I just acquired a drum sander and was looking over the available grits
and applications in the owners manual. My goal was to use it mostly
for finish sanding with occassional rough sanding or glue line
removal. I have thickness planer too and a sampling of hand held
sanders from over the years. So I guess my question is ; What do you
use you drum sander for and what grit wraps are you using the most?
(My current project is a cherry bed and a dining room table, chairs
Thanks in advance for your opinions and suggestions.
I bought one to do raised panel cabinet doors, and shop cut veneering
projects. Fought with it for 6 weeks, and sold it for 90% of my cash out
of pocket, and smiled. Haven't been tempted again.
Thanks for your response. Can you elaborate on its difficulties and
would you be willing to say which make and model? I bought a
Performax 22 inch machine after reading a lot of the comments from
this group in its archives. (Pros and cons of this machine vs the
Delta, vs others, etc)
> I bought one to do raised panel cabinet doors, and shop cut veneering
> projects. Fought with it for 6 weeks, and sold it for 90% of my
> of pocket, and smiled. Haven't been tempted again.
SFWIW, I use a commercial service.
Machine has 48" wide capacity, is equipped with three (3) sanding
drums (coarse, medium, fine), each driven by it's own 25HP motor.
DC complete with bag house is a separate device.
Can handle about 1/32" per pass.
Getting an average top sanded flat is less than $30.
I can't figure out how you can compete with machinery like that.
I came to pretty much the same conclusion that Lew did, although I work
in smaller quantities and sizes, most likely. It's a hobby, not an
obsession or a business.
My sander was the Performax 16/32. With extension tables and roller
wheels. Keeping it parallel was a challenge, and the work was
SLOOOOOWWWW. I lacked the patience to keep feeding and turning and
feeding again, so I sold it. No big deal.
My neighbor has a Delta version, similar size. I'd had him do a couple
of smallish table tops, and his had similar challenges to mine. It
wasn't helping, really.
Some work I can't do in my shop, so I either don't do it, or I take it
to someone who can. Life goes on. YMMV.
I agree, if you've got access to it. That said, for years I had paid
a local shop for hourly wide sanding. It's no more, and I've never
been able to replace it.
Last December, I bought a Performax 22-44, along with a huge box of
rolls of sandpaper. The paper was found on eBay for less than $5 /
I use the 22/44 ALL THE TIME, including today. At this point, I
realize I should have bought this thing years ago. I use it as much
as my table saw. I've had days where I calibrated it to match my
planer stop and had boards coming out of the planer, turned around,
and back though the sander. <G>
My experience on my shop-built drum sander is that it leaves a worse
finish than the same grit done just about any other way, and if you
use anything really coarse on it you'll have a heck of a time getting
the scratches out. I've also found that fine grits don't seem to last
too long on the drum. So I tend to use between 100-150. 100 seems to
be the best for me as far as stock removal, paper life, and a surface
that I can work with. I will sometimes take a couple passes at 150
after, but usually I go straight to the ROS after that. I will often
even back up one grit just to make sure I get all the scratches the
drum sander made. You may get different results on a "real" drum
Sadly no; my 16-32 does the same.
I use it mainly on glued up panels; things I would put though a 20" planer
if I had one.
I used to use 80 grit and it was okay but slow, so I switched to 60 grit.
Getting the 60 grit lines out is so much work that it is easier to use the
80 grit even though it takes longer. I suppose it would work to do 60 and
then 80 grits, but changing the paper over takes too long for a couple
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
1. #50 for surfacing rough lumber and/or dimensioning. I like it
better than coarser paper (cloth, actually)...not as stiff and just
about as fast.
2. #80 to smooth up from the #50 and/or dimensioning depending on how
much I want to take off.
3. #120 after the #80.
I *have* used up to #180 but rarely...just about as easy/fast to use a
1/2 sheet sander for finer grits starting with the same grit as the
last used on the drum.
I don't know why these guys are griping about sanding marks...abrasive
paper makes marks no matter what tool is used. The machine is NOT
hard to set up or to keep in alignment.
With the #50 paper I'll cut off up to 1/16 per pass depending on wood
hardness and width. With #80, generally 1/32. With #120, never more
It is important to realize that with any grit the wood will not be
thinned by the amount set in just one pass. Additional passes at the
same depth setting will take off more wood. That is important to
know - particulary with finer grits - because trying to take off too
much is likely to burn and glaze the abrasive which will in turn burn
the wood. There is nothing wrong with increasing depth of cut after
each pass; it all depends on the amount and the wood but 2-3 passes as
last ones will give a better surface.
Yes, commercial belt/drum sanders are lots faster. One also has to
haul your wood to and fro. I'd rather do it myself and my 10 year old
16/32 has been one of the most used - and useful - tools I've ever
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