Helical head for planer which one?
I have 2 Belsaw planer molders and a 13 inch rigid lunchbox planer.

I’d like to have a helical head in a planer and am looking for advice from those that have retrofit one.

The cost is substantially different at $1300 for kit for the belsaw and $450 for the rigid.
Both planers have similar width and the helical head will probably reduce the power required from the motor making me lean toward doing the lunchbox planer over the 5hp belsaw.
Also would be losing option of doing molding although I don’t do much molding and I have a second belsaw if there’s really a good reason to convert it.

What got me looking at this again, is there is a cutech branded helical head joiner about 100 miles away for sale that looks like an exact copy of the rigid design. All the way down to the little tool storage inset in one end.

Any opinions
Will the bigger size and more blade inserts on the belsaw make it that much better than the rigid?
I upgraded my 15" Yorkcraft to a Byrd head and very glad I did the upgrade. That said, the economics have really changed since I bought my planer and my helical. I also used to have a DeWalt lunchbox that I sold a loooong time ago, here on Woodnet BTW. In hindsight, I wish I would have kept the lunchbox- just handy to have around as an extra if you have the space. So, what would I do in your shoes?

- would not spend $450 to upgrade a lunchbox. I just don't think these are serviceable, and while you could possibly swap the head over to a new machine, I don't think I'd want to have that much sunk in a 'disposable' tool. I might consider a new lunchbox with a helical head. Rikon has one for ~$700. Same argument I made above could be made for a new planer with factory head but if funds were limited, I'd probably spend a couple hundered extra and get a factory helix lunchbox if that was my only option.

- $1,400 for a new head on a 5hp 12" planer. That'd be tough too. If I really liked everything about the planer and never wished it was a tad bigger that's probably what I'd do. Grizzly has a 15"er with helical head right now for $1900 + freight + taxes. That's probably the route I would go if I were you. Roughly $900 more than your original budget though so??? FWIW, once I upgraded from 12" to 15" I've never regretted not buying a bigger planer. 

Just my opinion, and I don't have a strong opinion either way, but you'll be happy with a helix upgrade whatever you decide and the head swap out (at least on my machine) was not that hard to do (with a little help from YT, Byrd website, and this forum).
I kind of agree with ajkoonts. I have 2 planners, a 15 inch and a 13, both are Deltas like the one pictured below. Neither are lunch box planners. I am sure mine are quieter than your lunch box. My 13 inch is used the most. The 15  is there for just finish work. Always has sharp knives.

I do not have an inserted cutter head on any machine but If I were to put one on I would do the 13 because it does 90 % of the work. I would be inclined to see if I could sell both the lunch box and one of the Belsaw planners and buy a new Grizzly 15 inch with the head already in it.  With the cost to upgrade, and sale of the the Belsaw and the lunchbox a new Grizzly isn't out of reach if any. Then  you have no work and the frustration that goes along with the work of changing cutter heads. A new one would be bigger, quieter and you will not be loosing to much HP. 


I like the thought of a new 15" with helical head. But, as one who put a Byrd head on a Dewalt 735 and loves it--the one thing i've never liked about my 735 (with original knives or Byrd) is the sound of that universal motor. My guess is that if you put a helical in either your Ridgid or one of the Belsaws--the use of the straight-knifed machine will drop a lot in a short period of time. For that reason--i'd lean toward retiring the universal motor machine and focus on the Belsaw. Tom makes a great point on the economics of a new machine, if i was in your shoes my dilemna would be whether to upgrade a Belsaw --or-- sell a Belsaw (or the Ridgid) and buy new(er) since you may also be able to find a good used machine with the helical already on it.

Glad i'm not wrestling this question for myself--tough enough to think about it for you!! Good luck--but know you're going to like the helical!!
I haven't checked the numbers but the difference between spending 1300 to upgrade a Belsaw verses $1900 for a 15 inch machine with the inserted cutter head is $600. I may be wrong but if you are considering spending $1300 you probably have it. Selling the other two should net you at least half of the $600 you need. I am playing the devils advocate here. Someone pointed it out to me that Grizzly Has shipping for $50  but it showed up on my order sheet as $199. so I would check into that before signing on the dotted line. 

Call be old fashion, but I do not prefer universal motors so I wouldn't do it on a Ridged. Maybe a DeWalt. 

Anyway good luck with your decision.

Since we all seem to be steering you towards buying a new Grizzly, they have two 15" models- current pricing below. Using my state sales tax rate, 7% YMMV, the cheaper one is ~$2300 all-in and the more expensive one is ~$3,000 all-in (shipping cost posted below direct from Grizzly website, and this is a current sale price). The planer I have is like the more expensive version, love everything about it, but man the prices on these things have gone crazy. Cheaper has a fixed table, like the old Delta's and the expensive one the head is stationary and the table moves. Not sure if one is better over the other, but like I said I really like mine. Having the top rollers to feed material back and forth is a plus, but not sure if that alone is worth $700. The specs appear to be very similar otherwise, except for the total weight. Mine has an integrated mobile base, which is very handy, and it doesn't look like either Grizzly comes with this option. Like others have said, helical makes the machine much quieter, which I knew going in, but didn't anticipate how much I would appreciate the noise reduction.

It really is a tough call seeing that you have 3 perfectly acceptable planers already and a bunch of us are steering you to make a $2-3k purchase out of a $500-$1,400 question. So take my advice as just food for thought/ something to consider.  

That escalated quickly from a few hundred to 3k

I’m going to watch the used market for a while as I’m not in a hurry

I’m getting that upgrading any of my existing is not going to be very cost effective.

I’ll probably keep at least one of the belsaws for molding but I’m open to getting rid of one belsaw and the rigid.
Biggest reason the Belsaw is so much more expensive is the heft of the head.  I was curious and looked at my list of weight packed; Belsaw 36 pounds and Rigid 12 pounds.  More steel, more machining and more cutters.
I understand the price difference on the upgrade differences.

By the time I look at a helical planer for 3k, why not add a few hundred more and get a combo planer jointer and get rid of my 6” helical jointer as well?

I don’t mill enough lumber to spend 3600 on it so I’m probably going to stick with what I have for now and keep an eye on the used market locally
Looks like there is a G0891 local to me but they are asking to much for what it is.

Pictures show some rust on the columns and it looks like stored in non airconditioned space here in Texas, so probably rust elsewhere also.

Messaged to see if they will come down to less than 75% of new price closer to 50%
If they go that far, I may go get it, if they are stuck at 75% of new, I am going to pass.

Then I would probably sell at least one of the belsaws and may think about getting rid of the Rigid although the rigid has some sentimental value as it was one of my first gloatworthy scores.

I bought it for $89 dollars at the Home Depot in North Kansas City over 20 years ago when they were on clearance to make way for the exact same planer packaged with a set of Legs.

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