Difficulty in changing planar/jointer blades to Byrd cutter

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Forum topic by William_D posted 02-15-2017 03:03 AM 836 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 802 days

02-15-2017 03:03 AM

Title says it all. I am in the market to buy a new joiner and planar. My question is should I go with blades over a helical cutter that comes with the machine and replace with Byrd cutters. It seems like you just swap them out but honestly I have no idea. I am relatively new to wood working so excuse my ignorance.



6 replies so far

View jmos's profile


913 posts in 2703 days

#1 posted 02-16-2017 12:48 AM

Most helical cutters work pretty well. Byrd is probably a notch above, but they are all pretty good. I’ve got a Byrd on my planer (735) and a Grizzly on my jointer; it’s s close call if there’s a difference. Fine Woodworking did a comparison and I don’t recall the spread being huge.

Changing out the head isn’t a big deal on a jointer if you have basic mechanical skills, I’ve done it twice. You have to pull the fence and guard, remove the bearing blocks, pull them from the head, install the new bearings on the new head and reassemble. Grizzly has a youtube video showing the process on their units, but it’s pretty universal. Planers are a bit more complicated; Byrd’s instructions for the 735 we very detailed.

-- John

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


5898 posts in 3146 days

#2 posted 02-16-2017 01:04 AM

Any way you can get the helical head, go that route. I did a changeover on my planer to the Byrd and it wasn’t too bad. I finally rotated the cutters the other day. It takes 45 minutes to brush everything clean and do it right (there are 40 cutters on my planer). The old straight knives were disposible and I could change them in 20 minutes or so. However the old knives would dull and nick so often, I swear I bought a new set of knives every time I was at Lowes.

The Byrd cutters lasted for thousands of BF, and they have 4 sharp edges. So barring any mechanical issues, they provide a lot of mileage for the dollar. Actually dull Byrd cutters don’t look or feel much different that new ones. They just get louder and feed rate slows a bit.

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

View William_D's profile


20 posts in 802 days

#3 posted 02-16-2017 10:26 PM

Thanks guys. I think I am going to just by the planar and jointer with Byrd heads from the factory. Costs more upfront but well worth it from what I have read.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1253 days

#4 posted 02-16-2017 10:50 PM


The only reason I can see for buying a new jointer or planer with straight knives and then immediately changing over to a helical cutter head is to save some money. Therefore it may be worthwhile to select a jointer and planer and price the machines with straight knives and helical cutter heads. Then price the helical cutter head as a replacement for the straight knife cutter head.

For example…

The Grizzly G0490XW 8” jointer with a 40 insert helical cutter head is priced at $1350.

The Grizzly G0490W 8” jointer with a straight knife cutter head is priced at $1025.

The Byrd Shelix 40 insert helical cutter head from Grizzly is priced at $425.

Thus it would be $100 more to buy the straight knife cutter head and then replace the cutter head than to buy the jointer with the helical cutter head already installed from Grizzly. When I did the same comparison with Powermatic, I found the factory installed helical cutter head on their 8” jointer to be $85 less than the straight knife version + the Byrd Shelix cutter head.

On the other hand if the idea is to buy a jointer and planer now and then replace the straight knives with the helical cutter heads sometime later, I agree with jmos and pintodeluxe. Additionally, manufacturers seem to post their manuals on-line. By looking at the manual for the machine you are considering, you may get a better idea of what is required to change out the cutter head before buying the machine.

By the way, I have used the straight knife versions of the jointer and planer. I now have the machines with the helical cutter head. For me, the helical cutter was a worthwhile upgrade.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5461 posts in 2826 days

#5 posted 02-17-2017 12:31 PM

One thing that doesn’t come up you might want to ask about: it may be that if you buy a new unit with knives and change the cutterhead you might (emphasis: might) void the warranty. This wouldn’t be an issue at all to me, but some folks value the warranty. My jointer and planer have the Byrd heads and i wouldn’t go back, but for sure on the planer it might be worth buying one with it already installed. Either way, the insert heads are well worth it.

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

View Kelly's profile


2244 posts in 3277 days

#6 posted 02-17-2017 06:52 PM

I went the Grizzly 8” long bed route with the spiral cutter. I could have saved money on the knives, but knew I’d, eventually, upgrade. In the end, upgrading came out to a little more. Of course, going the extra bucks up front saved a lot of hassle.

Having run knives and spiral carbide cutters now, there is no turning back. I’ve cleaned a lot of figured walnut, butternut and so forth with far better results using the spiral head.

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