Ok, I'm reviewing my own home made tool, so I supposed it might be
biased :-). But honestly, I think this is for everybody's interest:
I've used this sander now for about a month, run lots of feet of board
through it, both sindle direction grain, and cross grain (such as in
door frame/panel builds). It works beyond my happiness.
This unit has a 1.5 HP motor, single belt, which turns a drum that is
approx 5.5" in diameter, with a total speed of about 2000 linear feet
per minute. I have 100 grit "paper" attached right now, and it's easy
enough to change since it's velcroed on.
This unit is heavy, and doesn't budge at all. Right now there's no
on/off switch, so I need to add that. Height control could be easier
to get at, as I have to bend over and reach under the table to change
it. Something with a knob at the top of the table that perhaps moves
the main screw drive with a chain. A depth indicator would be quite
helpful as well. Right now I just set the initial depth by putting the
board under the drum while, and raising the table til it hits. Then I
turn it another 1/2 turn or so.
Only about 1/8 of a turn is needed per pass. Sometimes that's even too
much, and I'll run the board through at the same height to remove more
How is that you ask? Well, the velcro matting and the paper itself has
some give to it... like a cushion. So it's possible to run a board
through and the board will come out thicker than the height of the
My push board works pretty well. It's basically a 20" wide board,
about 10" deep, with some hard wood "handles" on the front of the
board. Feeding at a constant rate has NOT been a problem at all, and
that was one of my two main worries about this unit. I think the fact
that the drum is a larger diameter than most means that the pressure of
the roller is distributed onto a wider area, so gouging into the board
just has not happened at all!
Speed wise, I can flatten an average glued up panel in about 10 minutes
for both sides. I just mill all stock maybe 20 thous oversize. When I
begin to run the board through, I scribble all across the board with a
pencil so I can see high and low spots. Once all the pencil marks are
gone, I know the board is flat.
I've run some doors through this, and while 100 grit scratches the
cross grain, I can easily finish sand these out pretty quickly. I'll
have to try some 150 in it and see how it works. What would also be
cool is to have a wider drum, and put half at 150, half at 100.
Dust collection works pretty well, although it does miss some dust on
the edges since the only opening is at the center. If I were to do it
over, I'd split the dust fitting, or maybe even make a slot along the
entire width of the cover.
You can't beat the cost of this unit. I'm averaging the cost to be
about $150, but I already had the table built from a project 2 years
ago. Probably add another $30 or so for the table.
If I were to do it over again, I'd make the table 36". While I haven't
had a board over capacity yet, I'm sure it will eventually come up, and
now that I've proven the method works, I feel VERY confident that I
could run something that large through the table.
I really recommend any shop that has the room to make one of these, as
it's so much more forgiving than I ever thought. The time it has saved
in sanding is immeasurable, AND the quality of the final product is
unbelievable. DEAD FLAT. I can already see a quality of my work that
I haven't seen before. It even seems to take any slight cupping or
twist in a door out.