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Thread: Drum Sander ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Helena, Montana

    Drum Sander ?

    Considering the purchase of a drum sander. Every performance report on the Performax and the Delta seem 50 -50. Are they really that high maintainence of a tool or am I just reading reviews from folks with a low tolerance for learning curves. I like the reviews on the Wodmaster but I can't justify two grand and 560 pounds on a drum sander. Does anyone know what brand David Marks uses in his shop? Any feedback would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I have a Performax 22-44 and have found it to be okay. It's finicky to set up, burning is a real possibility and is very slow. Having said that, for the price it gives you a cability of sanding shop made veneers (my main use) or leveling panels of figured wood without the tearout associated with a planer. I have worked in a shop that had a wide belt sander and so the Performax suffers by comparison. If I had not used a wide belt I might have a better opinion of a drum sander.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Just outside of Spring Green, Wisconsin
    Dan, I'm probably in the minority here, as most guys have one version or another of the Performax. I got a super-great deal (I think it may have been one of those "mistakes" that a retailer decides to honor, kind of thing! ) on the 18-36 Delta, X5. Like yourself, I couldn't justify the Woodmaster or a wide-belt unit, so the drum sander came into being. In a word, I'm quite pleased with the Delta. There had been (past tense!) issues with the platter hanging up and such, but that's been resolved and I've had no such issues with mine. Setup out of the box was a piece 'o cake and all of the tolerances, which were to have been checked at the factory, apparently were indeed checked, as it was sanding flat across the width straight away. The sanding strip replacement is easy and dust collection is good. As with any drum sander, you need to be aware that it's NOT intended to take the place of a thicknesser (planer). Granted, for highly figured woods, you can indeed use it as such to eliminate tearout, but it's a very slow process, because you don't want to take much more than 1/128th" off at a time. Snipe is also an issue to deal with, much as like a planer. The more minimal depth you keep your passes at, the less likely it is for snipe to occur. It is also NOT meant as a final sanding process. You will still need to do a final once-over with your ROS. I now use mine mainly for getting the last critical thickness for 1/8" inlays, which get ripped down to the widths I need. In the final analysis, it largely depends on your particular needs. For me, it's not an absolute "need", but nice to have available.
    John K. Miliunas

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  4. #4
    I have owned both the Delta 18-36 and now the Performax 16-32. Without repeating Johns thread, which I agree with, if I had it to do again I would go with a closed end unit. There is just too much that can go wrong when sending an oversize (read over 16 inch) panel through that you rotate and send through again. The slightest lift of the panel and you have a divot. My intent with these units was to sand large glue ups and I am not happy with the results. But for veneer, or pieces under max drum width, they work great, once you get to know the limitations of the machine.

    My next sander will more than likely be a 24" closed end.

    Hey, swing you a deal on a slightly used Performax!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Harrisburg, NC
    Dan, I had the Delta 18-36, and felt it was very underpowered. I also never could master setting up the open end to get really good results on a double pass.
    I have pruchased a 26" Shop Fox and it works great. Came set up from the Factory. Works great for thin stuff. Very powerful, you can remove alot of material in one pass. Has a built in amp meter so you can moniter overloads. Great machine.

    Last edited by Richard Wolf; 11-03-2005 at 7:10 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Anywhere it snows....
    Hey Dan...

    The sander that David Marks uses is an older performax. You have to watch that guy because he lacks the norm special sponsers so your never really sure what he will be using. He has quite a collection of old iron incuding that american patternmaker jointer and a rockwell unisaw. His drill press is a 1940s walker turner. For woodworking, nothing beats an old walker turner or buffalo forge drill press.

    In looking for a surface sander, I too have hit a brick wall. I considered the performax but found the newer ones had gotten cheesy, esp. after they got hooked up with powermatic. The wide belt is huge and expensive and I am not sure the cost/return ratio is good enough. The new oliver (blue) has an import sander with twin oscillating drums. This is a pretty neat concept. But its big and expensive so I will not lead you on with a photo.

    I think all in all, the best bet is to go on the hunt for the same model that David Marks has. You can email him and ask him. He seems like a nice guy.

    In my own case, I am coming to the conclusion that I will need to build one of these machines. I got to keep my metalworking machines busy doing something.
    Had the dog not stopped to go to the bathroom, he would have caught the rabbit.

  7. #7
    Keep your eyes open and you might be able to find a Woodmaster used at a good price. I think that open end sanders can work... but you need to take very light passes to avoid twisting the arm. I found a 2675 Woodmaster that needed a little TLC for just $225 last year.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I would also agree with the idea that my next unit will be a closed end machine. That Shop Fox looks interesting. BTW my Performax is an older version of the machine. American made motor and all and I still don't like it very much.

  9. #9


    If you go to that auction site right now,
    There is a 18 woodmaster planer for $800
    This unit will take their drum sanding attachment.
    It is in Ohio. And this sir, is a Bargin.
    Just enter woodmaster is the search it is on the bottom of the page.
    "all men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night....wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."
    T.E. Lawrence

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Grantham, New Hampshire
    I have the 25-2 Performax Supermax double drum sander that I picked up for about $800. It needed about another $100 in parts and a little TLC, This is supported on both sides and is limited to about 24". It has a 5hp Leeson motor for the drums and a DC motor for 0 to ? on the conveyor. I like it a lot and have gotten a lot of use out of it in the short time that I have had it. One nice thing is that many of the parts are off the shelf American made.

    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    No hit or miss on my Performax 22-44 was dead on right out of the box. First tool that ever was, other than Festool...

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Helena, Montana
    This is what I love about this site. Way more information than I bargained for from alot of great folks. As I breakdown and absorb all the tips and talk I thank all of you for your input.

  13. #13
    I have the Delta 18-36 and love it. No problem to get it set up for 36" double passes. Takes about an hour or so to get it dialed in and once there you are pretty much set. I have run several wide panel through and you cannot see a gap with a straight edge set on the surface, so that is good enough for me.

    The key is remembering that this thing is not a planer. I usually take off about 1/128" but never more than 1/64". This is all a DS will ever do, because that is all it is designed to do. It is slow going, but much easier than hand planing (especially dense exotic woods). I've only stalled the thing once and that was because of operator error. Other than that plenty of power and excellent results

    My typrical sequence for a panel glue up is as follows...

    -DS with 120 grit until flat
    =Finish with my LV 112 scraper plane and a pass or two of a card scraper to make top finish better than a sanded surface and remove all sanding scratches.

    You could substitute scraping for a quick touch up with a ROS with 220 grit. I have never had good luck with 220 grit paper and DS's so I only keep 120 on it. 120 grit seems to be a good all purpose belt.

    There is a difference between the performax and the delta. For the performax, the drum and motor move whereas with the delta the table moves. For me I prefer the table to move because the frame is a bit more stiff. Others like to attach outfeed roller to their sanders and it is slightly easier to do this to the performax than the delta. However, I have attached and outfeed table to my Delta and it wasn't that hard, you just have to bold it to the side of the belt carraige.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Virginia Beach, VA

    Two other sanders to look at.

    General Dual Drum and Powermatic DDS-225. I haven't heard anything but raves about either of these sanders. I personally have the Powermatic and can tell you it is a top quality machine.

  15. #15

    Like a contractors saw?

    I've noticed that threads like this often have mixed reviews on the smaller sized $600-$800 (Delta/Performax) sanders with people usually praising the larger $1500-$2000 dual-drum sanders (General International/Powermatic, etc).

    Perhaps this is similar to when someone asks about a $600-$800 contractors saws and we all point out it's flaws and praise the $1500-$2000 cabinet saws.
    Or point out a 6" jointer's limitations while singing out the praises of our 8" or 12" jointers.

    I know that I do this.

    A contractor saw is not a cabinet saw. Nor is it a $100 benchtop saw.

    These smaller cheaper Delta and Performax drum sanders aren't huge, wide, closed end dual drum sanders. Nor are they a sheet of sandpaper glued to a drum on a drill press (sorry, couldn't think of a benchtop equivalent).

    I have the Delta 18-36 and while it's not a $1500 dual drum closed end machine, it's a very good smaller version that's suited for a small home shop. I've run lots of smaller (under 18") pieces through and perhaps a dozen or so wider (30"-34") pieces through.

    It's certainly not as fast as I've seen the larger dual drum sanders work, both in setup and running times, but it does the job.

    I had a contractor's saw until I had the money and space for a Unisaw. Then had a 6" jointer until I had the money and space for a DJ20. I currently have a DeWalt 12.5" planer and the Delta 18-36" drum sanders until the day I have more money and a larger enough shop for some serious sized planer and drum sander.

    I think that if your expectations are right, then you'll be happy with either the smaller Delta or Performax machines. They're both good machines from what I've seen.

    Make sure you add the cost of the abrasive rolls when you buy it. I got a deal on the Delta stuff when I bought mine, but would look at Klingspor if it wasn't for that.

    And whatever you decide on, whether small or large, make sure you've got adequate dust collection. These things really need both good performance from a DC (volume) as well as good filtration (fine dust).
    Last edited by markgoodall; 05-22-2005 at 7:06 AM.
    Happy Woodworking!

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