Hitachi M12V Falls Short

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Review by pintodeluxe posted 02-23-2011 09:56 AM 23481 views 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Hitachi M12V Falls Short Hitachi M12V Falls Short No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I was excited to add this router to my collection because of its 15 amp power rating. However, several factors led me to use other machines.
Ergonomics: The machine is heavy and clunky, with no particular thought to ergonomics. A router is one tool in particular that needs to feel good in your hands. The plunge action is fair. The plastic handles are hollow, and feel like they may break off at any moment. They actually creak as you pick this tool up. The height adjustment knob is a cheap afterthought, and mine quickly cracked and failed.

Changing bits: Bit changes are cumbersome because the height adjustment knob prevents you from setting the router upside down. Worse still, for 1/4” bits you must use a reducer sleeve. There is no seperate 1/4” collet available. 1/4” bits routinely slip while routing, thus ruining your workpiece. 1/2” bits worked fine.

Hand routing: The M12V is a little too heavy for my tastes when it comes to hand routing. Think Portercable Speedmatic type of weight here. I much prefer my Dewalt 618 for hand routing operations.

In a router table: Not too good for that either. The height adjustment knob, and collet are very difficult to access when mounted in a table. I didn’t notice any power improvement over my Freud 2-1/4 hp router. The Hitachi collet does not extend above the table, which means you have to remove the throat plate in your router table and use a bent wrench whilst bending/contorting your body to lock the spindle from below.
The Freud extends above the table, and offers above the table adjustment and bit changes (no need for a router lift). With the Hitachi, you need to factor in the cost of a lift.
Cheers and happy routing!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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6484 posts in 4032 days

17 comments so far

View Jeff's profile


553 posts in 4413 days

#1 posted 02-23-2011 01:58 PM

I’ve had one for ten+ years. It was never designed to be a hand held router, in my opinion. It makes a great table mounted router because of its power, though. No you can’t change bits or raise or lower it from above the table but in its defense it was made before all the new designs came out. I’ve never had the collet slip on me. The rods need a small dab of sewing machine oil every now and then but then they ride smooth as glass. I’ve never be sorry I bought mine.

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 4356 days

#2 posted 02-23-2011 03:54 PM

I agree with Jeff28078 this router IMHO is a perfect economic router for a table setting. I have the newer version of this router and love it. My neighbor owns this older version and he recommended it to me. I also have never regretted this purchase.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View brtech's profile


1163 posts in 4141 days

#3 posted 02-23-2011 04:07 PM

There are a couple of M12 routers. The M12VC is a 2 1/4 HP router. The M12V2 is the 3 1/4 HP. I have the M12VC, but it’s mainly in my CNC machine so I have little experience with it hand held. I don’t know if the M12V2 uses the same chucks as the M12V2, but the VC comes with both 1/2 and 1/4 chucks, and there are 1/8 chucks available from 3rd parties.

View D1st's profile


291 posts in 4259 days

#4 posted 02-23-2011 04:54 PM

I personally like the M12. I have the newer one but it works like a charm. I ve used plenty of them before purchasing and this one holds its own. Never had a problem with.


View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4377 days

#5 posted 02-23-2011 05:24 PM

Very refreshing and honest review. I think too often people are so biased by their tools that they are too quick to give 5 stars.

If it has a plunge mechanism, then its designed, at least in part, with hand-held in mind…which means consideration should be given to things as simple as being able to turn it over for bit changes.

I’m sure it’s a good value for use in a table, but I certainly get the feeling that it’s not a 5-star execution of design.

-- jay,

View pintodeluxe's profile


6484 posts in 4032 days

#6 posted 02-23-2011 07:36 PM

Just to be clear this is the old M12V I am reviewing. The M12VC could be a totally different machine.
Best of luck!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Routerisstillmyname's profile


763 posts in 4728 days

#7 posted 02-23-2011 08:26 PM

Wow, this is one of the most sought after routers on the market. my second go to router for hand held or table action. this puts Triton to shame when it comes to balance or ergonomics.
The good news is, if you don’t like it you can get more for it now on eBay than when it was new at closeout sales.

-- Router รจ ancora il mio nome.

View moonls's profile


412 posts in 4205 days

#8 posted 02-23-2011 10:28 PM

I have an old version of the M12V router and have found it very useful. I’ve used it in my router table for the most part and agree that it isn’t easy to adjust it below the table but as Jeff said it was made before all these table lifts were on the market. If you bought yours 2nd hand, maybe it had been used pretty hard.

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View Dwain's profile


623 posts in 5078 days

#9 posted 02-25-2011 01:12 AM

Thanks for your feedback. I too have heard nothing be good things about this router, so this is a suprise. I bought two of the updated version, (M12V2) three or four years ago. I am happy with them, but I know their limitations. I think it is important to note that this is an economical choice. If money were not an issue, I would have purchased a PC, Milwaukee or Bosch. Obviously, this router doesn’t have all of the features of other brands, however, I purchased these two (I only wanted one, but bought two because of the price) for $113.00 each. I couldn’t get the top of the line big routers for the cost of the two I purchased.

As has been stated, the M12V is one of the great old “go to” big routers. I am sorry to hear you are not pleased with it. Keep in mind that the M12V has been around for a LONG time. Well before above table adjustments were avaialble. This complaint is somewhat like being unhappy because your 1979 unisaw doesn’t have a stock riving knife. Also, I would guess any of the big routers would be “challenging” above the table. They are big beasts! Anyway, sorry to hear you didn’t like the router. I hope you find a way to get some use out of it.

Thanks again for your opinion. It is great to hear the other side of things.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View Lenny's profile


1720 posts in 4746 days

#10 posted 02-25-2011 01:14 AM

Add me to the list of those served well by their M12V. Like Jeff, I have had mine for over 10 years and surprisingly, it has been my hand-held router all those years. As noted, it doesn’t have all the features of some of the “new age” routers and bit changes can be cumbersome but it has done the job well. It has soft start and lots of power. If I were to buy a new router I don’t think it would be this one but again it has been fine for 10+ years.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 4348 days

#11 posted 02-25-2011 02:23 AM

Well to each his own,

I have two of these. I’ve had one in a router table for over 16 years. It took about two hours to build a sturdy lift for it using a 1” stainless bolt I found at a construction site for the lifting screw. I’ve made whole kitchen cabinet sets on it and its still going strong. The bearings in these routers are incredible. I don’t know if they changed the height adjustment, but the old ones are well made. I will admit I don’t know if 1/4”bits slip in it as I’ve phased out my 1/4” collection. I’ll will agree however that its a heavy beast. I almost always use my Bosch 2 1/4 hp for hand held work. But, if I have heavy duty stock removal to do I reach for the M12. Its a 3 1/4 hp and its made for heavy work and is great in a router table.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7170 posts in 4413 days

#12 posted 02-25-2011 04:43 AM

+1 for all of the above post on the M12V….. I’ve got 3 that I’ve had for over 10-11 years….They are my go-to routers, and they get the job done with…..It’s hard for me to understand why anybody wouldn’t like it.

There ain’t no way this router falls short…’s a beast amongst routers…..period…....

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View knotscott's profile


8430 posts in 4594 days

#13 posted 02-25-2011 03:14 PM

This is generally a well regarded workhorse of a basic 15 amp router that’s often thought to be a good bang for the buck (it drops below $150 fairly often). It’s a shame you’re not happy with the router, but I’m wondering why you bought it if it didn’t have the features you wanted. Big routers aren’t known for the nimbleness for hand routing because big motors are heavy, and the lack of above table features is readily available information….I’m a fan of the above table features offered by Freud and Triton too, but this one simply doesn’t have them.

I think you’ll notice the power differences when spinning large bits like panel raisers.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4234 days

#14 posted 02-26-2011 02:59 PM

I like many others have had this router for over a decade . It has served us all well. It’s tough as nails. To review it today isn’t fair. It cannot compare to the “new ones” ..they have bells and whistles that were not even thought of back then. I give it 5 stars as it has done all I have asked it to do in my pro shop.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6484 posts in 4032 days

#15 posted 02-26-2011 09:17 PM

Well, this router was being sold within the last two years new on amazon. It costs more than some 2-1/4 hp combo kits. I would have accepted its limitations, except that the 1/4” collet sleeve slips. I replaced the sleeve with a factory Hitachi part, and it didn’t work either. I took it into a tool repair shop and they put in an aftermarket sleeve, which gripped the bit well but wouldn’t realease them. The separate 1/4 collet is a better design than a sleeve.
I guess you could get used to it for hand routing. The bit changes in a table were so awkward though, that it forced me to make a change. I now use the Freud FT1700 in the table. The big advantage is that the collet extends all the way above the table for easy bit changes.
Cheers and happy routing!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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