As manufacturers go, Makita tends to have the inside track on what professional timber framers want from their tools. This Makita KP312 hand-held planer stays true to that promise. It sports a powerful 15-AMP motor able to generate 12,000 RPM and the V-belt design makes the power transfer from motor to blades tremendously efficient. The front roller allows it to maneuver over rough material seamlessly and the large ejection chute quickly discharges chips. Those are real keys for professional timber framers because the last thing you want to do is stop mid-pass.
This Makita is all about rigorous, extended use and going where no planer has gone before. It sports a 12 ¼-inch cutting width and a 33-foot power cord mounted on top of the handle, so it’s out of the way and you won’t be dragging around extensions. This big boy has a sturdy front handle, although it glides across beams seamlessly. The depth knob is conveniently located on the front of the tool and adjustments are painless, while the built-in guide rule helps maximize depth and accuracy. Makita never misses a trick when it comes to these niche, pro tools and this planer features a rubberized front handle that affords a stronger grip while reducing user fatigue.
Comparable tools on the market include the HEMA ZBH35. The German-designed beam planer hits an excellent width of 13 ¾ inches. Like the Makita, it generates 12,000 RPM, features a 33-foot cord, and also weighs in at a hefty 40 pounds. The German brand has a rugged, perhaps overly rough around the edges look to it. Its drawbacks include having a 220-volt motor and you need to purchase a 120v to 240v converter to run on common electrical outlets. The other issue is price. HEMA costs more than double the Makita.
In terms of reviews, folks that own and operate this Makita are downright awesome. It’s the kind of tool you say “OMG” about on a first pass. But, it’s a commercial planer that timber pros will use day in and day out. After a while the excitement turns into respect for the planer’s durability and ability to work wide-board easily.
The negatives about the Makita go to the blades. The ones in the box aren’t as hearty as full-time workers would like. Upgrades aren’t cheap and will most likely need to be ordered in advance.
At the end of the day, the Makita KP312 ranks among the best in class for wide capacity, hand-held planers and comparable models are generally far more expensive. This tool handles commercial work like a champ and may be the best bang for your buck on the market.
Timber Frame HQ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. When you purchase something from Amazon, a small percentage of the sale goes to support the efforts of TFHQ.