Tool Test – Hitachi M12V2 Plunge Router

From October 2006 Popular Woodworking

Hitachi Revamps an Old Friend with Mixed Results

For the past 17 years, the M12V plunge router from Hitachi has been a staple in many professional and home shops, often serving as the tool of choice for router tables. Hitachi decided it was time for a makeover, and the M12V2 is the result. What’s the difference? The M12V topped out at 20,000 revolutions per minute (rpm), while the V2 has an extra 2,000 rpm. Hitachi has reworked some ergonomics on the tool and, of course, the V2 now wears the distinctive tennis-shoe body molding like the company’s other new tools.

What Hitachi hasn’t done is to significantly improve the tool. The plunge depth-adjustment mechanism is easier to use and more accurate. The variable-speed control wheel has been moved from the top of the router to the right handle, which improves the ergonomics during handheld operations. The router does offer plenty of power, and the soft-start feature is great for safety and comfort. The reworked collet lock is an improvement over the old design, and the grip ergonomics are an improvement as well.

However the M12V spends a considerable amount of time in a router table. The tool’s switch placement now complicates router-table usage. We found a wobble in the motor-to-column fit that will affect precision plunge operations, such as cutting a mortise. And we were disappointed by the lack of through-the-base depth adjustment that has become almost standard on routers used in tables.

During testing we ran the router in a free-plunge mode (for cutting a mortise) and found that the quick-adjust lever for plunge depth rotated to the locked position due to vibration. This locked the motor in the down position and caused a problem coming out of the cut. A fix for this free-spinning lever is necessary.

In the end, we think the router’s table application has been short-changed. And while some performance has been added, the ergonomic changes are a mixed bag with another two pounds added to the tool’s weight. Add a higher (though still competitive) price and the M12V2 is not the redesign we might have hoped for.

– David Thiel

More information on the M12V2 Router from Hitachi

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