I am making a coffee table who's top is composed of small glued up
pieces of wood. Unfortunately, all the wood is slightly different
thicknesses (off by as much as 1/16 of an inch). I wanted a method
of ensuring that the final table top is perfectly smooth. I was
thinking of building a really big thickness sander.
The concept is to use a 22" piece of PVC piping, contact cement some
sand paper to it, and spin it exactly 3/4" above a surface, and pass
the pre-assembled top through it on a slight (15 degree) angle
Having never built a thickness sander before, I would like to hear any
suggestions anyone might have, or if anyone thinks this is a bad idea,
I'd like to hear that as well. (I'm a bit concerned that the heat
from the sanding might effect the pvc or contact cement for
First off, this is familiar turf.... Do an archive search or DAGS - this HAS
That being said, I don't think that PVC is going to work as your sanding
drum arbor. First, it isn't sturdy enough to give you a flat surface,
second, I'll bet it'd warp with the heat generated from the process. Third,
if you're surfacing a plane 22" wide you're either going to have 1) a rocket
as the work is grabbed and shot to the other side of the shop or 2) a rocket
as the material is kicked back against your soft, white underbelly. So,
unless you have some means of preventing kickback or have a power feeder
laying about, this is a very real safety concern...
If having to sand such a surface is a one time deal, or only rarely, you may
well just be better off taking the work to a cabinet shop and letting them
run it through THEIR drum sander. I guarantee you won't find a cheaper
method, and the results will be far better.
Barring that, this might be a good time for you to invest in a belt sander
and surfacing platen, and learn to use them.
I have a Delta DS, and love it, but trying to take off anything more than a
whisper of material at a time will make it stall out. I've don't know that
other small drum sanders are any different, it's just the nature of the
Look at this link.
There are others. I got the one from Nick's though. He had an article in
FW re this sander...
Look on my web site.
You can see the sander on the shop equipment page. I have the 12 inch
model. The fence is not on it for the photo, but I made a fence with a
90 and 45 degree setting...
He has an 18 and a 24 inch model.
IMHO, unless you plan to do a LOT of thickness sanding, I'd check into
renting time on one. My local hardwood supplier will sand anything up to
30" wide (supposedly only if you bought the lumber there, but I'm pretty
sure they don't have RID tags in lumber yet). I needed both sides of a
padauk table sanded recently and I think it cost me $12. I'll do that all
day long and twice on Sunday before I buy or make one.
Here you go:
I don't see PVC working. You need to make sure the tube is exactly
parallel to the surface, but not only that, it needs to be the same
distance from the surface all the way around as it turns.
What I did was take a 5/8" steel pipe, cut a bunch of circles with a
router out of 3/4" MDF (the thicker the better... less to cut), and
drill a 5/8" hole in them. Glue them up (on the pipe), and spin the
cylinder above the table. Then I took a 60 grit belt from a belt
sander, glued it to a flat 2" wide piece of MDF, and ran that (holding
onto it), under the cylinder, as if it was a piece on a lathe. Then
I'd raise the table, and keep doing it until it was perfectly round.
Scribbling the pieces with a pencil as it rotates is a good way to mark
the cylinder. This way you can tell what material stilll needs to come
Gluing the sandpaper to the cylinder is a BAD idea. There needs to be
SOME give to the surface, and the way that is accomplished is with
velcro. You can buy long strips of velcro, 2-4" wide, and you spiral
it on the cylinder (the non fuzzy side). Then you can buy long strips
of sand "paper" (it's more of a cloth), that spirals on the other
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