers seem to have their strengths and weaknesses and no manufacturer seems to as of yet come up with the best of all features combined into one tool…unless you spend alot and buy a festool.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4401 days

#10 posted 07-27-2009 09:32 PM

I have owned a lot of Porter Cable 690’s. The routers have been good quality, however, I don’t like the adjustments. I have the Unique MDF Door Machine which came with the 690’s. It has always been a nightmare to set up new bits with those routers. The depth has to be very precise. For routine adjustments, I find the 690 easy to use. The 890 series has done a much better job with fine adjustments, although I don’t own one. When I bought my PC dovetail jig, I initially tried my 690. I gave up very quickly and bought a Bosch 1617PK dual base kit. I absolutely love it. In no time I had it set up and was cutting dovetails wirhout a hitch.
I also have the Freud 1700 in my router table. I am very happy with it also.


View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


787 posts in 4388 days

#11 posted 07-27-2009 10:15 PM

I have three Porter Cable routers. All are fixed base. On two of them, I replaced the base with the D-Handle base as I like this much more than the standard bases. They are especially useful on those occasions when I’m doing “one-handed routing”. I’ve never had a control problem. Likewise, most of my bits are 1/2-inch shanked.

When I worked in a cabinet shop, I learned that it was more efficient to change ROUTERS rather than changing bits. I own seven total, of various brands. Only one (a cheap Skil – and the least used of all) is a plunge router. Ironically, it was the only one I ever bought new, and that was a loooong time ago.

I have bought used routers carefully. All were at garage sales, estate sales, or on Craig’s list. I insist on plugging them in and firing them up. Being a careful shopper, I have gotten some great deals.

But by far, the Porter Cables are my favorites. I seem to notice that even the used ones are well taken care of. It seems that those that own Porter Cable tend to take care of their tools. At least I do!

Best of luck.

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3864 posts in 4553 days

#12 posted 07-27-2009 11:10 PM

I don’t know about the PC router I happen to have a Bosch and think it’s grand. I almost purchased a PC this year instead but didn’t. This is the reason why.

Besides some nail guns that are PC and work well, the only PC tool I’ve got is a skill saw. I owned a craftsman and millwaukee and they worked ok. But when I got my PC skill saw I couldn’t believe how it cut. It put the others to shame. With almost no effort it follows the line itself. I’ve had it for a few years now and love it when I have to cut plywood or framing lumber.

When a friend asked about a skill saw I said “PC for sure”. He got it. It’s pretty much the same saw until you use it. Not the same. Like two different brands. I don’t know if it’s parts or quality control or what but it’s like my other less expensive saws, okay but not like that magic PC I’ve got. Something is definitely different. So, even though a lot of people have a PC router.. probably the older setting the standard type, I shied away from them and got a Bosch.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View milesmiles's profile


6 posts in 4383 days

#13 posted 07-27-2009 11:57 PM

PC 6931 dual base setup purchased 10 years ago. Love the simplicity and size of the fixed base, thought the plunge base as mentioned above can be sticky. I also have a PC cordless hammer drill/ driver and regular cordless that have been put through their paces over the years; love the drills, though the weight of the new Li tools sure is enticing. PC appeals to my subconscious. I guess the industrial psychologists have my animal brain target marketed with the color, logo and ergonomics.

-- Miles

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4868 days

#14 posted 07-28-2009 04:34 AM

I have a half a dozen P-C Routers. 4 of the 690’s one speedmatic 3 1/4 hp plunge and the 890 fixed base. I am now using the 890 in the router table 100 percent of the time. With the Benchdog table insert, you can buy a wrench that turns the whole thing into a router lift. Works great for me.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View RouterManiac's profile


96 posts in 4396 days

#15 posted 07-31-2009 09:44 PM

Outstanding comments, thanks a lot guys.

-- Ken, Florida,

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