Shelix Head Ugrades the 735 Planer

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Review by pintodeluxe posted 01-13-2015 12:52 AM 5952 views 2 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Shelix Head Ugrades the 735 Planer No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I installed a Shelix cutterhead in my Dewalt 735 planer. It is a segmented cutterhead that has a helical shape, and uses individual carbide inserts.
OLD THREE KNIFE CUTTERHEAD: With the old cutterhead I was losing about 10% of my stock to severe tearout. Even switching to the slower finishing speed, and skewing the board at an angle did not correct the problem. Walnut and maple seemed to plane okay, but the figured QSWO I usually mill was a problem for the factory cutterhead. I was changing knives every 200-300 b.f.

NEW SHELIX CUTTERHEAD: So I installed the Shelix without issues, and turned on the planer. What really surprised me is the no-load noise level is much lower. I assumed that the motor was generating all the noise, but perhaps it was those straight knives spinning through the air like paddles. Maybe the old bearings were getting noisy, I’m not sure.
At any rate, the planer is also much quieter with normal planing tasks as well. I milled 200-300 b.f of quartersawn white oak and didn’t see any tearout. I was planing on the faster dimensioning speed, and paid no attention to grain direction. I mistakenly thought that one board showed tearout, but realized it had internal cracks that were exposed by the planer. No amount of milling can save a board like that.
The cut quality was flat and smooth, just as you would expect. I couldn’t tell the difference in the milled finish compared to the straight knives, except there was no tearout.
I inspected the inserts after milling my stack of lumber, and they were still razor sharp. Each insert has 4 sharp edges (compared to 2 edges on the stock blades). If you chip an insert, simply rotate it for a fresh cutting edge. When the inserts do eventually become dull, rotate them all.

As far as dust collection, I honestly didn’t notice a difference. Dust collection on this planer is good, and the Shelix head didn’t change that.

I recommend this upgrade to anyone who is experiencing tearout or wish their planer knives lasted longer.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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6206 posts in 3669 days

17 comments so far

View Douglas's profile


424 posts in 3416 days

#1 posted 01-13-2015 12:57 AM

That’s an awesome upgrade. I still have straight knives on my 6” jointer and DW 734 planer. If the money truck ever crashes into my house, I’m tempted to go combo 12” jointer/plner with spiral segmented cutters. Thanks for the report!

-- Douglas in Chicago -

View Jerry's profile


3484 posts in 2504 days

#2 posted 01-13-2015 01:05 AM

Nice Willie, thanks for that!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2724 days

#3 posted 01-13-2015 01:16 AM

Nice review… Not full f hype. Realistic and objective. Hard to do after a considerable outlay of cash.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View dustprocrastinator's profile


76 posts in 3542 days

#4 posted 01-13-2015 03:58 AM

how straight forward is the installation? Did the Shelix come with a well thought out install manual?

Great post!

View pintodeluxe's profile


6206 posts in 3669 days

#5 posted 01-13-2015 04:08 AM

The Shelix / Holbren instructions are pretty basic.
Chris Wong of Flair Woodworks has a good instructional video.
If you have average mechanical skills and a pair of snap ring pliers you shouldn’t have any trouble.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4190 days

#6 posted 01-13-2015 10:56 AM

This looks like a really great upgrade Jan. I have a 5 function Kitty combi machine from Belgium and the planer function has only two straight blades, but somehow it manages to do quite a good job on white oak, and everything else I have put through it. I’m a little amazed about that since this is not a professional machine. I guess I got lucky. I can see the value of those helical cutters though. They should last you for a good many years. In fact you will probably never have to replace them.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4738 days

#7 posted 01-13-2015 01:15 PM

Good to hear it went OK. The quiet is a nice feature too.

I did this on my jointer and really love it. I had planned on changing my planer too, this post reinforces that.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View johnstoneb's profile


3154 posts in 3028 days

#8 posted 01-13-2015 04:36 PM

I’ve had the shelix head in my 735 for about 6 months now would never go back. Much quieter. Yesterday I was planing some cherry and noticed one board had quite abit of tearout from the mill. One pass and it was just as smooth as the rest of the wood I was running thru. I’ve had no tearout in any figured wood I’ve put thru it.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3904 days

#9 posted 01-13-2015 05:16 PM

I put a Shelix head on my Ridgid planer a while ago and my results are kind of disappointing.
I have some tear out and the motor seems to work quite a bit harder and the surface is not absolutely flat, if you look closely there are some ridges.
Before that, I also put a shelix head on my jointer, on this one i have zero tear out.
I believe that the difference is due to the number of row of cutters, more row on the joiner head.

-- Bert

View runswithscissors's profile


3115 posts in 2881 days

#10 posted 01-13-2015 10:37 PM

I have the Jet JJP-12HH (jointer/planer combo with helical head), and it is significantly quieter. It’s the blades that make the banshee howl on a planer. Helical or spiral heads reduce the noise to a bearable level. Of course, I still wear earmuffs.

One reason the helical or spiral heads cut more cleanly is the shear cut. I know many people advocate skewing the board before running it through a straight blade planer, but I’m not convinced that makes any difference (it might if your board has skewed, non-parallel grain). When you skew a handheld plane, the angled cutter is making a shearing cut along the grain of the board. When you skew the board in a straight blade planer, it’s as if you were making diagonal cuts, not straight, grain-following shear cuts with a skewed plane.

I suppose somebody will insist I’m wrong abut this, but don’t just tell me I’m wrong, convince me.

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

View MrFid's profile


906 posts in 2760 days

#11 posted 01-14-2015 12:42 AM

Nice review. I hope to do this one day to my machine.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View bowtie's profile


990 posts in 3202 days

#12 posted 01-15-2015 03:05 AM

Good review, I installed one in my 735 13 months ago and have been very pleased. I have a small sawmill and have run hundreds of cedar, red oak, cherry, blackwalnut, hickory, ash, elm, locust, pine and pressuretreated pine boards through with great results. I had a hard time spending almost as much for the Byrd cutterhead as the planer cost but I’m glad I did.
I have rotated my cutters once after about 10 months of using 5-6 days a week and rotated 2 cutters damaged by a nail
I only use my 15” planer when width forces me to.

-- bowtie,.....jus passin thru....

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3660 days

#13 posted 01-15-2015 12:44 PM

Nice review. Thnx

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View playingwithmywood's profile


444 posts in 2453 days

#14 posted 01-16-2015 05:32 AM

I recommend the 735 planner and the byrd upgrade for anyone that is like me and stuck with 110v and cannot upgrade for a 220v planner

I put the upgrade in my jointer and planner and have not looked back

never having to adjust blade height on the jointer and if the planer got nicked being able to rotate the knives


View Joe McDonald's profile

Joe McDonald

11 posts in 2092 days

#15 posted 01-16-2015 06:04 AM

I just installed a Byrd into my powermatic 60 a few days ago and I am extremely pleased with the almost glass like surface this cutter head leaves, the machine is quieter too I might add, When I get me a big old Iron PM planer I will look no further than Byrd. Joe M

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