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The Porter Cable 690LR is a mid-size fixed-base router for medium duty work with a single-speed (27,500 rpm), 11 amp 1-3/4-hp motor designed along the same lines as its bigger stablemate, the 7518. The Porter cable 690LR has become pretty much the production shop standard due to its excellent value for money and no frills, get the job done design.
As with the 7518 the 690LR has a 1/2-inch collet, good range of depth adjustment and the motor unit is easy to remove from the base to enable quick and easy bit changes, particularly useful when using it in a router table. It is significantly lighter than the 7518 weighing 8 lbs compared to the 7518’s 14-1/2 lbs which makes it easier to use for hand-held routing.
What to look for when buying a Router
Of all the woodworking tools available, a router is probably one of the most versatile. Due to its incredible versatility, every wood worker, including beginners, will have a need for a router at some time, and many have more than one. However, with the huge range available, it’s not easy to choose the one that’s best suited to your needs, and the choice seems to get better every day, so we’re going to look at a number of the features that you should be considering such as router power ratings and variable speed, router bit size, accurate depth setting with fine adjustment control and whether you should be considering a Fixed Base Router or a Plunge Router.
THE Porter Cable 690LR has become pretty much the production shop standard due to its excellent value for money and no frills, get the job done design 😀
Powerful, Fixed-Speed Motor
When looking at routers, one of the most important feature to look for is the horsepower rating of the motor. The 690LR’s powerful 11 Amp 1-3/4 HP motor gives you enough power for the majority of your routing jobs. The 690LR has a single-speed motor which runs at an impressive 27,500 rpm, however, when using a mid-size router like the 690LR, to avoid straining the motor you should the amount of stock you remove on each pass to about 1/4-inch. In addition, if you plan on using larger bits, then you should consider getting a router with variable speed, as the larger the bit, the slower the speed you should use. The Porter Cable 690LR also comes with a variable speed option in the Porter Cable 690LRVS which costs approximately $50 more.
Router bit size
The bit shank size of the router is another important factor in deciding on a router. The two most common bit shank sizes are 1/4″ and 1/2″ and you should consider the projects you want to complete and the availability of bit sizes you need for these projects. The most common shank size is 1/2″ and you will find a much larger selection of bits available in the 1/2″ size and you will also find that some of the more specialist bits (mainly used by professionals) only come in 1/2″. The 690LR comes with both 1/4″ and 1/2″ collets so your choice of bits is pretty well unlimited.
One thing to bear in mind is that the larger the shank diameter, the less likely the router bit is to vibrate during cutting. Excessive vibration of the cutter will give a poor cut, and, as a general rule, you should always choose the largest shank diameter cutter your router will accept. 1/2-inch diameter shank bits are also more durable and less prone to flexing under load. So, if the cutter you want comes in both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch versions, you should opt for the 1/2-inch.
Accurate Fixed and Plunge Cuts
All routers, whether fixed base or plunge, need to have a means of accurately adjusting bit depth. As with the Porter Cable 7518 the height adjustment on the 690LR is easy (simply rotate the head to the desired setting) and locks down securely – once the router is set for the correct height, it doesn’t move until you want it to. Minute depth-of-cut adjustments are then easy to make using the router’s large adjustment ring, which is marked off in 1/64-inch increments. The 690LR also has a good range of depth adjustment which is important when using it in a table as the actual reach of the cutter will be reduced by the depth of the table.
Fixed Base Router vs. Plunge Router
What’s the difference? Simply put, a fixed base router is one on which you set a specific depth, and that depth stays consistent while using the tool. A plunge router, on the other hand, allows you to plunge the router bit downward and into the stock, make the desired cut, and then lift the bit back out of the stock. Obviously it’s a matter of personal preference, but in general, a plunge router is used for hand held routing when making a stopped cut (one that does not go all the way to the edge of the stock e.g. a mortise) and a fixed base router tends to be used in a Router Table and for hand held routing when a stopped cut is not required.
The 690LR is a dedicated fixed-base router and is a production shop standard – walk through any production cabinetmaking or woodworking shop and you’ll probably see 7 out of 10 workers using Porter Cable 690 routers. A lot of professional woodworkers own several, 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.
How much should you expect to pay?
What’s in the box?
The 690LR comes with everything you need to take on the toughest fixed base routing jobs
- 11 amp 1-3/4-horsepower fixed-speed motor
- Fixed base
- 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets
- Collet wrench
- Operating manual
What are other people saying?
The general view is that this router just gets on with the job…
- “I love the no frills get the job done design of this router”
- “Tough to beat”
- “The production shop standard”
- “To sum it all up, this is a terrific router because of its quality, accuracy, and easy to use features”
- “It’s easily paid for itself…”
We really couldn’t find much negative comment anywhere – the only thing that was noted was the fact that the power switch could be better placed (and the users who said that admitted that it really was a minor niggle).
What kind of warranty is there?
The Porter Cable 690LR is backed by a five-year warranty.
The Porter Cable 690LR is a mid-size fixed-base router for medium-duty work with a single-speed (27,500 rpm), 11 amp 1-3/4-hp motor designed along the same lines as its bigger stablemate, the 7518, although significantly lighter at 8 lbs. The Porter cable 690LR has become pretty much the production shop standard due to its excellent value for money and no frills, get the job done design.
Another factor contributing to the 690LR’s popularity is that, 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. Durable, capable, and simple in concept and design, the 690 is hard to beat.