Confused by Porter-Cable 895PK Fixed/Plunge Router Set Design - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-11-2020, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Confused by Porter-Cable 895PK Fixed/Plunge Router Set Design

Background:
For years, all I had was an early 1980s Black and Decker router. It is big, heavy, underpowered, and takes only 1/4 inch router bits. Last year I added a Makita compact router set. At the same time, I also bought a Porter-Cable 895PK mid-size fixed/plunge router set, which comes in a large plastic case.

Recently I fixed up a throwaway MasterGrip 480410 router table and made it work with the Porter-Cable router. It isn't very good, but it is a temporary solution. I drilled extra holes in the router table so I can insert the crank knob from above to raise and lower the router. I had to make a special base plate to fit the underside of the router table. The Porter-Cable fixed base is screwed to the base plate, and the base plate is screwed underneath the router table.

What I do not understand is:
-> How does Porter-Cable expect me to do handheld edge routing? My choices are:

* Remove the fixed base from the router table and use it for handheld edge routing.
Pros:
- The fixed base has a fine tuning adjustment knob to set router bit height. This is a very helpful feature for me.
- The fixed base is lighter and easier to control.
Cons:
- It takes time to remove the base from the router table and reattach the stock base plate.

* Lock the plunge base and use it for edge routing.
Pros:
- No disassembly required. Ready to go.
Cons:
- The plunge base has a stiff spring and no fine tuning adjustment. Setting an exact height is difficult.
- The plunge base is heavier and harder to control.
- If Porter-Cable expected me to leave the fixed base in the router table, why did they include such a fancy case to carry all the parts, including the fixed base?

* Buy another fixed base or buy another router for the router table.
Pros:
- Problem solved.
Cons:
- I searched online, but cannot buy the fixed base alone (Porter-Cable part #8901, "This product has been discontinued."), not available elsewhere.
- Expensive.

What was Porter-Cable thinking when they designed this set?
-> Your comments, suggestions, experience, and advice would be much appreciated.
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-11-2020, 05:25 PM
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I believe the intention with these combos is to use the plunge base for hand held routing. I certainly think that it's nice to fully retract the bit when you set the router down if you want to.

I have a similar set up, except that I bought two separate Craftsmans routers about ten years ago, a variable speed fixed base and fixed speed plunge base.

The fixed base (without the baseplate) went into the table and rarely comes off. I have it attached to the Rockler phenolic plate. If I do need to remove it, I simply lift the whole thing out, remove three screws, then use three screws to put the baseplate back on.

I seriously think the only time I've done that is when making through dovetail drawers for my wife's dresser. Then I was able to set the bits in each router and leave them in place for the entire run of drawer boxes.

I did make my first router table with a homemade plate, then for the second one, figured for about $50, the predrilled phenolic Rockler plate, with the ability to use the different sized inserts was worth it.

https://www.rockler.com/rockler-phenolic-router-plates

If I'm using one of the midsize routers, I use the plunge base 99% of the time. Either motor fits, so sometimes I'll use the variable speed one, depending on the task.

I also recently got a Dewalt 611pk compact router set, so if the bit fits in there, I use that. That little guy is so nice for edge routing.

Last edited by sanchez; 05-11-2020 at 05:38 PM.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-11-2020, 06:40 PM
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in my experience, plunge bases have micro adjustments too, usually on the turret. Some, like Bosch, on top too.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-11-2020, 07:04 PM
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Plunge bases have limited application in my opinion

I would definitely not use a plunge base in table mount. I use lifts like the Jess Em Mast R lift 2, but they are expensive. I would just get a different router for the table mount with above the table height adjustments... Triton, the PC 892 and others. I would then use your PC 895 for hand held OR plunging .... what ever the operation calls for. The extra power will come in handy when you do upgrade from that table to a better one, for certain!


https://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE-...238151&sr=8-27

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-12-2020, 07:26 AM Thread Starter
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In my original post above, I made an erroneous statement and want to correct it. I said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Agnostic View Post
[...]
Cons:
- The plunge base has a stiff spring and no fine tuning adjustment. Setting an exact height is difficult.
[...]
That statement is incorrect.

Setting an exact router bit height (really, depth) on the plunge router base for handheld edge routing is NOT difficult. The original statement came out of my inexperience with plunge routers.


Explanation (read: Excuse) that You Can Safely Ignore:

I have had the same Black and Decker fixed base router for decades. I did plunge routing with it using the old-fashioned tip-in, tip-out method. I had another router that I gave away, also with a fixed base. I am used to fixed base routers.

I set router bit depths on those fixed base routers using brass setup bars, depth gauges, combination squares, and simply holding the workpiece up to the bit. The routers with the fixed base have nice fine adjustment knobs that make it easy to set a very precise depth and make very fine adjustments to that depth.

My new plunge router bases have no fine adjustment knob like that. I have used the new plunge routers just fine for making stopped dados, finger hold grooves (with a round nose bit), etc. I made jigs for guiding the plunge bases, etc. It all works well. My mistake was not extending that knowledge to how I would set the bit depth for edge routing with the plunge base. It was outside my experience.

For some silly reason, I (stupidly) thought that I would be setting up the plunge base for edge routing the same way as a fixed base, but without the help of a fine adjustment knob. That meant (in my mind) holding the lock lever in one hand while pressing down and up on the plunge base spring until the bit extended just the right amount, holding it in place manually, fighting the plunge spring, while trying to lock the lever. How dumb is that?

I realized during the night that the "right way" is to use the plunge depth stop. It includes a scale on the router, and an adjustable post with finely marked gradations that make it easy to see minute changes in the depth stop setting.

What is obvious to me now is that you use the plunge stop to set the precise depth. If you want to check the bit depth as I do with setup bars or whatever, you plunge the router to the stop (easy!), lock the lever, and then check the bit. If it needs adjustment, you unlock it and make fine adjustments in the depth stop, then test again. Duh!

Sorry for the confusion, mostly my own. :-(
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-12-2020, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
I would definitely not use a plunge base in table mount. I use lifts like the Jess Em Mast R lift 2, but they are expensive. I would just get a different router for the table mount with above the table height adjustments... Triton, the PC 892 and others. I would then use your PC 895 for hand held OR plunging .... what ever the operation calls for. The extra power will come in handy when you do upgrade from that table to a better one, for certain!


https://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE-...238151&sr=8-27
Thanks. I am not planning to use the plunge base in a router table. The fixed base seems designed for router tables. The fixed base includes a feature where you can adjust the bit height (and lock/unlock) from above the table using a small crank that fits through a drilled hole.

The Porter-Cable 892 router that you recommended is identical to the 895pk, but with a fixed base only. You do not get the plunge base with the 892. There are several Porter-Cable "89x" models. They are all the same, but with different combinations of included bases and accessories.

The issue here is that I did not want to lose the fixed base in a router table and then do edge routing with the plunge base. I like the fine adjustment knob on the fixed base, and I am used to using fixed base routers for edge routing.

I will give the plunge base a try with edge routing. Worse case, I may buy the 892 for a router table, leaving the 895pk set available for hand-held routing. If don't buy one now, then maybe in the future to have a dedicated router in a table, without having to move the motor around.
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-15-2020, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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As promised, I left the fixed base in the router table and tried to use the plunge base on the Porter-Cable 895pk for edge routing. I didn't get far, because the hole in the plunge base is sized for bushings: 1-1/4 inch diameter. The "Classic Roman Ogee" bit is too large for that base.

I took the fixed base out of the router table and used it. The fixed base made it so easy to adjust the router bit height exactly how I wanted it. The adjustment screw has widely spaced calibration marks for 1/64 inch. It was easy to match the edge of the router bit to the base plate with a straightedge, then turn the screw to set the extra 3/32 depth that I wanted.

I made several test cuts on scrap and they went perfectly. I was pleased with how easy it is to control the router compared with the old Black and Decker. It cut perfectly. I used a Classic Roman Ogee router bit in three passes, lowering the bit each time. I used the setting procedure in the above paragraph to set the depth for the final cuts.

I was ready to do the edge on my project, a wall shelf for my spouse. The first two passes went perfectly. I set the bit depth for the third and final pass and started cutting (routing?). I did the end grain on the side and was part way along the long edge when something went terribly wrong. I stopped the router and unplugged it. After careful examination of the cut and the router, I decided that the router bit had slipped in the collet. I assume that the 1/4 inch collet was not tight enough. The router came with only one collet wrench. You are expected to hold the lock button with one hand while tightening the collet with the other hand, but it isn't that easy. You don't want to overtighten the collet, but you can't have it too loose, either.

I rip cut 5/8 inches from the shelf using the table saw in several passes, making sure to take off the minimum necessary to re-do the edge trimming. I remounted the bit in the collet, cinching it down as tightly as I am able, which is probably the correct amount. I decided to make the full cut in one pass, to avoid issues with the bearing going "in" where it shouldn't.

It worked, and the shelf will turn out okay, but I was disappointed that I had to trim it on the table saw to remove the error.

Photos:
* Damaged Edge Trimming.
The router bit slipped in the collet during the final cut. You can see the final cut along the endgrain, the final cut along the "front", the place where the bit moved, and the first two passes beyond that.

* Router Bit, After It Slipped in the Collet During the Cut.
I had originally put it in flush, raised it ~1/16 inch or so, then tightened the collet. Obviously, it was not tight enough.

Lessons Learned:
* Make sure the collet is tightened securely around the router bit.
* Frankly, Porter-Cable should have included two collet wrenches with the router set.
* Order a second collet wrench to make it easier to tighten the collets (and to get a feel for how tight they are). I prefer the "one-hand, two-wrench" method to tighten and loosen collets.
* It just occurred to me that I might have tried the base plate from the fixed base, which I removed to put the fixed base in the router table. I do not know if it fits the plunge base, but I bet it does.

Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.
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Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 05-15-2020 at 04:31 PM.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-15-2020, 06:33 PM
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Your router (should) have come with two wrenches. Two are definitely required.
Base plates are easy to make. I have several for each router.
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-15-2020, 08:07 PM
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Is this bit in correctly?




Is this bit only up by 1/16" from fully bottomed? It looks a bit too far out. Does that router have a collet/shaft lock? I don't really trust those that much and prefer using two wrenches as suggested. If I recall I only have one PC plunge router a 7529:
https://www.finewoodworking.com/2005...er-7529-review
I rarely use it however. The router tables with the 7518 PC routers get use much more often and have the great JessEm lifts. Just today I used my brand new Milwaukee 18 V Fuel hand held with a 1/8" round over bit:


It was a joy to use, no cord, plenty of power for that tiny bit and a LED work light. Since I had a bunch of 18 V Milwaukee impacts, drills, and a sabre saw, the router seemed like a logical purchase.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 05-15-2020 at 08:10 PM.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-15-2020, 10:43 PM
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Yes, tighten the collets more. It's not like you can break the shaft of the bits.

I have the spindle lock on my two Craftsmans, and they work great to hold it while I tighten the collets with one wrench.I have never in ten years had a bit loosen up. I will say the biggest bit I've used is a 2-1/2" panel raising bit.

I do put them all in like this. All the way down, then a slight pull up after I start to tighten.
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Last edited by sanchez; 05-15-2020 at 10:47 PM.
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-16-2020, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Is this bit only up by 1/16" from fully bottomed? It looks a bit too far out. Does that router have a collet/shaft lock? I don't really trust those that much and prefer using two wrenches as suggested. If I recall I only have one PC plunge router a 7529: [...]
No, it is a photo of the router bit AFTER the bit slipped in the collet. It started out 1/16 inch from bottomed, but slipped while cutting the edge as you can see in the other photo.
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-16-2020, 12:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pretender View Post
Your router (should) have come with two wrenches. Two are definitely required.
Base plates are easy to make. I have several for each router.

I always use two wrenches, that's the only way I can get a decent feel for exactly how tight it is.


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post #13 of 14 Old 05-16-2020, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pretender View Post
Your router (should) have come with two wrenches. Two are definitely required.
Base plates are easy to make. I have several for each router.
Quote:
Originally Posted by homestd View Post
I always use two wrenches, that's the only way I can get a decent feel for exactly how tight it is.
I checked online, multiple sources, and they all agree that "What's included in the box?" for the Porter-Cable 895pk router set includes only ONE collet wrench. Porter-Cable expects you to use the spindle lock button with the one wrench. My hands are average size, and it isn't that easy to hold the large cylinder while pressing the lock button with one hand, while tightening the collect nut sufficiently tight with the wrench. Furthermore, the spindle lock pin looks thin.

I will order another wrench - about $10. I am also considering the $20 pair of offset wrenches that seems exclusive to Rockler. One wrench has tabs to keep it from slipping down past the collet.
https://www.amazon.com/Porter-Router.../dp/B00AF1SINU
https://www.rockler.com/rockler-offs...ollet-wrenches

For the record, I ran that Classic Roman Ogee bit at 16,000 RPM, not the full 23,000 RPM. The bit diameter is 1-1/2 inches. I doubt that speed had anything to do with the bit dropping in the collet.

Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 05-16-2020 at 11:37 AM.
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-16-2020, 03:48 PM
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for use in a 'router table' - you definitely want the offset wrenches.


using the offsets you can work/mount/dismount from the top, using the 'straights' aka OEM you have to wrench from under the table.
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