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Drum Sanders

Drum Sanders

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It used to be that you had only one option for making stock of consistent thickness: a power planer. But a planer can't tidy up a misfit rail-and-stile joint, nor can it size wide panels or face frames. And a planer doesn't leave the surface smooth enough for finishing, so you still have to vigorously sand the piece, no matter how large.

In recent years, though, a new thicknessing tool has invaded the home shop: the drum sander. With four models now on the market for less than $1,000, the time has come to take a close look at these smooth operator s that can sand even wide panels flat and fine.

Drum sander vs. planer: A head-to-head look
Look under the hood, and you'll see that a drum sander bears many similarities to a planer. As a workpiece enters the machine, tension rollers guide it beneath a spinning cylinder that removes a thin layer of wood. A planer may have two, three, or even four knives doing the cutting; a drum sander has, in effect, thousands of knives-the grit on the abrasive that spirally wraps the drum.

There are some key differences, though. For instance, a planer can cut away lots of material quickly, removing 1/16" or more in a single speedy pass. With a drum sander, you generally remove no more than 1/64" (an d often only half that) with each pass, and then at only about half the feed rate of a portable planer. However, this slower feed speed and shallow cut leaves an exceptionally smooth surface on most woods.

A drum sander has other advantages as well. Because it doesn't slice away wood like a planer, you can sand end grain, and use it safely with thin or fragile stock, such as veneer and burls. And, you can abrade away a dirty or weathered surface, such as the maple benchtop, shown above, without dulling your planer knives.

To learn the results of our tests of the Delta 31-250, Grizzly G1079, Performax 16-32 PLUS, and Ryobi WDS1600, check out the February 2001 issue of WOOD magazine and turn to page 55.


Comments (1)
claysoules wrote:

Can anyone help with tune-up techniques for my Delta 31-250 drum sander? The platten is not level and adjustment is easy, but getting the belt back on if it falls out is a B I itch Please respond:

6/18/2010 07:21:47 PM Report Abuse

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