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I have a Porter Cable 557 and it's probably the best one out there but quite honestly, I wouldn't buy it again. It has features that I've never used and probably never will. There's no doubt that the PC would serve you well but, for less money, the DeWalt DW682 gets very good reviews. The Freud JS104 also looks to be a well designed joiner.
~~Don't worry about old age; it doesn't last that long.
I have a Dewalt unit and have no complaints, besides it is Biscuit joinery,
really have not used it much as I really not a fan of Biscuit joinery,
when I have used it it has been easely to set, accurate and worked flawlessly.
Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
attributed to Samuel Johnson
PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.
Actually I took a look at the P-C and others about a year ago... lots of $$ for a task that I was wondering about myself. Definitely the P-C is probably the top-rated tool with the DeWalt not far behind; but, in both cases they were more than I wanted to spend, especially considering that I wasn't sure how much "Biscuits" were going to fit into my jointing needs. (I've used dowels quite a bit in the past and like them and I've gotten fairly good at cutting mortices by hand, when it comes to a heavy-duty joint.)
Now for me, this seems to be more ergonomically designed than the others that I looked at, including the P-C and DeWalt models. The grip just seems more natural. The drive is vertical and direct to the cutter, as opposed to horizontal and geared, (and noisier) like the other designs.
I've used it with both the upper adjustable guide and also using it's base. Both work well, but for the 1-by jointing that I have been doing, setting up the bench and using the base-method is much easier and faster and leads to little concern for accuracy and adjustment.
I really like this tool and have now added the ability to quickly joint anything I want. I don't use this tool a lot, but for making corner pieces on my bookcases or tops for the window benches in the library, it has proved to be perfect.... it's quick, accurate, and didn't cost me a bloody fortune.
Home Depot carries both the P-C and the Ryobi... so you can see them side by side.