Spiral Cutterhead - worth the extra expense?

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Anyone have any experience using a jointer with a spiral cutterhead? It looks like they cost about 30-40% more than a knife jointer. Are they worth the additional expense?
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Will you be using the jointer "daily"? No? Probably not worth it unless you can write it off as a business expense to help offset the additional cost.
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Leon responds:

I've been looking at a Grizzly 8" spiral head for the past couple weeks for an article. It is about $400 higher than the similar model Grizzly. If I were in the market for a jointer right now, I think this is the one I'd jump on, or the 12" version. Simple reason: adjusting jointer knives is, at best, a PITA. That single adjustment creates more problems than any other adjustment in the woodshop, except for the table saw fence. It is GONE with spiral heads. There are 40 little carbide teeth with 4 edges each. Simply unscrew, lift, rotate, and screw back in place. You've got 4 edges before you have to buy a new set, and the edges are all carbide.
Actually, I had best stop thinking about this before I add another tool....
Charlie Self "It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable." Eric Hoffer
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for an

in
or the

That
There
rotate,
set,
tool....
Eric
Not to have to deal with the jointer knifes anymore is one of the biggest reasons for considering the spiral cutterhead. This is for a home shop and 4 edges would keep me in fresh cuts for a long time. I was also looking at the Grizzly jointers. Torn between the 6 inch anniversary model G0526 and the 8 inch G0543. $345 difference. The 12 inch is too big for me in price and size.
What about the quality of the cut. Are the results better, worse or the same with a spiral cutter as compared to knives?
Thanks for your input.
Jeremy
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Jeremy wrote: [snip]

I have the G0500 with standard knives. I spent the extra for the 8" over the 6" but couldn't quit pry the wallet open that extra bit for the spiral. Having also owned a 6", the first time you face joint that 6 1/2" piece makes it all worth while.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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Jeremy asks:

I didn't really test for cut quality, but I'd say about the same, except in highly figured woods, where the spiral cutterhead wins going away.
Charlie Self "It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable." Eric Hoffer
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Jeremy wrote: ...

There's <no> size jointer too big... :) Cost, maybe...
I'd say you'll more than be glad you bit the bullet and went with an 8" every time you use it...not only the width but the extra table length is maybe of even more value and it's there on <every> cut...

Assuming they're equal quality knives and within tolerances, the spiral cut will be better in figured and curly, difficult woods particularly...I've not used the multi-tooth, but have used the skew-mounted solid knives w/ planers -- just like a hand plane, the slicing action makes a big difference.
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LOL.. Keep talking...

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Leon responds:

Gotta be careful here, cause too much good luck can kill you. I talked to a youngster who is one of a group of brothers who own a small sawmill: seems they have some soft maple (I brilliantly forgot to ask how much) that has been kiln dried and is no longer needed. He says the price will be "good".
I hope to finish checking that out after the holidaze finish kicking every body in the time card so as to leave some of us a bit of spare---time, not cash.
Charlie Self "Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." George Orwell
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If you use the Jointer for jointing edges mostly then it's not worth it.
If you do a lot of break down of rough stock so you're doing face work all the time it will be better. Especially if you use figured woods. In the long run, I'd say its worth it just from the maintenance aspect.
Keep in mind however that the segmented spiral heads is somewhat better than knife blades but not as good as true helical knife. It will not salve all your chip outs of highly figured wood (dimensional sanding is a better alternative if you have it as an option for curl, burl, etc). With segmented spirals, instead of getting the big bang, bang, bang of a straight knife head you are getting lots of smaller bangs. However you are not getting a true slicing effect of the helical which is, much quieter and cleaner.
BW
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Only reason I have not jumped on the Griz jointer with spiral head is that the cutting edges are NOT really producing a spiral/angled cutting edge, the inserts still have their cutting edge at 90degrees to the wood feed direction.
Really feel that other than ease of replacing the knives, that the Grizz is NOT going to cut BETTER than the standard with straight blades.
It is cheaper to go the route Grizzly has in this situation instead of producing a TRUE spiral/helical cutting head
I can get a TRUE helical head for a Delta DJ20 for about $400, and that may be the best solution.
John
wrote:

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I'm intrigued. How? where? whom do I write the check out to?
Russ
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Look at www.byrdtool.com for true helical cutter heads and pricing
I am pretty sure the head for the DJ20 was around $400 - just checked and I was wrong, it is $449
John
On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 04:07:25 GMT, "Daddyman"

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Cool. Thank you for the info.
Russ
wrote:

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John wrote:

...
The difference in performance is that the smaller knives are staggered and so have <partially> the effect of a true helical knife. The result is, as someone else already posted, in between that of a straight knife and helical. There is a difference also that there will be a surface pattern left that shows at least some hint of the separate knives. How much depends on how reproducible the head mounting and knives are.
One disadvantage I see is that the replacement cost is quite high for a complete set when it does come eventually. The good thing is that hopefully the quality of the inserts are such they will last a long time...
I saw a demo at Atlanta on some highly figured stock...it did seem to help. I also agree that for most work the slightly lower effort is for the most part the only real advantage
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Duane Bozarth notes:

With the Grizzly, you're looking at $80 for 40 carbide inserts. The same machine, with its four knife cutterhead, costs about $50, IIRC, to replace the HSS knives. Hit a nail with that four knife head and you've probably eaten all four knives. Hit a nail with the spiral head and you will probably eat four or five or even six or seven inserts. Inserts sell for 20 bucks a ten pack.
I'd guesstimate that the carbide insert sets should last about as long as at least four HSS knife sets, so the replacement cost actually appears fairly cheap to me. Depending on carbide quality and luck, the inserts could last ten times as long, which means you'd almost certainly have to replace, rather than sharpen, the knives twice over the same period.
Charlie Self "Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." George Orwell
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That's a heck of an argument for the investment in the spiral head cutter
It also does not take into account the fact the regular wear on knives is likely to be rather uneven (assuming that you are like me and don't religiously move the fence postion back and forth.)
-Steve

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Replacement of the carbide cutters doesn't have to be even either. Just replace the ones that need it.
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That was my point, which I did not do a very good job of making.
Thanks for saying it better.
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Stephen M wrote:

I've been being jumped on pretty good here for something I <didn't> say...I didn't say the all had to be replaced at once, I simply commented that when replacement does eventually happen, the total cost of a replacement set isn't cheap...
The four-sided design will extend life and the segmented design does allow for a chipped group to be replaced, but by comparison a solid carbide knife can be resharpened whereas a given edge on these can't. One can also hone a carbide knife w/ diamond in between professional sharpenings and get a nicer edge for that "special" cut which would be a practical impossibility w/ the inserts.
You'all are misreading/misinterpreting what I've saying here...I don't have anything particularly against the segmented heads but don't think the overall cost of knives will be that much less than solid carbide (except if you do hit stuff with yours fairly often which I'm careful to not do...if I have old material I use a set of old knives)...
How well these work for the long run will be interesting to see w/ time...
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