Is a Byrd Shellix cutterhead worth the money?

Charlie

Charlie
Corporate Member
I have Byrd Shelix cutter heads on my 15" planer and 12" jointer. They are 11 and 9 years old. There are 4 sides on the cutters and I have yet to turn them. Therefore I figure I have at least 30 years left on these cutters. That will make me 104 so I'm not too worried about the cost. Lol. Even if I needed new cutters eventually, 75 cutters @ $3.31 = $250. How much would I have spent in 11 years on resharpening straight knives and then the time to re- install them? I have turned a few cutters after nicking them. 2 minute job.
The best thing I like about the Byrd Shelix is I never look at the grain pattern on a board because I don't have to worry about tear out.
Be careful what you purchase. Not all "Shelix Heads" are the same as the Byrd brand. Usually Byrd has more cutters, which obviously does a better job.
 

Pop Golden

Pop
Corporate Member
I had a lunchbox planer. Replaced it with Powermatic 15 in. with straight blades. Sold it and replaced with the same plane with the Shelix head. The difference is almost unbelievable. Smooth cuts, quite, but the best thing that nobody has mentioned is the chips. The straight blade makes a long curly-q chip which is a super-duper DC clogging chip. The Shelix creates small chips which are much less troublesome.

Pop
 

Bear Republic

Steve
Corporate Member
First off, thank you all for the experience and advice. I'm looking at a used one on CL. I don't mind investing in the equipment that I will keep forever like Charlie. It's on my to buy list along with a drum sander and a few other big investment machines. I didn't need much of a push to go forward on any of them to buy new or in great shape, just have to act fairly fast for things on CL.
 

Charlie

Charlie
Corporate Member
I wonder, claims of the finish may have more to do with the number of inserts and RPM.
View attachment 193767View attachment 193768
Yes, Higher RPM's, more cutters and slower feed rates will improve the finish.
Cuts/minute is what counts.
It's obvious in the above photos that the larger cutter head will produce a better finish.
40 cutters on the small one vs. 102 on the large one.
The problem with the lunch box planers is the size limits the number of cutters.
 

BKHam

Bradley
User
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.
agree with 1 and 3 is the real selling point. you can go against the grain in a lot of cases.

#2 i will disagree with. changing out the 3 indexed knives on the DW735 is easy. it just costs money to buy new knives or time to sharpen them.

changing the segmented cutters can be quite a job. dust build up requires you to do quite a bit of cleaning and care if you want to reinstall them perfectly. that being said, that year or more you went with perfect performance will be worth it.

i installed the cutter head in my DW735 and its been great.

the first reply mentioned the cutech. it does use the segmented cutters but if i remember correctly they act like individual straight knives and are perpendicular to the feed direction. the byrd has the cutters angled to the feed direction which will give a better cut.
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
So, the dilemma is do I go 735 with head, or double the money for a iron 15 incher. Having only used a 2 blade lunchbox, I am sure either would be a big improvement.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
I have Byrd Shelix cutter heads on my 15" planer and 12" jointer. They are 11 and 9 years old. There are 4 sides on the cutters and I have yet to turn them. Therefore I figure I have at least 30 years left on these cutters. That will make me 104 so I'm not too worried about the cost. Lol. Even if I needed new cutters eventually, 75 cutters @ $3.31 = $250. How much would I have spent in 11 years on resharpening straight knives and then the time to re- install them? I have turned a few cutters after nicking them. 2 minute job.
The best thing I like about the Byrd Shelix is I never look at the grain pattern on a board because I don't have to worry about tear out.
Be careful what you purchase. Not all "Shelix Heads" are the same as the Byrd brand. Usually Byrd has more cutters, which obviously does a better job.
Hmm. My math shows about $470 for the Shelix and then that $250 for new cutters = $820 for my Dewalt 735. Don't know what you spent on the Shelix head for your 15-inch planer, but I suspect it was more than for the Dewalt 735. I'm still on my original first set of stock planer blades from 6 years ago and have 3 spare sets on hand. I'm 73 years old and don't expect to use up those blades. The few times I've planed figured wood I was able to clean up just fine with a little hand plane work and card scrapers. I have a cabinet scraper for anything larger I'm likely to get into.

Yes, the straight blades are noisier and it's not a one pass operation on figured wood. There's definitely a place for those Shelix heads, but they are far from a necessity for hobbiests unless they're into the kind of beautiful work you do, Charlie.
 

Charlie

Charlie
Corporate Member
Hmm. My math shows about $470 for the Shelix and then that $250 for new cutters = $820 for my Dewalt 735. Don't know what you spent on the Shelix head for your 15-inch planer, but I suspect it was more than for the Dewalt 735. I'm still on my original first set of stock planer blades from 6 years ago and have 3 spare sets on hand. I'm 73 years old and don't expect to use up those blades. The few times I've planed figured wood I was able to clean up just fine with a little hand plane work and card scrapers. I have a cabinet scraper for anything larger I'm likely to get into.

Yes, the straight blades are noisier and it's not a one pass operation on figured wood. There's definitely a place for those Shelix heads, but they are far from a necessity for hobbiests unless they're into the kind of beautiful work you do, Charlie.
Jim, Why do you need $250 for cutters? They come on the head.
I purchased my Grizzly 15" planer 11/08 for $1250 ($2050 today's price). As I stated earlier, I'm still using the first edge of the cutters and have at least 30 years left. I have yet to even turn a cutter on the planer because of nicks.
Please stop by my shop sometime and see just how well the Byrd Shelix works. You will be amazed.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
Jim, Why do you need $250 for cutters? They come on the head.
I purchased my Grizzly 15" planer 11/08 for $1250 ($2050 today's price). As I stated earlier, I'm still using the first edge of the cutters and have at least 30 years left. I have yet to even turn a cutter on the planer because of nicks.
Please stop by my shop sometime and see just how well the Byrd Shelix works. You will be amazed.
I don't need any cutters since I don't have a Byrd Shelix. I was responding to your post where you were talking about how much you'd spend for a set of cutters if you needed such replacements. And I understand you haven't even turned yours yet and see that as an unlikely event.

My point was it would cost me at least $470 to install a Byrd Shelix on my 735. I'm old enough that I wouldn't likely need to buy another set of cutters either :) Or even more flat stock blades.

That and I don't often work in figured woods and have the manual tools to deal with it on those rare occasions when I do.

I've been to your impressive shop and seen your even more impressive segmented work. Not arguing you can and do make good use of that planer and jointer. I wouldn't.
 

Charlie

Charlie
Corporate Member
I don't need any cutters since I don't have a Byrd Shelix. I was responding to your post where you were talking about how much you'd spend for a set of cutters if you needed such replacements. And I understand you haven't even turned yours yet and see that as an unlikely event.

My point was it would cost me at least $470 to install a Byrd Shelix on my 735. I'm old enough that I wouldn't likely need to buy another set of cutters either :) Or even more flat stock blades.

That and I don't often work in figured woods and have the manual tools to deal with it on those rare occasions when I do.

I've been to your impressive shop and seen your even more impressive segmented work. Not arguing you can and do make good use of that planer and jointer. I wouldn't.
Sorry Jim, I miss understood. Lol. I do remember you attended my Segmenting workshop in 2015.
As the old saying goes, "whatever works".
I went from an old flat belt driven 2 knife square head planer to a Belsaw (which was a great planer) to the Grizzly. Each step was quite an improvement over the former. Never have had a lunchbox.
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
checked new, about 1100.00 absolutely verify the cutters are angled not straight. imho think 800 tad high for used 650 maybe 700 if really great shape.
 

Bear Republic

Steve
Corporate Member
It was in fantastic shape just got the new car smell to fade away..... Just had to open the truck for door and it jumped right in. Good to go.
 

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