jointer straight blade or indexable carbide insert, which is better ?

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Forum topic by bradnelson posted 02-01-2015 03:54 AM 877 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 1563 days

02-01-2015 03:54 AM

I’m going to be buying an 8 in jointer soon I wanted to know which is better the straight blades or the carbide insert cutter head? I know the straight blade is a lot cheaper but the price doesn’t matter. Does the carbide cutter give a perfectly smooth finish? I have a planer with the indexable cutter and I don’t get a smooth finish.

6 replies so far

View AlaskaGuy's profile


2392 posts in 1726 days

#1 posted 02-01-2015 08:47 AM

Point 1

A jointer is usually part of the 2 machine process. A jointer flatten, squares and straighten stock. A planer is use to make parallel cut to referenced off the cuts the jointer has made and to bring to a thickness. Neither the jointer or planer are finishing machines. They are prep and dimensioning machines. Once you have processed your stock through these two machine, then they are ready for finishing (sanding,scraping etc).

Both the jointer and planer cut with circular cutter heads. This means the cutter head are actually scooping out the material. Have you ever held a board up to a raking light and looked and the wavy surface. That wavy surface is a bunch of small scoop. Even if you can’t see them, they are there and need to be sanded, scraped out.

Point 2
It never made since (to me) to run stock over a jointer with a byrd type and run it through a straight knife planer. So now you need to upgrade you planer too.

The advantages as I see it to the Bryd type head are, if you use a lot of exotic, hard, squirrelly grained woods, for less tear out and the cutters last longer.

I think a lot of guys are going to the Byrd type head because they have a hard time changing and adjusting straight knife machines. Flipping the little square cutters is easer and being carbide should last longer.

Just my opinion.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View BoardSMITH's profile


121 posts in 1681 days

#2 posted 02-01-2015 11:36 AM

Straight knives are:
1. Hard to change and properly adjust.
2. Noisy
4. Produces large chips, tougher for a DC to collect.
6. Cheaper

Insert Cutters are:
1. Much easier to rotate to change edges.
2. Quieter in operation.
3. Produces smaller chips, easier for the DC to collect and store in a barrel.
4. Less likely to tear out figured woods.
5. Carbide is much longer lasting although more expensive up front. Cheaper in the long run.
6. Cheaper to, operate since the drag on the motor is less. You do not have one large knife contacting the stock at any single time.

No matter if you use HSS knives or carbide inserts, you will always have to sand, neither will produce the perfect surface that doesn’t require sanding. BTW Most use carbide saw blades so why not use carbide cutters for the jointer and planer. In my shop, both the jointer and planer have the inserts. In 2014 I ran over 5000 bd ft through both and they worked well with no down time and terrific results.

-- David

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3837 posts in 1910 days

#3 posted 02-01-2015 12:17 PM

I agree with all the points offered above, just want to mention about the perfectly smooth finis. As Alaska Guy said, it’s a scooping action, so you still have the waves. But with some carbide heads, you also get lines that run the length of the boards. (note the word”sometimes”). I have Byrd heads on my machines, and while the planer doesn’t leave the lines, my jointer does. This isn’t much of a problem because they are small enough that literally 3 passes with an ROS and 180 grit removes them….but it’s still an annoyance. Sometimes you can pull the inserts, clean the seats, and re-torque to proper tightness and it will solve the problem, but not for me. That said, the advantages of noise reduction (far less on the jointer than the planer), no knife setting, and long edge life more than make up for the other stuff.

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

View Aj2's profile


623 posts in 1215 days

#4 posted 02-01-2015 03:25 PM

I have run both type of heads in a jointer,I did like the Bryd head for faceing boards,But not soo much for edge jointing if I did not refine the joint with a hand plane glue lines would show in up later in table tops.
I have the bryd head in my planer and straight knives in the jointer currently. I get the rows others described from the planer.

View Drew's profile


290 posts in 2517 days

#5 posted 02-01-2015 05:53 PM

Spiral heads for the win.
I can give you some lengthy reply full of pros and cons, but the bottom line is the spiral heads are simply better in almost every way.


View unbob's profile


692 posts in 1320 days

#6 posted 02-01-2015 07:29 PM

I am looking to get a spiral head for my shaper. From what I have gathered, the spiral heads are great, but not perfect. Many that have them don’t consider them to be a finish tool for edge jointing as Aj2 stated.
I just don’t run the quantity of wood to change over the other machines.

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