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Helical or HSS??

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Forum topic by MagicalMichael posted 01-26-2018 10:40 PM 1028 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MagicalMichael

122 posts in 936 days


01-26-2018 10:40 PM

I recently posted a question about moving a 500 lb planer jointer from the palet to the mobile unit and got good advice, so here’s my next question. I am looking at the 12” jointer/planer combo machines and wonder about the worth of the helical heads. In this size the upgrade runs $1,000. Is it worth it, in an amateur shop? I can appreciate that the HSS blades will wear faster than in separate machines and need replacing and sharpening more often. So be it. Maybe, however, the helical heads are less likely to produce tear out in highly figured or difficult wood, like birds-eye. Is this true, and how pronounced is the difference?

Michael

-- michael


22 replies so far

View Kelster58's profile

Kelster58

755 posts in 960 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 4068 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 541 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.

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Aj2

2321 posts in 2218 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

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runswithscissors

3052 posts in 2445 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 1906 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.

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AlmostRetired

220 posts in 1134 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 936 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

5591 posts in 2913 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

916 posts in 2789 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 2265 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 knew gun nuts where afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

455 posts in 4388 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 936 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

3214 posts in 2677 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 3860 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.

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