Troubleshooting Chain-Drive Problems on a Bench-Top Planer

Cleaning and re-lubricating the drive chain on a small portable planer could be the solution to a slipping chain. January 17, 2011

I would like to share a problem I have with my Makita planer. Quick history - I bought new Makita 2012NB that worked fairly well for a bench top planer. I use it for light work and portability. I have maybe an hour or two on it. I pulled it out to take some cherry down to 1/2" and the boards (2 1/4" wide, light cuts) would stop and start. I first thought the rollers were slipping. Pushing the boards through didn't help. I looked with a flashlight and saw the rollers were actually stopping. I took the side cover off, ran the material and saw the problem. The slack in the drive chain was pushed over the infeed roller sprocket. There is a cheesy spring there as an idler to keep the chain tight but it doesn't look like it's doing its job.

I searched online (a couple of similar problems) and did not find a resolution. The next day I called my local Makita service center and did not receive any help. Nothing's broken. I rebuild my own machines so I can tell. I was looking for a service bulletin and did not find one. I scratched my head, thought about it and the light came on - I pulled the chain off. The chain grease was so thick and was barely used in the last couple of years so it was stiff enough to overcome the tension on the spring that was there to take up the slack, thus pushing the excess chain over the infeed sprocket. A good degreasing and light machine oil and the chain was flexible like it should and now the planer works perfect.

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Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor R:
I had the same issue in the older 2012 model. It required the same fix. Itís interesting to hear I'm not the only one. It was scary the first few times the chain popped back down clicking and clacking. Otherwise itís a great benchtop tool.

From contributor S:
I just had this start happening to me (and I'm right in the middle of a contract job). I tried to clean the chain some, but I'm going to give a full cleaning and re-grease. I thought this was going to be quite a nightmare. With every snap/clack of the planer my boards were coming out with nothing but lines for every stall.

From the original questioner:

Contributor S Ė Iím glad this was helpful. I wasted a lot of time scratching my head until I saw the obvious. Just pull the three sprockets off and soak the chain. I don't think (it's been awhile) I had to remove the spring to get the chain off. You'll see how stiff the chain is when you get it off. Just soak it in a degreaser, a little oil and you're good to go.