Which drum sander? (Long intro & question)

Hi, I lurk here occasionally. I used to post several years ago under paintpot. I owned a paint store for 19 years, then got out of the business about 2 years ago & went to work for a former customer of mine, a general contractor. I finally got on with the Missouri Division of State Parks several months ago.
I have been woodworking most of my life, thanks to my father, who departed when I was 20. I have a pretty complete shop, but have started to use quite a bit of quartersawn white oak, due to several planned arts&crafts style projects. I bought a couple hundred feet of it kiln dried, but in the rough for (gloat) $2 a board foot. The problem is when I run it through the planer, I get some chipping. I have changed knives, taken very light cuts and tried wetting it before running it through at a slight angle, all to no avail. The planer is an old Belsaw 12" 9103.
So I am considering a drum sander to do the final cleanup of the oak. The stuff I think I would use it for would be well under 16" in most cases, but there are times I could use a larger width ( I would like to build a hammered dulcimer in the future, and there is always the occasional table top). I was looking at the Performax 16-32 and Delta 18-36 models because of their open end design which would give the extra width. But in reality, how well do they work? I can see 2 possible problems. First, how rigid is the open end design compared to the closed type like the Grizzly 16" drum sander? It seems that there would be a certain amount of deflection over the 16 - 18" width. Second, if I were to run a 30" wide table top through one of the open end models, will there be a gouge somewhere near the center, due to the edge of the sandpaper on the drum? The problem I see here is that it seems that supporting the outboard material properly would be crucial to getting a smooth top without a possible gouge mark.
The only other thing is the Grizzly has 2 drums which ( I think) you could put different grits on to basically rough sand & finish sand in one pass, but it doesn't have a variable feed rate. Again I don't think this would be a big problem, since it feeds at 11 fpm, which I think should be about right.
If any of you have experiences with either or possibly both type machine, please give me your opinion on this.
Thanks in advance, Festus
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi Festus, I have the Delta. I do not have any problem sanding 30-36" pieces and I do not use an outfeed table. (It would be a PITA with the Delta anyway.) There never has been any centre marking. If it does occur you can adjust it out. It is for finishing and is painfully slow if you try to use it as a thickness planer. With that said, it still makes dealing with your type of chip out problem a breeze. If I had to do it again, and there was a Performax dealer around I would probably go that way based upon the general consensus in this form. Cheers, JG
Festus wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I went with performax and have never looked back. Good running easy to adjust machine from the start and its been five years now of pretty heavy use.
Jim

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Festus,
For the price range, the Delta and Performax 16/32 are the only choices I know of right now. I went with the Performax. The initial alignment is crucial to getting excellent results. There have been several posts by others and myself that have expanded on the Performax alignment procedures and a couple of small modifications to make things easier.
I use it to surface plane rough cut lumber that has squirrelly grain which will cause tearout as you've noted. Depending on how much I need to remove, I'll start with 36 grit and progress to 80, then 150 (or better depending on the wood and finish to be applied). You really need a dust collector hooked up to it too.
As for sanding pieces wider than 16", not a problem. You crank in about an 1/16th turn to raise the outboard edge about .002" (or so) and have at it. When you're done, if you do see any difference such as a raised edge, a quick sanding with a palm sander will take care of that. To test mine after doing the initial alignment, I used a 3' square piece of 1/4" ply I had laying around. Made some big X's across the face with a pencil and ran it thru. After the first pass using 100 grit paper, you could see the low spots where the pencil marks were. After the 3rd pass and no adjustments, the panel was sanded evenly with no pencil marks anywhere and no indications of marring, burning or leaving any ridges. You will get burning/ridges when using a coarse, X weight rolls since the paper does tend to bump up a bit where it gets folded and fastened to the drum. I pre-fold the ends before inserting it into the holder and it helps but on coarse paper you can't get around that. The finer grit rolls (120 and up) do not bump-up as long as you pre-fold the ends before inserting.
The extension tables are an option (or were) when I got mine and since I roll my sander out from the wall to use it, the extension tables come in very handy.
Lastly, when I did my comparisons, the Delta was noted for having a problem with the raising mechanism slipping and once it did, you had to do a complete table alignment to get everything back. I did have first-hand experience with that at the local WWW store and that was the clincher for me. But.... I understand that Delta has come out with a new model and its well worth looking at before you make a decision based on our experience. The Delta also has an outboard sanding drum attachment which may be a nice feature to have. I don't think you would be making a mistake buying either model but if you can afford more and have the shop room, then your choices are even greater.
Bob S.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.