planer story... happy with my offshore unit

I will, and have, bought some cheap tools on ebay, and I have particularly liked two planers I got. They’re identical but for color, made in china, and I have used them for a few dozen boards over the last year and a half or so.

Last week the drive belt on one of them disintegrated. I got out the other one, finished that board, and kept on using it, but this weekend, just when I’m all set to crank out a nice 9’8" triple stringer, the belt on the second one goes to bits.

I called a few places, and ended up going to Slim’s Power Tools (I’m in Honolulu, is that news?). I always knew the two planers looked a lot like Makitas, but imagine my surprise when the Makita belt (12 bucks each) fit exactly. Double the surprise when I saw a “real” Makita planer on the rack and compared the offshore one I had with me… they were identical down to the casting marks. Mine didn’t have the Makita decal on the belt housing, but that was the only difference.

So, guys, unless you like the Harbor Freight planer (and I don’t know what they have) go to ebay and search for “electric plane” and look at the prices… something like 15 bucks. Well, you could pay about $125 at Slim’s for the guarantee, but if I was me…

My guess is that Makita has their planers made in China, and the actual maker is either back-dooring these or has an agreement with Makita, or bought the tooling. I like this planer a lot, and knowing that it’s “actually” what it looks like is very reassuring in terms of parts and service.

There was a nice similarly sized Bosch planer on the rack, with left and right chip eject, but heavier,and the platen was thin so you couldn’t bevel it much, if at all. I didn’t see the price… and I don’t care.

i think my favorite tool is my porter cable 14.4 v cordless drill, all my holes come out good and i recommend it to anybody… and the tool i hated the most was an overpriced underdesigned bosch jigsaw that couldn’t cut straight or curved, so to control my anger i threw it into the bamboo and have been happier ever since.


I agree with you. I bought one of these some time ago for my daughter to shape her first board since my old faithful L22 Ryobi was much too heavy and unpractical for her. I thought to myself that it was just a toy for children, you know, pretty light and manoeuverable. In fact, I ended using it myself on a couple of shortboards and minimals and it’s quite easy and nice to use. Only thing is, the depth of cut is very, very shallow, of course. But then, for those of you intending to shape their first board, I think it’s the good way to go. Once you master these, and if you plan to shape some more boards, you will easily move to something more powerful. Meanwhile, you’re less bound to make BIG mistakes, precisely because it doesn’t cut very deep. But you will get to shape most of your boards with the planer instead of the surform. Just like Jim the genius wrote it in another post, there’s no tool like the planer to cut true curves.

Now, speaking of the analogy with Makita, this is not surprising at all. Numerous well-known brands have their designs produced at lower prices in third world locations. While almost identical to the eye, I guess that many internal parts are of lesser quality, hence your belts breaking down very fast. Watch for the engines carefully! I have heard they don’t last very long either… But, well, 15 bucks…