Shop Tool Review
If you already own a Woodmaster Planer and you’re considering upgrading to their helical spiral cutter head, pull the trigger. It’s quiet, leaves a great finish with virtually no tear out, as well as it easily cuts hardwood at full width, a full crank at a time.
User Review( votes)
Building a small wood and metal working shop from scratch can be both challenging and very expensive. A little over five years ago, my wife and I started Seventeen20 with only a handful of consumer grade “garage” tools and we’ve grown into our 4,000 sq. ft. shop slowly and without debt. We currently have a shop full of light production machinery and 3-5 people working at at time (depending on the season), and as we continue to grow, we keep a prioritized running list of machinery upgrades. We do purchase new when we’re confident in the brand, capacity, current need, and we have the cash, but we also look for good deals on used equipment via Craigslist, larger local shops selling their used equipment, used machinery websites, etc… And recently I came across the opportunity to purchase a used Woodmaster 725 25” 10HP Planer (without the planer spiral cutter head) for a song, consequently from one of my lumber suppliers. Knowing the planer upgrade was in the top three on my list, as a result I gladly paid the man and loaded it up.
Upgrading To The Woodmaster 725
I’ve been running an older 20” 3HP planer for a few years that I upgraded to the Grizzly spiral cutter head with good finish results, the planer just tends to bog down and overheat when used to capacity. The Woodmaster has a massive increase in power and 25% increase in capacity, in addition it has a separate variable speed feed motor. Woodmaster also sells a spiral cutter head upgrade for the 725 model that has an improvement over my current spiral cutter heads – the blades are indexed at a slight angle to the cutter head axis (instead of parallel) for more of a shearing motion than a straight cut. Sometimes this style is referred to as helical, helix, or “shelix” (shear & helix), depending on where you purchase, but often they all just fall under the “spiral” cutter head category and you have to decipher based on pictures. I have a good amount of experience with the Grizzly straight blade spiral cutter heads on my jointer and planer, but this will be my first spiral head with a shearing angle.
Spiral Cutter Head Installation
After running a new 40 amp circuit and patiently waiting for my 25” Woodmaster spiral cutter head to arrive, I was pretty eager to get the head swap under way. I love how easily the Woodmaster cover lifts off. This gives you open access to basically the entire workings of the planer, including the cutter head assembly. The swap out was worlds easier than it was on my old 20” planer, just a self-centering bolt on each side of the head. We had the new cutter head on within about 15 minutes of starting the project and moved on to dialing in the feed roller tension springs, as well as leveling the planer bed. As we were re-attaching the cover, I took note of how much open space was between the cutter head and the 6” dust collection port… It looked like the grand canyon compared to my old planer. I actually got a little nervous that my 3HP bag style dust collector wouldn’t have sufficient power to clear the wood chips!
Woodmaster Planer Spiral Cutter Head In-Use
I’ve had the planer up and running in the shop for a few months now. The shearing angled head is noticeably quieter than the Grizzly straight-blade spiral head. Which is much quieter than the previous 4 knife head. It can also take a larger bite of wood at a time. I know a good portion of this can be attributed to the increase from 3HP to 10HP. However, the Woodmaster planer spiral cutter head also has much more space around the blades for chip removal and that appears to be a contributing factor. I’ve also noticed a significant decrease in tear out, primarily in maple. I run a lot of ash and maple through the planer; ash grains tend to be very directional, but maple grains are all over the place and more prone to tearing.
Planer Spiral Cutter Head Misconception
A common misconception about these heads is that they’ll give you a finish-ready result. However, the job of a planer is to give you uniform thickness across your piece. They do not take out warp or twist, nor do they produce a surface that is ready for finish. You will always need to sand (or smooth with hand planes/scrapers) before you’re ready for staining and finishing. Different types of cutter heads leave different tooling marks, hence, straight blades leave chatter lines across the piece, spiral heads leave long straight lines down the length of the piece, and shearing style spiral heads leave long straight lines that are very slightly cupped. The primary difference is going to be in the following. First, how much material you can remove in a single pass. Next, how much grain tear out. Finally, how easily the blades index for minimal tooling marks (and therefore sanding) after planing. I haven’t found there to be any additional sanding for this shearing head over the straight blade spiral, as a result I’m definitely pleased with the results.
If you already own a Woodmaster Planer and you’re considering upgrading to their helical spiral cutter head, pull the trigger. It’s quiet, leaves a great finish with virtually no tear out, as well as it easily cuts hardwood at full width, a full crank at a time. If you do not already own a Woodmaster Planer and are considering the machine as a whole, this one is a testament to the durability. My Woodmaster has seen a LOT of board feet with the previous owner and it’s still going strong. The machine is simple, versatile with many different head options, most important reasonably priced.
To purchase the spiral cut head, click here.