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The Hitachi KM12VC Router Combo Kit is Hitachi’s complete router kit which gives you the router motor plus both a fixed and a plunge base, plus 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch colletts giving maximum versatility in one cost-effective package. Most professionals will have more than one dedicated router for different jobs, but for most woodworkers a router combo kit provides maximum versatlity for your money. As a result, all the major router manufacturers now have a similar offering and you can also read our reviews of the Bosch and Dewalt router combos which also offer the same functionality.
The motor unit included in the KM12VC Router Kit is Hitachi’s powerful, 11-amp 2-1/4 HP motor with an adjustable no-load speed of 8,000 to 24,000 RPM. Despite the power, one noticeable feature of this router is how quiet it is (for a router). Hitachi quote a no-load noise level of 79.5dB and in use this motor is one of the quietest we’ve tested. And because noise is a product of vibration, the fact that it’s quieter than most other routers also means it has less vibration, making it less tiring to use.
What to look for when buying a Router
Of all the woodworking tools available, a router is probably one of the most versatile. Due to its incredible versatility, every wood worker, including beginners, will have a need for a router at some time, and many have more than one. However, with the huge range available, it’s not easy to choose the one that’s best suited to your needs, so we’re going to look at a number of the features that you should be considering such as router power ratings and variable speed, router bit size, accurate depth setting with fine adjustment control, dust extraction and whether you should be considering a Fixed Base Router or a Plunge Router.
Powerful, Variable-Speed Motor with Soft Start
When looking at routers, one of the most important feature to look for is the horsepower rating of the motor, which typically ranges from 1.0 hp up to 3-1/2 hp. The KM12VC motor is in the mid-range and produces a decent 2-1/4 hp which is all the power you need for most operations and gives you sufficient power to use larger 1/2-inch shank bits. Equally as important as the power is a variable speed motor as the larger the bit, the slower the cutting speed needs to be – if you use a large bit at too high a speed you will burn the stock. The Hitachi KM12VC motor has an excellent speed range from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm which allows you to accurately match the speed to the type of stock and the size of cutter.
The soft start is another important feature which gradually increases the speed up to full speed – in addition to preventing any jerking and easier handling on start-up, it results in reduced strain and wear and tear on the motor itself, leading to longer motor life.
Router bit size
The bit shank size of the router is another important factor in deciding on a router. The two most common bit shank sizes are 1/4″ and 1/2″ and you should consider the projects you want to complete and the availability of bit sizes you need for these projects. The most common shank size is 1/2″ and you will find a much larger selection of bits available in the 1/2″ size and you will also find that some of the more specialist bits (mainly used by professionals) only come in 1/2″. The larger the shank diameter, the less likely the router bit is to vibrate during cutting. Excessive vibration of the cutter will give a poor cut. As a general rule you should always choose the largest shank diameter cutter your router will accept. Luckily the Hitachi KM12VC comes with both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets so you’ve got all the bases covered.
Accurate Fixed and Plunge Cuts
All routers, whether fixed base or plunge, need to have a means of accurately adjusting bit depth. Adjustment on the Hitachi KM12VC when using the fixed base is by means of a depth adjustment ring – to adjust the bit depth, simply release the locking lever and turn the depth adjustment ring to raise or lower the cutter.
The fact that the adjustment ring turns rather than the motor is a useful feature that is seen on more and more routers these days, because it means that the position of the power cord, the on/off switch and the speed control do not change in relation to the handles or the router table and so don’t twist into an inaccessible location and the power cord doesn’t get twisted.
When using the router with the plunge base there is an adjustable turret stop, as well as a fine depth adjustment knob for precise depth control.
Fixed Base Router vs. Plunge Router
What’s the difference? Simply put, a fixed base router is one on which you set a specific depth, and that depth stays consistent while using the tool. A plunge router, on the other hand, allows you to plunge the router bit downward and into the stock, make the desired cut, and then lift the bit back out of the stock. Obviously it’s a matter of personal preference, but in general, a plunge router is used for hand held routing when making a stopped cut (one that does not go all the way to the edge of the stock e.g. a mortise) and a fixed base router tends to be used in a Router Table and for hand held routing when a stopped cut is not required. Professionals and other woodworkers who do a lot of routing will generally have at least one of each.
For the rest of us, router kits like the Hitachi KM12VC mean that there’s no decision to make as it comes with both a fixed base and a plunge base included, and with the added benefit of both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets you really have got the maximum flexibility in this one package.
How much should you expect to pay?
You can find it on the web for not much more than $150
What are other people saying?
Users are particularly impressed with how smooth and quiet this router is, as well as the excellent value it represents
- oh baby!!!
- Would recomend this router over some more expensive routers I have worked with
- The motor is a work of art. It is so smooth and quiet compared to many routers
- Impressive quality right out of the case
- I really think this the best 2 1/4 HP router combo on the market
There aren’t really any serious complaints, just the odd gripe which you’ll always get.
What kind of warranty is there?
The Hitachi KM12VC is backed by an excellent five-year limited warranty.
The Hitachi KM12VC Router Combo Kit is Hitachi’s complete router kit which gives you the router motor plus a fixed and a plunge base, plus 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch colletts giving maximum versatility in one cost-effective package, and at only $150 – $160 it really is good value. It’s also quieter and smoother than most other routers in this class, making it less tiring to use for prolonged periods.