PC 690LR. Router "upgrade"?

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 04-05-2011 03:25 PM 2276 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1643 posts in 2659 days

04-05-2011 03:25 PM

Is there any compelling reason I should buy this router as an upgrade? My current router is a Craftsman 17543 (i think). Its the 2hp model with fixed and plunge bases that Sears often sells for under $100.
Amazon is currently selling the 690LR for $99 with free shipping. There is also a $20 mail in rebate, beating the product down to $79. Great price for a router that seems to be liked by most.
Honestly, the price is the greatest attraction for a product that I perceive as better than the one I have now.
So the question is- is this router THAT much better than I have now? Would it be an appreciable upgrade? I’m discounting the plunge feature on my current router, and trying to compare these two on fixed bases alone. Would I be better off just dropping another $50-100 on a router with significantly more hp? I’d hate to buy this thing only to find it comparable to what I already have. On paper, they seem similar. But this router gets great reviews, where as the craftsman is typically described as ho-hum.

I’m planning to also add a hi-power plunge router to arsenal too in the near future- if that would sway the decision.

Any thoughts.

14 replies so far

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2694 days

#1 posted 04-05-2011 03:37 PM

Buy the Porter Cable

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#2 posted 04-05-2011 03:42 PM

I think that’s a terrific price for a very reliable router. Will you notice a tremendous difference? probably not. I bought a plunge base 3 1/2 hp triton a few weeks back for only $188 & I’ve seen similar prices recently, for what that’s worth. It replaced my 690 in my router table.

I can tell you that it’s an absolute beast & came with quite a few accessories. If you’re planning to buy a plunge router in the near future, I might buy the Triton on sale & replace your Craftsman with a fixed base with more power or something with a built-in raiser like the Triton. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3101 days

#3 posted 04-05-2011 04:36 PM

The 690 is not a high powered router but it is sufficient for most hand held applications and it is so nice to work with. It’s not heavy and awkward like the bigger routers.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#4 posted 04-05-2011 04:41 PM

Rich is right. Here’s how the 690 looks alongside some big boys for size comparison.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View knotscott's profile


8057 posts in 3402 days

#5 posted 04-05-2011 04:42 PM

$100 shipped is a nice deal….where’d you see a rebate?

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3603 days

#6 posted 04-05-2011 04:50 PM

Go for it I have a large number of routers and my 690 “D” handle is the one I seem to grab for first. Like others have said there are more powerful routers but for the most part you will not need that much power to do most every day operations.
PC 690 has the most available accessories .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#7 posted 04-05-2011 05:16 PM

^I nearly forgot about that, a1Jim. The Porter cable bushings are the general standard and if you’re ever planning on using it on a dovetail jig, the 690 is the way to go. Aside from the trim routers, the 690 is the most manageable on the dovetail jig than any I’ve used. I’ve ruined finger templates tilting a larger router into them. The 690 gives you good tactile feedback, whereas the Freud probably wouldn’t even slow down shredding my aluminum jig. You can find baseplates for the 690 with ease and it’s probably the most machine-friendly router around.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2997 days

#8 posted 04-05-2011 05:40 PM

Even though I had a couple of perfectly functional routers I got a PC 690 recently for precicely the same reasons as everyone is pointing out. It’s the defacto standard around which every accessory known to routerdom is designed.

In fact, I’m thinking seriously about getting a PC biscuit jointer for the same reason, just waiting on a sale.

One other point that’s worth considering is the HP ratings, for the most part, are just smoke and mirrors anyway. If it runs on a 15 amp, 120 volt outlet, it can’t possibly have more than about 1 3/4 HP in real world physics. It might have reserve surge power able to generate 3 or 4 HP, but no way this power output could be sustained for more than a few seconds.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4245 days

#9 posted 04-05-2011 05:42 PM

The 690 is a great router to have in your arsenal. As to whether you should buy it or not… that all depends.

You probably are not going to notice much difference in performance. If you are only interested in having one router in your shop, I’d say just go on using your Craftsman until it dies. On the other hand, having more than one router can come in very handy. I don’t think you’ll regret purchasing it.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2659 days

#10 posted 04-05-2011 05:45 PM

Scott: (I have not closely inspected the fine print yet)

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#11 posted 04-05-2011 06:14 PM

After looking at the discount, you could go with the speedmatic! :)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3115 days

#12 posted 04-05-2011 06:24 PM

I love the 690’s! They arent really that special, and no you wont notice a huge difference, but they are excellent quality and you can get any accessory you could ever want. I have one that is about 15-20 years old, and just bought a new one about 6 months ago, they are identical. when you have a good design, you never change. oh, and that oldy still spins like a top, the only thing I have ever had to fix is the rubber cord connector, just because the rubber was dried out and cracked. I like that you can get all the different bases for a single motor, saving money. I will say that the one thing lacking on the 690 is a spindle lock, so you have to use 2 wrenches to change bits, but you get used to that. I have had the spindle locks on others wear out, or the spring fail, and it catches while using (not a fun experience). I’m guessing the simpler design is one reason they last so long. If you are going to set up a router table, I would go for a more powerful router, but otherwise, I think it is the ideal balance of power and weight for handheld use, I have never wanted any more power than this in my hands. In my experience, if the cutter needs more power than this, it is either dull, or big enough that you should not be using it in a handheld IMHO.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3587 days

#13 posted 04-05-2011 06:56 PM

Not familiar with the Craftsman, but if it won’t accept 1/2 inch bits, that would be another major reason to buy the PC. I have the PC with a fixed and a plunge base, and it is my favorite.

-- Joe

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3339 days

#14 posted 04-06-2011 12:52 AM

I have the PC 690 with fixed, D, and plunge base, and like others have said I have used it a lot all in the hand held mode.

For my router table I have a Bosch 1617EVS with 2 bases and it does a great job and has a bit more power, but the PC 690 is so versatile and really does almost everything I need in routing. It is reallly a good solid choice in routers.

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