helix segmented cutterheads


Well-known member
Has anyone been using the segmented cutterheads in surface planers? I understand they are much quieter and can handle highly figured woods, but is the surface as good as or better than straight blades?
I bought a used 15" Jet planer and it needs blades and I was wondering if I should change the cutterhead to a byrd shielex head instead.
A friend just recently bought a Grizzly 15" planer with the helix head and called me to show it off.  Naturally, I had to take along my most curly piece of maple to try it out.  Wow!  No tearout, a surface smoother than I get with a new set of knives in my planer, and (I'm just guessing) 40-50% quieter.  I have a 25" Woodmaster that I can get a new head for for under $1400.  I'm saving all my loose change for the up grade!
I have heard that some brands of segmented cutterheads leave faint ripples across the surface of the wood.????
We just installed a set and they cut quiet and smooth with little tear out.It did tear some flame birch but I think if I held my head right it might get by.If you look at the wood after planing with a light at a sharp angle you can see these faint hollows where the cutters went by.Im not an expert so I couldn't tell you anything but what I saw.I love em by the way.Plus they are carbide so they last a while and they have four sides so you can spin them around if need.Plus you just unscrew them so getting them sharpened if you ever need to can be done fairly easily.One warning is tork the screws with a wrench that you can get a read out with if possible.At least make sure they are tight.Hate those flying screws.
We went ahead and put them on our joiner (6 inch) and our ten inch has then already.We also have a twenty four inch joiner but its got straight blades on it.We don't use it much and I hone the blades so they are very sharp.So yes we still use the straight blades.They work fine most of the time.That curly maple loves the segmented one.We have to keep them separated so they don't embarrass the rest of the wood.All that lovey dovey stuff gets old.Laughter sweeps the shop!If you can afford it get them if not its not the end of the world just more time.
well ....I installed the byrd cutterhead in the 15" jet planer and it has made quite a difference. In real,real aaaa+ curly maple it did leave small tearout but 99.99% improvment over all other woods and figures.
    What I did encounter was when planing a board to final thickness, regardless of figure or species, If I replaned the board  through the machine without changing the cutter head depth, just as a second pass, I was getting indentations in the board from the infeed roller. No matter how I addjusted the pressure, bed rollers roller depth, infeed or outfeed,  same results.
    well what I did, from advice from my brother with the same machine, was to swap the serrated metal infeed and outfeed rollers with an outfeed roller from a  delta 15" planer (dc-380 i belive). They are covered with rubber, ureathane similar to rollers in a "lunch box" planer. I put them in both the infeed and the outfeed. a perfect match. Problem solved. performs great. No marks!!!
    It performs so well I can't belive they are not offered as original equipment on at least an option.
  Hope this helps anyone else with similar problem.
how difficult is changing the cutter heads?

I'm looking at doing it for my 8 inch jointer, i find messing with the knives really frustrating.
On the jet 15" planer it took about 2 hours. because the bearings "stayed" in the gear box instead of coming out with the cover. I had to persuade them to get out of the box. But I was taking my time not rushing. I believe i remember seeing jointer heads with the option of having the bearings already put on the cutter head. I purchased mine from Holbren, very helpful.
good luck
Most jointer heads come with bearing on them(depending on brand of head you get). The ones I've seen changed at work on Oliver machines, are loosen belts, take two bolts out, remove head, insert new head, reinsert bolts and torque, tighten belts, done.

Planers are a little more involved, but relatively easy.

I have seen the helix heads but a bit much for my budget. Besides that I have almost no tear out on figured woods.  It was suggested to me by an older woodworker that I should dampen the wood surface and take no more than 1/16 inch cut but preferably a 32nd. He proceeded to suggest a cure for any snipe would be to hold up on the rear of the wood using a moderate amount of pressure. By golly gee whiz it works. And look at the money I saved.
additionally, what made a big difference in the surface was the changing of the infeed and outfeed rollers from the original serrated steel to rubber coated rollers. In the jet 15 planer I put in rollers from a delta 15 planer, the outfeed roller. It was a direct replacement for both the infeed and the outfeed. No more marks on the final pass!
    As far as snipe, yes it can be reduced by pulling up on the board as it exits the planer. i have the out reed rollers set to do such. also set the bed rollers down level with the table bed. With thin lumber I use a add on laminated board to cover the rollers on the bed because sometimes the edge of the wood will catch the slot the rollers are in and stop the wood from passing through.