Several months ago Porter Cable launched this new compact router as a fixed base unit 450 ($99, Amazon) as well as with a fixed/plunge base combo kit 450PK ($162, Amazon). The unit is designed to compete with other palm routers in a heavy duty production environments, so while it is compact and inexpensive it also needs to stand up to all day abuse. At the same time the lower price and versatility do make it an attractive purchase for the DIY users as a starter router.
The Porter Cable vs DeWalt Compact Router Kit
Just prior to the Porter Cable launch, DeWalt launched the almost identical looking compact router kit DW611PK ($179, Amazon), which you can read more on in a post we did here. There are some differences in the two brands and we think this was really handled pretty nicely. The Porter Cable has the lower price but also loses a few of the bells and whistles including the LED lights on the base and variable speed control. In terms of motor, soft start, digital speed control, etc the units are pretty much the same and should perform equally well however we have only seen the DeWalt and have not given it a full test drive.
The Porter Cable vs Bosch Colt Palm Router
For years the Bosch Colt ($99, single speed) has been the standard in palm routers and Porter Cable/DeWalt were not bashful in going directly after this business. The Bosch unit does not have a plunge base option so right off the bat the Porter Cable has a pretty big advantage. The motor also gets a bump in horse power to 1.25 hp (7 amp) vs Bosch at only 1 hp (5.6amp). In use however the Bosch does have some advantages, including a more straightforward height adjustments, although we may just need to get used to the Porter Cable, as we are accustom to the Bosch.
Also a letdown came when the base opening on the Porter Cable would not accept a 3/8” Roundover bit, which does fit on the Bosch. The increase in power doesn’t mean much if it will not take equal size bits.
The Porter Cable in Use
While we had this router for demoing we had planned to throw together a very basic shoe rack but added what was later called the “xylophone” on top, basically so we could use the router a little more. We ended up using a 1/4” Roundover, which may be as large as it will accept and it came out pretty nice. The router is a very comfortable size to use with one hand, perfect for this application.
The twist height adjustment on the fix base took some getting used to but had its positive and negatives. We really like how easily the base could come off for switching bases or even just switching bits. Adjusting the height was pretty straightforward simply line up the hash mark to zero and twist left or right to desired mark and clamp down. The problem is while the clamp holds pretty firm we were still able to twist the ring and move it with a little force, since this is where you hold the router in use we just kept thinking we were moving it even though we probably weren’t. Once you get accustom to this style it probably feels very natural but it will take some getting used to at least for us.
The plunge base is pretty intuitive and we loved how in control you felt when using it. If you are used to a regular plunge base this will feel like going from a dump truck to a sports car, much lighter, smaller, move maneuverable and easier to use free hand. It won’t have the power of course and you can only use ¼” arbor bits but it does a great job with them.
Overall we were very impressed by this unit, although we may opt to shell out the extra $17 for the DeWalt version with variable speed and LED light just because you never know. We would recommend getting it as a combo because the plunge base really is very handy in this size. A good counterpart to a full size unit or if your tool arsenal is pretty small with no router, this combo kit offers huge versatility for a relatively small investment, of course then there are the router bits that will get you. Only real complaint was that our 3/8” Roundover bit would not fit out of the box as it did on the Bosch, please don’t tempt people to alter the tool within 5 minutes of opening it.
– Compact, lightweight design enables comfortable and assured control in any routing application
– Durable 1.25HP motor delivers the power to meet the toughest applications
– Soft-starting motor features full-time electronic feedback that maintains motor speed through the cut
– Adjustment ring enables controlled bit depth changes to within 1/64"
– Large, low-pressure spindle lock button allows for comfortable, single wrench bit changes
– Multiple shaft-lock detents enable quick and simple bit changes
– Depth ring and clamping mechanism combine to ensure motor remains locked in position
– Plunge base incorporates fine-tune adjustment rod for precise depth setting
– Motor can be transitioned quickly and easily between fixed and plunge bases
– 5-position adjustable turret enables stepped or repeated plunge cuts
– Up to 1.5" of depth travel with standard base and 2" with plunge base
– Overmolded rubber handles provide a comfortable and secure grip (plunge base only)
– Aluminum motor housing and base construction provides long term durability
– Large 4" diameter sub-base accepts universal template guides (fixed base only)
– Large plunge base platform provides added stability for heavier applications and sub-base accepts universal template guides
– Extended 8-slot 1/4" collet maximizes surface contact with router bit shank for a tighter grip
– Power: 1.25 HP
– Amps: 7.0 Amps
– No Load Speed: 27,000 rpm
– Motor Diameter: 2.70 "
– Collets: 1/4 "
– Switch: Rocker
– Base Dimension: 4" (standard) 4-3/8"x5-3/4" (plunge) "
– Weight: 4.1 lbs
– Shipping Weight: 12 lbs