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