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View Full Version : Questions about home drum sanders.



Eric Schatz
01-17-2017, 7:38 PM
I'm building a drum sander because I cant afford one. Right now I've got a .5hp 17xxrpm motor and I'm looking for a 1 or 1.5hp one. What I'm really curious about is the table. I've watched about a dozen videos and find it split on whether I need a conveyor or not. Some say the feed rate is so critical that you'll never evenly thickness without a conveyor but half of the machines I see just use a push stick to push it through. The other half of the machines have a conveyor that is either motorized or hand cranked. Obviously hand fed, no motor would be the cheapest/easiest to build. I'm looking to thickness end grain cutting boards and small pieces. I know I could cobble a treadmill and I'm on the lookout for one. I don't like to complicate things though.

So here's the rub... Do I need a conveyor or not? If I need a conveyor will motorized or will hand cranking be fine for the feed rate discrepancies? Those who have made one or the other let me know if you would have done it differently.

Thanks

Don Parker
01-17-2017, 10:36 PM
Eric--

I build acoustic guitars. Lots of other guitar builders have been drum sanding without a power feed for decades. I prefer a power feed myself, but it can be done without. It is the biggest hassle of building one of these things, so maybe you should build without, and if you find you need it, just scrap the project and buy a commercially produced model, like a Supermax. Drum sanders are pretty easy if you don't try to build a power feed. But you might find you prefer having one. I know I do.

Dust collection is mandatory either way. And take LIGHT passes. Good luck.

Eric Schatz
01-17-2017, 11:21 PM
Eric--

I build acoustic guitars. Lots of other guitar builders have been drum sanding without a power feed for decades. I prefer a power feed myself, but it can be done without. It is the biggest hassle of building one of these things, so maybe you should build without, and if you find you need it, just scrap the project and buy a commercially produced model, like a Supermax. Drum sanders are pretty easy if you don't try to build a power feed. But you might find you prefer having one. I know I do.

Dust collection is mandatory either way. And take LIGHT passes. Good luck.

Thanks Don.

Lee Schierer
01-18-2017, 10:45 AM
I would think that you would get a more consistent surface with a power feeder than you could by pushing the piece through by hand. Any hesitation when hand feeding is likely to result in a divot across the work piece.

George Bokros
01-18-2017, 11:06 AM
I would think that you would get a more consistent surface with a power feeder than you could by pushing the piece through by hand. Any hesitation when hand feeding is likely to result in a divot across the work piece.

Or worse, a burn.

Pete Staehling
01-19-2017, 9:29 AM
I built one without a feed and it worked, but it was hard to get nice smooth even results. Still it was useful, just not optimum. For me it turned out to be a proof of concept in that I realized just how important a thickness sander was to my work. I realized how much I wanted/needed one which made me more willing to pony up some cash. I could have just built a power feed for it, I guess, but I bought a Jet 10/20 instead and scrapped the home made one after using it for less than a year.

The Jet works a lot better than my home made one in that adjustments are quicker, easier, and more precise. Also the results are better, mostly because it has a nice power feed

The Jet 10/20 is big enough for my work and I caught it when jet had their annual sale so it was a bit less expensive. I found it to be money well spent, but a lot of folks need a wider sander which is also more expensive.

Don Parker
01-19-2017, 1:35 PM
I agree with Pete regarding the goods and bads. A good quality store-bought sander with a power feed is better than a homemade one. Drum design is another factor. I feel that homemade drums are not as good as the ones you get from Jet or Supermax. Then you need to think about designing pinch rollers into the sander, and all of those other little things that make the store-bought ones what they are.

Keep your eyes peeled for used sanders. I picked up a Performax (before the Jet purchase of Performax) Shop Pro 25 for less than $1,000 a few months ago. A little bit of rehab, and that thing is a beast!

If I had to buy a new one these days, I would buy a Supermax 19-38. Good quality, good price, larger than a Jet 10-20 (which is awesome, but a bit narrow for me), but not as big as the larger sanders.

John TenEyck
01-20-2017, 10:25 AM
Unless you are a really good scrounger, I think you will be hard pressed to build a viable machine for less than you can buy a good used one. I bought a Delta 18X36 for $500. It's not the drum sander of my dreams, but it's much better than what I could have built for that much money.

From using my machine, feed rate is critical to achieving uniform results. Any hesitation leaves a divot across the board.

John

Pete Staehling
01-21-2017, 7:31 AM
Unless you are a really good scrounger, I think you will be hard pressed to build a viable machine for less than you can buy a good used one. I bought a Delta 18X36 for $500. It's not the drum sander of my dreams, but it's much better than what I could have built for that much money.
The cost of home built stuff can be crazy variable depending on what you have on hand and what you have to buy.

I am sure that I didn't have $100 in mine and figure it was probably less than $50, but it has been long enough ago that I forget what I bought and what I scrounged.

On the other hand if you start buying a decent motor, bearings, pulleys, belt, and other materials and parts it wouldn't be too hard to spend more than a used machine might cost.


using my machine, feed rate is critical to achieving uniform results. Any hesitation leaves a divot across the board.

Yep, my experience as well.

I don't regret building one since it was a good learning experience, but I would definitely spend for another manufactured one if I ever need another drum sander.

Art Mann
01-21-2017, 11:10 AM
I agree with the other posters about the usefulness of a machine with power feed but take a look at the following website.

http://stockroomsupply.ca/shop/drum-sanders.html

These guys sell drums, bearings and other parts that will make designing and building your own thickness sander easier. I built one of their V-drum kits several years ago. It isn't a thickness sander but it will flatten cutting boards and other pieces in that size range quite nicely.

I use a Jet 10-20 and a Jet 16-32 and I still find the home built sander useful.

Pete Staehling
01-22-2017, 9:26 AM
Sorry for the thread hijack, but I think this is related closely enough.

Thinking about the drum sander that I built got me thinking about v-sanders. I left the parts from my home made drum sander behind when I moved to Tallahassee, but it occurred to me that they could have been the basis for a v-sander which might have complemented my Jet 10/20. I have been wondering if a v-sander might not be nice for finish sanding after a piece has been through the Jet and is flat and with parallel faces. It is a pain to change abrasives on the Jet so I typically run it with pretty coarse grit and finish sand by other means.

I figure that there are also times when I want to either touch up the flatness of a surface, just finish sand a flat surface, or flatten slightly proud box joints, fret dots or other stuff like that when the Jet or the jointer are not an option. I am a luthier and touching up the flatness of an already assembled instrument body before gluing on a sound board would maybe be something else that a v-sander would be useful for.

I happen to have a nice aluminum drum that is 15.5" long and 3-1/2" diameter with bearings and a shaft through the middle. I has a groove for a drive belt, but is isn't a v-belt, but rather a giant rubber o-ring with a 1/4" diameter cross section. I don't know if that will transmit enough power or where to get that kind of belt, but I will look into that if I decide to go ahead with the project. I do have a little 7x10" lathe so I could make a drive pulley pretty easily. I know that these v-sanders require relatively little power, but wonder if the round cross section belt would be adequate. If the 1/4" round cross section belt isn't adequate, I could modify a v-belt pulley to attach to the end of the drum. I am not sure if there is enough meat to just turn a groove for a v-belt, so mounting a pulley on the end seems more likely to make sense.

Looking at the youtube videos for the v-drum sanders I get the impression that one may be a very helpful addition to my shop. It also looks like it should be a pretty basic project and not very expensive or all that much work given that I have a nice pre-made drum.

Comments or suggestions?
352353

Art Mann
01-22-2017, 1:11 PM
I use my v-drum sander as you describe. I keep 150 grit on it and use it for finishing. With that grit, the motor load is very small indeed. I use a 3/4 hp motor and the width is 24 inches. It is overkill. I think the 1/4 inch belt might do the trick. There is one thing though. The sander I built is designed to use hook and loop paper. It is designed so that the paper lifts slightly off the drum when spinning. That does a couple of good things. First of all, the drum doesn't heat up because it isn't touching where the friction is. I don't get gummy melted varnish residue on the paper when sanding a finished surface. Second, it allows a little bit of "compliance" so the paper doesn't "dig in" so much on a surface with a bump or high spot.

Pete Staehling
01-22-2017, 2:03 PM
I use my v-drum sander as you describe. I keep 150 grit on it and use it for finishing. With that grit, the motor load is very small indeed. I use a 3/4 hp motor and the width is 24 inches. It is overkill. I think the 1/4 inch belt might do the trick. There is one thing though. The sander I built is designed to use hook and loop paper. It is designed so that the paper lifts slightly off the drum when spinning. That does a couple of good things. First of all, the drum doesn't heat up because it isn't touching where the friction is. I don't get gummy melted varnish residue on the paper when sanding a finished surface. Second, it allows a little bit of "compliance" so the paper doesn't "dig in" so much on a surface with a bump or high spot.

It sounds like those things are what makes the v-sander different and they all sound like advantages in your (and my) usage where it will be in addition to using a thickness sander rather than replacing one.