Grizzly Jointer: beds & cutting heads

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Forum topic by electricalD posted 12-09-2011 12:04 AM 5044 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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116 posts in 3131 days

12-09-2011 12:04 AM

Hello everyone, I am in the researching phase of the big tools and as many of you know it is part of the fun but it can be a little overwhelming. My question is about the grizzly jointer line. As far as I can see (and I stand to be corrected on this) they offer either the spiral cutter head with a dovetail way bed or the cutter knives with the parallelogram bed. Someone correct me here on this. If I am right, then I have a few questions. Which is the better bed, the parallelogram or the dovetail? Which is the better cutter head, the spiral or the knives? If what I say about the Grizzly jointers is true then which is the better jointer, the parallelogram bed with the knife cutter or the dovetail way bed type with the spiral cutting head. Any of you used both and does it really make a difference? I have not even checked yet but I would venture to guess that the spiral cutter head knives can get expensive. I am new to all this so much detail (not dovetail LOL) would be appreciated.


-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

22 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2872 days

#1 posted 12-09-2011 01:24 AM

A jointer, properly set up, can do a wonderful job with straight knives. There’s rumor of a FWW article that leans heavily to the spiral; haven’t read it, so I don’t know what the pro arguments are.

There are arguments for the parallelogram bed, but I’m not convinced it’s that big a deal.

I’d say think about a minimum bed length of 65” or so, 8” wide, and see where your budget lands.

You’ll be asking this machine to true the edge of a board, usually, and sometimes to flatten a board. It won’t be hooked up to your pacemaker, it is not a machine that goes “PING”, it’s just a jointer. Get a reasonably good one, get it properly set up, and don’t change the depth of cut unless it’s a Very Big Reason, and it will be there when you need it.

If you go for a straight knife unit, consider at the time of purchase getting a set of magnet knife setting devices, so you’ll have them when that annoying nick shows up out of nowhere.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Les 's profile


201 posts in 2712 days

#2 posted 12-09-2011 01:46 AM

Buy a grizzly, and I agree with Lee, 65” or so and 8” wide. The grizzly I have has knives and they do a good job. As far as setting, it comes with a “jig” if you want to call it that. You set the knives in the slot, the jig set on top and pushes the knife down against spring pressure. Hoild it down and tighten the set screws, your done the same every time on every knife. Maybe a minute a knife, times 3 for a 6” and I think times 4 for an 8”. If you get an 8 inch I will be jealous!! LOL

Check around for a good sharpening man in your area, if you don’t have one you may want to look at the sprial head. I change knives twice a year and I use them a lot I think.

Hope this helps

-- Stay busy....Stay young

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3131 days

#3 posted 12-09-2011 02:56 AM

Hey Lee, I didn’t mean to get to technical or deep on the issue. I guess I am like the kid in the candy store. I want them all but have to decide only one. Thanks for commenting.

-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3131 days

#4 posted 12-09-2011 03:01 AM

Hey Les, Well I am going to take your advice from a while back and go get the 8 inch, and then “I” can gloat for just a bit, LOL (My turn). I have read so much about the spiral cutter and I wonder. It seems to me that a flat blade X 4 would be better. I am going to keep on reading. Thanks Les.

-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View RogerM's profile


792 posts in 2421 days

#5 posted 12-09-2011 03:01 AM

Lee – I have a Delta DJ-20 with straight 8 inch knives. Absolutely love it. Unless you are wanting to use your joiner on a lot of highly figured wood, go with the straight knives. I sharpen my own knives using a Tormak and have found that it does a great job. If you can afford it, an 8 inch joiner is much more versatile and well worth the money.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2936 days

#6 posted 12-09-2011 03:38 AM

I got lucky and found an 8in Grizzly G0593# used on CL for $700. At the time I did NOT understand all the hoopla about the helical/spiral cutter heads. This one has the spiral head and all I can say is wow. If you can swing the cost, then I say go for it. The carbide cutters really do seem to last forever…

As far as the parallelogram beds, IMO THAT may be just hype. The “normal” dovetail beds setup has functioned very well for ~80+ years for all manufacturers so I do NOT see having parallelogram beds as much/any improvement. Mine has the “normal” dovetail beds and once adjusted for parallelism changing height of cuts is a piece of cake. But like I said, that is my opinion. BTW, Lee has it right on, 8in and get the longest bed you can get. My G0593 has 75in of bed.

I was going to say check CL for used, but noticed that live in a rather isolated location so that may not be much help.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View gawthrrw's profile


207 posts in 2469 days

#7 posted 12-09-2011 04:30 AM

I also have the grizzly 8 inch. It have the dovetailed ways and straight blades on it. The original blades from Grizzly lasted about a year. they did get a bit dinged up but i always sand my projects anyway. I than bought my next set froma company called infinity. They sell blades for just about everywoodworking machine you can think about. It seems i have been mentioning them a lot on here lately but all i can say is WOW! What a difference from the originals

-- Rob, Dallas TX

View cuttwice's profile


60 posts in 2707 days

#8 posted 12-09-2011 05:47 AM

Dan, I’ve been looking also, and can tell you that Grizzly offers parallelogram beds and spiral knives together in either 6” or 8” jointers, if you want to spend the money – you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can also get aftermarket (Byrd Shelix) replacement helical cutterheads for the straight knife heads if you want to save some cash and try the straight ones first.

The FWW article Lee refers to is the annual Tools & Shops issue, just out. The folks who wrote that article were big on helical heads. They report that both performance and economy are better – even though the helical or spiral heads cost more to start, the carbide teeth last 20 times longer than HSS, and also have four sides per tooth to present to the wood – when they get dull, you just loosen a set screw, turn each tooth 90 degrees, and retighten the screws, and keep going. They also said there was less tearout and a smoother cut than with straight knives, though others (like Lee, Les, and Rob) say the difference is marginal if the straight knives are used properly (shallow cuts, grain facing the right way, etc.).

I’ve also heard it said that if you hit a knot or nail and get a nick, you can change just the damaged teeth instead of the whole knife set. It occurs to me that if you get that nick after using one side of the teeth for a while, having teeth of widely varying sharpness might cause its own set of problems, but that’s pure speculation – having not tried it, I don’t know.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your search.

- John

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3131 days

#9 posted 12-10-2011 03:18 AM

Thanks John, I am pretty much sold on the spiral cutter head. From what I can gather the functional difference between the parallelogram bed and the dovetail way type seems to be almost negligable as far as finish is concerned. As you said you can replace one or more knives as they get damaged. I am brand new so my observations are based on what other’s say. Until I can walk on my own two, it will be this way. Thanks for the comments.


-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3670 days

#10 posted 12-10-2011 06:33 AM

Your final finish surfaces will almost always come off your planer, not
your jointer. To my way of thinking, high-tech surfacing cutterheads
on a tool used to establish geometry (the jointer) are not needed.

If you want a high tech cutterhead, get it on your planer.

I have a low tech solution that works well most of the time: I use
straight knives and I have a Makita wet grinder in my shop so I can
keep them sharp in house. My jointer has Tersa knives so I can’t
sharpen them – and it does make a beautiful finish, but I use that
jointed face to run face-down on my greasy old planer which makes
my finish cuts.

I have the luxury of being a jerk about this because I don’t have a
helical head machine so I can be ignorant and badmouth them.


Anyway – there is chatter in deep cuts with a jointer or cuts made
with dulling knives. A spiral cutterhead evens out the feed load
so you won’t feel the chatter and the ripple marks won’t be a problem.

The thing is… ripple doesn’t matter much off the jointer – it matters
off the planer where the most important criteria to this jaded
woodoworker are:

1) consistent thicknessing within under 1/64th from end to end,
from part to part. Lots of sanding otherwise.

2) surface quality

3) backlash in thickness adjustment

The jointer is a geometry tool, not a thicknessing or surfacing tool…
you can do excellent work with a very modest jointer.

Personally, I’d go wider rather than longer on the jointer. I like
the shorter, wider bed euro pattern jointers better than the longer
bed, narrower American pattern machines for furniture-scale work.

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3087 days

#11 posted 12-10-2011 01:49 PM

I went with a Griz parallelogram jointer with spiral cutterhead. I recently had to adjust the tables for parallel and appreciated the parallelogram feature. Shimming dovetail ways is a pain, and the hundred dollar difference in price was worth it IMO. On the spiral cutterhead, I believe it is a nice upgrade, and a financially wise investment for most professional woodworkers (less downtime, and lower cost over time), but would probably be considered a luxury item for most hobbyists. I really like it, but regular old blades would meet my needs just fine as well. The spiral cutterhead delivers a surface quality that is quite impressive, but as others have said, I don’t really look for surface perfection coming off the jointer, just square and flat.

I documented my experiences with both the jointer and the cutterhead here if you are interested:

-- PaulMayer,

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2615 days

#12 posted 12-10-2011 02:34 PM

I would at least go with a joiner that has an 8” bed I have a 6” bed and wish I had got the 8”.The 8” is better for preparing boards for larger glue ups such as panels.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4996 posts in 2515 days

#13 posted 12-10-2011 02:44 PM

This will pretty much line up with everything already said. I would look for a 8” jointer, with as long a bed as possible. I wouldn’t worry about getting a parallelogram bed….if you find a deal and it has that, fine. But don’t pay extra. The spiral cutters are nice, but the jointer doesn’t need it nearly as bad as the planer, unless you do a huge amount of highly figured wood. In that case saving the tear out on a jointer may have benefits. I put a bird head in my jointer (8” Jet) but can’t say that it’s really earned it’s keep. As always, just my opinion.

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

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3131 days

#14 posted 12-10-2011 09:07 PM

Thanks Paul I will check out your links. But as Lee said, it’s just a jointer.

-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View GNiessen's profile


13 posts in 2384 days

#15 posted 12-11-2011 02:52 PM

I have the 8” Grizzly with the Spiral Cutters, and a matching planer. I have not had to rotate the cutters on the planer once and it was quite easy. I am impressed with how they hold up. I ran a lot of reclaimed wood through them and even clipped a few nails. I would have been very afraid to still an old board in a normal bladed planer.

-- Ah, the smell of fresh cut wood.

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