The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp

Having The Whole Cake and Eating it too

I have used routers for years to do things that nothing else can do fast and cleanly as a router can do. I use them for making dados, rabbets and dovetail slots. I use them for cutting moldings and trim finish work plus plunge routing cuts. It used to be that for every different router job you needed a different router. I had to have plunge routers, standard routers, D handle routers and routers on a lift for using on a router bench. That is a lot of money in routers that a good boat shop should have to do all the work needed to finish a boat in Bristol fashion.

Then you have the question of power to consider also. I have some routers that have less than one horsepower and some that have as high as three and one half horsepower. This leaves a boat builder with way too many routers to keep and buy (at least as far as the wife is concerned). So the variables are many and the choices are bewildering for anyone going out and buying a router to get started. It seems that it should not have to be so hard to find the right router.

Porter-Cable has a router now for just about any purpose or need that might arrive. It is their new 893/894 PK router kit. I received the one I have about six months ago and I have tested it on al types of wood and all types of cutting arrangements from straight dovetails and dados to mounted on my extremely accurate router table. I have made plunge cuts, door casings, and table tops all with the same super accuracy and wonderful power that this router is capable of. This router has become my favorite for any job because of its power and versatility. It come s with a plunge base, a grip vacuum base and a standard fixed base and can be used with any 690 Porter-Cable spiral down or special router base. That’s right it has much more power than the 690 router plus soft start and two and one quarter horsepower that can be used in any 690 router base you already own or might find to buy.

Plunge Base

I have made raised panel doors with special router bits for some time and it has always required a large horsepower router of at least three or higher horsepower. This new 2 ¼ horsepower 890 P-C router has many variations of kits it can be bought as and then you can build on the router accessories as you need them or buy a kit that has everything you need from the start. With its ability to use any 690 P-C router base it can use bases you already own if you have a 690 router. I set this router up on my Incra super precise router table and it used bits that only my three horsepower router could use before now. This new P-C 890 router senses the power needed to operate at any speed setting and increases the power needed to turn the bit and sustain the speed of the bit as you cut. So if you are cutting an oak board and suddenly come to a knot or other feature that makes an ordinary router bog down this routers computer gives it more power to keep the speed at that given RPM. The router can be set anywhere between 10,000 and 23,000 RPMs and like I said it worked as well or better than my three horsepower router I had been using.

Now that is a nice feature but the best feature is yet to come. This router when used with the plunge base on a router table can set the height from on top of the table and change bits from the top of the table with only one hand! It not only can use many different bases but has its own lift built in that can be actuated buy a 3/16 th wrench that comes with the PK 895 kit or can be added on if you buy another number kit for under forty dollars. A good router table lift for any other router would cost hundreds of dollars! I have seen a number of companies coming out with their own multi base routers but Porter-Cable is the only company to offer the above the table height adjustment for a router.

The soft start is also a feature that other companies are using but I have never seen any other router of 2 ¼ horsepower spin my big raised panel door bits like the Porter-Cable router does into oak or maple. It also only takes mere moments to change bases on this wonderful router. With the new Vac Handle base you can attach a vacuum hose to the router itself and rung the router in a near chip free environment. I don’t know how many times I have had to stop in the middle of a cut with a router to blow away the dust and chips so I could follow my cut line. This router acts like a three horse power router but with fantastic new features that make it the router of choice in my shop.

Porter-Cable has not been idle in this design as far a safety features go. This router is loaded with nice safety features like the start lockout when you raise the router to make above table bit changes. All the adjustment knobs are placed perfectly and the on/off button does not require you to think about its position before you use t like some routers I have. You can tell a wood worker not just an engineer designed this router to be used.

I want to talk a little about the height adjustment on the 890 router now. It has the fantastic ability to be adjusted in increments of just 1/128th of an inch! So no matter where you left off three days before you can reset your router adjustment right on to continue to make the exact cuts you have already been making every single time you need this feature. The router comes with a ½” collet and a ¼” collet so no matter what bit set you currently own you can use this router for them. My Incra router table system is capable of 1/1000th of an inch precision cuts and the Porter-Cable 890 router is the only router I have that comes close to that type of precision. You can buy more expensive and cheaper routers than this P-C 890 but the will not have the quality this router has.

If you have never started a three horsepower router you should try one without the soft start feature just to see how the torque of the motor starting can wrench your hands. You had better have a good hold on the router or it could get away from you and cause some serious damage! This new P-C 890 soft start is almost gentle in the way it builds its rpm’s so you can maintain total control. Sometimes I let children do work in my shop under supervision by myself. I would let a young person us this router with me right behind them of coarse. I can’t say that even about a 1 ½ HP Craftsman router that I own that does not have soft start. That is how easy this 890 P-C router is to control.

Porter-Cable makes some of the best quality electric tools that money can buy. They are used around the world to make wood and metal projects every day by professional craftsmen. This new 890 router is built the way tools that last a lifetime are built. It might cost more to buy in the beginning but the quality of construction soon shows you that the cost of the tool can be minimal over the years you own it. For Boatbuilding this router or router system that you buy will be giving you exceptional quality products if you do your part for years. Right now if I had to throw out all of my routers but one and believe me my wife has made that demand I would have to keep the Porter-Cable 890. I don’t know of any higher recommendation I could make. So if you’re a first time router buyer or an old pro this router is for you. For the first time router user, save your money up and buy it. For the old pro you will save a lot of time by using this router.

For my ultra light series Boatbuilding I will be using this router to chamfer all of the corners that the skin frame will be rubbing against. With a good ¼ round bit I can save hours of sanding time to give the perfect edge to the Sitka Spruce I will make these ultra light kayak and canoe from. I have been hoping that my new shop would have been completed by now but building ordnances have to be followed and it is a long complicated task in my area. Unlike using this new P-C 890 router. My shop is finally starting to come together and I hope I will be able to put one of my computers out in it so I can record pictures and write details out as I build my projects.

So we have a new computer speed controlled router that acts like a three horsepower router and weighs in closer to the weight of a one and one half horsepower model. It can be used with a vacuum attachment or as its own router lift with a special 3/16th wrench and can change bits with one hand. You can use any model 690 bases that you might already have and any ½” or ¼” bit you have in your collection. It will run big raised panel bits and can be adjusted to within 1/128th of an inch. You can mount it on a table or it is light enough to use by a younger woodworker by hand with supervision. It is the router that I would choose if I could only have one router in my tool crib. I have tested it as hard as I am able in as many ways as I could imagine and I have no complaints to make about it or its performance.

Model 895 PK Router Kit

This is not the router that my father used in his wood shop, it is a much better commercial grade router that most of us can afford if we save our money. So in the end I can find no flaw with this router that using it shows. The only flaw I might say it has is that I wish it had been made twenty years ago or further back yet. You can go HERE, to see the 895 PK model - from there you can find the rest of the 890 products. If you want to get an average price go to Amazon.com. They have this model HERE. If you want exact tolerances and you think you could become a better woodworker and boat builder try a combination of the Incra TS3 and the Porter Cable 985 PK router. You get machine shop accuracy and repeatability for any routering you make, even weeks later. That is the system that I use in my shop.

In my new shop the P-C 895 PK Router kit will provide the cornerstone of routing in my shop. I have a few other routers that I use to make signs and one that I have outfitted for my JointAbility. It is the best jointer at the lowest price that anyone could afford and it uses a circular saw and router. The Porter Cable 890 series routers would be the perfect match for this purpose. I can’t be clearer in the fact that I could not find a problem with this router kit. I did help a friend with some routering and he used a box of routers that he bought at a flea market. He was very proud of these bits and the twenty dollar bill he used to buy them until the bits all burnt the wood and finally created flawed surfaces because of chips in the carbide cutting edges. Luckily I had a nice set of Oldham bits that worked perfectly and saved his project. He marched down to Home Depot and purchased a set exactly like the one I have and then Ordered a P-C 890 PK router set to the dismay of his wife. I don’t think I am as welcome at his house at least when his wife is at home.

I have been to busy testing tools to build any project but I have my shop to start very soon. Then through the winter I will being hard at work building new boats for spring. I also have just been OK’d to start my medical insurance that I have waited 44 months since my injuries to start. I need one more back surgery and a couple of knee surgeries. The writing and testing tools has been my only escape from my constant pain. It has saved me from an early grave by my own hands. I do not want to leave this earth without passing on some of my experience to my readers. After my surgeries I may be able to start my large boat that I wanted to build for vacations to Mexico in the winter. The severe cold winters at my high altitude lake house are long and hard.

You can be sure that the Porter Cable line of tools will be used on this big boat and the 895 PK will be in the lead. This is the best router combo you can buy for any amount of money. They can help you make your work more professional looking because they work so well.

From my tool crib to you,

John Cupp