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  • January 22, 2024 11 min read

    Unleash Your Woodworking Potential with an Oliver Machinery Helical Cutterhead Planer

    Are you tired of spending hours hand-planing your boards to get them smooth and flat? Look no further than the helical planer, the ultimate tool for professional woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts alike. With its innovative helical cutterhead design, these planers offer numerous benefits that will revolutionize your woodworking experience. Say goodbye to tear-out and hello to perfectly smooth surfaces. Enjoy reduced noise and vibration, making your woodworking sessions more comfortable. And with the ability to produce less waste, the helical planer helps you save time and money. In this buying guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to choose the perfect helical planer for your woodworking needs.

    Making Wood Work: Unlocking the Secrets to Smooth, Professional Woodworking

    Are you ready to take your woodworking game to the next level? Well, buckle up because I'm about to introduce you to the magical world of helical planers!

    So, what is a helical planer, you ask? Well, imagine a regular thickness planer on steroids. This bad boy has a special cutterhead with multiple cutting edges arranged in a helical pattern. Think of it as a fancy haircut for your wood – it leaves behind a smooth finish that you can't help but run your fingers over.

    A BYRD Shelix helical cutter head for an Oliver Machinery Planer, resting on a table top

    Now, why do you need a helical planer, you might wonder? Let me break it down for you. Traditional planers can sometimes leave behind annoying snipe marks – those pesky dents at the beginning and end of your wood piece. But with a helical planer, say goodbye to snipe and hello to flawless surfaces. It's like having your own personal wood whisperer, turning rough and rugged boards into something straight out of a furniture magazine.

    Another reason to invest in a helical planer is its versatility. With its powerful motor and adjustable cutting depth, you can tackle any project with ease. From leveling a slab for your new table to smoothing out your latest masterpiece, this planer is a real workhorse.

    Now, I know what you're thinking – "Do I really need one of these fancy helical planers?" Well, if you ask me, personally, the answer is a resounding YES! Once you experience the joy of using a helical planer, there's no turning back. It's like having a secret weapon in your woodworking arsenal – you'll wonder how you ever survived without it. But let's get into the details. I'll help you figure out if this machine has a place in your life.

    Who Should Own a Helical Planer?

    So, you're considering getting a helical planer, huh? Well, let me tell you, my friend, it's a choice that not everyone needs to make. Helical planers are a special kind of tool, designed for those of us who take their woodworking game to the next level.

    If you're someone who loves working with wood, crafting beautiful pieces that make jaws drop, then a helical planer is absolutely for you. With its razor-sharp helical cutterhead, a planer will effortlessly smooth out rough surfaces, leaving you with a finish so smooth you'll want to stroke it like a fluffy bunny.

    Now, if you're just a casual DIY-er or someone who occasionally dabbles in woodworking, you might not need to invest in a helical planer. Sure, it's a fancy tool, but it comes with a price tag to match. If all you need is a simple hand planer or sander to whittle away at those edges from time to time, then stick to your trusty old tools. There's no shame in that game.

    But if you want to step it up, if you want to save yourself time & effort, if you take special pride in your craftsmanship, and if you crave that perfect finish and precision cuts, the helical planer is an absolute dream. It's like having a magic wand that turns rough-hewn wood into silky-smooth masterpieces.

    So, really think about your woodworking needs. Are you a casual carpenter? Dabbling with projects on and off? Or are you a true wood whisperer, a master craftsman in the making? If so, then a helical planer might just be the missing piece in your woodworking puzzle. Trust me, once you experience the joy of using one, you'll never look back.

    Key Factors for Choosing the Perfect Helical Planer

    Alright, so you've decided that getting a planer doesn't just make sense, it's a necessity. But if you're going to drop a few thousand dollars on one, you better make sure you're getting a good one, right?

    So, what are the key factors you should consider when choosing the perfect helical planer? Well, let me spill the chips!

    First things first, you need to look at the cutting width. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Cutting width? I don't care about that, all I care about is cutting depth!” But trust me, it’s important! The cutting width determines the size of the boards you can feed into the planer. If you get a planer with too narrow of a cutting width, you’ll be stuck with skinny boards. And who wants that?

    Next up is the number of cutter head knives. Now, the more knives, the smoother the finish. It’s like slathering extra butter on your mom’s pancakes – it just makes everything better! More knives mean less tear-out and a silky smooth surface. And let's be real, who doesn't want their wood to be as smooth as a jazz melody?

    Finally, let’s talk about the size of the planer. You don’t want a bulky behemoth hogging up all the space in your workshop, do you? Of course not! Look for a planer that’s compact and easy to move around, but big enough to deal with a decent board size. You want a planer that makes your life easier, not one that gives you a backache just trying to move it.

    So, my fellow woodworkers, remember to consider the cutting width, the number of knives, and the size of the planer when choosing your perfect helical planer. Get the right one, and you'll be planing like a pro in no time!

    The most Coveted Helical Planers 

    Alright, now that you've considered whether a planer is a good investment for your workshop and you know what you should be looking for, it's time to talk about choosing The One, the helical planer that will take your woodworking game to the next level. Below I've selected a few models from one of my favorite woodworking machinery brands, Oliver Machinery.

    Oliver Machinery 25” Planer with Byrd Shelix Cutterhead 15HP 3Ph

    The Oliver 25" Planer with Byrd Shelix Cutterhead is an absolute beast of a machine. With its 15HP 3Ph motor and cast iron construction, it is built to handle heavy-duty tasks with ease. At this massive size, the Byrd Shelix cutterhead is a game-changer, tackling all kinds of wood—from maple to mahogany—all while allowing for quick and easy tool changes with its indexed helical carbide inserts. No more struggling with traditional knives!

    One of the standout features of this planer is its incredible cutting capacity. With a maximum depth of cut of 1/4", it can handle even the thickest pieces of wood. The polished built-in table roller and segmented infeed roller make feeding rough stock a breeze.

    The safety features on this machine are also top-notch. The magnetic controls and emergency off switch provide peace of mind, knowing that you can quickly shut down the machine if necessary. The control panel with digital readout allows for precise thickness settings, ensuring accuracy in every cut.

    However, there are a few drawbacks to consider. First, this planer is quite large and heavy, weighing in at a whopping 1,732 lbs. This can make it difficult to move and set up, especially for small workshops. Getting this machine off the delivery truck and set up in my workshop was quite an adventure. Additionally, the price tag is on the high side, so it may not be feasible for hobbyist woodworkers on a tight budget.

    But overall, the Oliver 25" Planer with Byrd Shelix Cutterhead is a fantastic machine that delivers exceptional results. If you're an industrial woodworker in need of a planer that can handle heavy-duty tasks, this is the machine for you. Just be prepared for its size and weight, as well as the investment required.

    Oliver Machinery 22” Planer with Byrd Shelix Cutterhead 7.5HP 1Ph

    The Oliver 22” Planer with Byrd Shelix Cutterhead is a powerhouse machine that leaves other planers in the dust. With its ability to handle stock up to 22" wide and take up to 3/16” off in a single pass, it is truly a beast in the workshop.

    One of the standout features of this planer is the Byrd Shelix cutterhead. With its carbide inserts, it allows for quick and easy changing, saving you valuable time. The massive cast iron construction throughout ensures stability and durability, making this planer built to last.

    The digital readout is a game-changer, allowing for precise thickness settings. No more guesswork or trial and error, just effortless accuracy. The 2-speed gear box provides the perfect feed rate, ensuring smooth and consistent results.

    The magnetic controls with an emergency off switch add an extra layer of safety, giving me peace of mind while operating this machine. The hinged access to the cutter head and feed rollers makes set-up quick and painless, while the easy access to the motor and drive train assist in maintenance and adjustment.

    As with the 25" planer, one downside of this planer is its weight. At 1,340 lbs., it is not easily portable or maneuverable. However, this is a small price to pay for the power and performance it delivers.

    Overall, the Oliver 22” Planer with Byrd Shelix Cutterhead is a top-notch machine that is worth every penny. Its features and performance surpass other planers on the market, making it a must-have for any serious woodworker.

    Oliver Machinery 20" Planer with Helical Cutterhead 5HP 1Ph

    The Oliver 20" Planer with Helical Cutterhead is an absolute beast of a machine. With its full 20" planing width and powerful 5HP motor, it effortlessly transforms rough lumber into smooth boards. The heavy-duty cast iron construction ensures stability and support, so you can trust that this planer will last for years to come.

    One of the standout features of this planer is the helical cutter head with premium carbide inserts. Not only does it provide consistent and clean cuts, but the four-sided cutting inserts are indexed and easy to replace. This saves time and money on maintenance.

    I also appreciate the precision and convenience of the Wixey digital readout, which allows for precise thickness settings. The large hand wheel and support struts make height adjustment a breeze, and the four-post design ensures head alignment regardless of stock thickness.

    The built-in mobile base is a game-changer for those with limited workshop space. It allows for easy movement and positioning of the planer, without the need for heavy lifting.

    One minor drawback is the width of the machine. It's kind of an in-between size where it's not large enough to handle bigger boards but it's also not as portable as a 15" or 12.5" planer. For the right woodworker it might be just right, but personally I'd prefer the flexibility of a smaller machine or the power and capacity of a larger one.

    Overall, the Oliver 20" Planer with Helical Cutterhead is a top-notch machine that delivers on its promises. If you're serious about woodworking and need a planer that can handle heavy-duty tasks but isn't too big, or if you're looking to upgrade from a 12.5" planer, this is the one to put at the top of your list.

    Oliver Machinery 15" Planer with Helical Cutterhead 3HP 1Ph

    The Oliver 15" Planer with Helical Cutterhead is a powerful and efficient tool that gets the job done. With a feedrate of 20 FMP, it can handle a wide range of materials with ease. The unique design allows the motor and cutterhead to move in unison, ensuring precision and smooth operation. Plus, the auto-depth lock with twin nitrogen cylinders virtually eliminates snipping, giving you clean and professional results every time.

    One of the standout features of this planer is the helical head with premium carbide inserts. These 4-sided cutting inserts are indexed and easy to replace, making maintenance a breeze. The heavy cast iron construction, including the extension wings, provides a sturdy and stable surface for your work, allowing for precise and smooth stock feeding.

    I also appreciate the Wixey digital readout, which allows for precise thickness settings. Combined with the large hand wheel and support struts for easy height adjustment, this planer gives you full control over your projects. The four-post design ensures head alignment regardless of stock thickness, giving you consistent and accurate results.

    On the downside, the dust management could be improved. While the 4" dust collection port is effective, it could do a better job at minimizing dust and chips. But I'm really just nitpicking here because my editor told me I should include some cons alongside the pros. This machine is pretty perfect if I'm being honest, and well worth the extra price you pay compared to the 12.5" planer below. The Oliver 15" Planer with Helical Cutterhead is a reliable and high-performing tool that will greatly enhance any woodworking shop.

    The Perfect Benchtop Planer: The Oliver Machinery 12.5" Planer with BYRD Cutterhead 

    Also commonly known by its model number, the Oliver 10044, the Oliver 12.5" Planer with BYRD Cutterhead is a powerful and reliable tool that has greatly improved my woodworking projects. The authentic BYRD Shelix head provides incredibly smooth cuts, and the 4-sided carbide inserts are indexed for quick changing, making my work much more efficient.

    One of the standout features of this planer is the easy-to-read Wixey digital readout, which allows for quick and accurate setup. The elevation crank also has an easy-to-read scale, making precise height adjustments a breeze. The built-in carriage lock adds stability during operation, ensuring consistent results. And the 4-post design helps keep the cutter head aligned to the table.

    I also appreciate the on-board adjustment wrench storage and the top thickness gauge, which allows for convenient material checks. The four depth stops make it easy to set up the planer for a variety of thicknesses, and the front material removal gauge saves me time during setup.

    The fold-up extension wings provide added material support, and the built-in carry handles make the planer easy to transport. The blower assists in chip ejection, keeping my work area clean, and the dust port allows for easy hookup to a 2-1/2" or 4" hose.

    While this planer has many positive features, there are a couple of drawbacks. The 2hp 15amp motor could be more powerful, especially when working with denser woods, and the planer's small size limits the kind of projects you can work on. But as a benchtop planer? I have to say it's pretty great.

    Overall, the Oliver 12.5" Planer with BYRD Cutterhead is a highly functional and efficient tool that has greatly improved my woodworking projects. It is packed with features that make operation a breeze. Despite a few minor drawbacks, I highly recommend this planer for any serious woodworker.

    The Final Spin: Making an Informed Decision

    In conclusion, the helical planer is the ultimate tool for professional woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts looking to save time and achieve smooth, flat boards. With its powerful and efficient design, it takes woodworking to a whole new level.

    One standout option is the Oliver 25" Planer with Byrd Shelix Cutterhead. This machine is a true beast, equipped with a 15HP 3Ph motor and a Byrd Shelix cutterhead. It effortlessly tackles even the toughest wood, leaving you with flawless results. You'll never need more power than this can provide, I promise.

    Say goodbye to hours of hand planing and hello to a more efficient and enjoyable woodworking experience. The helical planer is a game-changer in the industry, allowing you to achieve professional-quality finishes with ease.

    So, whether you're a seasoned woodworker or just starting out, investing in a helical planer is a smart choice. It will save you time, effort, and frustration, while delivering impressive results. Take your woodworking game to the next level with a helical planer, and unlock the secrets to smooth, professional woodworking.

    Don't wait any longer, get your hands on a helical planer today and start creating beautiful projects with ease!

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