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Woodmaster Helical Head5/1
Okay, so I recently bought a 25" Woodmaster planer with their helical head (which, from what I understand, is identical to the Byrd). I don't have much experience with helical heads but love the pluses I've been reading about. After getting it set up, I'm finding it leaves striations down the length of the board. I called Woodmaster and they sent me another head - no questions asked - but it performs the same. Maybe it's because I'm used to the super slick surface from a straight knife, but I have to say I'm disappointed. Is this the typical finish to expect from a helical head? Or, are all helicals not created equal and some leave a flawless finish while others don't? Maybe I need to reset my expectation?
All helical heads are not created equal. It depends on the insert geometry and how the head is machined. There are spiral and helical insert heads. The spiral has the insert perpendicular to the cut, helical inserts are at an angle to shear the fibers. Some inserts have straight edges, others have a radius. If you are getting objectionable striations, I doubt if it is identical to the Byrd.
Rich, yes the inserts on this head are angled for shearing and each side of the 4-sided insert has a slight radius.
In my experience helical heads leave a surface with somewhat of a wave or insert mark. Call it what you will. The proper inserts have an edge with a slight radius, it is inevitable.
I think there is an assumption that it will go through a wide belt which easily takes those lines out.
Our inserts last a shocking amount of time.
It's the knife pockets machined into the head are what that counts. Some are not as careful during the machining process. Or.. the pocket was dirty when the knife was installed. If they sent you a free head when you complained I'd guess their head isn't worth much. You could remove the knives and clean each pocket and re-install and see if that makes a difference. Pay attention to the torque values when you do this. I wouldn't count a planed surface as a finished surface anyway. Run it thru a widebelt.