Porter Cable Router Power Tool Review

  • Advertise with us
Review by toolman posted 07-15-2008 03:27 AM 15671 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Porter Cable Router Power Tool Review No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

We have always liked the Porter Cable Routers, but they still need to go through our power tool review steps. The first thing we noticed was the case. When we opened the case, the router was a tight fit. We usually like a little room for bits or other items that belong with the tool. We took the router out, unpacked everything, and tried to put it back. Obviously it fits back into the case, but there is no room for any other related items.

At first we though it might be heavier than the weight of 8lbs. After picking it up we found that it was extremely light because of the machined aluminum case and base it is made from. This is good news! You want a lighter router because you don’t want to fight the weight of the tool. Heavier tools create more force when used, and this can wear a user out.

The 1/4” and the 1/2” is a nice feature because most workers have both sizes of router bits. Putting the router bits in place is a breeze. The router comes with two wrenches that will let you tighten or loosen the collet. This is much easier if you set the router on a workbench instead of tying to hold on to the router. We were a little skeptical of the auto release system that keeps the bits from freezing up in the tool. Anyone who has ever had this happens knows it is very annoying. After setting the router up, the rest was a breeze. There is a t-bolt that will let you adjust the height of the router, this is a snap. Once you have the router at the proper height, you can fine tune the height using the micrometer adjustment. This is just a ring you turn with your hand. You can adjust it up to 1/128”

We started out with some sharp bits and ran it through pine. The router ate through that easily. The router just laughed at us. We went to a harder wood, oak, and then walnut. Again, it ran through these without heating up. Yes, we did have a sharp blade, but as a craftsman you should know that having a sharp blade is extremely important. Well, we were bored with this testing rather quick because the router was handling everything with ease. So we ran the router blade over a bunch of plywood, hoping the blade would dull down from the glue. Well, the router ran through that test fine. The bits didn’t dull as quickly as we had hoped, so we filed them dull and tried the test again. Through the pine, the router ran fine. Then the oak and Walnut caused the motor to fight a little for some air. We did have a big bit and had it set deep. We took that bit out of the tool and it did slide out with no effort, so the auto release system seemed to work fine, but we weren’t done testing it yet!

We put the bit back in and tightened it as much as possible. We then beat on the side of the bit to jam it in there. We also dropped the router straight on the top of the bit and then gave it a couple whacks with a hammer. We basically did everything possible to make sure the bit would not come out, even though no one in their right mind would do all these things. Next, we loosened the collet, and this time the bit didn’t come right out. We did wiggle it, and pulled with a pair of pliers and with that, the router bit came out. This told us two things. First, under normal wear and tear, the auto release system should work well, and the bits should not get stuck. Second, once the bit is in the router, it will stay in the router. You shouldn’t have any worries about it coming out, unless you want it to.

All the other tests we ran the router through passed with flying colors. We dropped the tool a couple different times and it held up fine. The max height we used for the drops was 7 feet. I was pleasantly surprised that the base of plastic didn’t crack.

With a couple of tricks, this router was very easy to turn into a table router for use on a table saw extension. This makes the tool that much more attractive.

After using the tool for a long time, our arms felt fine. We did not experience any vibrations what so ever.

Over all, our power tool review for the Porter Cable router is EXCELLENT. We were extremely impressed with this power tool. This router has great power and wonderful features. Any craftsman should be proud to have this router in his/her wood shop.

-- Toolman -

View toolman's profile


45 posts in 4411 days

12 comments so far

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4562 days

#1 posted 07-15-2008 04:56 AM

So tool and man make up we? Nice review?

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 4491 days

#2 posted 07-15-2008 01:13 PM

no one protect the rights of the poor routers? havn’t they suffered enough? I am sure the video is shocking!!!! :-)

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4576 days

#3 posted 07-16-2008 02:35 AM

cool. i was thinking of getting this router for sole use on my dovetail jig. now its between this and another dewalt.

View Festool4's profile


78 posts in 4586 days

#4 posted 07-16-2008 06:55 PM

Porter-Cable routers are like pickup trucks from the 60s. Although rather crude in design, they are built like a tank and will take years of abuse. I have to tell you that I still miss my 1966 Ford 250. Anyway…

When my crappy Hitachi router dies in my router table, I will replace it with a Porter Cable 7518. It has tons of power, runs very smoothly, and will keep on going for years. I know people who have been running them for over 10 years of hard use. It isn’t by accident that most CNC machines use the 7518.

Having said that, I don’t think I will ever use a Porter-Cable router for handheld operations. Compared to other brands out there, they are too heavy, underpowered, and grips came right out of the 60s. I should know, I have a vintage router from the period and they are identical. It also has the same black bottom that you can’t see through.

In my opinion, the Festool 1400 is the best medium sized router on the market. It is everything you would expect from German engineering. The only problem is that $450.00 is more than most are willing to spend on a router. The Dewalt DW618 is my next choice. It is very light, has lots of power, really nice ergonomic grips and a clear base. Its predecessor, the DW621 is also a good choice and I have picked up several on ebay for a song. My third choice would be the Bosch 1617. It is a little heavier, but works very well.

Now, how can we be so far off here? Well the difference is that I baby my routers. I even store them on a carpeted shelf so they don’t get banged up. If you are hard on your tools, drop them from ladders, throw them in the back of the truck – get a Porter-Cable. They can take it.

-- Festool4

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4799 days

#5 posted 07-18-2008 12:45 AM

I have had the PC690 kit with both the fixed and plunge bases for about 9 years… It’s still going strong, no problems at all. How much more could I ask for the first router I ever bought or used?

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 4528 days

#6 posted 07-18-2008 09:08 PM

I’ve used the PC690 for years. I bought the kit with fixed and plunge base. A couple years ago, the plunge base didn’t fit the router. Can’t figure out why. Just like it shrunk, and the router won’t fit it anymore. The fixed base works fine.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4496 days

#7 posted 07-20-2008 06:17 PM

I’ve had one of my PC 690s mounted in my router table for a good 12 years now with no problems at all after constant use . I also have a Bosch that came as part of an extension table on my Jet cabinet saw , but I rarely use it as it is too awkward to change bits in. I have left a chamfering bit in it for the times that I have a different profile in my PC router that I have set up for certain jobs…..I really should use it more seeing how much I paid for it , but I made my PC table to my specs (height , etc..) and it is so much more comfortable to use at my age ! hahaha Have a great day : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4561 days

#8 posted 07-31-2008 06:56 PM

I have 5 of the pc 690s, and one of the PC speedmatic 3 1/4 hp plunge routers. I love all of them, the reason for so many, is one for the router table, one for cutting the tails for dove tails, one for cutting the pins for dove tails, one with the “D-handle for freehand or template work, one spare, and the plunge for plunge. Not haveing to reset routers during a production run is a big plus. I don’t care for the older “T screw” for holding the router deepth, the newer compresson latch is much better, and I have been able to update a couple of the bases cheaply by looking on

Elma Wa

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

View DanTheLumberJockMan's profile


26 posts in 4418 days

#9 posted 09-09-2008 04:13 PM

I’ve got the PC 890 with the fixed and plunge bases and I love it. My only complaint is that the height adjustment on the fixed base doesn’t work that great, especially from above the table. I occasionally have to take the motor out of the housing, clean it up and give it a thin coat of grease to get it to slide properly again. Maybe I’m doing something wrong?

-- Dan, San Diego, CA

View dmoney's profile


191 posts in 3887 days

#10 posted 04-23-2010 11:11 PM

I got one for Christmas, I’ve just used it as a handheld. Works great, a big step up from the $60 Skil one I was used to. Mine was on sale for $99, I think the model was 690LR, it came in a box, no plastic case to store it. No big deal to me since I use it a lot, it’s always sitting out. Comes with a black base plate, I do recommend getting a clear one for it so you can see what you are doing better. One of the things I liked the most is it’s very easy to find accessories since this model is so popular.

-- Derek, Iowa

View hasbeen's profile


91 posts in 3493 days

#11 posted 02-17-2011 05:09 AM

I bought the kit with fixed and plunge base recently. Replacing my OLD Dewalt 610. I found the PC somewhat top-heavy compared to the older 610, but it’s a great router none the less.

-- I may not have a lot of good ideas, but some of them are just incredible.

View Unclejimbob's profile


9 posts in 1646 days

#12 posted 02-24-2016 03:18 AM

The PORTER-CABLE 9690LR (11 Amp 1-3/4-Horsepower Fixed Base Router with 1/4-Inch and 1/2-Inch Collets) is on clearance at Lowes right now, for just under $54. At that price, I couldn’t pass it up, even though I have a perfectly good Ridgid router already. Figure an extra (for a router table) is just what I might need.

-- The Bitterness of Poor Quality is Remembered long after the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics