In Defense of An Old Friend

Sometimes the first tool you reach for points out an instinctive favorite. One of mine is Porter-Cable's 690 router.
Sometimes the first tool you reach for is a personal favorite. One of mine is Porter-Cable's 690 fixed-base router.

Lately I’ve been churning out a lot of router dovetails, and that, of course, means choosing a router. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve got several different routers on the shelf. But what did I reach for first? My good old Porter-Cable 690LRVS with a fixed base.

And that got me thinking about favorite tools.

Now, you’ll notice that Porter-Cable isn’t sponsoring this blog post. They don’t even know I’m writing it. It was just me, alone in the shop as usual on a Monday morning, and the thought process was about this simple: “Gotta rout dovetails this week…need a router…grab the 690.” My gut drove the decision.

Why do I like my P-C? For starters, I’ve become a real fan of compact tools, and the 690 is a nice, small machine with respectable horsepower. Mine is a horse and three quarters—plenty for dovetailing. I love the fact that the base has a flip lever that locks it firmly, and changing the depth of cut is as easy as screwing the motor up and down. No micro-adjusters or fanciness of any sort, really. Just twist, lock and go to work. The motor cap is flat, so it sits nicely upside down for bit changes, and the collet never misbehaves. Bits stay put right where I want them. It’s got soft start, which is good, and being Porter-Cable, it takes standard guide collars, which is great. I’ve needed them often this week.

Not everybody loves the 690. Some people aren’t crazy about the switch location. Others don’t like it in a router table. But, I can tell you this: here’s a machine that a lot of pro users turn to every single day…which probably explains why this model has been around for much longer than I’ve been using a router. And, at about $130, the price is right for a mostly metal tool.

So there you have it: my two bits about a favorite router. If you beg to differ, which router do you prefer? There are more routers on the market than most of us editors can even keep track of, so leave a comment and tell us about it. Oh, and if you’re in the market for a new router, be sure to check out our online router database:

You can plug in the criteria that you find most important in a router, and it will instantly spit out a short list of models that fit your search. Free for the asking.

Well, it’s back to the bench for me. Time to fire up the 690 and turn out some more dovetails.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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