Popular Woodworking Magazine has had a Byrd cutterhead in our 20” planer since late 2010. (Click here to watch an installation video.) Up until now, we have had no problems, but while milling stock for an upcoming project, I noticed significant planer tracks coming from the right-hand side of the planer. There were nicks with which to contend.
With a three-knife head, this could mean you need to resharpen and replace all the knives. At minimum you would need to shift the knives so the nicks were not aligned. Either way you are going to have to dig out a dial indicator and get to work. With a Byrd head or other spiral cutterhead, the fix is super easy. No dial caliper necessary.
If you notice tracks in your stock, you need to locate the individual knives affected. The best way to do this is with a visual inspection however, wood junk on the knives can look like small nicks. After a quick dusting with a small brush to reduce the potential number of nicked knives, I tested candidates with a thumbnail. Nicks stand out when using this test method.
I grabbed a star wrench and pulled a bad knife from the journal. Before you rotate and replace the knife, you need to make sure any and all dust and junk is off the head so you do not trap things between the individual knives and the journal. I brushed away all I could then used a small piece of #400-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper to lightly clean the area. I also cleaned the back of the knife using the same sandpaper. I couple quick buffs on a dead-flat surface worked great.
With each area clean and ready, I reinstalled the knife and set the screw with hand pressure. After rotating fives knives, I set the hood and dust shoot in place and took the head for a test drive. No planer tracks could be seen – we’re back in operation. I sure don’t miss setting planers knives. Maybe we should sell our dial indicator on Ebay.
Need more help with or information about planers? Check out these:
- If you need to change your three-knife cutterhead, order “Setting Jointer & Planer Knives.”
- Proper lumber preparation is paramount to smooth running builds. Pick up “The Right Way to Prepare Lumber.”
- If you’re interested in using a planer to taper legs, you need “Four Ways to Make Tapered Legs.”