I recently picked up the Porter-Cable router dust collector attachment. Since so many have PC routers I thought Iíd pass along some early comments.
The dust collector comes in two sizes. The smaller 39690 fits the 690 series, the 100 and other PC routers with 5-3/4" bases. The 39700 fits the larger routers with 7" bases. List price for either is in the mid 50 dollar range. Youíll probably see them on sale for $40 to $45. If you want to see a picture, go to PCís web site and click on the menu item for new stuff.
Several parts make up the dust collector kit. They are used in various combinations to route the face or edge of a work piece and to accommodate guide bushings. An adapter piece is included so the dust collector may be used with the new Porter Cable edge guides. All of the necessary screws are included with the kit.The heart of the kit is the vacuum base. Itís about ½" thick and replaces the standard sub-base. With this added thickness youíll loose a bit of depth capacity. This might be a problem with some shorter bits. The dust chute exits the side of the vacuum base when surface routing. A short adapter is screwed to the side of the base and accepts a standard 1-1/2" shop vac hose. You need to think ahead and orient the base in the best position for your needs. Since the 690 sub-base is attached with three screws, the vacuum base can be mounted in any of three positions with respect to the router body.
Some forethought must be given to the setup, especially with the plunge base. With the various hose connections sticking out from the base, you might need to walk through the routing operation to make sure nothing is in the way of getting the job done.A clear cover is attached to the top of the base with three machine screws. The cover surrounds the bit area, keeping chips from flying out and away from the bit. The shaft hole in the cover may be smaller than the diameter of some cutters. Take care not to raise the cutter into the cover. I wonder if this piece is available separately?
I hooked this assembly to a 693 plunge router and a Sears 2.5 hp shop vac and routed several ½" x ½" dadoes in poplar, oak and MDF. Only a very small bit of visible dust escaped the vacuum. Most of that escaped below the bit when it entered or exited the edge of the board.
A larger dust hood attaches to the bottom of the base for edge routing. The hood is about 2" deep and covers a bit less than half the bottom of the base. Two thumbscrews are inserted through slotted flanges into any pair of four threaded brass inserts located at the compass points on the bottom of the base, allowing the hood to be attached at any of 4 different locations. Once attached, the slotted flanges allow the hood to rotate 55 degrees around the center of the bit. (Iím sure that was clear as mud.) The point is you can easily mount the hood in a position that will let you use the router with relative convenience. When edge routing the vac hose attaches to the lower hood instead of the upper dust chute. My first impression was that the upper chute would need to be removed to use the lower hood, however, I left it in place and everything seemed to work fine.With the hood attached, I routed 3/8" by 1/4" rabbets in the edge of some scrap oak, pine and MDF using a bearing guided bit. Again, very little dust escaped the vacuum.
Straight edges were no problem, but guiding along a curved edge was a little awkward. The edges of the hood allowed only a few degrees rotation of the router with respect to the workpiece. At this point I donít know if itís safe to leave the thumbscrews slightly loose to allow the hood to pivot on the base or if they must be kept tight. Until I find out, it seems safest to keep them snug. I wouldnít want them to vibrate out.
An adapter for bushings is included with the kit, but I havenít tried it out yet. It attaches with machine screws to a recess in the bottom the base plate.My initial reactions are positive. The attachment looks well made. Time (and others experience) will tell if it will hold up in a production environment. I am concerned that the machine screws that hold the various parts together may vibrate loose. Nothing indicates that they will, but I do worry about it.
Iíve only tried the attachment with my Sears vac. The combination of the router and the vac is amazingly loud. If I continue to use the vac Iíll be buying the Beam muffler. Iíve yet to see if it works with the dust collector. According to the directions the attachment needs a vacuum source of 60 cfm at 50 inches of static pressure. I know thatís not a problem for my dust collector with a 4" hose, but I donít know what happens when you throttle it through the 1-1/2" hose. Iíll let you know what happens when I try it. It certainly will make using the router a much less messy job, although I wonít stop wearing my Airmate dust helmet. In my opinion a face shield and ear plugs are still necessary safety devices when using a router.
One afternoonís use is hardly a thorough test, but it seems to work well, with a relatively little fuss at least for hobby use. At what seems to be a quite reasonable price, it adds welcome function to my old workhorse PC 690.
George Sinos - 1/4/98