Helical Planer Heads

Check this out!

These are made for those big planers but it sounds like they would work well if adapted to a handheld planer.

Helical Cutterheads

Someone correct me please if I’m wrong, but I think that Festo (known as “Festools” in the US) makes a hand-held planer with such a spiral blade. Quite expensive, though, and I never had the opportunity to give it a try…

Holy sheeite Rob!I waded through that site and found cutterheads that were clost to handplaner size for around $200.I just sent them a long email about the possibilty of having them made for SKIL’s and Hitachis.I have seen these type of cutterheads in woodshops and they are unreal.No chipping,good exhaust and super quit.I suggest that you Swaylockians send this company an email expressing interest so we can get the fire stoked under them. RB

Roger, Perhaps you can get them available exclusively via Swaylocks. $2 of the price goes to Swaylocks; $4 for tsunami relief). I wonder how many handheld planers in the world would benefit from a helical cutter.

The Festool product looks solid. Very well engineered. The head comes with one spiral cutter blade; hand grips look better suited for planing boards than Hitachi and price is well under current Skil levels.

Festool Planer

Festool on right:

I have an old Rockwell planer that has spiral blades and it works a lot better than my Skil.They are hard to sharpen and you have to set the planer bed to the blade.The cutterhead we are talking here is a whole new ball game.A local woodshop uses a similiar product.They run cool,exhaust well, and are super quiet.You can change the carbide blade tips easily and its cheap.I sent photos of shapers working on boards and also pictures of the replacement carbide grit drum that some shapers use to the tool company.It’s saturday so I don’t expect to hear anything today.I will keep you posted.If swaylocks want’s to sell em go ahead.I just want one for free.LOL RB

Just sent an email to Byrd Tools.

Swaylockians: please send an email to Byrd (mail@byrdtool.com) so we can get some traction on this.

I sent Byrd tool an email last week along with photos of the board shaping process.They replied yesterday and basically said they were not interested.Maybe you guys will have better luck. RB

I sent him an email, we’ll see…

Byrd Tool is getting interested. Here’s the reply I just received:


what is the cutting dia of the cutter?

Byrd Tool

I don’t know this offhand. Anyone else. And please email them if you haven’t.

…you guys are catching up.Herb

…now,is that your wave …or…mine,mine,mine…

We have this guy Len Dibben who sells this type of tool for a planer.

Have a look at his site at http://www.lendibbensurfboards.com.au/fshaping_tools.html</a>[/url]



This is good news.Do any of you guys have a cutterhead from a skil or Hitachi that you could measure?Doc???Dfelts???Sterne???.Keep sending those emails.I may call them…I saw a toll free number on the site. RB

At this point shouldn’t Clark Foam or Foam-EZ swoop in and work a deal with Byrd for an exclusive license in exchange for a large order?

seems like overkill for foam…vs. cost

Hi Roger,

The Skil 100 cutter drum is 2.00" Dia x 3.00" long. Keep in mind that this diameter is based on a certain blade protrusion to allow a 1/8" max cut. The spiral cutters may have a different height for the little heads which would alter the drum diameter. The shaft on the Skil drum is not removeable, so this also needs to be included. Finally make sure that the weight of the new drum is about the same as the old one; 14-16K rpm is really fast and the motor may overheat. This has been a problem on Skils with some of the abrasive drums.

Hey Rob, i just have a reply from them: “sorry we do not make cutter heads that fit this type of planer.Byrd Tool”.

PeteC, I sent Byrd your information. Here’s the reply:


thanks for the info …I will let you know if its something we might consider later on. right now 2 1/2" dia is as small as we mfg. & had never intended on using this design on the small portable planers.


Byrd Tool

So it looks shelved for now. Time for Foam-EZ to step in.

I wonder if an otherwise defunct Skil or Hitachi part couldn’t be machined to accept the replacable 4-sided carbide bits, in a helical pattern between the blade slots. Sort of a proof of concept thing.

The drawback being that you couldn’t get enough of a spiral ( the existing slots in the cutterhead so that there was always an edge cutting ( as in the Rockwell/Porter Cable planers ) and eliminating the chatter/ripples you see with the Skils and Hitachis and other planers, jointers and the like with similar cutterheads and cutters. Though a simple aluminum cylinder pressed onto a steel shaft before machining could probably deal with that.

Also, is the aluminum of the cutterhead strong/tough enough to hold those little bitty flat head allen screws that hold the eight sided carbide cutting bits when the cutterhead is turning umpteen thousand RPM. Finding out that it wasn’t would get real ugly, real fast, like a turbine swallowing a bird.

dunno if that’s of any use


Doc, you’ve got my interest when you mentioned using the 4-sided narrow blades in a helical pattern. Did you mean just having them at an angle to the drum’s centerline? I’ve been working on a replacement Skil drum that uses these blades rather than the normal carbide type. The very last Skil 100’s made had drums like this which use the same blades as all current planers except they’re 3" long instead of 3 -1/4". The blades go into a steel carrier that screws into a special drum. The carrier has a much easier adjustment for the blades than the old style. Clark Foam sharpens this type for free (at least here locally) so they’re an advantage to production shapers.

For those interested in the Festool planer, the drum uses a single blade set at an angle. There is no adjustment needed when changing blades. They have other drums that cut a series of grooves at different widths/depths like a molding head. These would have some value when cutting channels in bottoms.

Hi Pete,

What I was thinking of was maybe milling grooves in the face of the beast, helical would probably be the way to go though my machining technique is rusty enough that I dunno just how you’d go about it. Maybe a jig with a follower connected to a bell crank or something? Or something like they use to cut rifling in gun barrels? The same jig could be used for drilling and tapping. Naturally, an investment-cast setup would be the way to go for production.

If you had un-slotted blank drums available, then you could build the ideal setup, N helical lines of cutters, each helix going around something like (360/N) +something like 5 degrees or so so that you’d have some overlap and have a cutter on the work at all times to prevent the chatter/ripples you get on many of the removable blade-type planers and that I don’t get with my old Rockwell and its helical cutters… Otherwise, using a standard Skil drum plus some machining, you could get maybe ( what is it, 3 cutters in a Skil? Too lazy to go look at mine) 100 degree helices, a little gap between lines of cutters but still the chatter would probably be minimised, what with the cutters hitting gradually at all but 60 degrees of the drum’s rotation and not just a healthy bite every 120 degrees or so.

While I guess you could set the bits parallel to the axis of the drum, it’d be a lot easier to have them just set in the helical milling cut. I haven’t noticed any tendancies to drift with the Rockwell, even in fairly hard materials like oak, so I don’t think that would be a problem, especially as the side edges of the carbide cutters would tend to keep it on track. I suspect you would want to offset the placement of the little carbide cutters in successive lines, though that wouldn’t make life any easier when you were cutting diametric relief slots for air flow/cooling as shown in the Byrd setups…

For what it’s worth, I happened to notice that Grizzly is using similar setups in their larger planers - see http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?itemnumber=G1033Z for a good illustration - you never know.

Y’know, something else occurs to me - being as the Skils are such a pain when it comes to adjusting the knives in the drum, has anybody tried something like http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?itemnumber=G3360 ? Couple magnets in the legs of the thing that hold the kinives in place while the setr screws are tightened.

Interesting project…