Routers are one of those tools that can make your work really stand out. You can create designs on the face of wood, build shelves, tables or just about anything your mind can think of. Well not a whole building, but I think you get my point. Now I can't say I am a hardcore woodworker, but I have built my share of tables, cabinet doors and more. So for me, I don't need the high end router. I just want a tough, easy to use and quality router. Which brings me to the Porter Cable 693LRPK which is a router with a plunge base.
I currently own a Porter Cable 690 that I bought around 2003 and I love this router. Actually I hate the case it came in, but the router is awesome. It's tough, easy to use and produces quality work. You may be wondering why I keep saying tough. Well I am not really friendly to my routers. In fact I am just plain mean to them and if any real wood worker saw how I used the router, they would probably slap me around. When using a router, I know I am hard on them. Maybe because I am a little impatient. As an example when I use a straight router bit, if you have to make a deep cut, you should go in steps and you don't need to go fast. Well, not me. I set that baby deep and rip through the wood. Yes I end up breaking a lot of bits and yes I know it's dangerous doing it that way, but it's just one of those things. So after all the beating I have put on the 690, I can't say one bad thing about it.
When you look at this router, you can pretty much see it's the same router as I already own, which some people have complained about. They question why Porter Cable is still using the old design. For me, I like it. If something works great, why change it? The 690 is proven and liked by many.
The one thing I did notice from this to my older version is the grip. Mine has more of a rounded handle, while this has more of an oval handle which feels much better. This router features an 11 amp motor with a peak of 1-3/4″ HP and has an rpm of 27,500. On the fixed base, inserting and locking the router is a snap. There is a cam lever to adjust and lock it into place. On the plunge base, this is much harder. The user has to use a small Allen wrench to tighten the router into the base. To get the router out, you have to take the screw all the way out. I find this method a little cumbersome and could have a better design, but I will touch on that in a bit.
Adjusting the depth is easy with the fix base cam lever and the micro adjustment. For the plunge base, again, it's very easy to set the depth. Once the depth is set, you can be confident it will not move until the user makes an adjustment. There is also a 6 position adjustable turret which allows for step plunge cuts. This system is very cool and also reliable.
The motor housing and base are made from machined aluminum so they are both strong and lightweight. To power the unit on, there is a push button on/off which is protected by a dust cover to prolong life of the switch.
The kit accepts both a 1/4″ and 1/2″ shank bits which is also easy to make the change. The router has an auto-release collet system which states it's very easy to remove bits after use. I did find this to be true however after I dropped the unit, I did find my bits were harder to insert and remove from the unit. That was more my fault.
Again, I am a fan of this router, but it does have some down falls that some people might not like. Such as having to use two wrenches to change the bits. I do like the idea of having a collet lock so you only need one wrench. However for this router, I don't mind using two wrenches because I am use to my first 690. When I first started using a router, I would always bust my knuckles when taking off a bit. As time went on, I realized I didn't have to tighten the collet like He-Man. After figuring this out, I didn't mind the two wrenches. As mentioned above, the one item I wish was different was how the router locks into the plunge base. You have to use a small Allen wrench and it does take a while to tighten and loosen. I wish there was a quicker and easier way. Again with this method once the router is in place, I know I don't have to worry about it becoming loose as the current method of attaching the router to the base is very secure.
Those items aside, this is a great router. Very easy to control and use. I have heard some people say they don't like the line of sight, but I didn't have a hard time. The plunge also has a very nice line of sight with a plastic guard for protection.
Porter Cable Specs
- Power: 120 VAC, 25-60 HZ
- Horsepower: 1-3/4 HP
- Amps: 11 Amps
- No Load Speed: 27,500 rpm
- Motor Diameter: 3-1/2 “
- Collets: 1/4″ & 1/2″ “
- Base: Round
- Length: 12 “
- Width: 5.5 “
- Height: 8-5/8 “
- Weight: 12.5 lbs
What's in the kit
- Router Motor
- Fixed Base
- Plunge Base
- 1/4″ & 1/2″ collets
- Collet wrenches
- Carrying case
- Operating manual
Overall I really like this kit. There are more powerful routers with more features. For an entry level mid size router, this one is great. Great feel, easy to control, easy to set up and use. Considering what I put my old 690 through, I have no problem saying this router should last you a long time.