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Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit from MLCS
Compact size, unexpected versatility
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
The Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit is essentially a trim router that comes with a surprising range of accessory bases and attachments that extend its versatility in the shop and home. Its 1-Hp motor and single 30,000 RPM speed make the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit capable of handling many smaller routing jobs around the shop as well as installation and trim work around the home or job site.
The Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit comes with the 1-Hp motor, 1/8" & 1/4" collets, a 1/8" straight cutting bit, fixed trimmer base, plunge & tilt base, freehand sole plate, straight edge guide, removable handle, circle attachment, collet wrench and an instruction manual. While this may seem like a larger list of accessories than normal to be included with such a router, the pair of replacement motor brushes they also drop in the box is even more unexpected. Of course they also include a hex wrench and several finger knobs that are used with the various bases and attachments.
At the heart of the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit is the 1-Hp motor. This 2-5/8"-diameter by 7-1/2"-tall motor approximates the size and weight of many trim routers. This is a single-speed motor but for this type of routing, variable speed selectors are seldom used anyway. The motor does have replaceable brushes with simple screw-cover access on the outside of the motor housing.
The motor has a built-in pushbutton spindle lock that makes changing bits a one wrench (included) affair. The wrench is stored in a retaining strap on the power cord so as long as you remember to put it back, it's always handy. The Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit included collet inserts for 1/8" and 1/4"-diameter bit shanks.
The motor has a removable, T-shaped handle that looks a little odd but feels surprisingly good when routing. There is something about the distance this handle is from the motor centerline that gives the operator an additional level of control that is just unexpected. Needless to say, this handle was a good idea.
Fixed Trimmer Base
The Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit comes with a standard fixed trimmer base to which some of the other attachments are installed. Used on its own the trimmer base makes it easy to follow a straight clamped-on fence with the 3-1/8" by 3-1/2" non-removable sole plate. This base is large enough to keep the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit stable but small enough to let you reach relatively tight spaces.
This trimmer base features a thumbscrew that tightens it to the motor, which makes setting bit depth tool-free and simple. The clear plastic that the trimmer base is made from lets you see what is going on at the bit.
Much of the in-shop, in-home versatility of the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit comes from this one base. The combination of plunge and tilt capabilities can make this little router very
handy in a bunch of the not-so-spacious locations we often find ourselves working in. The tilt/plunge combination also gives you unexpected creative freedom for cutting decorative designs or accents using the side or edge of a bit profile that would be virtually impossible with non-tilt router bases.
The plunge mechanism is not spring loaded which is not uncommon for trim routers. Both handles must be loosened to change the plunge height and then both are tightened to lock the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit in place. A plunge scale shows the full 1-1/2" depth capacity and makes setting a specific bit depth easier.
The tilt mechanism is controlled by finger-knobs on both sides. There is no onboard scale that quantifies the tilt angle but that is not a big loss. Most of those scales are less than accurate and users quickly learn to use a protractor or other tool to set the desired tilt angle more confidently.
This base has a smooth metal bottom plate that is mostly round with a 5"-diameter. It does have a small flat on the side that can be used for following a straight clamp-on fence. The versatility of this base will make using many of your clamp-on guide fence designs easy and accurate.
The Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit comes with two attachments for following edges. One has a roller and the other the more common flat fence surface. Both attach to the router with finger knobs and no tools.
The roller guide is adjustable (in or out) and is designed for following rounded or other irregular edge contours. This guide is handy for routing decorative profiles along the edge of difficult workpiece shapes. Its adjustment lets the operator establish a fixed cut width or can make progressively wider cuts much easier and very precise.
The flat fence-type edge guide is very traditional and easy to operate. If anything, this edge guide is a bit oversized for this type or router but that is a good thing. The relatively large fence area makes the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit far more stabile during edge cuts. Consider it a bonus.
The Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit also comes with a round freehand base similar to those available for smaller rotary tools. This base is meant to keep the motor/bit at a specific depth but allow the user complete freedom in direction. This can be handy
for making cutouts or allowing your creative side the freedom it deserves. Obviously, freehand work requires bits designed for that kind of work, most of which have 1/8" or 1/4"-diameter shanks so this can be a good fit.
Circle Cutting Guide
Also included is a pivot-type circle-cutting arm that attaches to the freehand base. A large plastic nut and subbase are used to attach the circle attachment. The circle-cutting arm has a positionable pin that lets you cut circles of virtually any diameter between 4" and 12". A scale on the side of the circle-cutting attachment lets you size the circle to be cut accurately. Here again, the adjustments are all tool free and easy to use.
In the Shop
One of the things that surprised me about this kit is the number and variety of bases that are included with the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit. This is a light-duty router, (trim router really) but the capabilities of the included bases will make this kit more useful in many common shop and home situations.
Changing between the included bases is easy and tool free. In fact, the only tool you really need is the included (single) wrench for changing bits. Everything else is accomplished with simple knobs that hold well. Cut depth is regulated by manually adjusting the motor position but for this style of router that is both common and acceptable.
Because the motor is a single speed (30,000-Rpm no-load) the range of bit sizes is rather small. Again, that is not uncommon in this size of router but totally logical. The bits the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit is capable of using covers the types of work it is best at doing so this is not a major deficiency. The motor also lacks soft-start technology but we have to remember it is a 1-Hp trim router and you are supposed to be holding on to it when you start it anyway.
With reasonably sized bits installed the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit had no trouble performing any of the tasks I would expect from this style of router. Light edging, carving small grooves and similar tasks were no problem. The large T-shaped handle on the motor really does give you a good sense of control and makes freehand jobs easier.
If you are looking for a smaller, cheaper replacement for a full-sized router, nothing in this class will please you. However, if you have reasonable expectations from a 1-Hp trim router, the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit should be of interest.
With a street price of $109.95 (7-23-2009) but sometimes on sale at MLCS for even less, the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit brings a lot of light-duty solutions to the shop at a very reasonable cost. If you are looking for a router in this class, take a look at the Marvel 40 3-in-1 Router Kit.
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