My jointer is a 20 year old Jet with regular blades. It's a small one, 46 bed I think. I don't have anything with a spiral cutterhead on it so I don't have any experience with them, I just know they are expensive. My blades are worn out and I want to upgrade. Would I better off to put a spiral on the old or just buy a new one? I would kinda like to have a longer bed but don't know that I really need one, raised panel glue ups is the main thing we use it for. Don't know how hard of a job it is to switch out the head...or even if the spiral head is that much better than regular blades for that matter.
I have changed out my 15 inch planer blades to spiral and well worth it, what a difference but when it came to my jointer i did some research on here and found that some members think a straight blade is better for jointers if a glue edge is the goal. So i split the difference and bought the dispoz-a-blade set up and so far it worked out well. The only problem i have (if you want to call it a problem) is that the blade is barely above the arbor making cuts a little slower specially deep cuts. Just a thought on another way to go.
i bought the dispoza blade set up for my eight inch jointer and when i installed them and checked the height with a dial gauge the blades were different heights. So i took my cutter head to a machine shop and found out it wasn't perfect so i had them machine it for me.
I re installed the blades and they still weren't to my liking as far as height consistintcy so i returned them and got a spiral head from grizzly and i love it. I don't have to tinker with blade set up anymore and i never heard of the glue up problem. I do glue ups all the time and find it to be better because i don't have boards that have ripple marks on the edge because i have one blade slightly higher than the rest.
I got rid of my 8” Powermatic jointer long ago and never really missed it. About a year ago, I purchased an old 6” jointer for a specific edge cleaning task and when the time comes, I will replace the head with an indexable, insert spiral head because I hate changing blades.
But, for your application of panel glue-up, I would be using a glue line rip saw blade in the table saw.
I couldn't do our work without a 8" or longer jointer. My original Delta DJ-20 is more or less still perfect after 17 years. I should get the fence flattened, but I've been putting that off for a few years. The parallelogram is a great improvement over the gibs. That is why powermatic and grizzly have adapted it. I've never had to adjust it either.
About a year in I got a set of Amana carbide laminated. Specifically for a big teak job. They work really well. They stay in the machine 75% of the time and we switch to the M2 until they are dull and the carbides are back from the sharpener.
When the index heads finally worked well and were affordable I figured it was better to buy a newer/better used one with the spiral installed.
6" jointers seriously limit you as a woodworker. 8" is an order of magnitude bigger and more useful.
You don't state the condition of your machine. Gibs tight? All tables flat and smooth? Fence straight and stays square to the tables? If yes to those, buy a cutter head. As far as I am concerned, buying any new Chinese machine is a crap shoot. I've had a new Chinese bandsaw that should never have been shipped. Some of those importers use you as a quality control and machine repair service for them. People brag about their customer service, personally, I prefer to buy machines that don't need customer service!
On a spiral cutterhead the cutting edges are all set parallel to the shaft/cutterhead, on a helical they are at a slight angle. Because of this, the helical cutters are ground slightly convex to compensate for the angle, and they cut with a more shearing action. Byrd would be an example of a helical head. This can produce the slightest bit of ridging or scalloping some have spoken of but is offset by the cleaner cut in highly figured woods. I purchased a new Grizzly 12" longbed jointer with the spiral head and have been quite pleased after a year of use. My only complaints are the dust collection could be a bit better (too much open areas to loose suction) and a little loose play on the adjustment wheel of infeed table. The table movement is fine, just a bit of loose slob in the wheel movement. I use an angled fence attachment for edging figured woods to gain some shear action. The longer bed (7') and wider cutterhead were great for working with some of the big stock we get into on live edge furniture.
10 years ago I bought an Extrema SL ripsaw. It is used for all panel glue up and for about everything else. The time savings is huge over a jointer. No chip outs, excellent edge for gluing.
I've still got my 16" jointer but never change out blades until they are used up. I made a fixture for sharpening them in the machine so they are very uniform. Much less time than changing out blades. Jointer is used for facing.
Thanks for all the responses on this topic. I still haven't got a jointer but I decided to first put a Byrd spiral cutterhead on my planer. Can't believe the difference, much much quieter and a superior cut. Jointer will be next. Thanks again.
12/17 #15: New jointer or get a spiral for the ...
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