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Spiral Cutter or Straight Blade Cutter: Is There a Difference?

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.   

What is a straight-blade cutterhead?

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.

What is a spiral cutterhead and what makes it popular?

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. 

CUTECH’s Spiral Cutterhead Planer

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. 

Conclusion: Spiral Cutter vs Straight Blade Cutter

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. 


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