Byrd Tool Shelix head review for jointer

I got a used Grizzly jointer, the G1182.  I thought this would be a nice upgrade to my newer, but smaller bench jointer that has an aluminum 30″ table.  The Grizzly, while older, is cast iron with a 46″ table.

While checking it out after I got home, I noticed the blades were not set very well, up to 15 thousandths off.  I got to work setting those, and quickly found out the difference between having some sort of quick set knife system, like I have on the bench jointer, and not having that.  On the bench jointer, I was able to set the two blades to within one thousandth of an inch.  It didn’t take long, pretty simple with the extra set of screws that would raise and lower the blade.  The Grizzly jointer doesn’t have these extra screws, they only have the bolts that tighten the gib, and no way to really raise or lower the blades, other than when it is loose.  I tried and tried, and it was very frustrating.  The blades would normally be off between 10 and 15 thousandths.  It didn’t matter what tool I used to set the blades, because as soon as I tightened the bolts, the blade would move way too much.  I was using the Oneway Multi Gauge to measure the blade heights.  The Oneway Multi Gauge is what allowed me to easily set the bench jointer blades to within one thousandth of an inch.  You won’t need this if you get the Byrd Shelix head, as you don’t have to set the blades.  Although you could use it to set the height of the outfeed table.  I spend over an hour and a half trying to set one blade in level, and wasn’t able to come close.  How I’d ever get the other two blades level and matching the height of that one I don’t know.  People have been using the system without the easy set system, so I’m sure somehow it must be possible.  Perhaps they never get them set that close though.

I then did some research.  Jointers are pretty new for me, so I’m learning.  What I found is, basically people do not like the jointers without the quick set knife system.  One guy stated he’d rather pour wood glue in his hair and let it dry than set his jointer blades.  I was understanding the feeling.  I’d read about the Byrd Shelix heads, and thought maybe this was a good excuse to get one.  I would no longer have to set the blades at all, and they are supposed to be much quieter.  I searched and went to shelixheads.com, found they sell the cutter head for my Grizzly 6″ jointer, and they had them in stock.  I went ahead and ordered one.  I received an email a couple days later saying that there would be a two week delay in shipping the cutter head.  They said the factory did have these in stock, but that they go over the cutter head for quality issues, and they make sure it is balanced, and because of a backlog, it would take two weeks.  The delay was a bummer, but I thought OK, that will be nice to get a cutter head that is perfect, and it sure will be nice to get that installed.  I couldn’t wait to get it, and get started on my projects with the jointer.

The jointer finally shipped from Byrd tools, and it took a week to make its way across the country.  When I got it, I was impressed at the packaging.  They package it in a way that even if it gets dropped, the cutter blades never touch anything in the box, which uses wooden blocks to suspend the cutter head inside.  The first thing I noticed was one of the cutting tips looked strange, sticking way off the end.  I remember something about one of the tips wouldn’t be in a spiral on the very end for use in rabbeting.  I thought maybe this was that cutting knife.  Although it looked like a tooth sticking out that an orthodontist needed to take a look at.

I’d already removed the old cutter head from the jointer.  I bought the TEKTON 5685 4-Inch 3-Jaw Gear Puller to pull off the pulley and bearing covers.  This worked great, and it was very easy to pull those off the first try.  I didn’t bother to pull the bearings, as I went ahead and bought new bearings for the Byrd Shelix head.

First I’m pulling the pulley off with the gear puller
I’m pulling off the first bearing cover. I had to remove the gibs completely to give the gear puller arms room to grasp the bearing cover
Pulling the other bearing cover off

I went ahead and put the bearing covers on the new Shelix head, and put the pully on.  I placed the new cutter head into my jointer, and put the bolts back in that hold it in place.  Right away I found a problem.  That problem cutter head sticking off the end just barely missed the bearing cover, but it hit the cast iron of the jointer, it was sticking off way too far.

That cutting tip almost hits the bearing cover. When it rotates, it does hit the cast iron the bearing cover is bolted to

I emailed shelixheads.com, and let them know the problem.  They got back to me the next day, and let me know they forwarded the issue to Byrd Tools.  They said I could also contact them myself.  I was hot to get the jointer going, so I sent Byrd Tools an email, attached a picture of the the issue.  Then I decided calling them would speed things up, I wanted this resolved.  I called, and was told the guy I needed to talk to had already left at 2:30 Eastern time, or basically 11:30am my time.  She mentioned they’d gotten my email and would get back to me.

The next day I got a short email back from Garry at Byrd Tools, saying that there should be at most a 0.1″ overhang of any cutter head, and that this one looked like it was sticking out 3/16″.  He said he checked their stock, and the others in this batch also had this same issue.  He said the problem was, when they attached the cutting tips, that they were all not centered on the head, that basically every single one of them was shifted over.  He said I could use a Dremel to grind off the corner of that cutting tip, and use it that way, and he could send me several tips that would last for years (with only two usable sides), or they could replace the head if and when they make a new batch. I was really wanting to get the jointer going, so went ahead and tried grinding the edge off the one cutting tip.

The grinding itself wasn’t too bad, except for one issue, when using the dremel like that with the spinning grinder, when it gets to the corner of the cutting tip, it took off right across the cutting side of it twice while I ground it down.  That wasn’t good, right across the edge I needed to be perfect.  It was about this point I realized I was being asked to pay full price for this Shelix head (which is a pretty pricey item to begin with), and then have to put up with issues for as long as I owned it, because it was a defective cutting head.  I then realized I should not be having to deal with this issue.  I then I thought of their wording in the email, I could grind the tip down, OR I could wait IF and WHEN they make another batch, then they’d send me a placement cutting head.  That didn’t seem like a good deal at all!  So the “or” word means if I wanted a good Shelix head, I shouldn’t grind the tooth down?  “If” and “when” were also words I didn’t like, so how long would I have to wait?  A couple months, years, or decades, or never?  I have projects I want to work on, and all this is causing more delays.  Every time I have a communication with them, it is one more day. I haven’t gotten back to them and gotten a response the same day ever.

I got back to shelixheads.com and told them I wanted a full refund, and they need to pay for return shipping if they want their defective cutting head back.  Steffen at Shelixheads.com said he’d ask Byrd Tools to send a return shipping label to me.  Apparently not much happens at shelixheads.com without Byrd Tools basically doing it.  I’m waiting to hear back on the refund now.

So in conclusion, this isn’t at all how I thought this review would go on the Byrd Shelix head.  I thought I’d get it and be super happy, because everyone else seems to be, from what I read online.  But they made a big mistake making this batch of heads.  Their QA department, that I waited an extra two weeks for, also let this slip through.  I’m not very familiar with jointers, and I spotted the issue the second I opened the box.  I wasn’t quite sure what the deal was, but it looked wrong to me.  I’d think people that make these every day would have wondered why the one tip was so far off the edge.  Then the support for this was terrible.  Basically it sounded like I could go ahead and pay full price for a defective head, and I could take the “grinding off the tip path”, or I could set and wait for an unknown period of time (forever clearly stated as a possibility) and wait until if and when they make another batch for that particular jointer. So if I decided I wanted a replacement head, with them using the “or”, it didn’t sound like they wanted me to grind a tip if I wanted to wait for a new head.

I cannot recommend Shelixheads.com, nor Byrd Tools Shelix heads.  I can understand an occasional problem, that happens to all of us.  But their QA is lacking, and their support for when a problem happens is also severely lacking.

My refund request from Byrd Tools is falling on deaf ears there.  And I’m not sure why Byrd Tools is in charge of my refund, as Shelixheads.com (a division of MyWoodCutters.com) is the company I bought this from, and they seem to be two separate companies.  They will look and see if they have another one and send it to me, but he isn’t sure if they even have another one.  How many more days will that take? I don’t want another one, I made it clear that I want a full immediate refund, so why is he trying to send me another one? This is just more evidence these two companies are ones to avoid. Meanwhile, I purchased a Delta 8″ DJ-20 jointer, that has the quick set knife setting system, so I’ll be selling the Grizzly jointer.

I’d mentioned to the guy at Shelixheads.com that I was doing a YouTube review of this.  He then accused me of trying to blackmail him. He said he didn’t care because there are thousands of good reviews for the Byrd Shelix head.  Blackmail him for what?  All I was trying to do was get him to hurry up and offer a refund and pay for the return shipping for the defective product. That’s blackmail?

Byrd Tools: Zero Stars

Shelixheads.com: Zero Stars

If you haven’t seen it yet, I have a YouTube video of this review also. If you like the video, please subscribe to get notification of future videos.

Products used:
Oneway Multi Gauge
TEKTON 5685 4-Inch 3-Jaw Gear Puller

 

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