Is a Byrd Shellix cutterhead worth the money?

Bear Republic

Steve
Corporate Member
Looking at a DeWalt planer DW735 with Byrd Shellix cutterhead. What about it makes it worth the investment? Thanks for your opinions.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
My Answer is this Get a unit that already has the spiral cutter in it. Retrofits always seem way too expensive to me. Cutech Planers For 500 bucks you can get a new Cutech which is as good or better than the Dewalt for about the same money. Then sell the Dewalt off
 

Jeremy Scuteri

Jeremy
Staff member
Corporate Member
Here are my thoughts:

1. Spiral heads make less noise. Not really a big deal.
2. Much less work to change out knives. A nice convenience.
3. Way less tear out. Especially on figured woods. This is what makes them worth the money in my opinion.
 

LB75

George
Corporate Member
I agree with everything Jeremy said. I love the Byrd Shellix that I installed in my DW735 a few years ago.
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
I can’t speak directly to a Byrd head in a planer, but…
My wife surprised me with a used Delta 37-220 6” jointer in 1988. It was vintage when she found it and it’s more vintager now. With a front-end mounted fence, its footprint is considerably narrower than jointers with fence mechanisms that extend well off the side of the machine. Thus, it fits snuggly against a wall, which is essential in my shop. Even so, for years I toyed with ways to fit a new 8” jointer into my space. Finally admitting to myself that the larger jointer was never going to happen, I decided to spend the $325ish to upgrade the cutter head. With the Shelix head, a good jointer became a great jointer. Installation was a snap. The need for knife sharpening and the drudgery of aligning the knives is behind me. The cutting performance is exceptional. Having experienced a Shelix head in my jointer, I’m confident that when it comes time to replace my Delta lunch-box planer, the new one (whatever that ends up being) will have a spiral head.
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
In my experience all of the "Delta clone" planers with only two screws have way too much snipe. The design inherently allows the head to rock as the feed roller engages. A few have semi-clamps but they don't really work. ( DW374 and their like) Only the 4 screw types, of which the DeWalt is the only small one, are worth anything for decent woodwork. The 735 seems to be the go-to unit for everyone.

For some reason, I can nick a knife on the first board I run through. No knot, no grit, but it happens. As much as I hate DeWalt, the combination is my next purchase.

The next step up is something like the Jet, Northern, or Grizzly 15 inch jobs for $1800 to $2200 Generic Chinese stuff. Not portable, but 15 inch, 3 HP. 220 V. I have never used a "real" planer so I don't know if it worth the money. Usually, the bigger and heavier iron the better but in all the pictures of shops I see, it either the DeWalt or a monster industrial 20 incher and up.

There is also the Titan LUX head. No idea which is better as I have not used either.

PS: I have a mod for the old "Delta clone" that eliminates the snipe problem, but a big pain to use. Rikon and Jet both sell a spiral head "Delta clone" along with Cutech.
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
ED, thanks for the comment. I have a RIdgid 6 1/8 inch jointer and have considered the carbide head. Planer is first though.
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
In my experience all of the "Delta clone" planers with only two screws have way too much snipe. The design inherently allows the head to rock as the feed roller engages. A few have semi-clamps but they don't really work. ( DW374 and their like) Only the 4 screw types, of which the DeWalt is the only small one, are worth anything for decent woodwork. The 735 seems to be the go-to unit for everyone.

For some reason, I can nick a knife on the first board I run through. No knot, no grit, but it happens. As much as I hate DeWalt, the combination is my next purchase.

The next step up is something like the Jet, Northern, or Grizzly 15 inch jobs for $1800 to $2200 Generic Chinese stuff. Not portable, but 15 inch, 3 HP. 220 V. I have never used a "real" planer so I don't know if it worth the money. Usually, the bigger and heavier iron the better but in all the pictures of shops I see, it either the DeWalt or a monster industrial 20 incher and up.

There is also the Titan LUX head. No idea which is better as I have not used either.

PS: I have a mod for the old "Delta clone" that eliminates the snipe problem, but a big pain to use. Rikon and Jet both sell a spiral head "Delta clone" along with Cutech.
My original post (which I have now edited), suggested that my next planer might be another similar Delta. For the record, that is unlikely, unless I can find a nice 13 or 15" Delta/Invicta. It's more likely though that I'll end up with a Dewalt 735.
 

pcooper

Phillip Cooper
Corporate Member
I like the difference in the cut quality enough to pay for the upgrade. I do a lot of figured wood, and liked my upgrade to my DeWalt planer so much I just did the old Delta jointer that I have. There is just no comparison between the Shellix cutters and straight blades. I can't afford machines that already have the cutters in them, so I'll pay for an upgrade and have a 'new' machine in cut quality. I don't treat my machines like some do cars, where they trade up every little bit, I have to keep what I have going. :)
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
Also note, when you double the price and move to the 15 inch big iron, you get 6 rows of cutters and twice the density, or roughly 4 times the cutters per inch for "only" twice the price. Go look at the pictures/parts diagrams. Of course, that will take your breath away when you do eventually have to buy new cutters.

I was surprised at the amount of tearout I was getting on some red oak with my Delta. Not all of it, but some sections.

PC, valid comment on upgrades. I am struggling if to upgrade my table saw. My saw has done everything I ask of it (contractor class) but I really want big iron and the "boss" is in favor of the PCS. I am just choking on the cost.
 

robliles

Rob
Corporate Member
I upgraded my 8" Delta jointer and my 15" Delta stationary planer to the Byrd head. I have no regrets. It is a little quieter but the real improvement is the quality of the finished surface. One note however, upgrading the jointer was a simple piece of cake. The planer upgrade was a very involved process that includes removing a lot of gears, drive chains, bearings, etc. and requires a decent ability to do.
 

wooduser

Lecil
User
I liked my 735 planner as it came from the factory, the two speeds are great. I finally installed the Byrd spiral head and it was even better. One bit of advice, be sure and get the one that is the original factory diameter cutter. They offer a slightly smaller version that doesn’t require the cutter heads to be removed. The additional time to remove the cutter heads on the factory diameter version is worth the effort.
Lecil
 

pcooper

Phillip Cooper
Corporate Member
PC, valid comment on upgrades. I am struggling if to upgrade my table saw. My saw has done everything I ask of it (contractor class) but I really want big iron and the "boss" is in favor of the PCS. I am just choking on the cost.
I have an old craftsman contractor saw that was new in the late '70's or early '80's, and it has been upgraded with about everything except the basic saw lift and table. That said, the only other upgrade I want is to go to the saw stop technology. I understand the difference between cost of fingers vs cost of the saw, but can't afford either one, so I stay ultra careful. One thing I find with upgrading things, you make it your own by the methods you like to use, and to me there's no one machine out there that fits my needs right out of the box perfectly. I'll likely always find an 'upgrade' to do to.
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
My ridgid I converted to "sealed" for dust collection, DIY splitters, and built in large outfeed. But a real riving knife I consider just if not more important that the brake.

Doing more with my band saw is the safest thing I can do.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Looking at a DeWalt planer DW735 with Byrd Shellix cutterhead. What about it makes it worth the investment? Thanks for your opinions.
Does this DW735 that you're looking at already have a Shelix cutterhead installed? I have a Dewalt 734 and I've considered buying a Shelix but it's about $400. I haven't convinced myself that it's worth it and I don't plane a lot of wood.
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
I have a combo JJP12 machine is about 1600, blasted shelix is almost the price of the machine! IF you do a LOT with rough lumber daily,or very squirrely exotics then it is worth it but the advantages are not justified for occasional use,
 

FredP

Fred
Corporate Member
I would suggest shelix for the planner first. You flatten one face on the jointer thickness fat on the planner then flip it over and make another pass on the planner to get rid of any tear out left by the jointer. But then a dual drum sander makes life a little better. ;)
 

Grimmy2016

Board of Directors, Development Director
Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
just went to a 20" planer with the helix head... much quieter even with that size of wood going through it then the old lunchbox planer I had. I suggest that no matter what size or type of machine you have, try to get a helix. The only downsize is you cant easly sharpen the cutters as you can on a straight knive, but the length of time you have to run all 4 sides before needing to buy a new one makes up for it in my eyes
 

Grimmy2016

Board of Directors, Development Director
Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
I would suggest shelix for the planner first. You flatten one face on the jointer thickness fat on the planner then flip it over and make another pass on the planner to get rid of any tear out left by the jointer. But then a dual drum sander makes life a little better. ;)
I have seen report of people braggint that their shelix planed wood is so smooth they almost dont need to sand it but for a final grit sand. But I havent dont anything to prove it myself yet
 

FredP

Fred
Corporate Member
I have seen report of people braggint that their shelix planed wood is so smooth they almost dont need to sand it but for a final grit sand. But I havent dont anything to prove it myself yet
I've seen them too. I ain't buying it. My strait knife lunch box does very good on non figured wood. Very little Sanding after but figured stuff gets the drum sander for final passes. My big planner (20") does the bulk of my work.
 

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