Tell me why I would want a Helical cutter head please...

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by dbhost posted 08-22-2011 09:30 PM 4003 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3201 days

08-22-2011 09:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have seen them advertised, and plenty of folks here brag them up, but I have never once seen anybody explain why I would want to spend the extra money on a helical cutter head. What’s the big deal with them?

FWIW, I am shoveling what funds I can into the old proverbial milk jug (okay savings account, not milk jug) for a 12” jointer/planer combo machine, and I see the helical cutter head, and wonder if they are worth the added expense…

Due to the reports of fairly serious design flaws with the Jet, I am giving the Grizzly G0633, G0634XP, and the Rikon 25-200 a good look over. From the overall design of them, I am liking the looks of the G0634XP the best, but that additional $400.00 is a bitter pill to swallow if it buys me nothing special…

It’ll be a while saving up before I can afford it anyway, just doing my initial dreaming on it now…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

25 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3618 days

#1 posted 08-22-2011 09:39 PM

bottom line – both will get you flat boards so you are not getting any flatter boards out of a helical head.

to me the selling point would be noise (they are quieter with smaller bites taken compared to a 13” blade ramming into a board), and the maintenance benefit of being able to change/rotate just a single cutter as opposed to replacing the entire 13” length of cutter just because of a 1/8” nick. also each insert has 4 cutting sides so it’s less likely to get you stuck without a replacement blade when it’s crucial.

and no- I don’t have one. for a hobby use, and the once in a while that I plane I deal with the noise. but if I were to buy a new machine today – I’d go for a helical head.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4956 posts in 2463 days

#2 posted 08-22-2011 09:48 PM

Everything purplev said, to me just the noise reduction was worth the cost. My planer was the only tool in the shop where i had to wear my shooting muffs when it was running (this is also with the DC going). After the HH, I just wear ear plugs like I do for everything else. But what probably put me over the top was in a forum exchange with a guy who mills hardwoods in Peru for a living was explaining how he had to change planer knives 3 times a day, but after switching to a HH, he rotates the cutters about every 2 1/2 months. For me, the setting of the knives was such a PITA, this was just the icing on the cake.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Scott Boersema's profile

Scott Boersema

4 posts in 2516 days

#3 posted 08-22-2011 09:52 PM

I have heard (no, I don’t have one) that a disadvantage to the helical head is that it doesn’t do well with figured woods. I don’t remember what the issue is exactly but it may be a consideration. Overall I think Helical is the way to go but if you do a lot with figured woods this could be worth researching further.

View Bertha's profile


13521 posts in 2662 days

#4 posted 08-22-2011 10:00 PM

Length of interval between fussing with knives. I’ve seen guys claim they didn’t want to spend the extra money on a helical head, then buy three extra sets of blades up front. I tend to poo poo noise complaints (which is probably why I’m deaf) but the helicals are MUCH quieter. I don’t think the cut is all that much better, although there are people that will argue that point. It’s the longevity of the cutters that sell me.

Now let me tell you why I DONT have a helical cutter head. I bought into the DeWalt 735 craze and bought mine without pricing stationary units. Now, should I want to upgrade to a helical cutter, I’m looking at another $400-$500 bucks and I’m still left with a 13” portable DeWalt planer. As much as I love planers, if I had it all to do over again, I’d buy a massive Powermatic helical planer. It would have been a painful check to write but I’m probably going to end up writing it anyway.

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

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4269 days

#5 posted 08-22-2011 10:50 PM

One good thing about the helical head, you can rotate them when they dull. That way you get four blades in one. & they cut on a skew “angle” for a smoother cut.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2956 days

#6 posted 08-22-2011 11:44 PM

Scott Boersema I was under the impression that the helical head was better for figured wood because like Dick, & Barb Cain said it is more of a skew cut.

dbhost here are a couple discussions from LJs on the subject:

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 2450 days

#7 posted 08-22-2011 11:50 PM

I mill a lot of oak and every time my planer hits a knot, bang! I’ve got a ding in at least one blade. Wish I had a helical.

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#8 posted 08-23-2011 12:00 AM

I have a 12” jointer and a 20 planner both have helical heads they are great. The are much much better on highly figured woods because there are tons of separate blades not blades that cut the whole width of the jointer. They are quieter and they do have 4 sides per cutter so if you nick a blade you loosen it turn it 90 degrees and re tighten it your done ,no messing with sending your blades out to be sharpened like you would on a 3 or 4 blade cutters because the nick would be on all of the blades . Plus the hassle of getting all of the blades adjusted on a standard jointer. Once you have dulled all of the 4 sides on the helical head cutters a whole set of new cutters cost around $20. After about five years of use I have not even had to turn any of my blades and the still cut great.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3044 days

#9 posted 08-23-2011 12:27 AM

You’ll always get a variety of opinions on this board. For me, the extra cost of a helical cutter head is not worth it. I would like the lower noise level and, in the very long term, the cost savings on maintenance may be good, but IMO, there is no advantage in the quality of the cut.

This statement will start a modest controversy but I believe it to be true. A helical head requires more power for the same result. The theory is that, with straight blades, between cuts there is a micro second that the planner is not cutting anything and the head can gain some momentum that is used when the blade hits the wood the next time. With a helical head there is no break in the cutting action so the motor never gets a chance to “catch its breath” between cuts. There is a more constant, steady draw on the power.

Some will disagree with this theory, but I have read about this quite a bit and I buy into it. I actually believe the difference is noticeable, based on what I have read.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3251 days

#10 posted 08-23-2011 01:54 AM

I don’t own a helical head and haven’t investigated one. The reason is simple—I’m not sure of the accuracy of the indexing. I do use indexable tooling in our metal shop and I doubt the indexing is more accurate on woodworking tools than in metal shop tooling. To get good results with multi-insert indexable tooling it’s necessary to indicate in each insert with a text indicator that reads down to 5/10,000 of an inch. If this isn’t done not all the inserts will cut in any given rotation, finish quality falls off and the wear on tooling is completely unpredictable. The tooling I use isn’t inexpensive stuff and, other than the single insert variety, they use between three and five inserts at a time. This is a small amount to accurately produce and to set up by comparison to just a 6” jointer. Jim says he can replace all the inserts on his machine for $20 but I’m paying between $4 and $9 per insert for my uses. Frankly, this adds even more questions about the quality of the inserts for woodworking.

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#11 posted 08-23-2011 03:09 AM

Well guys I have used jointers with blades and jointers with helical heads There’s no contest ,helical cutters out shine jointers
by a mile even the sharpest bladed jointer still tears out figured wood . Since I’ve used mine for 6 years and haven’t had to turn the cutters I’d say those cheep cutters can’t be all bad. I have to admit I have not checked the wood I joint to 5/10,000 of an inch, but I have made a few dozen pieces of furniture in that time period that seemed to come out fairly well. Theory is cool but it doesn’t joint wood.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3201 days

#12 posted 08-23-2011 03:33 AM

Great info guys… Now, anyone care to donate a G0634XP to a worthy cause?

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3278 days

#13 posted 08-23-2011 05:43 AM

I have a grizzly 15” planer with the helical heads and it has done a great job on all types of hardwoods..some with straight grain and some with highly figured grains. I also have a Powermatic jointer with Helical heads and like the planer I would never go back to regular knives. I have not had to change any og the carbide cutters on either machine dduring the 3 1/2 years I have had them. Worth every extra penny!**

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2524 days

#14 posted 08-23-2011 06:03 AM

i personally would never use a helical again…yes they are quieter and they do have the advantage of being able to turn 1 knife to eliminate a knick…but the time required to do a complete change properly is huge and from a commercial sense it’s not worth it.we also found that you don’t get 4 sides out of cutter because the corners tended to round slightly leaving lines the job. we would only turn them 180 degrees before replacing them.on a 4 sider it was a days work to replace all of them.we now run knock out heads and i only use two blades in a 4 blade head.i can change the whole machine in just a few minutes and the cost of the blades is not expensive compared to the time otherwise spent fiddling with the helicals.i have used them on jointers as well and i still prefer the wide blades….if they knick i just move one blade sideways a touch…the knick then acts like a chipbreaker so less likely to clog up your extraction

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View twiceisnice's profile


95 posts in 2796 days

#15 posted 08-23-2011 08:50 AM

i have some great advice for you . dont buy that piece of junk G0634XP . buy two seperate machines. oh yea ,with helical cutterheads. striaght knifes are junk.

showing 1 through 15 of 25 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics