Excellent Value in a Compact Affordable Router
Mar 21, 2009 (Updated Mar 21, 2009)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Light, quiet, well balanced, capable, well made, affordable, and offers 1/4" and 1/2" collets.
Cons:Not a powerhouse, requires two wrench bit changes
The Bottom Line: The M12VC is an affordable, comfortable, capable, compact router that feels great in hand and performs well. It accepts 1/4" and 1/2" shanks and should appeal to all experience levels.
When I needed a small capable router to use on my dovetail jig, the price of Hitachi caught my attention. My very well made Bosch 1617 was a bit on the heavy side, didn't have variable speed, and those beautiful polished hardwood handles were a bit slippery for what I was trying to do.
Recommend this product?
The M12VC is Hitachi’s basic fixed base 11 amp router, and is generously rated at 2-1/4hp. It offers variable speed, soft start, and an electronic feedback system to maintain a set RPM throughout the cut. It’s also available in a combination kit as the KM12VC that includes both the fixed and plunge bases. The sub-base accepts standard size PC style guide bushings and adaptors. It also includes 1/4" and 1/2" collets, that should meet a wide variety of needs, and it's backed by a generous 5 year warranty. Overall the design is compact, light, comfortable, and well balanced. The motor housing slides smoothly into the threaded base, and the depth control works easily. The handles are comfortable, and the locations of the power switch and RPM adjustment are intuitive and easy to access. However, the M12VC does not offer a collet lock system that allows one handed bit changes like my Freud FT1700. Instead, it incorporates a less convenient two wrench system that requires two hands.
The soft start feature works well, offering a smooth predictable response over a span of a few seconds, as opposed to a sudden lurch when the switch is activated. The M12VC is extremely quiet with and without load during operation. This is easily the quietest router of the seven I've owned. The electronic feedback system works nicely, maintaining a consistent speed under load, though it does labor slightly under extreme load. It's best to take lighter passes and give the motor a fighting chance to keep up. Runout from the spindle is very low, there's no notable vibration, and it has more than ample power for types of hand routing tasks I'm asking of it. I can't say that the Hitachi's 11 amp motor is as stout as my Bosch 1617 or Freud FT1700, but it has adequate power for most applications including occasional raised panels, though I do think a more substantial router like Hitachi's own M12V2 or the Milwaukee 5625 would be better suited for that task. The cord is heavy gauge and is a generous length.
This is an excellent small router for hand use, that also has ample power for most router table uses. It'd make an outstanding first router for someone looking for great performance and an attractive price, but is also a capable, comfortable, and economical choice for a seasoned veteran as either a primary or secondary router. Overall, the Hitachi M12VC is a well made tool that I'm confident will provide good long term service, though I don't feel that it's made quite to the same standard as my Milwaukee and Bosch routers, which cost considerably more for comparable features and power. The M12VC is a solid performer that rates an easy 4-stars. Had Hitachi incorporated a few more conveniences in the package, like one handed above table bit changes that my Freud FT1700 offers, onboard wrench storage, or a worklight, it would have rated 5-stars, with some consideration given for it's excellent value. Price may have attracted me to the Hitachi initially, but value and performance is what I remember long after the bill was paid. A very likable router!
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