Review of the new Porter Cable 895PK- Part 1

Page 1 of 2  
Well, my errant finger pressed the order button on a new Porter Cable 895PK router kit last week, sight unseen. The UPS man delivered it today and I'm a little sorry now that I didn't wait to see one of these in person. Perhaps it's me, but this thing comes off as a quickly designed and assembled collection of cheaply cast Chinese aluminum, replete with peeling labels and plastic parts. The box proudly proclaims, "Made in the USA of US and Imported parts." I get the definite impression that most all the parts are coming from an offshore Chinese factory. I even considered the possibility that perhaps Tool-Crib was selling clone knock-offs of the real thing...
I'm used to the substance and feel of the venerable 690 series routers, with well machined collets, heavy duty steel locking levers and the substantial thickness of the housings.
To save anyone else from the shock of opening that box for the first time, I am posting a few 'first impressions'. I'll follow up with a more detailed review of the unit's actual performance at a later date. (Read - when it's not 32F in the shop!)
Overall impressions --------------------------------------------- Packaging/Unit in General: --------------------------------------------- Upon opening the huge blow molded case, I was shocked to find a variety of labels laying throughout the case. Most of the labels refuse to stick to the router, and either fell off in shipping, or are peeling off as I write this. Even the 1/32"/rev marker label on the plunge router base stop adjustment screw peeled off. Some of the label fonts (i.e. The Motor ID label) look like they were printed with a dot matrix printer. The collets are of poor quality, at least in comparison to the older PC models, and the machine work is obviously offshore. The collet wrench is soft stamped steel, again, offshore. The black blow molded case(s) is/are a two piece design, each with storage for five 1/2" and five 1/4" bits and the collets, as well as template guides, collet wrench and height adjustment rod. They can be separated into two identical units, each with storage for the appropriate base. Each case may be used as a router pedestal, with knockouts on the bottom for standing the router upright with a bit installed. The top and bottom are not hinged but are of a clamshell design, being held together with metal flip-clasps.
Fixed Base: --------------------- Although the various angles on the base are very rounded, the finish of the sand castings is very consistent, and the forms used were smoothed well before production, the housings on this base are extremely thin wall, and the router body locking lever is very thin aluminum - I thought it would crack the first time I engaged it. The actuating clamp tangs are so thin that after just a couple of operations, the aluminum is coming off in slivers. Additionally, the lever just flops around in the base. The height adjustment worm appears to be metal, as is the rack on the router body. - but the worm has just one thread of engagement, and is rather sloppy at that. The base plate is clear plastic, but I'm unsure whether it is styrene or polycarbonate. Unfortunately, it is filled with open ribs and valleys that catch every piece of debris that falls - making the clear base impossible to see through when used upright. You cannot use a template guide with this base plate. The hand hold knobs are reasonably well formed, although they strongly emit the most peculiar odor... The router collet locking pin is hardened steel and may be actuated automatically by a movable tang, which engages at full router depth. This behavior may be overridden by moving the tang. The tang is metal, but sloppy in fit, and hard to move reliably. You may also press the collet lock pin with a finger. The macro-adjustment release lever is plastic and spring loaded, but seems to operate smoothly. My biggest complaint about this base is that it is designed, as supplied, solely for use in a router table. And therein lies the rub. The router body release lever and the micro adjustment are tiny 3/16" hex headed shafts of soft metal which show signs of wear after a couple of operations. The included adjustment shaft is hardened steel, with a large plastic knob and plastic depth adjustment scale. The biggest problem with this arrangement is that, although you can lock and unlock the router body and make fine adjustments from above the router table, major changes still require access to the macro-release tang on the base body - requiring you to reach inside the router table dust collection box to access the lever from underneath. You could conceivably twist on the micro-adjustment, but at 1/8" per revolution, it could take a while, additionally accelerating the wear of the shafts mentioned previously. See also: comments concerning the power switch in the router motor evaluation.
Plunge Base: --------------------- Fortunately, there is more to like here - barely. The castings are, again, very smooth, but considerably more substantial in mass. The hand grips are identical to the fixed base grips - replete with the same strange odor... The same collet lock pin actuator is present, just as sloppy, but slightly easier to actuate. The labels on this body are applied haphazardly as well as on the others - the PC label on front is canted by about 10 degrees. That is, until it falls off like the others have.
The plunge stop has 3 adjustable stops - two with allen head screws and hex stop nuts, and one thumbscrew adjustment with 32 TPI. The adjustment rate label for this stop peeled off and will not stay on. That gives a total of four (4) stops, including the default - which is the router base itself. The stop rod is an aluminum sleeve with a soft steel turret which rotates inside. It is movable with a thumb/finger while holding the grips. There is a movable plastic hairline(?!) marker that locks with a thumbscrew. Amazingly, however, you cannot see the scale label (also peeling) through the translucent plastic of the hairline! What on earth were they thinking with THIS idea? Additionally, the distance between the hairline (more of a blunt felt tip line than a hairline) and the scale is about 1/4" - leading to parallax errors. That is, IF your could even SEE the scale!
The router body latch is more like the familiar metal design on the 690 series - all steel with a nut adjustment for clamp pressure. The router sub-base is also the more familiar PC design, with a ledge for using PC template guides. There is a clear plastic dust shield over this, with a non-removable 1" OD (~3/4" ID) vacuum port for dust collection present on the body itself. The spring loaded plunge base has a spring loaded lever for height adjustments, and can be locked into the released position for free plunge operations. I was amazed to find that the router bit height can be changed as much as 1/8" by pressing gently on the router grips while the plunge is locked. This should make precision depth routing quite an interesting and improbable experience. The plunge guide rods appear to be hardened steel and the base does have bronze bushings riding on them - for all the good it does. It turns out that only ONE of the guides is bushed with sintered bronze, the other is plastic, which accounts for the flex and bit movement.
Router Motor ------------------------- The router motor itself is fairly quite, and has variable speed (~10,000 - 23,000 RPM) and soft-start. The soft-start feature is slightly disconcerting, however, as it comes up to speed somewhat irregularly - sort of pulsing rather than smoothly. I was totally appalled to find that the motor fields and rotor are NOT varnish dipped or pressure impregnated - a must for a high speed motor - and that the 6004RS bearings are made in China!
The imported, non-detachable power cord is sufficiently long at 10 feet, and has a rubberized strain relief 3" long at the motor housing.
The top power switch is relatively easy to operate, and shuts the router off when set upside down on a flat surface while running (who the hell does THAT?), but the lower switch is simply a plastic mechanical slide that links to the upper switch and is quite difficult to operate from the hole in the fixed router base. It is completely unusable in the plunge base (great planning, guys!). This same plastic slide is also what 'locks' the collet pin from engaging while the power is applied. I can guarantee that running the router up to max height while the switch is ON WILL break this slide. This means that using the auto collet lock in a router table combined with a remote power switch is problematic.
Overall ---------------- I'm not sure whether I will actually use thing or return it - but I DO know that it makes my WELL used army green $65.00 B&D RP200 look pretty good in comparison - dual bronze bushings on the plunge rods, no discernable play in the plunge mech, easy to operate power switch on the handle, good balance, and built in dust collection. It's main problems are low power and a 1/4" collet.
It has been my experience that Chinese ball bearings don't hold up, and that varnishing the windings in a high speed motor is mandatory.
I bought this because it was supposedly Made In USA / PC quality - but it's not like anything I am familiar with. It is an assemblage of Chinese pot metal and cheap labor, and I fear the only thing Made In USA was the marketing department and the placement of the handles and knobs on the router bases.
The included CD is a mix of heavy marketing propaganda and a couple of extremely basic plans from Canadian based Oak Park Enterprises, LTD. www.oak-park.com
101 - Heart Frame 102 - Book Ends (Incorrectly Identified as a Dovetail Book Stand) 103 - Magic Boxes
Also included is a series of hokey video clips that demonstrate building a very simplistic benchtop router table from the 'stars' of Public Television's 'The Router Workshop' - sponsored by? You guessed it, Porter Cable.
Form your own conclusions...
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for the comprehensive review Greg. I guess I'll stay in the left lane for this exit sand keep on going.
'preciate the time you took to evaluate and write.
Rob
--

Remove CC for email and please visit our web site:
http://www.robswoodworking.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Rob Stokes thus spake:

Hope I didn't rain on anyone's parade. I'm sure there are thousands of these things under American Christmas Trees this year - but I was a bit disappointed in this one - especially considering the favorable pre$$ and marketing hype that went into it's release.
This was, of course, an initial review, and only time will tell how well they hold up under daily use. Crooked labels that fall off and such are not terminal, but generally ARE an outward display of workmanship - or lack thereof. I really hate being the Beta tester for a new model, on my dime, and should have waited till more real-world usage reports were in before plunking down the bucks.
I'm pretty accurate at picking apart products and pointing out what will fail and what won't - comes from a lifetime of electronics design and repair work and from my youthful days as an automobile mechanic. I like to buy things that last 20 years - I HATE changes & shopping!
I am in the market for a 14" bandsaw and a better tablesaw this year, and this experience will factor in to what brands I will consider. If I'm getting Chinese crap anyway, I'm cutting out the bloated marketing departments of several big companies. Grizzly and General are far higher up on the scale of probability that they were last week.
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yabbut, you got _perspective_, Greg ... you know what the real stuff is and can make the comparison. Pity the poor guy who can't. It's sad really. Thanks for taking the time to review it.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 12/18/03
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Swingman thus spake:

Thanks. I really hated dissing the unit, I had high hopes for it - enough to have plunked down $220 - sight unseen. I suppose it did come off pretty badly. I read the post over for accuracy before deciding to post, but ultimately did. Too bad PC/Delta didn't spend 10 minutes with this unit to discover it's patent flaws before public release. The brief mentions I have seen in various magazines seemed favorable, so much for literary integrity. $$$
With that said, I'm sure some will disagree with my initial evaluation, and may even get some useful work from it without ever having noticed my points of contention. Perhaps Chinese ball bearings are better than SKFs or Timkens these days. I just felt it was not up to the professional standards set by Porter Cable themselves in terms of quality and accuracy. Not to mention the thinly veiled offshore manufacturing - claiming to be made in USA. This is just another sign that apparently we, as American workers, cannot compete in a brisk world marketplace. There is an ongoing hyperkinetic rush to build overseas, and it bugs the hell out of me as I watch manufacturing plants close all over the US - and product quality dip to new lows.
I have lived with cheap tools that, for instance, won't maintain accurate depths of cut. A 1/8" variation in depth - or worse, a angular skew of the bit - is not acceptable in my vision of a professional tool. The human error factor is bad enough. This is more what I would have expected from Ryobi or Skil product.
Sadly, Greg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greg, I wouldn't hesitate to post that review on the big sites like e-opinion, etc, where the manufacturer will eventually hear about it. Craftsmanship and integrity mean nothing to corporate management mentality. The only way to get their attention is through the bottom line.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 12/18/03
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wow. Thanks for the review. I'll just steer clear of this model for now, until PC has the time to fix their bugs (provided they have the will to do so).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
AL thus spake:

All this, and an included CD that doesn't 'play' properly on Windows 2000 Pro. I had to watch the included router table AVI's with Media Player to even view them - it wasn't worth the effort, however... Also, the overview screen doesn't work - no biggy, just another indicator of just how fast this unit was rushed to market - and why the local stores don't seem to want to carry it yet.
I'm still fuming over how much of the promo material claims 'Made in USA' - what a crock!
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Worse than that, it gives the impression that "Made in USA" = "Piece of worthless crud"
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I think the best way to send a message to Porter Cable is to return the router. If many dissatisfied customers do this, PC will see the larger than expected number of returns (and their associated handling costs) show up on their balance sheet. Then maybe they'll do something about it. But they may continue to sell it as is for years (like the Bammer and 7529).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The review of this router was interesting to me because I have had this router for about three weeks and my impressions of it are substantially different than Gregs. My impressions are so different that when I started reading his review I wondered whether Tool Crib may have sent him a Kitchen Aid blender by mistake. If I were Greg, I would send that router back. It must have been assembled on Monday morning by an employee suffering a hangover from a weekend long party.
I have only been doing woodworking for a few years am not an expert with routers or woodworking. I had a low end router that I mainly used in a table. I wanted something more accurate and I also wanted above the table height adjustment. I looked at the Bosch routers and was very impressed but they did not have the above table height adjustment. The Milwaukee did have the adjustment but still I would have to reach under the table to release the router before making the adjustment. The Porter Cable seemed to have everything I wanted. It was only a few dollars more than the Milwaukee and it came with two bases. I have actually used the router and have it mounted in my table. I'll go through Greg's review and add my comments below.
Greg G. wrote: :: Well, my errant finger pressed the order button on a new Porter Cable :: 895PK router kit last week, sight unseen. The UPS man delivered it :: today and I'm a little sorry now that I didn't wait to see one of :: these in person. Perhaps it's me, but this thing comes off as a :: quickly designed and assembled collection of cheaply cast Chinese :: aluminum, replete with peeling labels and plastic parts. The box :: proudly proclaims, "Made in the USA of US and Imported parts." I get :: the definite impression that most all the parts are coming from an :: offshore Chinese factory. I even considered the possibility that :: perhaps Tool-Crib was selling clone knock-offs of the real thing...
:: I'm used to the substance and feel of the venerable 690 series :: routers, with well machined collets, heavy duty steel locking levers :: and the substantial thickness of the housings.
I am familiar with the 690 series and I don't feel that the 890 series has a thinner thickness on the housings I went to Home Depot today and looked at a 690 and I did not see a difference in thickness. The collets seem to be the same for both models.
:: To save anyone else from the shock of opening that box for the first :: time, I am posting a few 'first impressions'. I'll follow up with a :: more detailed review of the unit's actual performance at a later :: date. (Read - when it's not 32F in the shop!) :: :: Overall impressions :: --------------------------------------------- :: Packaging/Unit in General: :: --------------------------------------------- :: Upon opening the huge blow molded case, I was shocked to find a :: variety of labels laying throughout the case. Most of the labels :: refuse to stick to the router, and either fell off in shipping, or :: are peeling off as I write this. Even the 1/32"/rev marker label on :: the plunge router base stop adjustment screw peeled off. Some of the :: label fonts (i.e. The Motor ID label) look like they were printed :: with a dot matrix printer. The collets are of poor quality, at :: least in comparison to the older PC models, and the machine work is :: obviously offshore. The collet wrench is soft stamped steel, again, :: offshore. The black blow molded case(s) is/are a two piece design, :: each with storage for five 1/2" and five 1/4" bits and the collets, :: as well as template guides, collet wrench and height adjustment rod. :: They can be separated into two identical units, each with storage :: for the appropriate base. Each case may be used as a router :: pedestal, with knockouts on the bottom for standing the router :: upright with a bit installed. The top and bottom are not hinged but :: are of a clamshell design, being held together with metal flip- :: clasps. ::
All of the labels on mine were properly attached. None were loose. The Main Porter Cable label is slightly crooked. The collet wrench is of poor quality.
:: Fixed Base: :: --------------------- :: Although the various angles on the base are very rounded, the finish :: of the sand castings is very consistent, and the forms used were :: smoothed well before production, the housings on this base are :: extremely thin wall, and the router body locking lever is very thin :: aluminum - I thought it would crack the first time I engaged it. The :: actuating clamp tangs are so thin that after just a couple of :: operations, the aluminum is coming off in slivers. Additionally, the :: lever just flops around in the base. The height adjustment worm :: appears to be metal, as is the rack on the router body. - but the :: worm has just one thread of engagement, and is rather sloppy at :: that. The base plate is clear plastic, but I'm unsure whether it is :: styrene or polycarbonate. Unfortunately, it is filled with open :: ribs and valleys that catch every piece of debris that falls - :: making the clear base impossible to see through when used upright. :: You cannot use a template guide with this base plate. The hand hold :: knobs are reasonably well formed, although they strongly emit the :: most peculiar odor... The router collet locking pin is hardened :: steel and may be actuated automatically by a movable tang, which :: engages at full router depth. This behavior may be overridden by :: moving the tang. The tang is metal, but sloppy in fit, and hard to :: move reliably. You may also press the collet lock pin with a :: finger. The macro-adjustment release lever is plastic and spring :: loaded, but seems to operate smoothly. My biggest complaint about :: this base is that it is designed, as supplied, solely for use in a :: router table. And therein lies the rub. The router body release :: lever and the micro adjustment are tiny 3/16" hex headed shafts of :: soft metal which show signs of wear after a couple of operations. :: The included adjustment shaft is hardened steel, with a large :: plastic knob and plastic depth adjustment scale. The biggest :: problem with this arrangement is that, although you can lock and :: unlock the router body and make fine adjustments from above the :: router table, major changes still require access to the macro- :: release tang on the base body - requiring you to reach inside the :: router table dust collection box to access the lever from :: underneath. You could conceivably twist on the micro-adjustment, :: but at 1/8" per revolution, it could take a while, additionally :: accelerating the wear of the shafts mentioned previously. See also: comments concerning the power switch in the router motor evaluation. ::
The housings are different than the 690 series. They are not as smooth and Porter Cable may have saved some money here but the machining is excellent. I don't care if my tools are "pretty". I want them to be reliable, accurate, consistent and safe. Others may feel differently. I don't feel the locking lever is too thin and I can not see how it could ever break unless the router was dropped. The height adjustment works flawlessly in a table and is not at all sloppy. The odor from the hand knobs reinforces my employee hangover theory because mine do not emit any odor at all. The collet locking part is somewhat sloppy in its fit but it does work very well on the fixed base. The adjustment shafts are not made of soft metal. They are diffinately hardened. They work well above the table. I can unlock the router and then use my electric screwdriver with a 3/16" socket to raise the router quickly. The supplied tool to make small adjustments works very well.
:: Plunge Base: :: --------------------- :: Fortunately, there is more to like here - barely. The castings are, :: again, very smooth, but considerably more substantial in mass. The :: hand grips are identical to the fixed base grips - replete with the :: same strange odor... The same collet lock pin actuator is present, :: just as sloppy, but slightly easier to actuate. The labels on this :: body are applied haphazardly as well as on the others - the PC label :: on front is canted by about 10 degrees. That is, until it falls off :: like the others have. :: :: The plunge stop has 3 adjustable stops - two with allen head screws :: and hex stop nuts, and one thumbscrew adjustment with 32 TPI. The :: adjustment rate label for this stop peeled off and will not stay on. :: That gives a total of four (4) stops, including the default - which :: is the router base itself. The stop rod is an aluminum sleeve with a :: soft steel turret which rotates inside. It is movable with a :: thumb/finger while holding the grips. There is a movable plastic :: hairline(?!) marker that locks with a thumbscrew. Amazingly, :: however, you cannot see the scale label (also peeling) through the :: translucent plastic of the hairline! What on earth were they :: thinking with THIS idea? Additionally, the distance between the :: hairline (more of a blunt felt tip line than a hairline) and the :: scale is about 1/4" - leading to parallax errors. That is, IF your :: could even SEE the scale! :: :: The router body latch is more like the familiar metal design on the :: 690 series - all steel with a nut adjustment for clamp pressure. The :: router sub-base is also the more familiar PC design, with a ledge for :: using PC template guides. There is a clear plastic dust shield over :: this, with a non-removable 1" OD (~3/4" ID) vacuum port for dust :: collection present on the body itself. The spring loaded plunge base :: has a spring loaded lever for height adjustments, and can be locked :: into the released position for free plunge operations. I was amazed :: to find that the router bit height can be changed as much as 1/8" by :: pressing gently on the router grips while the plunge is locked. This :: should make precision depth routing quite an interesting and :: improbable experience. The plunge guide rods appear to be hardened :: steel and the base does have bronze bushings riding on them - for all :: the good it does. It turns out that only ONE of the guides is bushed :: with sintered bronze, the other is plastic, which accounts for the :: flex and bit movement.
The collet lock on my plunge base does not work. The router does not go down far enough to activate the lock. I doubt I would use the lock on this base anyway but it is a flaw. I have no problem seeing the scale through the plastic and my 58 year old eyes are not what they used to be. However, it could be better. I usually use setup bars on a plunge base anyway and never look at the scale on the router. The next point is probably the most serious problem Greg found in his review. He was able to change the bit height by pressing on the router grips. I have tried to duplicate this but I can not. I tried pushing everyway I could on the plunge base and the depth of the cut stayed the same. There is no flex in mine and it is much smoother than the 690 series plunge base. I can not see how his got through any type of quality control with a defect like this. The router also has power to spare and runs very smooth and quiet.
:: Router Motor :: ------------------------- :: The router motor itself is fairly quite, and has variable speed :: (~10,000 - 23,000 RPM) and soft-start. The soft-start feature is :: slightly disconcerting, however, as it comes up to speed somewhat :: irregularly - sort of pulsing rather than smoothly. I was totally :: appalled to find that the motor fields and rotor are NOT varnish :: dipped or pressure impregnated - a must for a high speed motor - and :: that the 6004RS bearings are made in China! :: :: The imported, non-detachable power cord is sufficiently long at 10 :: feet, and has a rubberized strain relief 3" long at the motor :: housing. :: :: The top power switch is relatively easy to operate, and shuts the :: router off when set upside down on a flat surface while running (who :: the hell does THAT?), but the lower switch is simply a plastic :: mechanical slide that links to the upper switch and is quite :: difficult to operate from the hole in the fixed router base. It is :: completely unusable in the plunge base (great planning, guys!). :: This same plastic slide is also what 'locks' the collet pin from :: engaging while the power is applied. I can guarantee that running :: the router up to max height while the switch is ON WILL break this :: slide. This means that using the auto collet lock in a router table :: combined with a remote power switch is problematic.
I don't know much about motors and nothing about varish or pressure impregnated windings. If someone can explain the need for this to me, I would appreciate it. I have never used a router at full plunge depth and I can see no situation where I would need to. The slide could possibly break if this occured and the auto lock was turned on. It is easily turned off. Since the collet lock does not work on the plunge base, I don't think I will be too concerned with this.
:: Overall :: ---------------- :: I'm not sure whether I will actually use thing or return it - but I :: DO know that it makes my WELL used army green $65.00 B&D RP200 look :: pretty good in comparison - dual bronze bushings on the plunge rods, :: no discernable play in the plunge mech, easy to operate power switch :: on the handle, good balance, and built in dust collection. It's main :: problems are low power and a 1/4" collet. :: :: It has been my experience that Chinese ball bearings don't hold up, :: and that varnishing the windings in a high speed motor is mandatory. :: :: I bought this because it was supposedly Made In USA / PC quality - :: but it's not like anything I am familiar with. It is an assemblage :: of Chinese pot metal and cheap labor, and I fear the only thing Made :: In USA was the marketing department and the placement of the handles :: and knobs on the router bases. :: :: The included CD is a mix of heavy marketing propaganda and a couple :: of extremely basic plans from Canadian based Oak Park Enterprises, :: LTD. www.oak-park.com :: :: 101 - Heart Frame :: 102 - Book Ends (Incorrectly Identified as a Dovetail Book Stand) :: 103 - Magic Boxes :: :: Also included is a series of hokey video clips that demonstrate :: building a very simplistic benchtop router table from the 'stars' of :: Public Television's 'The Router Workshop' - sponsored by? :: You guessed it, Porter Cable. :: :: Form your own conclusions... :: :: Greg G.
That made in the USA is a label I used to look for all the time. I kept buying American made cars when everyone was telling me that they were junk. After my wife got a foreign car, I realized that what everyone was telling me was right. My American made car can not compare to her car. I really hate to admit this. I think The Chinese have made tremendous improvements in quality control over the last ten years and Made in China may not be so bad anymore. I don't know what parts of this router were made in the USA. I would not describe it as made of "Chinese pot metal and cheap labor". It's becoming a global economy whether we want it to or not and we need to accept this change. I had no problem running the CD but its content was not anything special.
I appreciate the time Greg took to do his review but I think that anyone interested in a new router should take a look at this one and draw your own conclusions. It has its faults and good points like any other product.
I would also like to thank everyone on this newsgroup for all of the excellent answers to questions and the never ending humor that is always present here. I think woodworkers have been blessed with more common sense and humor than the rest of the population. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas
Neal
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Neal thus spake:

As did I. Maybe I'll give them a call and see if they will replace the crappy parts with better. I own other MANY Pentair products, and really don't hate them, honest! I often tweak and modify lesser tools to perform better, in the interest of saving a few bucks or supporting a particular vendor.

I would appreciate knowing about the bushings. And you are certain that both of your 'screws' are black hardened steel? Hmmm...

I would even consider dipping it myself, if the other factors were dealt with. I have started to do this with all new equipment that is NOT varnished from the factory - I have had too many failures to suit me. The only hard part is finding the varnish in small quantities and waiting for it to bake and dry out.

I wish we were more competitive as well. When I overhauled my old '94 T-Bird, every part had a mark on it denoting it's country of origin. Mexico, England, Spain, Japan, etc. Stuff from all over the world! But I wouldn't expect TOO much of a response to your query to PC.

I don't. What gave you that idea? I DO want to use it as both a handheld with the plunge base and in a router table with the fixed base, however.

The Bosch is a nice unit, but lacks the 'features' for use in a router table. So that means another $300 for a Mast-R-Lift - which probably is a better overall solution anyway - with a larger router to boot.
I generally review all the new tools I get - when I have the time...
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greg G. wrote in

Dum question, but why not the Dewalt 618B3 (the triple base kit)? Or just get a Bosch 1617 for handheld use and Hitachi M12 for the the router table?
Thanks for the detailed review of the PC895...most reviews on this I've seen were pretty positive...
ken
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ken Yee thus spake:

Dumb answer... Lots-o-money? <g>

I'm still trying to get over why they bothered to put an auto-collet lock on this thing when it doesn't even work! On the fixed base, the rack hits the base and binds before it engages. On the plunge base, it bottoms out before it ever gets to the tang. Go figure? Does no one even try these things out? I was not impressed, and it is not up to PC's standards.
In the included video, the Router Workshop guys used wrenches to remove the bits, claiming that it was easier for them. I bet it IS easier - 'cause it DOESN'T WORK!
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<Greg G.> wrote in message

Greg,
I looked at my router again today and I think you are correct on more of your evaluation than I thought. Yes, the bushing on the non locking plunge rod is plastic. I am concerned about this for long term reliability. I do not have a clue as to why they used plastic instead of a quality bushing. I removed the springs and you are correct about the excessive movement which seems to be caused by the plastic bushing. Somehow it does accurately plunge but the design is not typical Porter Cable and I can see future problems.
My auto collet lock works fine on the fixed base but I don't understand why it was designed to not work if the switch is in the on position. Why have everything adjustable from the top of the table and then have to reach under the table to turn the router off to change a bit? The fixed base was designed with table use in mind so this makes no sense. You are right about it bottoming out before getting to the tang on the plunge base.
I have just tried to call Porter Cable and they are closed. They finally gave me the home office support number after routing me through several other tech people who apparently never even seen the new router. One even asked where I got it. This makes me a bit nervous and I am now thinking about returning mine too. One time I bought a new car when it was first introduced and really regretted it soon after. This sounds very similar.
Here's Porter Cables tech number if you would like to call too. 800-321-9443
Neal
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Neal and Greg,
I appreciate your reviews, but I have actually been very happy with my 894 so far... once I figured out a few things... I'll address those below.

The auto-collet on mine works, BUT... I had to remove the plastic "dust director" (or whatever you call it) plate. On the 894 fixed base, there is a plastic insert that directs dust to the handle for the through the handle dust removal. This insert prevents the fixed base from extending to the lowest router position. I was very annoyed when I first got the router becuase the auto-collet didn't work and the above the table features were why I bought this thing. Well, after examining the mechansim, I saw the problem and removed the plastic insert. Once gone, the auto-collet on the fixed base works perfectly. The only problem is that if you want to use the through the handle feature, you will have to reinsert the plastic piece. I don't really plan to take the fixed base out of my table very often so this isn't a major concern.
I can't comment on the plunge right now because I have only used the plunge twice and don't remember whether it worked correctly or not. I am mostly using this router in the table.

I don't have this problem. I have mine plugged in to a seperate power switch in the table and the router switch is always in the "on" position. I don't understand the problem you have because mine works perfectly.

I don't understand this comment either. Mine has two holes in the plate for making through the table adjustments. First, you insert the tool in the first hole and unlock the locking mechanism (this releases the motor catch). Second, you insert the tool in the second hole and adjust the height. Once the height is adjusted, you relock the mechanism. Hence, no reaching under the table is required.
Since removing the plastic dust director insert, I have had no problems changing bits or changing height without reaching under the table.
I'm interested to hear if any of this helps with your problems, but it sounds like Greg may have gotten a lemon. I am very happy with my PC894 and have no thoughts about returning it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
YJJim said:

The PC895PK kit doesn't have the plastic dust shield on the fixed base, but it IS on the plunge base. But the router body rack (toothed rack running down the side of the router body) hits the fixed base and causes the router to twist in the base before the collet lock pin ever engages. Doesn't work at all.

Plunge hits the dust shield before engaging, as did your fixed base. But even with the plastic dust collection plate removed - which is stupid because that is when you WANT dust collection, when doing hand-held plunge routing - the plunge base collet lock doesn't work.

The plastic switch lock-out slide keeps the pin from engaging - it was designed to do that very thing. Perhaps you have already broken yours without knowing/noticing. That was one of my complaints.
[Q] If you leave your router on, change bits from the top of the table, and use the auto-collet lock, look at yours and see if it has broken the plastic slide. I'd bet you a donut it has.

I understand how it works. The point was, to move the router up and down for bit changes, or make major adjustments in height, you would have to turn that screw 16 full turns - a bit of a pain. The lock that releases the body for *major* adjustments or body removal in still under the table. No big deal, but a Mast-R-Lift would be a much more eloquent solution.

The motor itself seems like a serviceable piece, even if it IS made in China with offshore bearings and such. The soft-start/speed controller is made in Holland, FYI. I am just shocked at how many of the "special features" on this unit were poorly designed and don't work properly. This unit has the feel of something that was rushed into market with little testing. I expected more of PC.
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well, I finally remembered to look at the lockout slide that is supposed to keep you from changing bits while the power is on. I don't know if mine is broken or if it is supposed to work this way. When I raise the router to its highest position using the above the table tool, it locks the collet fine. When I take the router out of the table and do it by hand, the lock seems to work. I can force the router past the lock, but it is hard by hand. When using the above the table tool, it happens easily. It looks like the added torque of the tool allows it to force the locking pin past the lockout slide. However, the slide does not appear to be "broken", but rather just takes a lot of force to push the pin through the slide.
That said, maybe I did break it the first time I tried to raise it all the way up? Does anyone know if this is supposed to happen? Is this a safety risk that I should be concerned about? Should I consider taking it back? Personally, I like the way it works for me right now, but I'm concerned that it will get more loose over time and the lockout won't work at all. Is that likely a real issue on the fixed base? Since I wouldn't be adjusting the height while running the motor, I'm not sure this could be a real safety concern.
YJJim
Greg G. wrote in message

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
YJJim said:

I wouldn't worry about it - it's a dumb design anyway. I considered cutting the end of the plastic slide off myself. I think I have enough sense not to raise the router up till the pin locks with the power on - besides, it probably wouldn't lock anyway, only make a horrible sound... If you really forced it, it might lock - or break off the pin housing... FWIW,
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
YJJim,
I'm glad you are pleased with your router. I have spent more time with mine and I have decided to not return it. I understand the points you made but I don't see how you could get the auto collet lock to work with the routers switch in the on position. There is a safety feature on the router that prevents the lock from working with the switch in the on position. Could yours have broken already?
I think the main point Greg was making was the sloppiness of the plunge base. I again tried it with the plunge base and I did get good consistent results but I am concerned about what those results will be after a few years of use. I finally talked to someone at Porter Cable and was told to take it to a service center for them to look at it. I live 45 miles from the service center in Atlanta so I don't know when I will follow through with that.
One of Greg's concerns was that the majority of the router may have been made in China. I emailed Porter Cable and their response was that there is only one part of the router made in Taiwan and that is part number 75301 which is the adjustment shaft that you put through the base to adjust the height. Everything else is made in the USA. I hate to think that something made in the USA is of lower quality than what is made in China. If it was made in China, I probably would have returned it. The motor unit appears to be very well made and runs very smooth and quiet and has a lot of power. I guess time will tell if this was a good router choice.
Neal

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.