My New Tool: 15 inch Powermatic Byrd Helix Head Planer

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Blog entry by Boxguy posted 04-13-2012 09:54 AM 10670 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Addendum: I have had my Powermatic for two years now and have planed hundreds of boards it is still working flawlessly. I have not as yet rotated the cutters. My only objection is the loud clunk it makes at the start. I wish they would have added a soft start to the motor. Yes, this is an expensive tool, but if you are going to work in your shop several days a week, like I do, it is a joy to use and makes woodworking much more fun.

After 30 years of using my trusty Makita 400mm planer, I took the plunge and invested most of my hard-earned box profits from the past year in a new Powermatic 15 inch planer. I found that it was a good day to own a 35 horse Kabota tractor with a pallet forks since this gold beauty comes with 500 pounds of love.

Quick lessons:

When installing the cast iron wings. Attach the center bolt with the wing upside down and then spin it to attach the other two bolts. Put in the set screws for these wings first before you install the wings. It will save you a lot of standing on your head time.

The pull-out lift bars and a good tractor are a real help in getting the planer off the pallet and into the shop.

Putting a #8 wire in a #10 connection box is a real pain.

Because the shaving are finer, the 4 inch collection port works just fine…especially with a cyclone type collector.

Connecting the dust collector took 6 inch water pipe fittings, AC duct work tin pipe, and some actual 4 inch dust collector hose.

It is a vast improvement in noise and has much less tear out on curly stock.

I am having way too much fun planing down stock for future boxes.


-- Big Al in IN

4 comments so far

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 3471 days

#1 posted 04-13-2012 02:17 PM

All I can say is why did you and I wait so long to get the Byrd Helix Cutter on our Planers. You got yours already installed and I had to convert mine. It took 5 hours and a good friend. It makes less noise, less load on the motor, makes smaller chips, the head is heaver, and it cuts much smoother.
I know you will enjoy using the big smooth Planer

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3821 days

#2 posted 04-13-2012 03:25 PM

Congrats on your new planer, sounds like it is a fine machine.

I haven’t yet needed a bigger one than my oversized portable, but who knows maybe one day…..

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4600 days

#3 posted 04-14-2012 05:54 PM


I upgraded my Delta 15” with a new cutter head a year ago. A nicked blade takes minutes to fix.

Congratulation on your new machine, I’m sure you will be pleased.

-- Nicky

View robscastle's profile


6362 posts in 2713 days

#4 posted 12-18-2017 10:16 PM

A great machine Al,

I have a low budget unit similar its a vast improvement on my original Lunch box thicknesser planer, less noise, better finish, less worry about tear out, I was actually snooping about looking for pin nail and glue info!

-- Regards Rob

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