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Discussion Starter #1
I've been in the market for a new planer. I have made up my mind to go with a helical head instead of knives.

Now for the conundrum! I was waiting for Steel City to come out with their new 13" model, instead they go out of business...NO Steel City in my future.

The next question is, what to go with. There isn't much out there that really compared to the Steel City in price, quality and accuracy. I suspect I'll hear DeWalt 735. However, it would be low on any list that I would compile. It has been described as a "Money Pit" because of the knife issue. Why not add a helical head? It would almost double the price...the list goes on. Unless someone out there has any counter arguments (which I'm open to considering) the 735 is probably out.

So, what am I looking for? First, a small helical planer in the 13+" size. It doesn't have to be "portable" (are any of them really portable?) as it will reside on a dedicated cart or stand. I would prefer, however, to stay away from a "cabinet" type due to the weight. Second, it has to be reasonably priced, lets say, less than $1,000. Last, it has to be accurate, and have parts and serviceability available.

So, guys, what is out there? I trust the members opinions so don't be shy. If you have a candidate throw it on the table and let's discuss the pros and cons.

Bill
 
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powermatic...
 

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You can get a helical head for the 735. Griz has a decent price on a byrd shelix. All in, it will pretty closely hit your $1K price. Griz has the best prices because, according to byrd, grizzly buys them by the palette load.

Or you could go the route I did - buy a used 15" and add a helical. My costs are about $1K also. Used Griz 1021 + byrd shelix.
 

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as I understand it there are two levels of Byrd Helical cutters...
there are premium stand alone retrofit and a lesser model that goes into OEM machines....

if you buy a planer w/ a Byrd head in it you'll be getting the economy version...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Steel City went under?!

Afraid so, closed their doors on March 31
No idea whether this one's any good...
https://www.kmstools.com/general-international-13-helical-head-planer-11287

Hmmm! Anyone with any personal experience with this planer?


powermatic...
Just a tad more then the $1000 price range. If I was doing commercial work then I would seriously consider these, but I'm a small hobby shop

You can get a helical head for the 735. Griz has a decent price on a byrd shelix. All in, it will pretty closely hit your $1K price. Griz has the best prices because, according to byrd, grizzly buys them by the palette load.

This is a possibility. What I don't understand is why DeWalt doesn't offer this planer with a helical as an option. Could be that they are too greedy making money off of their one-time knives.

Or you could go the route I did - buy a used 15" and add a helical. My costs are about $1K also. Used Griz 1021 + byrd shelix.
I would love to find a used grizzly, but can you say, "needle in a haystack"? I never see these types of equipment listed in any of the local 'for sale' sites. Used is no problem...if it is mechanical I can repair or rebuild it.


Try Woodcraft.

They show a Rikon and a Wood River that may work for you.
Good source and I have looked at these I just don't see too much in the way of independent positive reviews. the 13" Ricon looks like the Steel City...Hmmm, it's possible that it may be a SC in Ricon clothing! Anyone know for sure?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
as I understand it there are two levels of Byrd Helical cutters...
there are premium stand alone retrofit and a lesser model that goes into OEM machines....

if you buy a planer w/ a Byrd head in it you'll be getting the economy version...
Interesting, Stick! I had not heard this before. I wonder what the tangible differences are between the two. You would think that someone with Byrd's reputation would be consistent with their products. I guess if this is the case, then, you would have to be careful buying a head aftermarket. You would have to know which one(s) are the better quality.
 
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I bought my G1021 at an auction, with buyers premium it was about 350. Byrd shelix for that (from Griz) was 600. I got a decent price but not a total fluke. I've seen them in the 400-600 range on CL.

I too am surprised that dewalt doesn't offer a helical version of the 735. A sub $1K helical would be a hot item. I suspect it's just not close enough to their core business to warrant the effort.

By the way, that rikon 13" planer doesn't have carbide cutters - HSS.
 

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as I understand it there are two levels of Byrd Helical cutters...
there are premium stand alone retrofit and a lesser model that goes into OEM machines....

if you buy a planer w/ a Byrd head in it you'll be getting the economy version...
Stick, could you point me to more info on that?
 

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Interesting, Stick! I had not heard this before. I wonder what the tangible differences are between the two. You would think that someone with Byrd's reputation would be consistent with their products. I guess if this is the case, then, you would have to be careful buying a head aftermarket. You would have to know which one(s) are the better quality.
it wasn't the aftermarket heads it was the came w/ the planers installed units
 

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Discussion Starter #12
"I too am surprised that dewalt doesn't offer a helical version of the 735. A sub $1K helical would be a hot item. I suspect it's just not close enough to their core business to warrant the effort."

As popular as the 735 is I would think that it would be a good marketing strategy to offer a helix as an option. Now that Steel City is gone it would be a good seller, with no competition in this class. Most of the helix-es would be the larger and more expensive units.

I really do like the 735 but the non-carbide, pin indexed blades turn me off. More than one source have commented on the problem and although they love the machine would not consider it again because of the knives. If Dewalt offered it with a helix option I would probably buy one.
 

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My gosh Bill, and other members, you can buy a lot replacement knives for what it cost to
upgrade the 735 to helican heads

I get a "lot" of life out of a set of knives on my 735 and the finish that I get with the knives
is as good as is the finish that come off of my jointer that has helican cutters.

I went through the decision about up graded to the helican heads, but after comparing the
cuts made by the planer with knives and the finish made by the jointer, I decided to just
keep my money. This may not be applicable to a commercial shop where the planer is
running constantly and be used a lot, but I suspect that the 735 was not made for that
application anyway.

Just my two bits worth Bill, I'll be watching to see what you finally do, have a great day.


Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #15
My gosh Bill, and other members, you can buy a lot replacement knives for what it cost to
upgrade the 735 to helican heads

I get a "lot" of life out of a set of knives on my 735 and the finish that I get with the knives
is as good as is the finish that come off of my jointer that has helican cutters.

I went through the decision about up graded to the helican heads, but after comparing the
cuts made by the planer with knives and the finish made by the jointer, I decided to just
keep my money. This may not be applicable to a commercial shop where the planer is
running constantly and be used a lot, but I suspect that the 735 was not made for that
application anyway.

Just my two bits worth Bill, I'll be watching to see what you finally do, have a great day.


Jerry
Jerry,

I totally agree with you. You can buy a lot of blades for the cost of the upgrade to the 735. I just wish that DeWalt would offer it with helical head off the shelf. That way it would be much cheaper then eventually upgrading, if that decision was made.

How often are you going through a set of blades? More then likely, if push comes to shove I'll just get a 735. That is, unless there are no comparable planers with helical heads available.
 

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John
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Blades

My gosh Bill, and other members, you can buy a lot replacement knives for what it cost to
upgrade the 735 to helican heads

I get a "lot" of life out of a set of knives on my 735 and the finish that I get with the knives
is as good as is the finish that come off of my jointer that has helican cutters.

I went through the decision about up graded to the helican heads, but after comparing the
cuts made by the planer with knives and the finish made by the jointer, I decided to just
keep my money. This may not be applicable to a commercial shop where the planer is
running constantly and be used a lot, but I suspect that the 735 was not made for that
application anyway.


Just my two bits worth Bill, I'll be watching to see what you finally do, have a great day.


Jerry
I agree with Jerry the dewalt comes with reversible blades I also i'm hobbies , I did not even reverse my blades for three years if the last another three years that's six years per set ,they cost $40 a set divided into 410 dollars
Also bought the planer recondition for about 150 less
 

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Jerry,

I totally agree with you. You can buy a lot of blades for the cost of the upgrade to the 735. I just wish that DeWalt would offer it with helical head off the shelf. That way it would be much cheaper then eventually upgrading, if that decision was made.

How often are you going through a set of blades? More then likely, if push comes to shove I'll just get a 735. That is, unless there are no comparable planers with helical heads available.

My experience is similar to John's. Actully better, the only reason that I flipped the blades is that one of was chipped, no fault of the planer. The flipping ofver of the blades was extremely simple and took little time.

Once again I stress that the finish with the blades is very good, as good as the helican cutters on the jointer. The difference between the planer and the jointer is, in my opion, the life of the cutters and/or knives. I chipped a cutter on the jointer one time too and had to rotate it which is the main advantage of the concept as I see it. I doubt that I will live long enough to wear out the cutters on the jointer.

If you get the 735 and find that you don't like the cuts, you can add the helican head but Bill, I can't imagine you ever doing that other than for bragging rights and that does have some sort of value of course.

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #18
My experience is similar to John's. Actully better, the only reason that I flipped the blades is that one of was chipped, no fault of the planer. The flipping ofver of the blades was extremely simple and took little time.

Once again I stress that the finish with the blades is very good, as good as the helican cutters on the jointer. The difference between the planer and the jointer is, in my opion, the life of the cutters and/or knives. I chipped a cutter on the jointer one time too and had to rotate it which is the main advantage of the concept as I see it. I doubt that I will live long enough to wear out the cutters on the jointer.

If you get the 735 and find that you don't like the cuts, you can add the helican head but Bill, I can't imagine you ever doing that other than for bragging rights and that does have some sort of value of course.

Jerry
Well, that was the reason I opened up the thread. I was searching for alternatives to the Steel City. The problem is, that, there aren't a lot of quality 13" planers in that class. The 735 is apparently the best out of all, but the major complaint seemed to be the blade life and the noise while planing with the knives. Again, even that was split 50/50 pro and con. Those of you who have the 735 seem to be pleased with the knife longevity. That is the kind of input that I was looking for out of the forum members.

I have no need for "bragging rights"! I was just interested in the quality of the end results. Most of the members of the local woodworking community here seem to lean to the helicals over the knives.

I have a couple of good sources for rough cut material, but no way to plane it. I do have a jointer but it collects dust for the most part. Without a decent planer I'm sort of handicapped unless I want to break out the checkbook.
 

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By the way, somebody might ask why I bought the helican cutters for the jointer
when I made my point about not needing them for the planer.

The reason is that I had read about what is it takes to install a new set of knives
on a jointer and that intiminated me due my vision problem so I just stepped up
to the them.

Now that we are on the subject, what is the real advantage of helican cutter other
than longevity? I personally don't see any difference in the way they cut, but
remember I can't see, but my finger tips are pretty sensitive. I'd like to hear what
the people that are in the know have to say about the subject. I'm sure not an
expert obviously.
 

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If you check eBay they have several Powermatic Model 100's for sale in that price range. It's pretty much the cadillac of small (12") planers. It's not really that much heavier than a lunch box planer on a good stand.
 
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