I am thinking of getting the Delta X5 drum sander and would like to hear
from users who have one:
1) How does it work -
2) Does it perform as advertised.
3) Any problems on setup etc.
Also if anyone has used both the Performax and Delta how they compare.
I've used them both and also to owned the Ryobi knock-off of the
Performax. They all work pretty much the same and give decent results
as long as you don't ask too much of them.
If you want to do panels that are wider then the unit, you really have
to have the drum dialed in pretty good. That being said, I think the
Delta has a little better adjustment method than the Performax IIRC.
Take real thin passes and for finish work (vs dimensioning) once you
get to the final depth setting, run the piece through a few times in
different directions without changing the depth to really smooth it
off. Alsi, if you stall it out from trying to take too much or starting
with an inconsistent thickness board, it usually takes 3 or 4 passes
before you can sand out the gouge. Make sure you sand it out completly
or it will show up in the finish. I learned this the hard way.
Also, do have real dust collection, not just a shop vac. The shop vac
can work in a pinch but these thigs load up quick and it will effect
Note that they all suffer from overheating so plan your project
schedule to allow it to rest a bit between jobs if you have lots o'
work for it.
If I didn't have access to, or the money for a wide belt sander, I'd go
get one of these right away. Once you have it you won't enjoy life
I've had the Delta for quite awhile. It wasn't called the X5 back then,
but I'm sure it's the same thing. The other poster made good points.
They are a big timesaver, but you still have to take your time. If you
try to cut too aggressively, you will burn the wood or sandpaper, you
will snipe, stall the motor or a combination of the above.
On long pieces, as the wood is coming out, lift up slightly on the end
so that you don't get snipe on the end of the board coming out. When
one of the rollers lets go, you can get snipe on long boards. The
outfeed tables probably help with this, but I was too cheap to buy
It's a great tool. I'm sure the performax is nice too. I've seen other
people use them and they are great. I'd get whichever one you could get
a better deal on. I can't imagine doing hardwoods without one. Huge
timesaver, and gives excellent results.
The Performax design has fixed bed and the head adjusts up and down. I
think the Delta is fixed head and the bed adjusts up and down.
Personally I like a fixed bed so I can fix the infeed and outfeed supports.
Fine tuning the drum to get it parallel to the bed is very important for
As other posters stated fine passes are a must. It is a major pain to have
the unit trip due to overload and see a gouge across the board which will
result in a loss of thickness to remove. Also the deeper the sand per pass,
the greater the heat and it can result in the sandpaper tearing or cause
sap/oil to aggregate, burn and then put black marks on the wood requiring
I have the Performax 16/32. I have not tried sanding boards or panels wider
I modified my unit to convert the dust collector from the old 2 1/4in
connection to be the 4in normal for decent airflow. This is attached to my
DC. Dust has not been a problem. The new Performax units now have 4in
The main use for me is when I am not able to use the 13in planer due to
tearout, otherwise I prefer the planer than drum sanding.
For my use, I am not sure I would buy a drum sander again. I wish I could
afford a wide belt sander.
Ditto the comments about taking very light passes, especially with 180 or
220 paper. I have the Delta and can state with unpleasant certainty that
this unit WILL BURN the wood and clog the paper if you take too deep of a
pass. You must be patient and take multiple light passes. I personally
don't see the drum sander as a huge time saver unless your boards require a
lot of sanding to flatten/smooth them. Even with 220 paper, you will get
sanding streaks and have to touch up with a ROS. The drum sander's strength
for weekend warriors like me is to sand boards wider than what fits in my 12
1/2" planer or to cut down uneven glued up boards with 80 grit.
Buy your sandpaper on line in a bulk roll and make your own. Far less
expensive than 20+ bucks for box of 4 rolls from Delta.
Thanks for all for the advice - not sure what I will do but Woodcraft is
having their 10% off sale and with the X5 rebate that is $200 off - makes it
Will have to talk to the SWMBO first . . .
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