Drum sander opinions...

Hi folks, I'm getting ready to purchase a drum sander and wondered what the collective wisdom of the group was. I own a small cabinet/custom furniture shop. I plan to use it for finish sanding, and may rarely use it for very light thickness planing (cleaning up misalignment of large glue-ups). I've heard bad things about the delta units, and am leaning towards the performax (either 16-32 or 22-44). I've thought a lot about the "industrial" units - the closed frame types, but to get into the size range that I really need, they start at about 10K.....
any thoughts?
thanks -_JD
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I own the Delta, use it, like it, haven't had any problems, serious or otherwise, with it.
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Mike G.
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You wont regret the 16-32 or the 22-44. I love mine, use it everyday.
Jim

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Can't speak for the Performax, but I would avoid the Delta for a small cabinet/furniture shop. It WILL NOT sand wide panels with paper >120 without burning unless you run the panels very, very slowly and take a minuscule bite. Even then, it might burn. Your rework time will eat up any other time savings. If you are really running a production shop, buy a production piece of equipment, even used.
Bob

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An interesting opinion. I own a Delta and do, on occasion and if I am not diligent, get some build up on the sanding strip that will cause some burning.
However, what I find interesting is that you profess not to know anything about the performax but would avoid the Delta because it causes burns..
Since the principles of operation are exactly the same, both have a drum, covered with a strip of sandpaper, with adjustable feed speed, adjustable depth of cut, and, in the case of the Delta, adjustable drum speed, I'm not sure if the performax has and adjustable drum speed or not. Sanding by any machine, or by hand for that matter, creates heat through friction, heat build up, if ignored, causes a gummy build up on any sandpaper on any machine, enough build up causes excess heat, excessive heat causes burning. Why would you assume the problem is unique to the Delta and advise people to avoid it for that reason? .
While I agree that a production grade machine is desirable in a high production shop if the cost can be justified, the poster states that that was out his price range at the moment but a wide belt sander is required. In those circumstances and considering your ignorance of all the factors I find the advice to avoid the Delta rather baseless. Now, if you want to warn that caution should be used to avoid build up on the sanding medium to avoid burning, that would be a different story.
I'll take it on faith that you have extensive experience with a production type wide belt sander and your recommendation implies that the burning situation would not be a factor with one of those machines whether due caution was used or not.
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Mike G.
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You've probably thought it through pretty well, but are you *sure* a 24" closed end unit like the General or Grizzly won't suit your needs? I have the Performax 16/32 which is tolerable for a hobbiest but I'd sure want something faster if I were a pro. If 90% of what you do is narrow stock like stiles/rails and door panels and you only occasionally want to do larger panels like tabletops I think you'd be a lot happier with a 24" non-cantilevered unit. The top end of their feed rate is twice that of the 16/32 and they have higher horsepower drum motors to handle that feed rate. You might ask for opinions on The Oak forum (http://theoak.com/cgi-bin/tools1/tools1.pl ). There are a lot of pros participating there and they have pretty strong opinions about drum sanders.
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Scott Post snipped-for-privacy@insightbb.com http://home.insightbb.com/~sepost /

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I just got the Delta despite some of the negative reviews (which may not have been on the so-called "new" X5 machines - not sure there are real differences). I had planned to get the Performax 16-32, but seeing it next to the Delta at the WWS show convinced me to go with the Delta. I'd look at both. I felt the Delta was heavier built. You cannot rack the arm unless you're a heck of a lot stronger than I am. It is also belt drive, which I prefer. It has 2 drum speeds, which I doubt I'll ever take advantage of, and has a take-off that you can connect a pneumatic drum to if so inclined. A friend has the older 22-44 Performax, and it is much beefier than the new one, which is just a larger 16-32, albeit about half the price of the old one.
I have run about 100 bf through the sander on a variety of grits and multiple times per board, of course. A mini-review given the limited use to date:
Out of the box dead-on alignment. The drum is parallel to the table within 0.002" measured by dial calipers on a 14" panel. This is critical on the Delta since the table moves, not the drum like the Performax. On the Delta the drum arm is a welded assembly - it is not adjustable although the table can be and there may be an ability to adjust the drum within the arm a little bit. Nonetheless, the accuracy of the weld-up is critical - if it's off you're screwed and should probably return the unit (this would be readily detectable). On the other hand, you can't flex this assembly like you can the Performax (whether that is a practical problem I do not know).
Feed belt tension and tracking is straight-forward and simple. You will need to adjust this as the feed belt stretches in the first few hours. The belt table is a wonderfully machined piece of heavy cast iron.
Changing belts is a piece of cake, the design is very similar to the Performax. Performax uses 3" belts, the Delta 2". The 3" is more common and the price on the Delta is a little higher, but under $1 per belt.
Fit and finish was immaculate. Not high on my list normally, I've been pleased with all my Grizzly equipment (but unfortunately they do not make a comparable unit), but I've got to admit this Delta machine (my first) is a cut above. Of course, the only machine I paid more for was the Grizzly 1023z cab saw, so it should be nice.
Best is to look at (and try if possible) both units.
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