August 28. 2004
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Tool test: Marvel 60 Router

marvel 60 router

Several months ago I purchased a Marvel 60 router from MLCS for the main use as a table mounted router. I made the decision that I needed a new router to place in my newly made saw station and my first two choices were the Hitachi M12V or the MLCS Marvel 60. I first posted a question at www.BT3Central.com asking if any of my fellow members had any experience with the Marvel 60 and all of the answers were no. That topic at BT3Central. Since no one had purchased this router I choose to in an effort to test it so that others could perhaps make a more informed purchase decision. I wrote about my first impressions in a new topic also at BT3Central.com. This page fulfills the promise I made in the second topic linked above. After using the Marvel 60 router for a few months and with many different bits I feel it is time to report on its usefulness as a table mounted router.

Since bringing this new router into service in my small weekend shop I have used it for several different projects spinning bits of many different styles. It has proved to be quite serviceable. Today I routed all of the rail and stile pieces for a curio cabinet that I am making out of 4/4 nominal red oak. This curio cabinet's construction consists of five separate rail and stile panels, or put simply about 50' of profile cut using a Rail and Stile (R&S) bit and perhaps 3' of end copes with a R&S bit. Rail and Stile bits are somewhat large in diameter and remove a fair amount of stock. When I used these bits with my Porter-Cable 690 router I had to feed slower than when using a profile cutter (round over, ogee, cove, etc). With the Marvel 60 the higher HP rating proved itself. The cuts were smooth and I felt that I could feed the stock fairly fast. So fast in fact that my feather boards and the tendency of oak to tear-out were what slowed me down; the router handled the job with plenty of power to spare. While changing bit height I used the built-in micro-adjustment depth adjuster. It also performed flawlessly.

I have also used this router hand held even though that is not the purpose for its purchase. I've profiled edges, routed dadoes, and used it with my PC dovetail machine to prepare stock for about 6 large drawers. Although quite heavy for hand held use in my humble opinion it has proven to be up to the task and did each job just as well as my PC 690 has in the past. The plunge seemed smooth at all depths tried and locked at each depth without any problems. Before mounting it to my table's router mounting plate the last time I removed the plunge springs, something I advise doing with any plunge router to be mounted in a table. Removing the plunge springs required complete dis-assembly to my disappointment. The router's base has plugs over the springs which appear to be held in with a set screw but upon closer inspection are actually swaged in. It may be possible to remove the plugs and drop the springs out the bottom but I did not try since I felt this might have voided the warranty. Re-assembly went without a hitch.

Considering all of the bits and template bushings included with this router I believe it to be a very good value. Even though you'd need to purchase a different template bushing to use this router with Porter-Cable's dovetail machine and most likely any other of similar design or manufacture. I would even recommend this router kit as a first router for the weekend woodworker. It has enough power to spin the largest of bits and in my opinion plunge routers in general are more versatile than fixed base routers. Personally I prefer plunge routers for table use, ease of cutting height adjustment being just one of the reasons. I was hoping to be able to compare this router side by side with the M12V that I also wanted to purchase but I couldn't commit the funds necessary. All things considered I belive that the Hitachi M12V is with out doubt a better router than the MLCS Marvel 60 but not a better value. As noted in my second post linked above I feel MLCS's customer service leaves a bit to be desired and have yet to get the 1/4" collet replaced; perhaps I just spoke with the wrong individual. Over time I may add to this document if my impressions change. My hope is that after reading this page you are better able to make an informed purchase decision.

Upon reading this review MLCS has since contacted me and shipped out a replacement 1/4" collet. I am most impressed with their Customer Service initiative seeking me out to resolve this matter. I have since used the Marvel 60 router much and it has performed flawlessly. Included were some sliding dovetail joints that demanded the utmost of precision and the router performed up to the task. At this time I believe the MLCS Marvel 60 Router to be a worthwhile addition to any woodworker's power tool collection, and it works especially well in table mounted service.


Created on ... December 04, 2004 © M.W. Stripes 2004