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Installed a Byrd Shelix Cutterhead in my DeWalt DW735 Planer

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Blog entry by BlankMan posted 1170 days ago 8161 reads 5 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

(Just thought I’d add the link to the install instructions here at the top.)

Bought a Byrd Shelix cutterhead for my DeWalt DW735 planer a few months ago but hadn’t taken the time to install it until a few days ago. I’ve got one thing to say so far, I am impressed. In the shipping packaging, and the ease of installing it, and with it’s cutting performance. The installation instructions were well presented and well thought out, right down to the piece of plastic that is included to wrap around the cutterhead so that the inserts don’t scratch the bearing seat as you’re installing it. I had read through the installation instructions many times, even long before I purchased it. I wanted one but at the $400 price tag put off purchasing it for a long time. I had purchased my DW735 back around 2004 for about that same amount so to justify spending that amount again just for the cutterhead was not an easy decision for me to make. But the timing and frequency with which the knives nicked for no apparent reason had finally gotten to me so I bought the Shelix.

I had been working with DeWalt for quite a while testing a different design cutterhead that uses different knives but still the nick problem persisted. I was told the shear angle that is used in the DW735 along with inconsistencies in the hardening of the knife’s edge along the length of the knives were factors in the nick issue. I wasn’t under an NDA or asked not talk about this testing so I thought I’d share what I know, thus it can be said that DeWalt is more then aware of the issue, at least in its engineering circles.

Well once I had the Shelix cutterhead installed and fired it up I notice one thing right away, it runs quieter. In fact when I ran the test boards through it I wasn’t wearing the headset ear protection I usually wear and the noise wasn’t at an uncomfortable level. The noise used to be very annoying, but not any longer. It seems some of the high frequency whining type sound has been substantially reduced or even eliminated when surfacing the wood.

As a test I ran some 6” wide hard maple and red oak through it at the finish feed speed taking off 1/64” per cut. The results were the same as I’ve come to expect from this planer, a super smooth finish. The hard maple had some well defined figured grain and not a bit of tearout occurred. The finish was good enough on both types of wood that you could stain and finish it right then and there. And I should also mention, still no snipe on either end of the wood. But that may have something to do with the infeed and long outfeed tables I have besides just the planer itself. Also, I read a review where the author noted more vibration with the Shelix cutterhead in his DW735, can’t say that I noticed any more or any less with mine that I could attribute to the Shelix cutterhead.

All in all well worth the cost and even with the initial investment in the cutterhead I’ll probably be saving money in the long run not having to replace the HSS knives. Even when the time comes that I run through the 10 extra inserts included and I have to buy inserts. When my knives nicked there was not any foreign material involved, just the wood, so I do not expect to have these issues with the carbide inserts. I have a milling machine and a metal working lathe and my cutting tool of choice for both is carbide and carbide inserts. I’m well versed in how long carbide lasts as compared to high speed steel so I definitely think this is a win-win when taking into account the cost of the Shelix cutterhead and the carbide inserts.

<added>

OK, and now for something totally scientific. ;-) I said the planer was quieter when I turned it on with the Shelix cutterhead then it was before with the HSS knives. So I got curious.

So I set up my Sound Pressure Meter on a tripod 3 feet away from the planer. I set the scale on the C Weighted Scale which is weighted for the human ear and turned on the planer, 85dB. I then set up my 735 that has the HSS knives 3 feet away and turned it on. 91dB.

Every 3dB increase is twice as loud, so the planer with the HSS knives is 4 times louder then the planer with the Shelix cutterhead. Wasn’t my imagination I guess.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI



24 comments so far

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4806 posts in 1805 days


#1 posted 1170 days ago

Great upgrade. Great report. Congrats, and … thanks !

-- -- Neil

View CampD's profile

CampD

1201 posts in 2117 days


#2 posted 1169 days ago

you’ve piqued my interest

-- Doug...

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5289 posts in 1229 days


#3 posted 1169 days ago

If one was to guess at the board foot life of the 2 sided hss knives, which cost around $50 a set, versus this shelix. What do you think the outcome would be? Can the average joe install one of these? I have replaced the knives before, but i am thinking this is more involved. Thanks for the info.

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 1901 days


#4 posted 1169 days ago

Great info….I did this on my Grizzly 20” and it was no picnic – you have to basically take apart the entire drive mechanism….glad to hear the DeWalt is easier and that It works great…I have my old DeWalt in my storage room….this might make it worth selling or trading.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1324 days


#5 posted 1169 days ago

I’ve been waiting patiently for this, I’m off to read!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1324 days


#6 posted 1169 days ago

I’d pay $40 ten times not to replace the knifes. It looks like this one just drops in, with minimal fuss. It’s just so insultingly priced that I just can’t do it yet. I don’t even have a proper bench built yet and $400 would get me into some benchcraft viese, “some” vises.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2488 posts in 1408 days


#7 posted 1169 days ago

I will keep this in mind, many thanks.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View BlankMan's profile

BlankMan

1487 posts in 1984 days


#8 posted 1169 days ago

Shane, a lot less by leaps and bounds.

Sometimes new knives would nick for me on the first or second pass, that’s why I kept 3 sets around. And at $55 a set that was getting costly. Carbide won’t have this nick for no reason problem thus I expect it to be a really long time before I ever have to turn an insert to a different cutting edge. These inserts have 4 cutting edges, when the one in use gets dull you just turn it to a fresh sharp edge.

As for the install, I found it to be as easy as pie. I really expected it to be more difficult even with the instructions, but it wasn’t. The hardest part was carefully pounding out the old cutterhead because the bearing are pressed in and carefully pounding the new cutterhead into place. You just have to be carefull to only pound on the outside race when installing the new one.

I’ve posted the install instructions here in pdf form if anyone wants to read through them.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2488 posts in 1408 days


#9 posted 1169 days ago

Some items to note about inserts – if you chip two, three, or more, keep them evenly spaced around the cutter head or the head will be out of balance. Could easily be the cause of the stated vibrations. Also, get a stiff toothbrush and carefully clean all around the insert before you loosen one to remove or rotate. ANY particles under an insert will take away that smooth finish. ALWAYS write down the location or mark with engieering marking dye the pieces you change, move, replace so that if you have a problem with that blade, you can easily find and repair —Some items other people have have told me in the past that caused them many hours of headaches.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2280 days


#10 posted 1169 days ago

you had me at “it runs quieter that it’s not uncomfortable without hearing protection”... this (and the router) are the only machines that really really call for hearing protection while all the other ones ‘could’ potentially be run without it.

Anyone wants 6 sets of brand new dewalt 13” knive sets?

-- ใŠ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2488 posts in 1408 days


#11 posted 1169 days ago

The helix cutterheads work well with figured wood too. Doesn’t chip out like the straight blades do.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Padre's profile

Padre

930 posts in 2120 days


#12 posted 1169 days ago

Curt,
Thank you so much for this review. I was using my 735 last night for some finishing of some cherry I rough cut on my bandsaw. It really chattered on that hard wood!

How long did the install take?

-- Chip -----------http://www.penmanchip.com-----------------Micah 6:8

View Padre's profile

Padre

930 posts in 2120 days


#13 posted 1169 days ago

Also, where did you get it?

-- Chip -----------http://www.penmanchip.com-----------------Micah 6:8

View BlankMan's profile

BlankMan

1487 posts in 1984 days


#14 posted 1169 days ago

Sharon: LOL I got 3 sets…

Chip: I’d say about an hour all tolled. I had to stop and head in to work when I was almost done for some off hours data center planned maintenance, then wasn’t able to get back to it till a day later. I hate when my schedule is not mine. And I went slow reading each instruction and looking at the pictures to make sure I understood.

I got it at Holbren. I hunted around on the web until I found a promo code for 10% off so I got it for $403. Finally found the invoice, free shipping too. Looks like orders over $75 get free shipping. Shipped directly from Byrd. Really had to search the web to find that promo code, might have found it at some other site in a post. So if you look for one don’t give up, it took a while.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View CampD's profile

CampD

1201 posts in 2117 days


#15 posted 1169 days ago

Holbren 10% discount code “woodnet10”

-- Doug...

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