Is a "spiral" cutterhead the same as a "segmented" cutterhead? And how about 110V versions

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Forum topic by HarveyDunn posted 01-11-2014 11:55 PM 1115 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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328 posts in 1759 days

01-11-2014 11:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m just now getting around to LAST winter’s FWW “Tools & Shops” edition. (I’m a slow reader.)

It contains an article about segmented cutterheads that make them sound like the bee’s knees.

I happen to be thinking about buying a new jointer and planer (or a combo) and therefore this is of great interest.

Three questions I’d like to pose to the hive mind:
1) Many manufacturer’s talk about a “spiral” cutterhead. Is that the same thing?
2) Any other synonyms for “segemented” I should know about?
3) I would prefer 110V machines (I’m going to be renting shop space). Would anyone like to make any recommendations? I’d probably buy the widest jointer I can find in 110V.

5 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1764 posts in 2887 days

#1 posted 01-12-2014 12:00 AM

Well, a spiral cutter head is a segmented cutter head, but not all segmented cutter heads are spiral cutter heads.

All segmented cutter heads use cutter segment, usually carbide, which take the place of the normal full width cutter blade.

A spiral cutter head has the cutters arranged in a spiral pattern on the drum. No all segmented cutter heads use this arrangement.



-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2073 days

#2 posted 01-12-2014 12:31 AM

It’s probably better to differentiate by the style of segmentation.

  • A spiral orientation (Accu-Head, Grizzly) would mean that the cutters are placed in overlapping intervals. Cutting is still done perpendicular (90 degrees) so it’s almost as if a whole lot of small knives are cutting instead of a single straight knife. I have a planer with this style of cutterhead and I’ve found is that it somewhat works somewhat better than a traditional straight knife on hardwoods, where the grain orientation (cause I’m bad at remembering to read the grain before feeding my stock through) has not mattered to achieve (close to) equivalent results. Soft(er) woods (from my experience) however suffer with this style of cutter-head, with poplar looking a bit more rough out of the planer, and pine getting totally trashed when fed in with the wrong grain orientation. Overall, am I happy that I got the planer I did? Yes.
  • A helical or helix (Byrd, Powermatic/Jet, Laguna Sheartec) slightly pivots the cutter head, so that there is a shearing action rather that a perpendicular cutting action. I don’t have much experience with this, but the FWW article I read in December does claim that it overall performs better than the spiral style of cutter-head.
A few articles that I found which probably do a better job talking about it than I do:

-- paxorion

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5000 posts in 2521 days

#3 posted 01-12-2014 12:57 PM

Well, actually there are a very few models that have a spiral one piece knife that curves around the head. They are few and far between, and in most cases the reference between spiral and segmented typically means the same thing. The ones with the single knife blade seem to me to be something to be avoided, replacement knives would be hard to find and expensive. I have the Byrd heads on my planer and jointer, and wouldn’t go back.

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

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3076 days

#4 posted 01-12-2014 02:01 PM

I just bought my second Shelix, yesterday.
This is one for my planner.

-- Bert

View jmos's profile


839 posts in 2397 days

#5 posted 01-12-2014 02:02 PM

I replaced the heads in my DeWalt 735 and Jet 6” jointer with Byrd heads, and I agree with Fred, I’d never go back. I’ve been working a few projects with poplar; the finish is great.

If I was buying new, I would pay the extra for the segmented cutter; especially the helical.

-- John

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