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View MagicalMichael's profile

Helical or HSS??

by MagicalMichael
posted 01-26-2018 10:40 PM


22 replies so far

View Kelster58's profile

Kelster58

744 posts in 897 days


#1 posted 01-26-2018 11:22 PM

I bought my Grizzly jointer with a helical cutting head. I wouldn’t buy anything else. Helical is not nearly as loud and does as good if not better. We went from HSS to helical at our high school. Typically went through three sets of planer blades a year. We haven’t touched the carbide inserts yet. We’ve run about 800 bd ft of pine, 600 bd ft of red oak, and 600 bd ft of poplar through the planer this school year already. That’s a lot of wood when you have many different people operating the machine. We’ve had a couple of student crash the planer and the thing just keeps on going. Just sharing my humble opinion. We have a Grizzly 24” industrial planer

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4005 days


#2 posted 01-27-2018 12:01 AM

If buying new I can see no reason not to go
with a helical head unless the price is an
issue. If looking at second-hand machines
Tersa and other similar heads can deliver
excellent performance and with hobby use
the knives stay sharp a long time.

View Airbusguy's profile

Airbusguy

8 posts in 478 days


#3 posted 01-27-2018 12:10 AM

For what it’s worth, the guys at Martin believe you get superior results with their Tersa head planer. The problem is in time, the carbide inserts begin to leave small lines. Also, it is nearly impossible to change out the cutters and get them perfectly set hence leaving traces in the wood. This can be sanded out easily. This, again comes from Martin.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2191 posts in 2155 days


#4 posted 01-27-2018 12:13 AM

I think you answered your own question. If your planning on building with highly figured woods or exocits then you’ll do better with a Bryd head. If you think the extra 1k is big $$$ wait till you price the wood were taking about.
I have one in my planer it’s also good for dirty reclaimed woods paint and all.

My jointer is straight knifes and does fine for 90% of my work.

-- Aj

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

3031 posts in 2382 days


#5 posted 01-27-2018 04:44 AM

I have helical in my Jet JJP-12, combo machine and would never want to go back.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10858 posts in 1843 days


#6 posted 01-27-2018 08:12 AM

Ditto. Planer and jointer. Even if it gave the same finish it would be worth it alone in setup time and replacement knives.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View AlmostRetired's profile

AlmostRetired

220 posts in 1071 days


#7 posted 01-27-2018 10:10 AM

Happy to see this question kicking around. I am looking at a jointer on CL now and to upgrade it to the helical it would be better for me to just buy new with it already.

Roegr

View MagicalMichael's profile

MagicalMichael

122 posts in 873 days


#8 posted 01-27-2018 10:42 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I’m going to sleep on this for a while. I am almost half way through milling out poplar for a new outfeed table based on the Benchcrafted classic plans, including the leg vice but with a router table setup at one end, so I wont need to make a decision for awhile anyway.

I am always a little surprised when I read about people spending a lot of money replacing knives. I know some of the low end machines have thin knives. My brother in law went through a set of dewalt (??) in almost no time and they were too thin to resharpen. I have a 6” General jointer with two sets of original equipment knives. I currently plane with a Williams and Hussey planer/molder and again have two sets of original knives. Both machines are 25+ years old and I have never needed to buy a third set. I just take them out, sharpen them and put them back in. No problem.

I watched a lengthy review of the Rikon 12” combo, which is nearly identical to the Jet and the reviewer left me feeling he spent a lot of time keeping the machine setup accurate. That also gave me some pause.

-- michael

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5498 posts in 2850 days


#9 posted 01-27-2018 12:22 PM

You’ve got your answer, but consider on a combo machine the knives are doing even more work than they would on separate…that (IMHO) makes the value of a helical head go up many notches. The lower noise level alone makes them worth it, but the longer life of the cutting edges comes close with no set up nightmares. Like some of the others, I have them in both my jointer (which might be arguable) and my planer ( a hands down winner) and won’t go back.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View jmos's profile

jmos

913 posts in 2727 days


#10 posted 01-27-2018 02:11 PM

Another benefit with a helical head is you don’t really have to worry about grain direction when feeding boards.

-- John

View RobS888's profile

RobS888

2604 posts in 2202 days


#11 posted 01-27-2018 02:17 PM



Thanks for the feedback. I m going to sleep on this for a while. I am almost half way through milling out poplar for a new outfeed table based on the Benchcrafted classic plans, including the leg vice but with a router table setup at one end, so I wont need to make a decision for awhile anyway.

I am always a little surprised when I read about people spending a lot of money replacing knives. I know some of the low end machines have thin knives. My brother in law went through a set of dewalt (??) in almost no time and they were too thin to resharpen. I have a 6” General jointer with two sets of original equipment knives. I currently plane with a Williams and Hussey planer/molder and again have two sets of original knives. Both machines are 25+ years old and I have never needed to buy a third set. I just take them out, sharpen them and put them back in. No problem.

I watched a lengthy review of the Rikon 12” combo, which is nearly identical to the Jet and the reviewer left me feeling he spent a lot of time keeping the machine setup accurate. That also gave me some pause.

- MagicalMichael


I’ve had the Jet 12 inch combo with Helical heads for 2 years and I don’t understand why it would need a lot of work to keep aligned. The top is one piece, it is hard to get 1 piece out of alignment. I wish the tables were longer, but other than that it is great.

-- I always suspected many gun nuts were afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

433 posts in 4326 days


#12 posted 01-27-2018 02:28 PM

There are four HUGE advantages to the carbide HH inserts, as opposed to the HSS straight blades.

1. The HH is quiet. I mean you can hold a conversation over it. Neighbours and family will not even know it is on!

2. The carbide inserts, if set at a skew, slices the wood and leaves a better finish. It can do this into- and well as with the grain. Not all heads are skewed (my Hammer A3-31 is).

3. The carbide lasts a much longer time than the HSS blades. How about 20 times as long (I would have said 5 times, but each carbide insert has 4 cutting sides, and when one is dull you simply rotate it).

4. Replacement is actually cheaper since the carbide lasts so much longer, can be easily replaced by oneself, and blades do not require professional sharpening. Replacement is quick and easy as well.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View MagicalMichael's profile

MagicalMichael

122 posts in 873 days


#13 posted 01-28-2018 11:17 AM

Thanks Derek, that’s a very good summary of the advantages. I hadn’t been aware of the noise differntial, which would be much appreciated by both me and my wife, since my shop is right off the kitchen.

-- michael

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

3206 posts in 2614 days


#14 posted 01-28-2018 10:25 PM

Michael, Derek alluded to a better finish in his second point. In reality, that translates to being able to start sanding with a finer grit saving you the time and drudgery of 1 or 2 sanding steps avoided.

-- Art

View JuniorJoiner's profile

JuniorJoiner

493 posts in 3797 days


#15 posted 01-28-2018 10:28 PM

i find the biggest benefit is the duct collection, smaller shavings means less clogging, better airflow and a touch more time before emptying the drum.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View BikerDad's profile

BikerDad

347 posts in 3958 days


#16 posted 01-31-2018 01:26 AM

The only place where HSS has an advantage is in cost, especially in a large production environment where they have a sharpening guy/shop. We’re talking FACTORY, not commercial cabinet shop. I wouldn’t be surprised though if even in those environments they aren’t moving to segmented cutterheads due to the downtime of changing out blades versus rotating a few cutters.

While you can get HSS sharper than carbides, as a practical matter the extra sharpness is gone in about a minute or so of use. That extra sharpness matters in handplanes, but not much in a cutterhead spinning at a couple thousand RPM.

Full Disclosure: A Byrd Shelix head for my Minimax J/P is #2 on the “big ticket wishlist”.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View Airbusguy's profile

Airbusguy

8 posts in 478 days


#17 posted 01-31-2018 04:55 AM



The only place where HSS has an advantage is in cost, especially in a large production environment where they have a sharpening guy/shop. We re talking FACTORY, not commercial cabinet shop. I wouldn t be surprised though if even in those environments they aren t moving to segmented cutterheads due to the downtime of changing out blades versus rotating a few cutters.

While you can get HSS sharper than carbides, as a practical matter the extra sharpness is gone in about a minute or so of use. That extra sharpness matters in handplanes, but not much in a cutterhead spinning at a couple thousand RPM.

Full Disclosure: A Byrd Shelix head for my Minimax J/P is #2 on the “big ticket wishlist”.

- BikerDad

I have to respectfully disagree with you on two points.
Production shops use Tersa cutterheads and have for years. The reason… superior surface results.
And the statement about the time it takes to change cutters… It takes less than a minute per blade. That’s 4mins for a sharp cutterhead. You can also use carbide Tersa blades.
Martin Machinery which makes arguably the best woodworking machines in the world sell about 10 tersa planers to one Xplane planer.

View Tony_S's profile

Tony_S

965 posts in 3440 days


#18 posted 01-31-2018 10:35 AM


I have to respectfully disagree with you on two points.
Production shops use Tersa cutterheads and have for years. The reason… superior surface results.
And the statement about the time it takes to change cutters… It takes less than a minute per blade. That’s 4mins for a sharp cutterhead. You can also use carbide Tersa blades.
Martin Machinery which makes arguably the best woodworking machines in the world sell about 10 tersa planers to one Xplane planer.
- Airbusguy

Real world experience.
I’ve got 2 SCM s630 Planers and 2 Minimax 16” jointers in the shop. One pair equipped with Tersa heads, the other pair equipped with Byrd heads.
Tersa heads have been running for about 18 years, the Byrd heads for about half that.
Both pairs can run anywhere from 2 to 6 hours a day running 99% hardwood.
So I think we’ve got a pretty decent production comparison.

Byrd….hands down, without hesitation.

I’ll give you this….The Tersa’s, with new blades ‘can’ produce an unmatched surface that is superior to the Byrd if you’re running 100% clean, straight grained material. Any swirled or interlocked grain, they can(and do) still tear out, even when brand new. After about 8-10 hrs run time, you’re no farther ahead than old school straight knives.
The above is in reference to Tersa HSS knives. Tersa ‘chrome steel’ are crap. Tersa M42 HSS produce a decent surface for longer….but quality of cut (tear out) is worse to start out with due to the more blunt shear angle.
The carbide you mention is even worse yet, and cost prohibitive. Probably $500.00 for a set of 24’s.

All that said….there isn’t a standard thickness planer in the world that spits out a finish ready surface. The end product always needs to be sanded, Period. So the VERY vague scalloping that ‘can’ result from a true helical head really is moot. It sands out quickly, without any extra effort. And the scalloping is typically due to not cleaning the inserts and heads properly when rotating or changing out.
I’m not knocking you, Tersa, or Martin….But real life, is real life.

Side note.
Kanefusa sells a head similar to a Tersa. The “Enshin” knives(proprietary) they sell are very much superior to the Tersa knives in regard to edge retention, but also quite a bit more expensive. I don’t believe they sell heads for jointers and or thickness planers….we use them in a 5 head Weinig Moulder.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7783 posts in 3271 days


#19 posted 01-31-2018 12:16 PM

I can attest to the very minor scalloping (raised lines) when jointing with my Helical Head Grizzly 0593, but only AFTER rotating the carbide cutters. BTW, I was particularly careful to clean every cutter seat and properly torque each and every cutter.

Why do I have raised lines after rotating cutters?
  • I bought the jointer used, so don’t know just how long/much use the current cutters had
  • I truly suspect that each carbide cutter is “shortened” ever so slightly with use, on the side actually cutting
  • For the sake of discussion, let’s say each cutter is 0.250in square when starting. After use and rotating the cutters, the width of the cutters end up being something like 0.246in to 0.249in wide on the “new” cutting surface. This would explain the increased number of very shallow scallops/raised-lines when jointing.
  • That said, IMO suggest that when starting out with brand new carbide cutters, that they would/will only be true as new on sides #1 and #3 (180degrees apart). Sides #2 and #4 will be shortened through use.

And as Tony states above, these lines are so light that they are “moot” as an issue. A simple scraper card is all that it takes to remove. In other words, this non-issue is less than having nick-marks from a chipped knife blade on a jointer or planer.

Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Airbusguy's profile

Airbusguy

8 posts in 478 days


#20 posted 01-31-2018 04:08 PM


I have to respectfully disagree with you on two points.
Production shops use Tersa cutterheads and have for years. The reason… superior surface results.
And the statement about the time it takes to change cutters… It takes less than a minute per blade. That’s 4mins for a sharp cutterhead. You can also use carbide Tersa blades.
Martin Machinery which makes arguably the best woodworking machines in the world sell about 10 tersa planers to one Xplane planer.
- Airbusguy

Real world experience.
I ve got 2 SCM s630 Planers and 2 Minimax 16” jointers in the shop. One pair equipped with Tersa heads, the other pair equipped with Byrd heads.
Tersa heads have been running for about 18 years, the Byrd heads for about half that.
Both pairs can run anywhere from 2 to 6 hours a day running 99% hardwood.
So I think we ve got a pretty decent production comparison.

Byrd….hands down, without hesitation.

I ll give you this….The Tersa s, with new blades can produce an unmatched surface that is superior to the Byrd if you re running 100% clean, straight grained material. Any swirled or interlocked grain, they can(and do) still tear out, even when brand new. After about 8-10 hrs run time, you re no farther ahead than old school straight knives.
The above is in reference to Tersa HSS knives. Tersa chrome steel are crap. Tersa M42 HSS produce a decent surface for longer….but quality of cut (tear out) is worse to start out with due to the more blunt shear angle.
The carbide you mention is even worse yet, and cost prohibitive. Probably $500.00 for a set of 24 s.

All that said….there isn t a standard thickness planer in the world that spits out a finish ready surface. The end product always needs to be sanded, Period. So the VERY vague scalloping that can result from a true helical head really is moot. It sands out quickly, without any extra effort. And the scalloping is typically due to not cleaning the inserts and heads properly when rotating or changing out.
I m not knocking you, Tersa, or Martin….But real life, is real life.

Side note.
Kanefusa sells a head similar to a Tersa. The “Enshin” knives(proprietary) they sell are very much superior to the Tersa knives in regard to edge retention, but also quite a bit more expensive. I don t believe they sell heads for jointers and or thickness planers….we use them in a 5 head Weinig Moulder.

- Tony_S

Your “real life” experience with these cutter-heads definitely sound compelling. I am in the market for a new planer as we speak so that’s why i am pretty interested in this topic. Last year, i took a tour of the Martin factory in Ottoueren, Germany. While there, I saw many planers being produced and was actually surprised by the fact that nearly all the planers were Tersa head. I asked he guy giving me the tour (Martin Sales Director) why there were not more Helical Heads and he said “we dont sell many of those”. “Real life”!
I know a guy who runs his Martin T45 in a commercial shop hours a day and they use Kanefusa blades. He too said stick with Tersa. This discussion can be found on other WW Forums with similar opinions( pros and cons).
In the end, it boils down to what works for you.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2191 posts in 2155 days


#21 posted 01-31-2018 04:58 PM

I used to advise woodworkers not to get a Bryd head in a jointer. Now I’m a bit more open minded that not everyone’s woodworking endeavors are the same. I had a 8 inch jointer with a 6 rows nine inserts in every row. I didn’t care for the feed pressure and after the inserts got caked with pitch and worn a little.
I run straight knives in my jointer and Bryd head in a planer.
My jointer does a better job then the planer but then again it’s much much better designed machine.

-- Aj

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

1359 posts in 1173 days


#22 posted 02-01-2018 01:02 AM

As I recall, you are looking at the Jet JJP-12 machine. I have the HH version with spiral segmented cutter heads and my opinion is it is absolutely worth all that extra money. I used to use a Ridgid lunchbox planer and it did a remarkable job with new knives and a soft maple board with favorable grain. On the other hand, If the grain switched bias along the surface, it would always chip out little divots that were almost impossible to sand out. The JJP-12HH version just doesn’t do that. It is very seldom that I see any chip out with any material, no matter how gnarly the grain. I will say that the cutters are almost new.

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