Byrd Shelix Planer Head Retro

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Review by tenontim posted 11-14-2011 04:15 PM 8640 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Byrd Shelix Planer Head Retro No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Decided to upgrade my 15” Grizzly planer to the Byrd shelix head. This head not only has the helical design, but the inserts are set at an angle to cause a shear cut to the wood, which will cut down on tear out and give a smoother cut.

The cost of replacing the standard blades was beginning to get my attention, so if these index-able, 4 sided, carbide inserts hold up as advertised, I should be saving some money. I bought this planer head through Grizzly, which is on sale right now for $530. Regular price is $630. If you buy from the Bryd website, it’s $795. This head is listed as a “Generic 4 post planer”. I would bet it will fit most 15” planers, that are constructed with the same basic design as the Grizzly, ie Jet, Delta, Powermatic, etc. Do a little research and you may save yourself some money by going through Grizzly.

The installation is fairly straight forward. It took me about 2 hours to complete. This page from Byrd tool has a good, step by step installation procedure.
The only thing I would add is to make sure you have a gear puller to remove the bearings from the old planer head, if you’re going to reuse them.

After checking all of the planer settings, I turned on the planer and couldn’t believe the amount of noise reduction the new head has. My dust collector drowned out all sounds from the planer. Without the DC on, the most noticeable sound from the planer was some gear noise. Even while planing, the noise level was low.

I ran some ash lumber through, both with and against the grain, with no tear out at all. I don’t have and highly figured woods right now to test it with, but usually I will get tear out in the ash, due to it’s constantly changing grain direction.

Over all, I’m very pleased with this investment. My planer is about 6 years old, so with my initial investment and the cost of the new Shelix, I still spent less than a new planer with the same head. Time will tell how well the inserts hold up, but for now I’m grinnin’.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4517 days

8 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6869 posts in 4752 days

#1 posted 11-14-2011 05:42 PM

Hi Tim,

I keep thinking about upgrading the head on my 20” Powermatic, but so far haven’t gotten around to it.

Certainly seems like a great improvement, though.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Karson's profile


35223 posts in 5173 days

#2 posted 11-14-2011 05:48 PM

Tim: I’ve had my Spiral Grizzly Planer for 5 years and I’ve yet to turn the cutters except for 2 that I hit a broken screw in a friends(?) board.

It does a fantastic job on figured wood.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4517 days

#3 posted 11-14-2011 05:52 PM

I forgot to mention, it seems to make smaller shavings, which should keep the dust collection from plugging up, especially when planing wide boards.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4517 days

#4 posted 11-15-2011 01:12 AM

I wasn’t sharpening the standard blades on this planer, due to the fact that there was only a $5 difference in getting them sharpened or replacing them. The cutters are about $3 a piece and I think there are 75 of them. 15” carbide blades for my planer were about $250, so it still comes out cheaper and there are 4 sides to them. Like I said, time will tell if they will last long enough to be the more affordable choice.

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 4806 days

#5 posted 11-15-2011 03:45 PM

Thanks for the heads up on the discounted price. Ordered mine yesterday.

View Ken90712's profile


17867 posts in 3962 days

#6 posted 11-15-2011 07:46 PM

Great review and info. there was a company at the Las Vegas Woodworking show that had them for the Dewalt Planers as well. Still kicking it around.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4517 days

#7 posted 11-15-2011 08:02 PM

Ken, I think this is their main distributor Shop around though, they can be had at a cheaper price. Sometimes Amazon has a few of them on sale.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 3674 days

#8 posted 11-15-2011 08:13 PM

For a couple of years, I’ve been pondering a helical retrofit for my old 15” Jet planer. Both you and the recent Fine Woodworking article have finally convinced me. I ordered my Byrd-Shelix head this morning! Thanks for the nudge.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

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