I was getting very tired of tearout on my jointer; so about two months ago I
ordered a Byrd Shelix helical carbide insert cutterhead for my jointer. We
sell helical cutterhead jointers at work and I have had a chance to play
with a few. I was impressed with fact you could feed the board in any
direction and get no tear out. Delivery on the cutterhead was a little over
Taking the old cutterhead out was a pretty simple affair. Remove jointer
fence (two bolts), remove cutterhead drive belts, lower tables, remove the
bolt for each bearing pillow block and slip the cutterhead out the rear of
I took the old cutterhead to work and with a bearing puller removed the
drive pulley and pillow blocks with bearings.
Over to a hydraulic shop press to press the bearings out of the pillow
One of the four cutterhead bearings was a little wonky, so I bought four new
ones. As a habit I simply do not reuse bearings. When going to this much
trouble it is cheap insurance to replace them all now rather than later.
The easy part was over, one of these is not like the other.
The DJ-30 cutterhead that Byrd sent me did not match mine. Opps. I waited
over two months for them to make me this cutterhead, and while it was close
to the original, it was not going to work as built.
On each end of the original cutterhead there were fine left hand threads cut
for ring nuts that threaded onto each end of the shaft to hold the pulley in
place on one side (the pulley is on a keyway, but no set screws) and on the
other side to hold the bearings in place.
What I was sent did not have any threads on the outside ends of the shaft,
but instead, had M10x1.5 left hand tapped holes in each end of the shaft. As
anyone who has tried would know, trying to find left hand metric bolts is a
Hmmm.... What to do....
I called Byrd and they were not as helpful as I would have hoped. I was told
they had made several DJ-30 cutterheads like the one they sent me and not
had any problems. I faxed them the parts breakdown for a DJ-30 from the
Delta web site that clearly shows ring nuts on the ends of the shaft, not
bolts. They did send me a drawing of what they were going to make me, and I
checked critical sizes like overall diameter, overall cutting surface
length, bearing shaft diameter, etc. I just didn't realize I had to strip my
machine down to compare the fine details of how the bearings were held in.
It looked like I was on my own on this one.
Fortunately I have access to the services of a very good local machine shop
that does excellent work. I took both cutterheads over to the machine shop
to see what could be done to salvage this. Bill (machine shop owner) sat on
it for a few days (not literally) to talk it over with his brother and a few
other shop guys to figure out the best way to make the cutterhead I was sent
work in my jointer. He called me wondering why the pulley side had a left
hand nut? It would self loosen, not self tighten, why was it not a right
hand thread? The non-pulley side made sense as a left hand thread, but the
pulley side did not. He asked if the Byrd head had to be made to be exactly
like the original cutterhead; as it was going to be rather hard to cut such
fine left handed threads through a keyway. I said it didn't really matter to
me how the bearings and pulley were held in, I just wanted it to work. He
was happy with that answer as that allowed him to use a new standard right
hand bearing retaining ring nut for the pulley side, as that was much easier
to accomplish. For the non-pulley side, the shaft was shorter than the
original and there was no room to cut threads for the ring nut. Bill made a
left hand metric M10x1.5 bolt to hold the bearings on on that end. Bill also
pressed on the new bearings into the pillow blocks and onto the cutterhead
assembling it for me, making it ready to install back on the jointer.
Most shops won't even look at oddball stuff like this. When you take things
in for "one off" custom work you really don't know how much it is going to
cost and you can be at the shops mercy when it comes to price. When Bill
called to let me know the head was done, I asked him how much it would be,
he said, "I don't know, how about a hundred bucks?" I said, "That will be
fine, what kind of beer do you drink?". So, for a case of Coors Light
(shudder) and $100, the cutterhead was saved.
Time to reinstall the cutterhead, just the reverse of taking it out,
Raise tables back up, adjust outfeed table level with top of cutterhead arc
and spin by hand to be sure the cutterhead isn't going to whack into a
casting or some other part of the jointer and self-destruct. Nope, spins by
Time to plug jointer in and fire it up.
I looked in my offcut pile for a gnarly piece of ash. I find one with a big
knot, huge curl and grain reversal. As I fed the board through the jointer
it felt different and sounded much quieter, none of those nasty tear out
sounds a jointer makes when you know big chunks are being torn out of the
After facing and edging the board I examine it, *ZERO*
tearout on what would
have been a mess with the old strait knifed cutterhead. Even my Dad who was
helping me was impressed.
Check out the board,
The Byrd cutterhead wasn't the plug and play replacement it was supposed to
be, but I am very happy with the end result.
I wonder if I should get one for my planer.
Every neighborhood has one; in mine I'm him.