68 - Our All-New Router Jig, страница 34

68 - Our All-New Router Jig, страница 34

It's hard to believe that you can improve on a great tool like the 690 router.

But Porter-Cable has managed to do just that.


Tool Chest


690 Router

In today's world, it's not uncommon for tool manufacturers to redesign their power tools every couple of years. So when you come across a tool that has remained virtually unchanged for over a quarter of a century, you know that it's got to be good. And that's exactly the case with Porter-Cable's 690 router.

The 690 has been around since 1973. In "tool years" this is an eternity. And yet, it's still one of the best-selling routers on the market. That's because the 690 has proven itself to be a reliable, no-nonsense tool. It's kind of like the Model T of routers.

The 690 also happens to be one of my all-time favorite tools — for a number of reasons. The motor can be quickly removed from the base to facilitate bit changes. The collet can accommodate both W and V2'1 shank bits and has an auto-release feature so the bits won't get stuck.

And to top it all off, the 690 has a great balance and feel.

New Design - I've always been a believer in the expression "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." So I was a little concerned when I first heard that Porter-Cable was coming out with a "new" version of the 690 router. But when I finally saw the new router, I realized that I was worried about nothing. Fortunately, the folks at Porter-Cable realized they had a good design and just made a few subtle changes. And these changes actually help to make a great tool even better.

Improvements - As much as I liked the old 690 router, I have to admit that there were a few little annoyances with the original design. For one thing, the wing nut that locks down the height of the motor can be difficult and downright painful to turn. Porter-Cable took care of this by replacing the wing nut •with a lever release that makes clamping and unclamping the base to the motor almost effortless (see photo A at left).

Another problem I had with the old design was a little more serious. If you were using the 690 in a router table, there was nothing to prevent the motor from falling out of the base if you lowered the bit too far. And if you forgot to tighten the wing nut to lock the height of the bit, the vibrations from the router could actually cause the motor to fall out of the base while you were using it.

Porter-Cable solved this by milling a couple of notches in the base of the router. So now if you lower the motor housing too much, the notches will engage a couple of pins in the side of the motor, preventing it from turning any further and dropping out of the housing. To override this feature, all you have to

do is push up on the motor while backing it out of the base.

Another change to the router that I noticed right away was the switch. The old 690 had a toggle switch. This new model has a rocker-type switch with a rubber boot to seal out dust (see photo B at left).

Motor - As nice as all these little changes are, the major difference between the new model and the old one is the motor. The motor on the new version has been beefed up from 10 to 11 amps, which translates to a l3/4 horsepower rating.

Now this may not sound like a huge jump in power, but it was necessary in order to give the new model a feature that wasn't previously available — variable speed. With the variable-speed model (690LRVS) you can control the speed of the router with the turn of a' dial (see photo C at left). This is a nice feature to have, especially if you use a lot of large-diameter bits.

Along with the variable-speed option, the new motor has a soft-start feature. When you turn the router on, it gradually revs up to full speed — so the router doesn't feel like it wants to jump out of your hands.

If you don't have a need for a variable-speed router, you're still in luck. Porter-Cable also offers the new router in a traditional, single-speed version, just like the old one.

Price - With all the improvements on the new version, I was expecting a big jump in the price. Fortunately, this isn't the case. The single-speed router (model 690LR) sells for around $140 (about the same price as the old 690). And you can get the variable-speed model (690LRYS) for about $15 more.

When my old 690 finally gives up the ghost, I'll have no hesitation* about buying one of these two new versions. But who knows — that could be years down the road. A



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