Segmented Cutterheads Change the Game
Plane hundreds of feet of lumber with no tearout and no knife changes
Synopsis: One project’s worth of rough lumber is enough to nick and dull the straight, steel knives on your jointer and planer. That’s not the case for segmented cutterheads, spelling the end of tedious blade changes. The perfectly indexed, long-lasting carbide teeth on these new cutterheads leave fewer ridges and less tearout in all types of woods. The typical insert cutter has four sharp edges vs. one or two on high-speed-steel knives, and is made of carbide, making each edge much more durable. When you do finally need a fresh edge, the teeth are simple to loosen and turn, and they go right back into perfect position. Say goodbye to tedious knife changes.
From Fine Woodworking #223
Installing fresh knives in jointer or planer cutterheads is tedious and time-consuming, requiring dial indicators, magnetic knife holders, and a bit of voodoo to get all three knives set to exactly the same height. And right after you get a sharp set installed, it takes only a stray grain of sand or a small, hard knot to take a tiny nick out of those fresh edges and start leaving tracks on every board. But if you delay and don’t change your knives when they need it, you’ll be frustrated by tearout and bad results.
Segmented cutterheads are one of the few truly new developments in woodworking. The multi-sided, (usually) carbide teeth hold an edge many times longer than traditional steel knives, and pivot quickly and accurately when they finally do need a fresh edge. Users also report much less tearout than they get with straight knives.
Today’s higher-end machines come equipped with a wide variety of these innovative cutterheads, and there are at least two that can be retrofit into your old jointer or planer. But there is a lot…