I am a big fan of Porter Cable routers. Primarily because I own the 690 and it has lasted, even under the conditions I put it through. I can't say I am the friendliest to routers. I tend to set the depth too deep and push the router too fast. Yes I know that's wrong and dangerous, but what can I say. Put it this way, when I am done routing wood, it's just a big smoke screen, wood chips everywhere and the sound of a motor screaming and stalling. Okay well maybe it's not that bad, but any real wood worker would kick my a** if they saw me using a router. Enough about my woodworking skills, let's talk about the Porter Cable 450PK compact router.
I used this router to help build two cabinet doors for my bathroom medicine cabinet and I have to say this is a great router. While I didn't use the plunge base for anything practical, I did get to play with it a lot. So let's jump in and see what this router is all about.
As you can see by the pictures or gather from the title of this article, this is a compact router. Which means it is lightweight and I think comfortable to use. Plus for me it's much easier to control than my larger 690. Even though this is a compact router, Porter Cable designed this router with a 1.25 HP motor 7amp, so don't let the size fool you. The motor has a no load speed of 27,000 with 1/4″ collet. One thing I really like about this router that my 690 doesn't have is the soft start. It's nice to be able to turn the power on and not feel the tool jerk in your hand. Another item I really like is the spindle lock. On my 690 I need two wrenches which isn't a huge deal, but the spindle lock sure makes it much easier. Also, the button for the lock is big and easy to hold onto when you are tightening or loosening the spindle.
As with the 690, the 450 has an adjustment ring to control the bit depth changes to within 1/64″. One great item about this set up is how easy it is to move the router from the fixed base to the plunge base. The 690 and some other routers I have used don't make the transition that easy. Speaking of the plunge base, let's talk about that base.
The plunge base incorporates a “Fine-Tune” adjustment rod to easily set your depths. Below the rod there is a turret step with 5 positions. Using the plunge base lets the user travel up to 2″, while the fixed base allows the user to travel up to 1.5″. On the plunge base, the handles use a rubber grip and I have to say they do feel comfortable. I thought with a compact design, the grips might be smaller and harder to grip, but that was not the case.
Using this router was a pleasure. Instead of breaking out my larger and more powerful 690 for my small medicine cabinet doors, I was able to tackle the job with the 450 compact router. Very easy to use and set up with either base.
Overall, I really like this router. It doesn't have a variable speed or LED light, but it is comfortable to use. The router is powerful and easy to control which is key for me. The plunge base is nice, easy to use and easy to set up. I like how the router locks into the fixed and plunge base. Once set, I am confident it will stay put and I can just focus on my work. All in all, the Porter Cable 450PK is a great compact router.