Spiral cutter head vs 3knife cutter head
What’s the difference between a Spiral and 3 knife cutter head for a planer. Is one better?
Do you resharpen a spiral cutter?
Also anyone using a Shop Fox planer or Steelex planer, I’m thinking about a 15″ 3hp, about
$900. Any thoughts.
I'm using a Jet 16". Its a 3-blade, 2 speed feed rate. Price is the same
as the 15". I love it, but the blade price went up to $154/set + shipping. After 2 sets of blades ruined on a neighbor's "nail-free"
boards, I'd check on cost of replacement blades first.
I have a Powermatic 20" planer with spiral head. Works great. I have yet to nick a blade but if i do you just take the damaged bit out and turn it or replace it. The spiral option was expensive though but i'm glad i did it.
After 2 sets of blades ruined on a neighbor's "nail-free" boards, I'd check on cost of replacement blades first.
I'd check on the cost of replacement neighbors!
If you can afford it I would get the spiral cutterhead. Some people say they get a better cut ( finish ) with a straight blade but I find the opposit to be true, especially with highly figured woods. Plus blade ( inserts ) changing is a snap. These are usually 4 sided carbide . Turn it and tighten it down for 4 seperate cutting edges then replace them.
Someone touched on what I was thinking of asking but didn't. What type of spiral head are you talking about. I believe the most common are the ones that take carbide inserts. However there are also some on the market that take indexed blades that run the entire length of the cutter head in a spiral fashion. I believe this is the setup powermatic is using on some machines.
Both spiral systems should be easy to change out cutters since they are both indexed systems. However the carbide insert systems are sometimes accused of leaving small ridges between the individual cutters. But they say they're supposed to be quiter and require less power. There are different types carbide insert systems as well. Some are set up so the cutters cut square the to feed direction of the wood and others are set up to cut on a shear angle (Byrd tools Shelix system).
I have no first hand experience with either, but will most likely buy a carbide insert head when I upgrade my jointer in the future.
I like the idea of the spiral cutterhead and from what i've seen they do a great job, but i'm afraid to sink money into a technology that might just be a fad....
I know i can always get knives or have knives made, i'm not sure that those little 4 sided cutter head blades will always be available, remember this is relatively new stuff and not everyone has bought in yet...
i'm pretty happy with the results from the 4 blade cutterheads i have on my planer and jointer, not sure the little bit of improvement i might see from a spiral would be worth the cost or potential risk...
anyone else have thoughts about the longevity of this technology???
I'm getting close to taking the plunge on the Shelix. Given that they are almost always out of stock, the adoption rate must be reasonably high. Byrd tool seems to be doing well and I suspect they will be in business for a while. You make a good point about future availability of replacement cutters though. I would think two sets would be a near lifetime supply for me.
"Fad?!!" "remember this is relatively new stuff"
Totally false speculation!!!!!
This tooling has been used by the professional woodworkers for many years and will be so for many years to come. It's relatively new to the hobby woodworkers because it has come way down in price. The inserts are very standard and used in many different types of cutterheads. They are manufactured to exact standards so are a universal fit. Like many things professionals have had them for ages before most folks even hear about them. The biscuit jointer goes back to the 50's in Europe as well as the slot mortiser, combination machine, sliding panel saws, etc.
The insert tooling is really quite good. I've seen a crosscut section of a tree (endgrain) jointed with a spiral head and there was no tearout what so ever.
ease up there trigger...I wasn't really speculating on anything...I freely admit that I don't have all of the facts on spiral cutterheads, that's why I asked if anyone else had any thoughts...
I said that the technology was "relatively" new...
relatively, adverb...In a relative manner; in comparison with something else
compared with handplanes spiral cutterheads are a relatively new technology, compared with knife cutterheads spiral cutterheads are a relatively new technology...
I'm well aware that manufacturers have used this technology for sometime, but just because a casework manufacturer in europe has no problem ordering a case of 1000 replacement blades directly from his equipment provider doesn't mean that in 5 years when powermatic ralizes that they aren't selling enough to justify continuing to carry the line that I'll be able to get 3 new blades to replace the ones I need...
your information that the cutters are of a standard or universal size is very promising though. if that is the case then even if one manufacturer stops making them you should be able to obtain them from another source. do you have any documentation for this, or can anyone else confirm?
Pretty much all the places selling insert heads get the inserts from other sources. Anyone can machine a head to fit the inserts but making the inserts is another thing altogether. Most companies who make blades and tooling do not make their own carbide.
We've been using insert router bits for sometime now and I can buy inserts from Amana, Southeast Tool, Ridge Carbide, Hersaf and plenty of other sources. I'd be willing to to bet that Bryd doesn't make the inserts either.
Normally the insert cutter come in packs of 10. I can have custom made insert cutter made up as well so there is never going to be a shortage of cutters but you will find most square inserts cutters are very common. We do have to make our insert cutters for our side moulding heads are custom made each time we order them as for some reason the higher ups opted for a special shape as opposed to stock profiles.
Powermatic is using an entirely different type of spiral head. They use a HSS flexible knife. I would say this type of knife which isn't as universally used has a greater chance of being discontinued but this type of knife is nothing like the insert tooling which is frimly entrenched in the industry. Even then I have sources that could duplicate any type of tooling I need but tooling is pretty universal.
Documentaion! I have a wall of catalogs from Woodtech Tooling, Gladu, Ballew and many more showing the insert tooling. I do machine repair and purchasing for a living so I literally spend half my day reading catalogs and researching new developments in the wood industry.
Edited 1/30/2007 10:55 am ET by RickL
thank you for the information, you have greatly eased my mind about buying into this type of technology....
You are absolutely right about the availability of cutters. All the Taiwan carbide cutters are the same size and Grizzly, Bridgewood, Sunhill and Oliver use the same cutter. I replaced a Delta DJ-20 8" and a Powermatic 100 12" planer with Bridgewood 12" spiralhead jointer and a 20" spiralhead planer and the quality of cut is unmatched. I can run cherry crotches through my planer with no tear out. A buddy of mine has a 24"SCMI planer with 4 knives and it ripped it apart. I have had both machines for 4 years and I have yet to rotate even one cutter. If any of you have ever changed 20" planer blades you will appreciate those little indexed cutters especially when you cut yourself installing blades as I always seem to do somehow.
The Byrd Shelix cutters are not the same as the Taiwan cutters and they are not interchangeable. The Shelix has a slight radius to the cutting surface and the are turned at an angle to board. I have not used them but I might buy a replacement head for that DJ-20 because my son has it now. I have not gotten into checking out the difficulty of that yet. If anyone has, I would like to know if it is as easy Byrd service dept. says it is.
I just ordered the Shelix for my DJ-20. The guy from Byrd said that one of the bearing needs to be "lightly" pressed into the outer (pulley side) bearing block. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thanks for the info. My son is only 25 so I think it would be a worthwhile investment for that machine. I was thinking about the Powermatic 100 12" planer, but that looks like quite an ordeal. I guess I'll have to call Byrd and see what they say. I should just go over therebe cause my oldest daughter lives about 20 miles from the factory in KY.
I just switched to a Sunhill spiral cutterhead for my Rigid 6" jointer. Cost was $150.00. I figured I'll save that in 6 months time of not setting up the knives.I've found the finish to be increadable, hard maple, macassar ebony, white oak, cherry. Jointing both edges adn faces.Bruce
Bruce -- when you say the finish is incredible, do you mean there are no surface marks? I'm so used to those little surface scallops from my 15-inch Powermatic planer and 6-inch jointer that I've started to think the trees grow that way. Jim
Jimma,What I've seen so far with the Sunhill, practically replicates the surfacing I get from my Dewalt 735 13" planer. I now find that a quick swipe with 220 paper or a scraper is, in most cases, all I need.Bruce
Jimma,I realized that after my last post to you that your statement about always seeing "ridges" in both jointed and planed surfaces sounded odd to me.You should not be experiencing this "lack of a smooth surface" with either of these two machines as a common occurrence. The "ridged" surface you mentioned only appears when your blades are dull, or mis-aligned. On the jointer, it might be due to your outfeed table or leaf set too low, both tables are not coplanar "flush, even to each, not on the same plane. You might have the knives at different heights, this is the main reason I switched to a spiral cutterhead. I was pulling the remaining hair on my receding hairline out trying to get all three knives at the same height (even with a magnetic jig).On the Dewalt thickness planer, the 735 uses double sided disposable knives that are machined to index without even thinking, so a choppy surface gets ruled out, I can only get it when the knives are dull.If I was you, I'd reread the owner's manuals and slowly reset the knives on both machines. This is best done when you have a half day without interruptions and a couple of cold ones within arms reach.Take a shot at resetting your machines and let me know how it works out.Bruce
I'm not sure exactly what size & shape inserts are used in these cutterheads, but I'd bet the basic configuration is the same as ones used in metalworking, and there are quite a number of manufacturers around the world making them - it's BIG business. I've seen operations where inserts are indexed several times a day in high wear operations. A square insert typically has either 4 or 8 usable cutting points, depending on edge geometry. Triangles and diamond shapes are common, also.
Don't know if they use one of the standards that's also used for metalworking or not. Many of the metalworking inserts don't have a very sharp edge like you'd want for wood, along with different rake angles, carbide grade, and coatings.
In any case, I doubt it will be too difficult to keep getting inserts for these cutter heads.
The inserts used in the metal industry are entirely different from the inserts used in the woodworking industry but you can bet the same companies make both types. I use the metal ones in our machine shop where we fab custom fixtures and machines. I do know that the metal industry leads the way in this technology. A lot of this spins off later to the wood industry and eventually it get to the home woodworker.
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