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Forum topic by rg33 posted 02-09-2015 10:22 PM 1109 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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83 posts in 2000 days

02-09-2015 10:22 PM

Hello everyone, I need your help with a router buying question. I currently own two fixed based routers. A craftsman variable speed which has served me well and was one of my first tools and a PC690 which I bought when I outgrew the 1/4” only collet on the craftsman. I have the 690 on a router table attached to a separate speed control and I use the craftsman for everything else.

Im going to start a project that has a ton of mortises and im thinking I need something with plunge capabilities. Im debating between buying the plunge base for the 690 (ill just pull the motor from underneath the table) which sells on amazon for $97, or for $107 I can get the skil 1830 combo which has variable speed and I get both a fixed base and a plunge base.

It seems with either option there are pros and cons. if anyone out there has these routers or another they would highly recommend I’d like to hear your comments.

thanks in advance

15 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


1062 posts in 2847 days

#1 posted 02-09-2015 10:50 PM

You didn’t say what sort of size or depth for this TON of mortises, I just bought the Dewalt trim router set with two bases after getting loads of input from the LJ’s you can read about what LJ's think of the kit here

I’ve got the PC 690 dual base kit and the PC 7538 in the table, this little dewalt set up is very light compact and controllable I’m very happy to have added it to my shop, all the LJ’s were right!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1220 days

#2 posted 02-09-2015 11:00 PM

I’ve never been a fan of routered mortises and tenons, I’ve always used the TS with dado set and tenoning jig both made specifically for the subject. I’d go for a dedicated 3 HP motor for the RT just for GPs.

-- I meant to do that!

View knotscott's profile


8013 posts in 3374 days

#3 posted 02-09-2015 11:02 PM

To be honest, I’m not crazy about either of the two options you’re considering. The better part of a $100 seems steep for a plunge base for a 690, and I’d consider a few other options over the Skil….a refurbed DW, Bosch, or Hitachi combo, or even a new Craftsman combo. You might have to up the ante a little bit, but it usually pays off in the long run.

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

View rg33's profile


83 posts in 2000 days

#4 posted 02-09-2015 11:05 PM

The mortises would be quite small, in the order of 1.75x.25 by about 1 inch deep. This would be done about 30x for slats on a crib.

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


5658 posts in 2811 days

#5 posted 02-09-2015 11:19 PM

I really like routers – use them all the time. I probably have 10 routers in the shop right now. That said, I don’t use them to cut mortises. I prefer a dedicated mortising machine. When you consider all the accessories you need, like a plunge base, edge guide, collets, guide bushings etc, etc, etc, you are in the range of a benchtop mortiser. Another advantage is the mortises are already square, so no need to round the tenons over.

I would avoid Skill brand tools. I have had better luck with Dewalt. The old P.C. routers were workhorses, but the current offering feels top-heavy to me. Every shop needs a plunge router anyway, so you can’t go wrong.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1220 days

#6 posted 02-09-2015 11:23 PM

Do you have a drill press, if so forstner or brad point bits do a great jobs holing the wood, a 1/4 or 3/8 paring chisel foot the bill

-- I meant to do that!

View bonesbr549's profile


1549 posts in 3065 days

#7 posted 02-09-2015 11:28 PM

Well, I’ve got a lot of routers, and the 690 is a good little tried and true router.

While I would not use it for raised panels, it’s fine for mortises and other hand held work, and in a table just go slow and take lite passes. I use it for small hand held work, and pretty much just with the Leigh d4R making dovetails.

I have the PC 890 series combo, that I hardly use, it’s to top heavy and I don’t like switch position and DC sucks. It’s set up to do dovetails and thats about it.

My handheld work is with the Festool, Of1400. It’s great but real expensive.

Another choice could be the Triton plunge router. While I’ve not owned one, seen a lot of em, and reviews are pretty good.

I’d stay away from the skill. They use to be a good brand, but that was a long time ago.

Good luck.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View OldEd's profile


39 posts in 1610 days

#8 posted 02-10-2015 12:45 AM

Do you have a drill press, if so forstner or brad point bits do a great jobs holing the wood, a 1/4 or 3/8 paring chisel foot the bill

- Ghidrah

I’d do what Ghidrah suggested: use a 1/4” bit in the drill press. THEN I’d use my DeWalt 611 with a custom-made sub-base that would straddle the work-piece and put the bit exactly in a hole made by the drill bit. Then I’d be able to slide the router back and forth to cut the left-over junk away and clean up the hole. You’d use an up-cut spiral bit, of course. This will leave you with a mortise with rounded ends, which you could chisel out, or make rounded ends on your tenons – your choice.

Mathias Wandell of has a video up showing what a mortising unit leaves behind: a rather rough looking mortise, due to the fact that the chisel doesn’t reach the bottom when it is plunged into the wood – the drill bit keeps it from hitting bottom.

With the up-spiral router bit cleaning up the mortise the result is much cleaner.

How do you look at the inside of a mortise? you may ask. Simple, I answer – you make the mortise and then, on either the band saw or the table saw, you cut away one side. Easy peasy.

-- OldEd

View greenacres2's profile


320 posts in 2166 days

#9 posted 02-10-2015 12:50 AM

To be honest, I m not crazy about either of the two options you re considering. The better part of a $100 seems steep for a plunge base for a 690, and I d consider a few other options over the Skil….a refurbed DW, Bosch, or Hitachi combo, or even a new Craftsman combo. You might have to up the ante a little bit, but it usually pays off in the long run.

- knotscott

Agreed. Bosch 1617 EVSPK refurbished can be had for $170 (maybe a little less). Fixed base can be table mounted in the same holes as your 690 fixed base, and could be adjusted from above the table (though you have to reach under to release/close the latch. I’ve got a hole drilled, but i still adjust from below the table). Plunge base is smooth and handles well for me as a hand-held. Easy to swap the motor from the table to the plunge. In many other kits, it’s the plunge base that works best for table mounting, which would leave me with only a fixed base for hand-held. Since the sub base is tapped in the same pattern as the PC 690, any aftermarket product made to fit the 690 can be used with the 1617 fixed base. I’ve got a pair of these and must admit that i’m prejudiced. I did have a 690 for several years, never could get decent adjustment with ease—the Bosch fine adjustment works much more intuitively for me.

That’s my story anyway!!


View dawsonbob's profile


2854 posts in 1753 days

#10 posted 02-10-2015 12:56 AM

I’m going to second the Bosch 1617 kit. They’re east to use, very precise and very rugged. I don’t treat mine as gently as I could, but it keeps running along without a hick-up.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1220 days

#11 posted 02-10-2015 01:25 AM


I have an old DP mortiser set from Delta and I rely on that rough sort of bottom, it gives a place for the excess glue to go when setting the tenon. Ever had a tenon slide back up before you clamp it? On wicked big M&T joints I’ve drilled pin holes out the bottoms to expel the air. Outside of blowing out the holes I never flatten the bottoms.

-- I meant to do that!

View jacquesr's profile


342 posts in 1421 days

#12 posted 02-10-2015 02:57 AM

I second Bosch… First bought a full kit, put it in my router table.
Wanted a router for handled job without having to remove the motor from the table… Just bought a fixed based 1617 ($154 on Amazon) and I can use it with the plunge base from the first kit….
Wanted to try Milwaukee for a change, but the synergy between the two Bosch was too good to pass…

View runswithscissors's profile


2751 posts in 2023 days

#13 posted 02-10-2015 03:07 AM

I can’t think of a single reason why a mortise should have a smooth bottom. I want a little space under the tenon when I glue it in.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2043 days

#14 posted 02-10-2015 04:52 AM

I’ll add to the recommendation to look a step up. When I was shopping, I ruled out the Skil because despite looking impressive on paper, cost have to be cut somewhere to get it to half the price of the the bigger name brands (e.g. Bosch, Dewalt, Porter Cable). One major red flag was the collet lock being made of stamped steel. The other red flag was the fact that it didn’t come with a 1/4” collet, but rather an adapter which screams tolerance problems.

I went with the Dewalt DW618 and I am very happy with it, and am planning on getting the DW611 as a small router complement. I also ended up getting the Bosch MRF23EVS and will probably get the fixed base for it one day.

-- paxorion

View Adrock1's profile


43 posts in 1204 days

#15 posted 02-10-2015 12:57 PM

Avoid the skill combo. I have it and its been disappointing. The plunge base is sloppy and inconsistent. I don’t really use it anymore. I could probably make some adjustments and tighten it up but I don’t bother. I have a Bosch plunge router if I really need that capability.

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