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Spiral Cutter Heads

Question

I want to buy a jointer and thickness planer. Are the spiral cutter heads worth the extra money?— Anonymous

Answer

Richard Oedel replies: We have used standard blades on both for years and around 2010 bought a new Dewalt planer. The blades were so much softer than the ones we had been using (many nicks and chips in the blades right away) that we quickly changed the head over to a Byrd head—holbren.com. The cost was about $450 to retrofit it with a couple of hours of our time. No tearout on difficult woods fewer problems with grain runout and almost no maintenance of the cutting edge. We run it often and rotate the cutting edge about every 4 months. The downside is that it takes a smaller cut (we use about 1/16˝ max on our Dewalt) and it takes more horsepower for the same cut depth.

In 2015 we got a new Powermatic 22˝ and the Byrd head had the same characteristics. But almost no tearout makes it really wonderful, especially with birdseye maple and difficult grains. I’d never buy another planer or jointer without a helical head.

Elliot Savitzky replies: Yes. They work great and are really easy to rotate in order to get a sharper cut over time. They are expensive but worth not having to sharpen the planer knives.

Steve Costain replies: I installed my first one in an 8˝ jointer—what a difference! When I recently bought a 20˝ Delta planer, I ordered the head before doing anything else—no tearout on figured woods it’s a real game changer.

Phil Kinsler replies: I put one in my 6˝ jointer—an awful job. It works well enough but I didn’t find it worth the effort. If buying a new one, I’d go that route. It is nice to be able to just turn a damaged cutter or turn one four times as they wear. I have not sprung for a spiral cutter for my Dewalt 735 planer, but instead put carbide edged knives in for about half the price which have served extremely well for years.

Tags: Jointer, Tools