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193 of 194 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2005
This review is predominantly for the hobbyist assessing which router to buy and looking for a 1-3/4hp router.

i own this router (690LR), and also the 690VSLR (variable speed). If you plan on using this router in a table and are going to use large bits (like stile and rail) you need to get the variable speed so you can run it at lower speeds. You only want to use larger bits in a router table.

Everyone complains the switch is in an inconvenient location. Me too. Though, this is not a show stopper.

i have 4 different bases for this router. Plunge, D-handle, fixed base, and plain jane base for the router table. Plunge base is good. Love the D-handle as switch is right there on the handle! Point is, you can buy this router and then as your needs arise buy different bases. Changing motor into various bases is very easy. Can even buy new motor. Also, brushes are easy to access and change.

Since this is the standard in routers there are a ton of after market items to use with this router (edge guides, bushings, etc...).

Takes two wrenches to change bits. Some would make this out to be a big deal. It is not. Changing bits is a snap.

You will find other reviewers that do not like having to remove the motor to change bits. But, removing/installing the motor is a very easy venture. If you think this is going to be a problem, do not like the power switch location and are only looking for a fixed base router you should also strongly consider the Milwaukee 5615-20.

Rated 4 stars based on power switch location, and find the micro adjustment capabilties are not as strong as they could be.

Porter Cable is still the standard in routers. This is a quality router. If expandability and compatibility with after market items is desired then this is a great choice.

PS - for about 50$ more you can buy this router in a combo kit with a Plunge base (693LRPK).
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100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2004
Walk through any production cabinetmaking or woodworking shop and you'll probably see 7 out of 10 workers using Porter Cable 690 routers. Most pro woodworkers own several (one guy in my shop owns 23, but he's not normal), and have them equipped with the most commonly used bits and production set-ups. Durable, capable, and simple in concept and design, the 690 is hard to beat.

The new lever release adjustment clamp is nice, but a lot of people prefer the older turn-key type. I've found that the turn-key types tend to strip out over periods of extended use, but it is easier to get finer adjustments with them. If you get the lever type, keep it lubricated and adjusted (not too tight) and you'll find it works just fine.

Lots of people seem to be unhappy with the updated switch placement, and I must say it is a little annoying, but not so much that it outweighs the other qualities of this fine router. The older toggle switch sure was nice, though. It could probably be retrofitted quite easily.

Due to the widespread use of this router, there are many jigs and templates available for it, certainly more than any other router. The Porter Cable plunge base that is available for this router is decent and durable. Like everything else Porter Cable, it is simple and not flashy. That's fine with most pro woodworkers, since most know that function beats style any day. You can save some money by getting this router without the plastic case (the router with case kit is $139 at Home Depot/Lowes, but the router itself is only $112 on Amazon, a smokin' deal). The case isn't very useful anyway, as you have to wrestle to get the router to fit in it, and there's no room for bit/template storage, etc.

What else can I say? If you need either a starter router or need to supplement you existing production capability, pick up a Porter Cable 690 router. Why stop at one? Buy several!
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
I got frustrated with my Craftsman Professional router when I apparently bought the only model that didn't support their guide bushings. So, I went out and bought this Porter-Cable router so I could use my dovetail jig. Like others, I find this router to be great for doing hand routing, and like other reviewers, I don't like where the switch is located. I'm so afraid that I'm going to do a number on my arm sometime when I'm not careful, because you actually have to lift one hand off the router in order to turn it on and off. That said, it has a very solid feel and I use it for all my hand routing needs (the Craftsman router is now permanently attached to my router table)
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2008
Being a do-it-yourself homeowner, over the years I've owned many tools. However, until purchasing this Porter Cable 690LR router, I had never owned a router before. I had always wanted one but could never justify making a purchase. Heck, my idea of fine woodworking usually entailed 2x4's, wood screws, and glue. But there came a day recently when I decided to take on the project of making cabinets for my kitchen. For this project a router was an absolutely essential piece of equipment for making dovetail and dato joints in hardwood and hardwood plywood. It was also necessary for decorative finishing like chamfering and rounding edges, etc.

After doing some research, (after all I knew nothing about routers), I decided to take a chance on this Porter Cable product. From the reviews, it seemed like a solid product, so why not? After receiving it from Amazon, I was very impressed with the quality of the tool. It was very simple and well made. It came with both a 1/4" and a 1/2" bit collar to hold either 1/4" or 1/2" shaft size bits. It also came with two stamped steel wrenches used to tighten the nut on the collar to the nut located on the bottom of the motor part of the assembly. When tightened, these two nuts securely hold the bit in the router. It has a fixed aluminum base which has two handles, a built-in clamping mechanism, and a plastic screw-on bottom plate that allows the base to smoothly glide over wood. It also has a top assembly which includes the motor, on/off switch, and on the bottom the part that the base slides and rotates over. If you don't know about routers like I didn't, fixed base routers cut at fixed depth as opposed to plunge routers which can plunge into the work for applications like making letters in wood signs, etc. However, cut depth on fixed base routers like this PC 690LR is completely adjustable with an infinite amount of settings within its range of depth. It adjusts by releasing the easy to use clamping mechanism on the base by and rotating the base relative to the top.

For routers, as long as your router has enough power for your application, and this one absolutely did for mine, accuracy and ease of cutting depth adjustment is THE most important aspect of fine router woodworking in projects like making cabinets, etc. With this PC 690LR router's accurate turning and clamping mechanism, I would have to say that depth adjustments of less that 1/64th of an inch and perhaps less than 1/128th of an inch are absolutely possible. I was very impressed with the extreme accuracy of depth adjustment obtainable with very little effort in this tool. Needless to say, the dovetail joints fit perfectly together and dato joints were cut excellently-very tight with no variations.

The base on this router has a black band on its top that you can see in the pictures. It is a rotatable dial graduated in 1/64th of an inch increments designed as a reference guide to allow for changes in depth adjustment.

This router does not have a variable rotation speed setting-rotation speed is fixed at 27,000 RPM. You can easily attach this router to a factory made router table or, as I did, to a make-shift router table made of plywood and set on top of my table saw base stand. This is accomplished by removing the three screws that hold the plastic base plate onto the aluminum base, removing the plastic base plate, and by using the same 3 screws or 3 longer screws to fasten the aluminum base of the router to the bottom side of the router table top. (To more easily accomplish this and other things like tightening the nuts, the aluminum base of the router easily detaches from the top motor assembly after the clamping mechanism is quickly loosened.)

To cut 1/2" dovetail joints you will need to purchase a 7/16th" router template guide bushing adapter that fits into the bottom of the plastic base. This will slide into the 7/16th" template guide that you will use in a dovetail machine or by itself (I used only the template guide screwed to a 2x6 as I didn't want to spend the big bucks for an official machine) to cut 1/2" dovetails.

To sum it all up, this is a terrific router because of its quality, accuracy, and easy to use features. It is well worth the money Amazon is asking for it. You may find cheaper and for that matter, more expensive routers on the market that I know will not work better and many probably not nearly as well. But if fixed base router applications are in your future, this is the router to get.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2002
This router is uncomplicated in design. It is no frills, and all the parts are tough. It will stand up to years of use. The brushes are easily replaced. The collet design requires the use of two wrenches (supplied). While some like having a one wrench design with a built in shaft lock, not having the lock will prevent damage from the common accident of engaging such a lock while running. The depth is set by rotating the motor in the housing which has spiral tracks. A mark on the housing notes how far you have rotated and a marked ring lets you see depth changes as little as a 1/128 inch.
Down sides are that the track can get banged up a bit, so don't expect perfection in the raising and lowering, and you have to be sure the motor is seated in the track to be sure the depth adjustment is accurate (technically known at the backlash problem). Also, this router gives a kick when it starts rather than being soft start. You have to anticipate the small twist that develops with starting.
I really like the collet. It is nicely machined, industrial quality and holds 1/2 and 1/4 inch bits using two inserts . Never had a bit slip or get damaged. The flat top of the motor makes it easy to change the bits. The guide bushings are also work well, but the opening is small, and if you want to run bits bigger than an inch you will want to make a base out of Plexiglass. The base holds on with a few screws and it is easy to make a custom base. The base of the router is ideal for putting in a router table because it is not spring loaded and the motor moves up and down very easily by just rotating it. (I bought an extra base just to put permanently in my router table.)
Just a real nice router. Four stars instead of five for the kick on starting. I'd buy it again if I needed an additional router, but there is no way I'm going to wear it out in hobby use.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2002
I have the older 1.5hp version of the 690. I haven't used the updated one but the basics are the same. It glides through wood without hesitation regardless of the bit style or depth(within reason of course). It spends 95% of it's time in my router table where it lives quite happily. In this application, I find it to be ideal for my hobby needs. Even the older screw-type motor lock works well.
If you are looking for a first router or one to put under a table, look no further, you've found it. The only thing that is a drag is having to use two wrenches to change bits, but not many routers in this class have a spindle lock. The collet design is outstanding, by the way, so you don't have to worry about bits sticking.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2002
This is a nice little router. It is an excellent companion to the Porter-Cable Omni-Jig dovetail machine. It's about medium weight, as routers go. It is well balanced. The low mounted handles allow the user total control while routing. When cutting, it sends the sawdust in the direction of about 8:00, instead of in your face. The template guides for this router (sold seperately) will fit all Porter-Cable routers, and are very likely the easiest to install in the industry. The depth ring is very easy to use. It's measured in 1/32". That's one of the reasons that it's so compatable with the Omni-Jig... It's also set up on a 1/32" system. The only drawback that I have found with this router is the location of the on-off switch. It's a little bit awkward. Outside of that, This is a good little router. I am well pleased.
J. E. Zottoli
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2009
If you've got a lot of routing experience, you already know that the PC 690 series is pretty much the defacto standard general purpose router.

However, since you're here reading reviews on this router, I'll assume the reader is either looking for their first router, or is perhaps upgrading from a wobbly old hand me down of some sort.

Look no further. You will never regret buying this particular router.

It is the perfect router for general use, and one that no craftsman should be without.

Most first time buyers and upgraders have a tendancy to want the biggest baddest do-all tool they can get, for fear that they may get stuck on a project someday without enough power.

This router isn't the first choice for spinning large panel raising bits. It CAN do it if it absolutely needs to (with several gradual repeated passes). And it's not going to rip through ebony with a big bit the way a router with twice the power might.

But what it will do is everything else - and do it very well.

One problem with larger routers is weight. You'll hear that mentioned a lot, and probably think "yeah, but I'm pretty strong, I don't care how much it weighs". However, whether your built like Arnold or Pee Wee Herman, a lighter router like this gives you much better feel and feedback, which gives you better control. Think of it like a pencil. If you're going to sketch a detailed drawing, a lightweight pencil will give you better results than a heavy lead pen, regardless of your strength.

Another consideration with this router is the tools popularity. Even your grandchildren will have no problem finding accessories and/or replacement parts for this tool by the time it gets passed down to them. You certainly won't have any trouble.

But then there's the case... Why must manufacturers make a great tool and give it such a )#(*$)#(*$ 10 cent plastic home? The case is enough to house JUST the router and its wrenches. It's so tight you can't even fit the instruction manual back in without sitting on the case to close it.

AND - the case's handle is on the top half of the clamshell style case. If that plastic (finger hurting) snap latch ever decides to let go while you're carrying it, you'll be glad that you COULDN'T fit anything but the router in there.

I find this situation so annoying that I had to mark the router with 4 stars instead of 5. The router itself is a 5 - but the case brings it down. I'd be happy if they just gave you a spot for two or three of your favorite bits, but you don't even get that. (this may not matter if you do all your work in your shop - but I do most of my work on site)

And finally - complaints you see here regarding the the power switch. Don't worry about it.

Is a trigger switch safer? Maybe, maybe not. You can get that on the d-handle base if you want it. But - and this is especially important if you're new to routers - the top mounted switch almost forces you to use the tool properly. You really have to think about what you're doing, and it will keep you from doing something stupid the way you might with the ease of a trigger switch. (like starting the motor while you're bit's too close to the wood).

I personally think it's MUCH better to learn with a router like this and then try a trigger later once you've developed the habits for proper router use.

To sum up - if you're new to routing, this router's simple no frills design will make you a better wood worker. This isn't a tool you have to "settle" on and upgrade later. This will most likely remain your go-to router, no matter how advanced you get.

When you use it a few times, you'll then understand why getting that 3 horse behemoth plunge router with all sorts of bells and whistles first would have only made you miserable. They have their place, but that place is AFTER you get a good solid general use router like this one for handling 95% of the tasks you'll ACTUALLY need it for.

(and certainly check out the various configurations of this router - the plunge base, and d-handle are good options to have, but if you're keeping it cheap for now - you really can't go wrong with this basic model, buying the other bases in the future).

Of course if you plan on mounting this thing on a router table and leaving it there - THEN I'd say go for the most horsepower you can get - otherwise - this router can't be beat.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2006
As a vocational instructor at a residential treatment center for abused and abandonded children I have used this particular router for many years without any problems other than the base lock on the old style. At our voc. center we have 3 in use. One in a router table, one set into an ext. board on a Delta table saw with a 30" uni-saw fence and one for general use. In my personal shop I use 2 of this particular model. This is not the only routers I use but a real god basic tool easy to operate and well built.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2002
The P-C 690 was a classic. Without doubt you'll go through a hundred cabinet shops and 95 of them will have several 690's in production use. This updated model has some improvements but incorporates one major step backwards. The 690 motor lock was terrible. The new over center latch design is much improved over it. However, the 690 had an extremely easy to use toggle switch that was far, far superior to the tiny rocker switch being used on the 690LR. Why P-C made this change I'll never know. When something is spinning at 28,000 rpm (why they increased the speed from 23,000 on the 690 to something this high is another mystery) you want to be able to turn it off as easily and quickly as possible. The new switch makes this far more difficult than the old. Also the new switch is much harder to change out than the 690's if it goes bad, a common problem with routers since they have to eat so much dust. So thumbs up for the lock but thumbs down for the switch.
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