George Vondriska

What You Can Do On a Drum Sander

George Vondriska
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Duration:   11  mins

Over the years I’ve been asked about drum sanders MANY times. Here’s an opportunity to see what a drum sander can do for you, and learn about the differences between drum sanders and planers.

Abrasive planing

With 36-grit sandpaper on your drum sander you can quickly clean up a surface, taking it from rough sawn to finished. And, of course, you can change to progressively finer papers to optimize the surface finish.

End grain cutting boards

Leveling an end grain cutting board can be difficult. You’re up against the end grain of hard woods, plus you have glue squeeze out. You shouldn’t plane end grain cutting boards. A drum sander is the perfect solution.

Making veneer

If you’ve tried planing super thin stock you know it doesn’t go well. This material tends to get pulled up into the cutterhead, and your veneer is ruined. Go as thin as you like on a drum sander. You can virtually make paper.

Cleaning up edges

I’ve found that one of the best ways to eliminate saw marks from the edges of narrow pieces, like face frame parts, is to send them through a sander. This is much easier, and safer, than handling these narrow parts on a jointer.

Non-ferrous metal

You can easily get a brushed finish look on non-ferrous metal. When you do this be sure you disable the dust collection.

Wide panels

A huge benefit of open-ended drum sanders is the ability to sand parts that are wider than the drum is long. This 19” machine can handle parts up to 38” wide.

More info

For more information on the SuperMax 19-38 visit the company’s website. You may also be interested in the SuperMax 19-38 Drum/Brush Sander Combo.

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4 Responses to “What You Can Do On a Drum Sander”

  1. Chris

    Great piece! Could using finer grit be used to clean up planer snipe without sacrificing too much of the planer finish?

  2. Jay

    That was an excellent overview of drum sanders. I have a Jet 25-50. It's advantage over a planer is its ability to work with much wider pieces than my DeWalt planer's 13 inches. Sometimes, I've cut a piece too short for the planer (less than 8" long) but the Jet will easily handle 4" and over. Infeed and outfeed tables are available as accessories, but they are difficult to install and properly align. I don't know about the Laguna, but on the Jet, changing the paper is a royal PITA. I generally use 60 or 80 grit paper and leave it on there until it no longer sands efficiently. It generally lasts me a very long time. The paper can get glazed with resin. When that happens, it can groove or even burn the work piece. Soft, resinous woods, like pine, will quickly clog up the paper, so they should be avoided. Cleaning the paper with a rubber stick helps prolong the useful life of the paper, but it makes a mess of tiny rubber particles that is difficult to clean up. I can get a nice, smooth, glossy finish with a planer. I can't get that with the drum sander, so I always have to do some hand sanding to remove the drum sander's marks. If I have a piece of 4/4 hardwood lumber that I need to get to 3/4" accurately, the planer will be the go-to tool and I can do it in 2-3 passes on the planer. Drum sanding works best when decreasing the thickness setting by small increments, like 1/64", at a time or even less. The slower the feed belt goes, the more material is removed per pass. Getting a work piece to your desired thickness can take many passes and a long time. It produces a very fine sawdust that quickly clogs up the filter on your dust collection device way before the canister is even full. Once you have seen a cloud of dust above your drum sander, you know that has happened. You can experience snipe with either a planer or drum sander. I generally avoid sending the wood through the far right or left edges of the drum sander unless there's no choice. The paper for the Jet is quite narrow at its extreme ends of where it gets clipped tightly to the inside of the drum and can be easily damaged there. If it tears at either end, the paper will just flop around inside, possibly damaging the work piece and your machine. While a good drum sander costs a lot less than a planer of the same size, you will still want to have a good thickness planer. A drum sander is superior for those work pieces that are too wide, too short, too thin or otherwise inappropriate for a planer. One last suggestion: If you have a wood lathe, expired drum (or sanding belt) paper can often still be used when doing your initial, aggressive sanding on a turned and nearly completed work piece. You can cut the paper into different widths, fold it, etc. I use it before using my usual, medium grit, sandpaper on the lathe and that means that the regular sandpaper lasts me a lot longer.

  3. Charles

    George, I agree with you about drum sanders and the SuperMax 19/38 open-end drum sander has been a wonderful addition to my shop. It is great for sanding the river tables my wife makes. When we sand them, she sits in a chair at the outfeed table and hands to me as they come out, I sit in a chair at the infeed side, adjust the sander for the next pass and send it on through back to her. She calls it "sanding for seniors". 😁

  4. Carolyn Payne

    Can drum sanders remove paint from plywood?

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