View Full Version : Any thoughts on DIY thickness sanders?

Matt Lau
01-24-2018, 1:38 PM
Hey guys,

I want to build more guitars.
Previously, I'd buy prethicknessed wood from suppliers at a premium, but have found that I can get significantly better wood if I thickness it myself.
I'd tried using a Wagner safety planer (on my non-optimized drill press), and am thinking of building/buying a drum sander.

Have you guys built one? I'm looking at Pat Hawley's plan on woodgears, as well as the four plans on the GAL book.

Would you recommend that I just save up for a Performax/Jet 32-16 sander instead?
Do you have a design that you like?

I don't have a ton of money, but have even less time.

Mike Wilkins
01-24-2018, 3:01 PM
Fine Woodworking magazine had a book entitled 'Making and Modifying Machines' many years ago with an article on building your own thickness sander. You would have to have some engineering background to pull it off but it is possible. I would just go with one of the available thickness sanding machines. Performax has some nice offerings; I had the 16-32 at one time but sold it to get the 25 inch dual drum sanding machine from Woodworkers Supply Company. Check Woodcraft for some nice offerings. Ready to roll out of the box

Steve Eure
01-24-2018, 3:10 PM
Stumpy Nubs has a shop built drum sander that is available on his website. He built his and I watched the video on it and he revised and tweaked it. Pretty nie system and a whole lot less expensive than the commercial models.

Peter Christensen
01-24-2018, 3:48 PM
There have been a number of articles on building thickness sanders since I started reading woodworking magazines in the late 70's. Search for "home made drum thickness sanders" or similar and see how many come up. You can get drum kits from Stockroom Supply (http://stockroomsupply.ca/shop/drum-sanders/24-x-4-v-drum-the-works-kit.html) in 12",18" and 24" widths if you don't want to build those parts. The simplest is to make a drum that fits a lathe and a sheet of plywood under that can be adjusted. You can make multiple drums and have several grits attached.

John Lifer
01-25-2018, 1:53 PM
I built the FWW unit way back three decades ago when it first came out. Yeah, mid 80s. didn't work well at all.
I've a 16-32 that I purchased second hand a few years ago. Works great, save up your $ and buy one!

Walter Plummer
01-25-2018, 3:55 PM
Susan Gardener built one for her guitar builds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0cFScfDcRs

Art Mann
01-25-2018, 3:55 PM
It takes a meticulous and highly skilled woodworker to make a thickness sander that approaches the accuracy of a commercial unit. It might be a fun project though, if you are up to it.

Scott DelPorte
01-25-2018, 4:13 PM
William Cumpiano uses a shop built wide belt sander for thicknessing guitar parts. I’ve seen it in action and it works very well. Most of the frame is made of wood.

Clint Bach
01-25-2018, 10:38 PM
I built one... My own design tho. It's not rocket science. Actually easy and very accurate. No surprises. I use it for guitar parts.

go ahead an build one.


Tony Pisano
01-27-2018, 7:19 PM
Bill's shop used to be an eighth of a mile down the street from my house.

Pete Staehling
01-27-2018, 8:25 PM
I built one some years ago, but after using it a while I bought a Jet thickness sander. I decided it was enough better to be worth the cost. I don't think I could make one that was as good as the Jet and I definitely couldn't do it cheaper than a commercially made one if I were to include my labor in the cost.

If you just like doing it yourself or have way more time than money, building one may be a more attractive proposition. Otherwise I recommend just buying one.

Mark Canada
02-01-2018, 2:03 PM
Other plans for you:
http://woodarchivist.com/2516-diy-thickness-sander/ (not very complete)
http://woodarchivist.com/775-thickness-sander-plans/ (xl sized!)

Doug Walls
02-05-2018, 11:01 PM
Stumpy Nubs has a shop built drum sander that is available on his website.
I've also watched his videos & like his two stage drum sander design with the sand-flee style top.
One of these days I may get his plan for it & give it a try.


John C Cox
02-06-2018, 10:48 AM
My main advice here is:
what is your hobby/interest in? Making guitars or making machines? There is nothing wrong with making machines - in fact it is a ton of fun and challenging as well..... But every hour you spend making machines and tooling - you are not building guitars.

Yes - several people build their own instead of buying.... Many report they work well enough.

I bought a Jet 22-44 for my guitars. Worth every penny.. It's probably the most often used large power tool in my shop.

Do not neglect a good dust collector. These will eat belts and burn like crazy if you don't have sufficient dust collection oj them...