Spiral VS Helical Cutterhead : Major Differences Discussed

spiral vs helical cutterhead

When you are working on a project, it’s important to have the right cutterheads for your machine. The two main types of blade cutters are helical and spiral. They’re on both horizontal and right angle machines.

The spiral cutter is used for cutting soft, low-density materials like plastics and foam. A helical cutterheads are used for cutting high-density materials such as metal, wood, rubber etc. In this article, we’ll compare spiral cutterhead vs. helical cutter head.

What are the Similarities between Spiral and Helical Cutterheads?

What are the Similarities between Spiral and Helical Cutterheads

01. Both spiral and helical cutters are available on right-angle and horizontal machines.

02. They both work well on their sharpness and stability.

03. Both spiral and helical cutterheads are durable, long-lasting tools you can count on over time.

04. Helical and spiral cutters are both more affordable than other types.

05. Spiral and helical cutters both offer quick, efficient cuts.

06. Both have carbide teeth that last a long time, with little or no discernible wear even after an extended period of use.

Let’s Talk About Spiral vs Helical Cutterhead

Let's Talk About Spiral vs Helical Cutterhead

Cutting heads are the tools that interact with the material during the cutting process. It is important to understand the difference between spiral and helical cutterheads. Here are the differences between spiral and helical cutterheads:

01. Blade Arrangement

Spiral cutter heads have multiple blades that are placed around a central shaft. They can be found on both right-angle and horizontal machines.

Meanwhile, helical cutters have a single blade wrapped around a shaft similar to a screw or bolt. They can be found on both right-angle and horizontal machines as well.

02. Structure

Spiral cutter heads have blades that are slightly angled in a helical pattern. The spacing between the blade is uniform except at the leading edge where it extends closer to support the material being cut.

Helical cutterheads have a uniform spacing along the entire length of the blade. It starts out close to support materials and then gradually becomes wider at the leading edge.

03. Application

It is clear from the above that spiral cutter heads have primary applications in areas where there is a need to cut soft, low-density materials. Helical cutters are more suited for cutting high-density materials since they are blunt on the leading edge.

04. Durability

Spiral cutters have blades that are arranged with points angled in a helical pattern with uniform spacing except at the leading edge. This is typically made from tungsten carbide, which may break easily if not used carefully.

Helical cutters have a uniform spacing along the entire length of the blade. It starts out close to support materials and then gradually becomes wider at the leading edge where it’s normally blunt. This is usually made from high-quality steel.

Both are designed to provide a smooth finish when cutting by following the contour of the material, which means they are fairly durable.

05. Cutting Action

Helical cutters can be used for deep holes, but spiral cutters cannot. Spiral cutter heads use a lead screw to drive the blades in an inward motion against the material to be cut. This is what generates revolutions and provides lift as it cuts through the material. The result is a clean cut with no tear-out.

Helical cutters use a rhombus-shaped blade to drive the material in an outward motion against the wall of the hole being made. This is what generates revolutions and provides lift (and therefore speed) as it cuts through the material. The result is also a clean cut with no tear-out, but it may be necessary to drill a pilot hole first.

06. Tolerances

Spiral cutters are not as accurate as helical cutterheads.

Helical cutters are best for fine detail work or when making moulds of existing parts or patterns that need to be reproduced accurately. This is because they have the ability to cut right up to the edges of a mould or pattern without damaging it.

They are also more accurate compared with spiral cutters which often need support blocks for added strength at the edge of the material being cut.

07. Productivity

Spiral cutters are less productive compared with helical cutterheads.

Helical cutterheads are faster because they have the capability to make deep cuts in material while removing less of the material being cut.

They also leave a smooth finish, which can lead to increased production speeds when producing parts or patterns repeatedly for the same job.

08. Pressure Reliefs

Spiral cutters produce a shearing action on the material being cut. This can lead to a build-up of pressure at the cutting surface which causes friction, burn marks and blade wear.

Helical cutterheads have more contact points with the material being cut compared with spiral cutters, so they give better support for the material, preventing pressure build-up and leaving more space for the material to expand. This leads to superior finishes on parts, which also means less rework during production.

09. Load-Carrying Capacity

Spiral cutter heads have a greater load-carrying capacity compared with helical cutters because they have more contact points, which means fewer blades are needed to cut deep holes.

Helical cutterheads have fewer contact points than spiral cutters but far more than an end mill or a router bit, so even though each cutting edge works harder, it’s still less than with spiral cutters.

10. Tool Life

Spiral cutter heads have longer blade life compared with helical cutters because the blades are arranged in a helix that is closer to the centre of rotation. This gives them more support and prevents flexing at the cutting edge.

Helical cutterheads have greater tool life because each blade has multiple cutting edges, which are arranged in a helix to give better geometry for ensuring smooth cuts.

11. Installation Considerations

Spiral cutter heads have to be mounted on a swivel or pivot bench which enables them to follow the contour of the material being machined. Spiral cutters can be found on benchtop jointer, benchtop planer, benchtop router, etc.

Helical cutters can be mounted in a vice which is faster and more convenient for setups, but benchtop swivelling units are available for this purpose as well.

11. Maintenance

Helical cutterheads are easier to clean and maintain since there is no leading edge. Spiral cutter heads have a blunt edge that helps support the material being cut but leaves room for debris build-up during use. This makes them more difficult to clean out, which can cause problems if not done on a regular basis.

Helical cutters are also much stronger than spiral cutters because they have blades that interlock for stability, giving them an edge when it comes to cutting deep holes in dense material. This may not be the case with spiral cutters. However, their structure makes them more flexible which guarantees a smoother finish.

Which Cutterhead is Better?

Which Cutterhead is Better

Both of the cutterheads have their advantages and disadvantages. Which is better really depends on what you’re trying to cut. For softer, less dense materials like plastics and foam, a spiral cutterhead is a good choice.

For harder, denser materials like metals, wood, rubber, etc., a helical cutter head would be your best option. Jointer machines that use helical cutters are typically more expensive than jointer machines that use spiral cutterhead. You may use shelix cutterhead, which are exceptionally well manufactured and provide an excellent finish.

The jointer machine uses either a helical or spiral cutter head to remove material from the face of the board. The jointer’s job is to create flat surfaces along the length and width of the board so that they can be inserted into other machines like the planer or table saw with ease.

Jointer machines that use spiral cutters are very versatile. Since they’re designed to cut through softer materials, they can be used on a wide variety of jointer machines for different purposes.

If you have an abundance of soft material to cut through, then utilizing jointer machines with spiral cutters would be the most cost-effective choice. However, these jointer machines are not ideal for cutting through harder material.

If you have an abundance of dense materials to cut through, jointer machines with helical cutters are the way to go. These jointer machines are specifically designed for that purpose, so they work smoothly and efficiently with very little risk of jamming or binding, which is inherent in a spiral jointer machine.


Spiral vs helical cutterheads are both very useful in the right situation, but it is important to know when you should use one or the other. We hope you now understand the difference between spiral and helical cutterheads.

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