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Thread: Powermatic 221 quiet head?

  1. #1

    Powermatic 221 quiet head?

    Any powermatic 221 owners out there with the 'quiet head' installed on your planer? I just scored one for free, and I'm curious to know if there is any compelling argument to swap out my 3 knife cutterhead for this one? I now have a grinder and plan to stick with this setup for a while instead of swapping it out for carbide. But I didn't expect to get this 'quiet cutterhead and don't know anything about it. Are the little knives carbide or HSS? Can it be sharpened with the grinder and if so how hard is it to do? Is is really much quieter than a 3 knife head that is properly sharpened and adjusted?

    thanks
    Stuart Kent
    Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School
    Robust, Rikon, Harvey, & Easy Wood Tools Dealer
    252-916-8226

  2. #2
    If you have never encountered a helical head planer before, you are in for a treat.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
    Posts
    5,667
    The guys over at owwm.org will be familiar. I believe the head has a bunch of short knives and is somewhat unloved as a choice. The machines with it are often bought pretty cheap and the head swapped with a Hermance or Byrd. Dave

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Andrew View Post
    If you have never encountered a helical head planer before, you are in for a treat.
    I have used helical heads, and was thinking about converting this head to one before I found this grinder at a price I couldn't pass on. So now I'm wondering about swapping my three knife out for the 'quiet head'. Do you have one or have you used one?
    Stuart Kent
    Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School
    Robust, Rikon, Harvey, & Easy Wood Tools Dealer
    252-916-8226

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by David Kumm View Post
    The guys over at owwm.org will be familiar. I believe the head has a bunch of short knives and is somewhat unloved as a choice. The machines with it are often bought pretty cheap and the head swapped with a Hermance or Byrd. Dave
    thanks, I saw some of that discussion. However, I know how to sharpen and don't mind if it takes a little longer if it significantly reduces noise and/or less tear out. That said, my 3 knife head works great when it's sharp and the machine is tuned, so if this 'new' head is really just a pain, I'll stick with what I've got.
    Stuart Kent
    Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School
    Robust, Rikon, Harvey, & Easy Wood Tools Dealer
    252-916-8226

  6. #6
    Throw that junk head away. Seriously they are a pia.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Crystal Lake, IL
    Posts
    577
    Agreed with above ^^^. I've never heard any flattering comments about them from those who have owned them, and most of the comments on OWWM forum are about what a PITA they are to deal with.
    Jeff

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Cache Valley, Utah
    Posts
    1,697
    If you're in a school setting, you probably don't have time to mess around with a lot of fussy adjustments. The fact that PM only offered it for a few years is another good tip off that it wasn't wildly popular. When I was teaching I converted all my planers and jointers to helical carbide heads and never looked back, and my PM 180 at home has a Byrd head.

  9. #9
    I have one in a PM-180 awaiting restoration. They have a bad rap because adjusting all of the little blades is time consuming and frustrating. If you need to buy new blades, they're much more expensive than a set of straight blades. My plan is to put a Helical cutter head in it when I get time for the restoration. Yes, you can use the grinder with the Quiet Head Knives.

  10. #10
    alright thanks all, I'm sticking with the straight knives on the machine. Maybe somewhere down the road I'll convert to a helical head, but my 3 knife has been in service for about 70 years, it'll stay at it for a while. Thanks for the feedback.
    Stuart Kent
    Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School
    Robust, Rikon, Harvey, & Easy Wood Tools Dealer
    252-916-8226

  11. #11
    One thing you can do to reduce tearout with your present setup is to put a 5-10 degree bevel on the face of the knives, then reinstall and sharpen as usual.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    One thing you can do to reduce tearout with your present setup is to put a 5-10 degree bevel on the face of the knives, then reinstall and sharpen as usual.
    I will try that, thanks for the tip!
    Stuart Kent
    Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School
    Robust, Rikon, Harvey, & Easy Wood Tools Dealer
    252-916-8226

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
    Posts
    5,667
    Onboard grinders usually have a jointing stone to put the secondary bevel on the knives. You grind with the head stationary and then joint while the head is spinning. Takes a little courage the first time you do it. Dave

  14. #14
    To clarify, jointing the knives is not what I was suggesting, rather a bevel on the front face of the knives to reduce the cutting angle. I get better results on figured woods on my PM 160. In theory it takes more power, generates more heat and is louder. I can't quantify that and accept the assumed trade-off.

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