Drum sanding a panel in sections?


It is great how much flatter panels come out of my 16/32 than when I sanded by with a ROS.
My next project is a 6'x3' table of 8 3' pieces of 5/4 oak. Obviously it isn't going through the sander. Could I dry assemble it with biscuits and pocket screws, and then sand two or three boards at a time? Maybe I should skip the biscuits, at least until after sanding, since it might be impossible to take the same amount off the top and bottom on everything?
Anyone done something like this? Any advice (preferrably from experience...) would be appreciated.
Yeah, the 5/4 is overkill, but I bought a bunch of it for almost nothing at an auction a few years ago and want to use it up.
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I know you preferred responses from those that have tried that and I don't fit that group,however, I have used a drum sander to flatten many table tops. In cases like yours I either do two widths about half total width or do the whole top minus the last board. In either case I use a RO for the unsanded joint and then a 330 PC to finish the whole top.
I believe your suggested method is essentially the same except it will not remove the ensuing glue squeeze out.
Lets us know how your method works. Cheers, JG

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Toller wrote:

When I made a 48" diameter table out of 5/4 white oak I glued up several narrower boards to make three pieces, sanded those three to desired thickness and glued them together. Yes, there was some (very) minor work to do on the two joints but just a few passes with a scraper.
Biscuits could help align the pieces to each other but I've never felt the need for them. I prefer to rest the pieces I'm gluing on "stickers" every 18" or so to register one side...a little downward pushing (even with 5/4 oak) as you go along with clamps will get things nice and flat. It can also help to use hand screws at the ends placed so as to clamp adjacent pieces in a vertical plane. If you should need a *lot* of pushing to align edges (you shouldn't) you can clamp a 2x4 across the width and drive a wedge under it to provide the "push".
In your case, you could make three pieces each 12" x 72" and easily sand each before joining. You could also make 2 pieces, say, 72" x 15" and a third 72" x 6". The latter scenario might be preferable as you can sand so the adjoining edges go through the same portion of the sander (inner/outer side); that would help offset any thickness variation from the drum not being perfectly horizontal.
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dadiOH
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glue ups, they don't need it. I would tongue and groove or finger joint the end grain connections.
To insure a flat top, use several cauls to hold it flat during the clamping.
Dave
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Toller wrote:

Yes, you can do this. Sometimes I do the same thing with raised panel doors. Glue them up (close) and then sand down the glued up piece. Just be careful that the glued up piece isn't too heavy to be unmanagable.
I made a 7' by 3' table out of 2" oak. I meticulously sanded down all the pieces with the drum sander to the same thickness. Then I biscuited them together. It may have been my lack of skill, but the top was uneven enough that I had to use a belt sander and ROS to reflatten it anyhow. If I had to do it over again, I'd just skip the drum sander on something that big.. Plane your wood. glue it up, and then use a belt/ROS sander to flatten.
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