Maybe you’re ready to buy your first jointer or planer, or perhaps you’re thinking of upgrading to a newer one. If so, you may be wondering if you should purchase one that has a spiral cutterhead or a straight-blade cutterhead. Well, we’ll help you decide by looking at some of the details that set them apart.   

Briefly, a straight-blade cutterhead consists of two or more blades (often called knives) spaced apart on a rotating steel head.  Spiral cutterheads consist of small square cutters placed close together in a spiral pattern on a rotating steel head. Both straight-blade and spiral cutterheads remove surface wood when a board passes over the rotating head. 

Straight-blade cutters have been around longer on DIY machines but spiral cutters are  growing in popularity. More manufacturers are starting to offer both blade and spiral cutterheads. Even so, not all manufacturer's straight-blade and spiral cutterheads are the same.

One thing that makes spiral cutters popular is the extended use you get from not having to replace the cutters as often as you do with blades. For instance, when a blade becomes nicked, you have to replace the entire blade. However, if a cutter insert becomes nicked, you replace only the nicked insert, and not the undamaged ones.   

When the need comes to replace a cutter, simply remove one screw, put on a new cutter, replace the screw, and you’re ready to go. It’s that easy. There is no need to calibrate the cutter height as you do after replacing blades. It’s one of the maintenance advantages of spiral cutters. 

The smaller cutting heads on the spiral cutter work in smaller sections to remove large quantities of surface wood. This results in a smoother wood finish than you’d get with blade cutters, reducing the need for additional sanding or finishing. The smaller cutting width also produces smaller woodchips, making it less likely you’ll clog the dust collection system. 

It’s worth noting that CUTECH spiral cutters are engineered with a unique design. The special design allows our exclusive inserts to make contact with the wood at different intervals. This reduces motor burden, extending motor life and reducing energy consumption. Both of which can save you money. 

So, does all this mean spiral cutters are better than straight blade cutters? Not necessarily. While it’s true spiral cutters have some maintenance and operational advantages, you can’t ignore the price advantage of straight blade cutters. With that in mind, for the novice woodworker or someone on a budget, straight-blade cutters can be the perfect solution. 

Check out the full line of CUTECH Jointers and Planers online. 

-Dave

We’ve all done it at least once, we’ve used a substitute tool in place of the right one for the job. For instance, using a screwdriver in place of a chisel, or using pliers when the job calls for a wrench.

While using a close-enough tool might be convenient, it can make the job more difficult, more time consuming, and even unsafe in the long run.

Using the right tool for the job can mean the difference between a professional-looking project and an unsatisfactory outcome.

If your woodworking project involves removing layers of wood, here’s a simple guide for deciding when to use a sander and when to use a planer.

Sanders

If you’ve used a sander before it’s tempting to think of it as a thickness planer. After all, both machines are effective a removing surface wood.

But in reality, sanders are finishing tools, and using a sander to remove layers of wood can prove to be expensive and time consuming.

Compared to planers, sanders are very slow, removing minute amounts of wood with each pass. The need to make multiple passes often results in enormous heat buildup, resulting in burnt sandpaper, blown fuses, and damaged wood.

As a thicknesser, sanders can be expensive to use because you’re constantly replacing worn out sandpaper. So when you think of a sander, best to think of it as a finishing tool best used for fine woodworking.

Thickness Planers

Whereas sanders are used to alter the finish of wood, a wood planer is used to even out wood to an exact thickness.

Planers produce boards of even thickness. With a planer you can take several irregular pieces of wood and level them all to the same even thickness.

As uneven wood stock travels through the planer, the rotating cutter heads remove a preset amount of wood from each board. Thus, you can buy wood of any thickness and as long as it is of good quality, you can plane it to produce the thickness you want.

With a planer you can smooth rough lumber, clean up sawn edges and give new life to old wood. Each planed piece of wood can be used by itself or glued to other planed pieces for a thicker board or block.

Common projects from planed wood include cutting boards, woodcarvings, custom-planed spindles, and other craft items.  In fact, anyone considering furniture making will find the planer indispensable.

Nothing beats owning a wood planer when you need to smooth boards and mill them to an exact thickness. You’re limited only by your imagination.

Check out the line of CUTECH planers to find the one that’s right for you.

So remember, using the proper tool for the job not only saves you time and money, but it can keep you safe from injury and ensure a professional-looking finish as well.

-- 

XZB

Anyone venturing into woodworking will know the importance of flat uniform boards.  Rough cut lumber will need 4 sides planed and squared, otherwise known as surfaced 4 sides (S4S).  This preparation not only removes any warping in the wood but S4S will ensure that your project comes together beautifully.  Now a board has six sides but for now we are only concerned about four of the sides (two surfaces and two edges).  A question that often arises is whether a jointer or a planer is best to achieve S4S.  At first glance these two machines seem to accomplish the same task, in actuality they work together to produce boards that are flat with the same thickness throughout.

What is a Jointer?

Let's begin with the jointer.  This piece of Cutech machinery is designed with spiral cutters that mill the board from the bottom.  Its job is to straighten out any bowing, twisting and/or cupping in the wood.  A few passes through the jointer and the board is perfectly flat on that surface.  Then by placing that flat surface against the jointer fence, the jointer will square up the edge facing the spiral cutters.  A common misconception is that from this point forward, you can simply flip the board over and mill the other side.  Doing so will achieve two flat surfaces, however the thickness of the board will vary from one end to the other.

Learn more about CUTECH’s benchtop jointer with spiral cutterhead

What is a Planer? 

This is where the planer comes into play.  Its shining role is making the second surface parallel to the jointed surface and ensuring that the board is the same thickness throughout.  This is achieved with rollers that pushes the board down while spiral cutters mill the top of the board to mirror the flat surface the jointer created. Any desired board thickness can be programmed with the Cutech planer.  It is also often asked why not just use the planer to square up the boards.  While the planer excels at thicknessing the board, it does not address any warping in wood.  By using just a planer, the wood will be uniform in thickness but may rock from side to side or may have a gap from the warping of the wood.

Learn more about CUTECH’s benchtop planer with spiral cutterhead

Together, the jointer and planer opens the door to the woodworking hobbyist to work with a greater variety of wood that may not be available with the pre milled lumber from big box lumber stores.

-- 

BT

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