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Determining How to Get the Most out of Your Planer's Cutter Heads
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Standard set of planer knives Standard planer knives take some adjusting to get the best cuts, but the effort you put in will ultimately be worth it.

Eventually, planer knives get dull and nicked...then the fun begins.With a conventional cutterhead, each knife is held in a slot against a steel gib bar and a series of bolts.When it’s resharpened, it must be adjusted for proper height using jack screws underneath.The height of all three knives must match precisely to plane properly. It’s time-consuming but do-able if you’re really patient.

Self-adjusting planer knife on JET planer. JET's style of planer knives fit over small pins and set themselves fairly automatically.

JET makes the job much easier by including self-indexing, double-edged knives on its JWP-15DX planer. Here, the knives fit over a pair of tiny pins on the cutterhead, which automatically set them to proper height. Once both edges are dull, you throw the knives away.

Powermatic carbide insert planer knife Powermatic's planer knives are fairly user friendly, and if one is ever knicked or dulled, a quick turn can bring a sharper knife to bear.

Powermatic provides a Byrd Shelical Cutterhead on the 15HH planer, with 98 square carbide inserts. Each locks in a pocket on the cutterhead with a Torx screw. Four sharp edges make it easy to remedy nicks: just give the damaged cutter insert a quarter turn and tighten it back down. No gib bars, bolts or jack screws here.

posted on April 1, 2008 by Chris Marshall
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