I installed the Shelix cutterhead from Holbren in my Dewalt 735. Although Holbren has online instructions, I found Chris Wong’s video, of Flair Woodworks, to be more detailed. The process was surprisingly simple, and went together without a hitch.
I won’t recount the entire installation process, because it is well covered elsewhere, however I will add a couple tips if you are considering this upgrade. When you pull the gearbox off to access the cutterhead, use a bungee cord to hold it in place. It can rotate 90 degrees and it stays out of the way during installation.
The other thing I did was use blue (removable) Loctite when reassembling the planer. The helical gear, for instance is tough to tighten onto the new cutterhead. The old cutterhead has a hex in the casting to accept a wrench. The Shelix doesn’t, so you have to hold it with a gloved hand to attach the helical gear with a 6mm socket. Some Loctite there is good assurance that nothing comes loose in the future.
Initial test cuts were very good. The planer is so much quieter now. Not only is the volume less, but the quality of the sound is much more tolerable. The Shelix took my planer from a Bengal tiger to a lonely kitten. Each pass sounds like “Meoow.” To me it is an amazing difference. In my last blog I removed the fan impeller, and found that had almost no impact on the noise. With the Shelix, even the no-load noise level sounds better.
Billed to last 20 x longer than HSS, these carbide inserts sure leave a nice surface. My last set of straight knives had a huge pair of nicks in them. I slid them to the side to overlap the knick, and that worked for about 2 hours, then the ridge returned. The Shelix inserts leave a flat surface that is ready for a light sanding.
The real reason I switched is the tearout. I was tired of sending beautiful quartersawn white oak through the planer (skewed at an angle and on the slower finishing speed), only to have the board emerge riddled with tearout. It was particularly a problem (with straight knives) planing panels where the grain direction was opposite from one board to the next.
I had to make a minor adjustment in the depth stop setting. It was 1/32” off with the new head, so I adjusted the depth stop slightly to correct it. It is easy to do with two wrenches from the outside of the planer. Loosen the stop nut and twist the threaded post clockwise to lower the thickness at a given setting.
I’ll run a few hundred board feet and do a review, but so far so good.
-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush