Porter-Cable 891P vs. 8529 vs. Milwaukee 5616 routers for mostly table use. Which is best choice?

OK, finally going to upgrade to a "nice" router table/router.
Choice of router has me vexed. Application will be 90% in router table and just occasional free hand use. No real need to spin bit bits, so about 2 hp is ample. Also, already have a PC 7529 (which I am lukewarm about, overall) for plunge duty, so no real desire for another plunge router.
Do like the idea of top-side height-adjustment that all the title-mentioned models offer...a lot. Was a little pissed that while Milwaukee gives you the height-setting tool you should have with every router, P-C was only giving it to you in one of their combo units (with a plunge base), but I learned yesterday that they have a promotion going where you get the "$38" tool by mail with all 890 series router purchases through March when you send in your receipt and a coupon. Nice going guys, thing should be in EVERY box with each router.
Looked over the PC 892 (version of 891 w/o the dust collection option) and and Milwaukee 5615 (smaller brother of 5616) at Lowes and Tool Haus woodworkers store this weekend. Nobody around here sells the 8529, but it is mostly the 7529 with router table top-access added and some minor changes. Have read the several on-line usenet discussions about the 890 series and the handful of short discussions about the 5616 and 8529 looking for info, especially comparison. Have seen no magazine reviews of the 890 series and 5616.
Looking over the 892 and 5616 I made a note of pluses and minuses:
PC 890 series Pluses Top-side router table height adjustment with (hurray) tool now supplied by mail Lock-pin so you only need one wrench to change bits (all routers should have this feature). Servo-feedback variable speed. Slow start feature.
Minuses Clear plastic sub-base supplied looks likely to crack easy and has extrusions likely to trap sawdust. Think plastic gadget used to prevent engaging spindle lock while motor switch is in on position is REALLY flimsy, although it's failure would not be a big deal. Chintsy 1 year warranty. Location of lock-pin for bit changes, locking clamp, and height adjustment means you will be doing some reaching around when thing is mounted in router table. Motor lock clamp is aluminum or magnesium and on the thin side at the end. I wonder if it will eventually crack off.
Milwaukee 5616 Pluses Wrap-around handle is pretty nice. Lifetime warranty! Nice big steel motor lock clamp. Height adjust tool with each router. Servo-feedback variable speed. Slow start feature.
Minuses Wrap around handle will probably eventually crack. You need two wrenches to change a bit. Utterly primitive design. My old $60 Skil router does it better! Sheesh! Do dust collection capability for free-hand use. How'd they blow that one in anew design?
As far as the PC 8529 goes, I know there is a $40 kit to retrofit my 7529 as far as the router table top side height adjustment feature goes. I know what the kit looks like (PN 907320, a threaded rod, two offset-wrenches, and the height adjust knob, template for drilling) and know you are supposed to drill the base in the 7529 to accept the new threaded rod at a point where there are re-inforcments in the Al casting of the base -- looks to be tricky. Also, It appears that the new rod is supposed to replace the height range set knob that is originally on the 7529, but it sure does not look like that is going to be a very good way to raise/lower this heavy router and expect it to stay perpendicular to the table top. Would love t see an 8529 to see how ell this really works.
Anyway, anybody have any suggestions on which way to go.
Amazon sells the Milwaukee 5616 for $170, the PC 8529 for $200, the PC 892 (basic unit, no dust collection) for $190, and the PC 891 (dust collection plus one-hand use features) for $210 and you get $25 off if you spend $199. Sure wish the Milwaukee had dust collection and one-wrench bit changing.
Sigh.
- GRL
"It's good to want things."
Steve Barr (philosopher, poet, humorist, chemist, Visual Basic programmer)
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-SNIP-
Get a PC 7518 3 HP fixed based router and be done with it. Table routing PC 7518. End of story.
Mike
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I agree that both the routers you've listed are underpowered for a table. However, the 7518 is NOT the only table router in town. In fact having used the 7518, and the Milwaukee 5625-20, I far prefer the Milwaukee: 3.5 HP and much easier to a adjust than the PC 7518.
Brian.

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Well, if you get a precision router lift, adjusting get's a lot easier for the 7518 ;-)
Mike

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If you are not spinning big bits either router shoud work fine. You may want to also consider the Bosch 1617evs.

Keep in mind that some of these routers have the adjustment hole located in line with where your fence might be. Having to move the fence to adjust the height fromt the top would not be desirable. This is something to watch for and be aware of.
Snip

I once thought a 1 wrench set up was the way to go also. Not any more. I would much rather be able to use the wrenches against each other with 1 hand to loosen a collet than to have to grab the router, push a button or lever, and work a wrench with the other hand. 2 wrenches can loosen the collet twice as fast as a single wrench. The trick to making the 2 wrench set up work easily is to always work the wrenches towards each other whether you are loosening or tightening. Put both wrenches in 1 hand and squeese them together. Just reverse each wrenches starting position to reverse the desired effect. The result is a router that does not have to be held while the collet is being loosened or tightened.

Another good reason to rely on a simple 2 wrench set up. If the deciding factor is 2 or 1 wrench, the 2 wrench will always with me.

Did I mention the 2 wrench set up? ;~) This is 2 gripes you already have about the 1 wrench set up. Something to think about again... I have been down the same road.. LOL.

the 3rd?

Remember that the waranty will probably not cover wear out.

Dont compare anything to a Skil router... Learn to use the 2 wrench set up correctly and then judge the 2 setups. I wonder if Milwaukee can warrant their router longer because of the simpeler more reliable collet loosening design. Probably not... ;~)
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I have my 890 table mounted so the adjustment holes are at about 7 and 8 o'clock. This puts them free of the fence, puts the locking lever to the left side, the speed adjustment to the right and the switch in the back which did not turn out to be the hassle I thought it would be since the switch is easily turned of with a smack of the hand against the top of the router motor. However, my table is bench top mounted and open, and this may be a hassle on a closed cabinet. If you use an external power switch, the mechanism that locks the switch on the motor in the off position when the motor is fully raised for changing bits above the table will come into play since the motor switch always has to be on for the external switch to work. You could probably circumvent this. The arbor locking mechanism seems to be a little finicky on mine, but I have learned it's eccentricities and can make it behave now. I am happy with the router now that we have "gotten acquainted". It's plenty powerful and it is QUIET compared to others I have seen. The one thing I am wondering about now is the EVS. I normally can tell if I am overloading a tool by sound, but there never seems to be any distinct change in sound for this router, no matter if I am taking a light cut or really hogging a cut. Could you burn out the motor without even realizing it?

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While having nothing to do with your question, it is easy to modify your 7529 for above the table adjustment just like the 8529. Do a google search on dave hall 7529 to get a more detailed description of this, but it is basically just drilling a hole in the end of one of the plunge shafts and JB Welding in a piece of 3/16ths allen wrench. Then drill the appropriate holes in the base and your table insert and it works just like the 8529. Use this for a while to see if you want/need a larger table unit or if you want a different unit for the table or handheld use. It's a no lose as it is very easy to do and in no way impacts the functionality of the router.
Dave Hall
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Thanks for the excellent tip.
--

- GRL

"It's good to want things."
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After getting the PC895 kit, I'll never use anything else! It handles with ease a CMT panel raiser with back cutter that is over 3" wide. It's a great machine! For both table mounted and freehand I've been very happy with it. More so than my past Hitachi, PC and Bosch.

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My kit came with the above table adjusting rod for use with the fixed base when table mounted.

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You two guys make me think the smart move is to just buy the adapter kit and bag the new router purchase...for now.
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- GRL

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