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Thread: Shelix head for DeWalt 735

  1. #1
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    Shelix head for DeWalt 735

    Some time back, Julie Moriarty contacted me about the DeWalt 735 planer. As part of that exchange she mentioned the shelix head for the planer. I've been using the stock blades for years in my 735 and have been satisfied but her mention got me to looking at the shelix head.

    I found that there's two Byrd shelix heads. The "standard" one is a bit smaller than the straight blade head that comes with the planer. It's smaller so that you can install it without having to remove all the cutters (40). People report that with the smaller shelix head, the rollers put too much pressure on the wood. So Byrd also makes an "OEM size" head but to install it, you have to remove all the 40 cutters so you can get it through the hole in the side of the planer.

    My questions to those who have the Byrd shelix head for the DeWalt 735 are:

    1. Which head did you buy? The smaller one or the OEM size one? If you didn't know about the OEM sized head, you probably have the smaller one.

    2. If you bought the smaller one, do you experience any problems because it's smaller?

    3. Any other comments will be appreciated. Do you think the upgrade was worthwhile? Does it do a better job than the straight blades (independent of blade life)? Any problems with popping breakers with the shelix head? Anything else?

    Mike

    [Also, I remember there was a distributor who would give a discount if you mentioned you were a SawMill Creek member. Who was that? Holbren?]
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  2. #2
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    I've have the smaller head in my 735 for two years. The only drawback I can see to the smaller diameter is that it seems to limit the depth of cut I can get - the delta from the table to the top of the feed window is only just more than 1/32" greater than that from the table to the plane of cut. You can't feed a board into the machine if you adjust to where you'd be taking off more than that 1/32". That's not a problem for me, because I mostly use the 735 as a finish planer. I can see it being a drag for some users though.

    The motor loading is different, because it's basically cutting continuously in small increments, rather than 3 times per rotation in one big chip. Some people make a deal out of that. I don't see any impact (particularly given that I can only cut 1/32" max per pass).

    I sometimes use my planer successfully for thin stock for bent lam construction - or I used to - by bending the stock up severely at the infeed and outfeed. I think that's been less successful with the helical head - either way you get occassional spectacular failures in which the head chews up the thin stock and spits out toothpicks. I say I think because it seemed to happen a bit more often with the helical head, but I switched to doing final stock prep for my lams on a drum sander sometime after I got the Byrd, and I'm not sure I've got a big enough sample size to reach a solid conclusion.

    Otherwise I love the Byrd head. The cutters stay sharp seemingly forever - a light user of a 735 will easily go years between rotations - and hold up to abuse I wouldn't put steel knives through. The machine is overall much quieter, though not as dramatically so as some people led me to expect. Installation was simple (if you have mechanical skill - could be a bit daunting to people who don't routinely take things apart and put them back together, although there are instructional videos on youtube that should get even most novices through it).
    Last edited by Steve Demuth; 10-18-2017 at 7:00 PM.

  3. #3
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    I bought one a month or two back but haven’t gotten around to installing it yet since it lives at my auxiliary shop at my parents’ house. I assume it’s the smaller version. What’s a good way to tell?

    Good info Steve.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Robinson View Post
    I bought one a month or two back but haven’t gotten around to installing it yet since it lives at my auxiliary shop at my parents’ house. I assume it’s the smaller version. What’s a good way to tell?

    Good info Steve.
    My understanding is that if it will fit through the hole where the bearing ride, with the cutters attached, it's the smaller one. If it won't fit, it's the OEM one. You can probably find the exact sizes of the two on the web somewhere.

    Mike

    [I found the measurements. The small version is 46.88mm in diameter and the OEM head is 49.03mm. Difference is 2.15mm]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 10-19-2017 at 12:22 AM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  5. #5
    I got a Byrd head for my 735 about 8 or 9 years ago from Holbren (they offered a discount for Creekerrs then and I think still do). They only show one size Byrd head. I installed mine without taking out the cutters. I have not rotated the cutters in the time I have had it so am very happy with the life of the carbide cutters. I haven't noticed a mechanical limit on the cut depth that Steve mentions but the depth of cut is limited to a 32nd or less due to motor power. I love the shelix and would not even consider going back to straight blades. The cut is outstanding with near zero tear outs.

    Jack

  6. #6
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    I've had mine for 4 or so years, it's the small version. Since I've had it, I've not rotated any cutters (though I have broken two on a gnarly knot). I was using a set of knives every 3 or 4 months--so there is a bit of return on investment. If I were doing it again--i'd remove the cutters even with the small head. They are sharp enough to cut skin without knowing it, and I bled a lot before I realized it. Added several minutes of clean-up to the install.

    The smaller diameter also meant having to reset the depth stop. Not difficult, and really it didn't matter as I measure anyway.

    I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Tear-out is pretty much non-existent, and can often go to 220 grit or a card scraper off the machine.

    earl

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    Some time back, Julie Moriarty contacted me about the DeWalt 735 planer. As part of that exchange she mentioned the shelix head for the planer. I've been using the stock blades for years in my 735 and have been satisfied but her mention got me to looking at the shelix head.
    Mike,

    My deepest apologies for planting that $400 seed in your head. Now I'm hoping I don't get bit by the same bug.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    Mike,

    My deepest apologies for planting that $400 seed in your head. Now I'm hoping I don't get bit by the same bug.
    LOL, I'll let you know if the seed takes root and, if so, how I like the shelix head. I found the added complexity of the two different sized heads so that delays making a decision.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  9. #9
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    DISCLAIMER!
    The author of this post is in no way egging anyone on to buy the Shelix nor is the author selfishly attempting to obtain any benefit from this post

    I just ran across this video that might help your buying decision, Mike. He brings up two issues - 1) The effect of snipe with the Shelix vs standard knives, 2) How the smaller Shelix head affects the measurements incorporated in the planer.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  10. #10
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    So what's keeping you from going with the larger size, Mike? Just having to remove and reseat the cutters?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Robinson View Post
    So what's keeping you from going with the larger size, Mike? Just having to remove and reseat the cutters?
    If I decide to go to a shelix head, I think I will go with the larger cutter head. Haven't made a decision yet. I've been satisfied with the straight blades so I may be chasing a solution to a non-existent problem (for me).

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #12
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    He's right about the "depth gauge" of course. That's inevitable with a smaller diameter cutter. But the gauge is adjustable with a Phillips screwdriver. You might find you need to file the screw slots a bit to get the full adjustment needed - 1/32" read is the total freedom of movement in the design - but it's a few minutes' job to get it zeroed if you care.

    As for snipe, in a lunchbox planer with short beds, no pressure bar as such, and rubber rollers, snipe is a complicated phenomenon to understand and adjust out. I don't think the head is an important contributing factor, but if it is, the smaller diameter probably contributes to less snipe. Either way, a two-cut test on a machine that was substantially disassembled between the test cuts tells us next to nothing. What I do know is that I get snipe-free performance out of my 735 with a Byrd head routinely - until one day, or one board, I don't. Cleaning and tune up makes me feel like I did something at that point, but I wouldn't bet it's not just random factors in the first place, and that me efforts aren't just theater.

  13. #13
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    I recently purchased the 735 but I have yet to give it a test run. When I was assembling it (what little there is to do) I noticed the infeed and outfeed tables are angled up. Internet searches resulted in people saying the tables are designed that way to reduce snipe. If so, I would think the engineering of that design would have included the diameter of the cutter head.

    A smaller cutter head would require the head to be lowered, which in turn would cause the feed rollers to raise. Maybe there's something in the travel of the feed rollers that would affect more than just the thickness of the board. The unit was engineered with a specific cutter head diameter so what changes in the operation of the unit would occur when the diameter of the cutter head is reduced? I don't know the answer to that.

    Maybe we can get Matthais Wandell in on this one...
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    If I decide to go to a shelix head, I think I will go with the larger cutter head. Haven't made a decision yet. I've been satisfied with the straight blades so I may be chasing a solution to a non-existent problem (for me).

    Mike
    Keep us posted on the route you go and the performance. I've been eyeballing this upgrade as well.

  15. #15
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    Julie,

    Yes, but again:

    1. The table tilt is designed to be very simply adjustable.
    2. The small head puts the cutting plane 1/32" or so "deeper" relative to the feed rollers than the factory 3-knife head. The board bounce or deflection that causes snipe has to be more severe to get snipe with the small head than with the factory head.

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