|Review by wbrisett||posted 05-18-2013 04:06 PM||7002 views||1 time favorited||5 comments|
It was time to purchase new blades for ShopFox 1723 15-in. planer. I started thinking about the price of sharping the blades and the price of a spare set of blades and then wanted to see what sort of price I could get on a spiral cutterhead.
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve wanted one for a while now. I loved the idea that you didn’t have to replace the entire blade, only the cutters that needed it, and you didn’t have to do that until you had turned each three times, so you had a lot of life available on the cutters.
When I looked at the Grizzly site for replacement heads, there were three options available to me. Two were Grizzly’s and one was from Byrd. After reading the review here on the Byrd, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go with it. Yet, there were other positive reviews. I remembered one of the guys at work mentioning he upgraded his Grizzly with a spiral head, so I asked him what he had. He gave very positive reviews of the Grizzly H7655 he bought. As I was comparing the three, I could tell little difference between the H7655 and the T10128 (except price) and one had 72 cutters vs. 74 cutters. Hmmm… Then I saw them highlighting the German cutters on the T10128. I thought I read it came from Germany. In fact, until it arrived at my door, that’s what I thought. Then I opened up the package and saw the Made in China. Huh? So, I went back to the website and reread the description again. Oh! The cutters were made in Germany. Erm… OK, so what’s the difference between the T10128 and the H7655?? Got me!
After kicking myself in the pants for spending extra money I probably shouldn’t have spent, I opened the box and looked at all the cosmoline on the head. So, I broke out the mineral spirits and toothbrush and spent about 20 minutes getting all the cosmoline off the head. The result was quite good.
Next, I started reading the instructions for assembling. Just my luck. I didn’t order any replacement bearings or gaskets for my ShopFox. So, the next morning I called Shopfox and they directed me to Fastnal to order the parts. Knowing the ShopFox is just a Grizzly with a paint job, I found the parts I needed and called Grizzly and order the parts. Two days later I had parts and could really start taking the planer apart.
Once I got the gearbox open (it was a lot harder than I expected), I started putting on the new bearing on the new cutter head. I had issues putting it on, so I wrapped the head in heavy paper and put the unit in the freezer. The next morning, I was able to coax the bearing to fit properly. The only downside to putting the unit in the freezer is all the moisture that started collecting on the unit. I kept wiping it down, but it was still much cooler than the surrounding air, so moisture keep accumulating. I then broke out my heat gun and kept warming up the unit enough so it stopped sweating.
I spent a little time trying to get all the gears back into position, but after a few minutes it all went into place. I was glad I bought a new gasket because when I took the gearbox apart, it fell apart. I turned the unit on the side and started filling the gearbox with new gear oil. That was until I realized that was a bad move since there were four openings at the top that allowed the gear oil to pour out…. grrr… Now I had a workbench covered in gear oil. Man, I hate the smell of gear oil, now I’m sure my shop will smell like it for months. After cleaning up the spilled oil, I put the unit back into the planer.
I finished buttoning her up, then came the moment of truth! I grabbed a scrap of mesquite I had laying around and fired up the planer. First thing I noticed is how much quieter the unit was just spinning. Then I fed the wood through the planer. I intentionally left my ear muffs off. Holy cow, I couldn’t believe it. While I don’t plan to make a habit of not wearing ear protection, if I ever wanted to run a quick piece through without my ear muffs, I could do it!
The real moment of truth however was the piece of wood at the end of my out feed. I rubbed my fingers over it and couldn’t believe how smooth the finish was. I picked up a small scrap of mesquite that I had run through the old planer head and kept comparing the two. My wife was just outside my shop, so I had her examine and feel the two pieces she was impressed at how much smoother the new planer head was making the wood.
The manual claims it will take you three hours to swap out your old head. It took me about 4.5 to 5 hours. But I did make some silly mistakes (gear oil), and did have some issues getting the gear box back together properly.
I would certainly recommend the head upgrade to anybody who is sitting on the fence about upgrading their planer. I’m still confused about the real difference between the two Grizzly replacement heads (if anybody knows, let me know!). At this point, it’s way too late for me to do anything about it. But even spending the extra money on the head, when I compare what a new unit cost from Grizzly at $1600 to $1700, and what I paid for my Shopfox (I got a great deal on it as a leftover closeout) and the head, I’m still slightly ahead of the game (not by much mind you).
I’m looking forward to many years of smooth surfaces from the new head. :)