The Porter-Cable 450PK 1.25 HP Compact Router Combo Kit brings a breath of fresh air to the compact router market with plenty of power, quality features and woodworking versatility built in. We were impressed that this pint sized router packs a punch and does a fantastic job at a wide variety of router tasks. Combined with an all-machined aluminum body, aluminum fixed and plunge bases, and a very positive depth of adjustment system, a high level of precision can be attained. Thanks to its lightweight construction, and compact size, many trimming, edge round-over and chamfer type cuts can be made with ease and control that can be more difficult to do with a full sized tool.
Porter-Cable 450PK Compact Router Combo Kit Features
Our Porter-Cable 450PK router kit arrived in a cardboard box with everything individually packaged inside. The kit includes the compact router motor body with a fixed base, plunge base, collet wrench, owners manual and a soft sided nylon storage bag. We were a little bummed out when we found that this kit did not come with a hard shell case. To us, routers are a somewhat a precision type of tool that needs a place to keep them protected and organized when not in use. The top portion of the router’s body is made of black ABS plastic. The on/off switch is located on the lower side of the plastic housing and features a clear rubber protector that seals it from wood shavings and dust. The soft start, 1.25 HP motor is housed inside the machined aluminum body of the router. The no load speed of the motor is 27,000 revolutions per minute (which is pretty darn fast) and to make sure that it keeps it’s cool, there are air vents on the top and bottom of the motor housing that direct air flow over the motor when it is on. This router does not have a variable-speed motor, but this should not be too much trouble unless you get into some really specialized types of work. Machined into the body is a helical groove that acts as a tread for the spinning depth of adjustment collar that stays attached to the body of the router.
To change router bits, there is an easy-reach button that, when depressed, locks the spindle so the collar can be loosened. There are 12 detents on the spindle shaft which means faster lock ups and quicker bit changes. The collet has 8 slots and is extended a 1/4” longer than normal to provide better gripping of the router bit shank by providing more surface contact area. A tighter grip means less chance of a slipping bit when the cutting gets tough.
The removable fixed base is very compact and, since it’s made of aluminum, it hardly adds any weight to the router. This base makes it easy to have a firm, comfortable hold on the tool. Tight tolerances between the base and the motor assembly and a very positive locking mechanism means you can be sure that once you dial in a depth, it stays locked until you loosen the lever. With the adjustable depth of cut ring that screws up or down on the large threads on the router body, you can achieve accuracy of up to 1/64 of an inch. The D-shaped 1/4-inch thick clear plastic sub-base is designed for stability, flatness and visibility. Removing and swapping the fixed base to the plunge base is a cinch. Just release the level adjustment locking lever, slip the base off, and slide the new base on. On the side of the plunge base there is a quick release for adjusting the cutting depth. The plunge base is a little larger than the fixed and with it installed on the router, the total weight is 6 lbs 10oz. This added weight actually makes the router feel more sturdy as you make the plunge cuts. The large quick release lever, when depressed, offers smooth and fast depth adjustment. When the lever is released the base is then locked to that cutting depth. To make sure the cuts are precise, there is a sliding steel bar that can be adjusted for making plunge cuts up to 2” deep by loosening the large thumb screw located next to it. There is also a 5-step adjustable turret stop for consistent stepped cuts. The hard knob-like rubber handles are comfortable and provide a solid hold on the tool.
Porter-Cable 450PK Compact Router Combo Kit Testing
To test the Porter-Cable 450PK 1.25 HP Compact Router Combo Kit, we used both the plunge base and the fixed base to make a variety of different cuts. We started by using the fixed base with a new 1/4-inch round-over bit to create a finished edge on a piece of 1x pine material. The router made smooth, even edges and was easy to control thanks to its compact size. One of the features that we caught onto right away was the soft start motor. When we first switched it on, the motor would slowly ramp up to full speed. “Slowly” being defined as just a few tenths of a second versus an instant on; where it could potentially be a little jerky since you would experience the full torque of the motor almost instantly. Given its slim profile, we were able to simply “palm” the tool with a single hand to guide it down the length of wood. We were also happy to report that the air movement though the tool’s body really helped it do an exceptional job of clearing away the chips as we made the cuts. Visibility was always very good.
Setting the depth of cut was also easy and required no tools. All that we had to do was open the quick release adjustment latch and we could freely fine tune the depth using the adjusting ring. We appreciated the tight tolerances of the movable base to the motor housing because it really made the whole tool feel sturdy and rigid.
The fixed base also worked great for doing larger edge profiles and flush trimming of laminate counter top materials. The router with the fixed base attached only weighs 4lb 10oz. We felt like we could use the Porter Cable 450PK 1.25 HP Compact Router for hours without tiring or growing fatigued.
Using the plunge base we made a number of cuts in a piece of 2x pine using a 5/16 x 1 x 1/4 Straight. We first tested the plunge base by making a straight cut in the pine board. When plunging the router into the wood, the router base moved very smoothly and did not bind up. The thumb switch for the release was properly located so that it was easy to manipulate. Simply push the switch over and you release the router to move down the two guide shafts towards the work piece. When you release the thumb switch, the router stays locked at that depth position. With the clear plexiglass sub-base in place, there is excellent viability, which in turn increased accuracy as we free-handed some letters into the board. The 5-step depth turret on the plunge base is easy to adjust with just your fingers. For further fine tuning, the fifth step is able to be adjusted to customize the height with a flat-head screwdriver. This base is a good choice for doing interior cuts for flutes, inlays and mortises. Changing router bits was a breeze since the large red button can be manipulated with the same hand that you are using to steady the router as you use your other hand with the included wrench. The only trick to changing bits is that you have to adjust the depth of the router base so that the collet nut and bit is extended below the bottom of the base.
If you are in the market for a great multipurpose router, the Porter-Cable 450PK Compact Router Combo Kit is a great choice. With power and speed that is on par with some full size tools, this compact router really delivers plenty of performance and features for most projects. Sure, there are instances when a larger sized router is needed, but we would bank on the fact that most casual woodworkers and even professionals would benefit from the compact size of this tool. Ideally suited for many regular tasks like round-overs, simple edge treatments, flush cuts, and furniture building; we gave this router a Performance rating of 8/10. For our Value rating, we gave the 450PK a 7/10 since it will be hard to beat the size, features and performance offered by including both the fixed and plunge bases. We find it pretty easy to recommend the Porter Cable 450PK 1.25 HP Compact Router Combo Kit to anyone.