A router is one of the most useful tools in your arsenal, especially a compact router that will allow you to move the tool around freely and especially a plunge router that will allow you to begin cutting at any point on the material that you want to work with.

Routers allow you to hollow out grooves or ‘routes’ and this allows you to trace all manner of complex shapes. You can use them to cut the ends off of pieces of wood as you would do a saw, or you can cut intricate patterns as you might do with a jigsaw. Moreover, you can use them for making attractive fluting patterns, for rounding off corners, for punching holes…

In short, this is one of the most versatile tools out there and it’s something you definitely want to invest in. But if you’re going to be buying a tool that’s so important and so valuable, then of course you need to ensure that you’re buying one that is going to be up to the challenges that you throw at it.

The PORTER-CABLE 690LR is a nice looking router but is it one that you can actually use on a daily basis? It’s affordable, but are you making big compromises in terms of power here?

Great Design & Extreme Power

The PORTER-CABLE 690LR is a slick looking piece of kit with a chrome and black colorscheme. This is a small detail but I am personally a big fan of any tool that uses a monochrome aesthetic. Why? Because normally, tools will tend to use the colorscheme of their particular branding. Dewalt is yellow and black for instance.

This is fine, except when you have tools form a few different companies, you end up with a very colorful workshop which isn’t a great look!

The PORTER-CABLE 690LR is nice and conservative in its color palette and that is ideal for a tool that’s going to fit in no matter how you decorate. It also looks good in terms of the obvious build quality and it feels equally good in the hands.

In terms of performance, it has pretty much everything you could ask for. The 11 amp motor offers up 1 ¾ peak horsepower. That’s some pretty good performance and especially for the price. Excellent power to cost ratio right here! The speed is 27,500 RPM which is also pretty good but something missing here is adjustable speed settings. A bit of a bummer seeing as you can get that option in cheaper devices but not the end of the world for most people who will be working primarily with wood.

There’s also a cam-lock lever which allows for simple adjustments of the coarse height and motor release. Micrometer depth adjuster is accurate to 1/128 inch, which is perfect for getting a very precise looking groove in your wood. Bit removal is fast and easy too and in short, it has a lot going for it.

Pros and Cons

So what are the pros and cons of this device?

The pros are the power, the excellent build quality (it’s machine cut aluminum, which explains the great look and feel) and the look of the thing. This is a nice premium feeling and looking tool with enough power to make easy work of most jobs.

The cons are the lack of speed adjustments, which is a bit of a shame and there’s no mention of electronic speed control. In our experience, we found that the cuts were very clean and smooth and generally we had no trouble with it. But if you’re looking for the most consistent cutting possible, then that is something to consider.

A few people have also mentioned that the position of the switch placement and the convenience of the lever release are not as useful as on previous models. We didn’t find this to be a problem but it is something to consider.

Conclusion

Overall, this is an excellent tool that provides great speed and power for the price and that has a particularly premium feeling build-quality. The only real disappointment is the lack of speed adjustment, while some find that the position of buttons and levers could be better. If you’re not picky though, you’ll love this router!