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Thread: Delta 18-36 drum sander-Mini review

  1. #1
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    Cool Delta 18-36 drum sander-Mini review

    As some of you may know, I finally pulled the trigger on a drum sander. I chose the Delta 31-255X, mainly on price, partially because I think my local vendor may have had to substitue this model for the 31-250, probably because of availability. Price paid: $699.00 + local taxes. That also includes the "Free Tool coupon" from Delta and I'm going for the PC 690LR.

    I didn't buy it on price alone. After reading numerous opinions, I had read about the good, the bad and things in between. The "bad" included terrible vibration, the material table would "lock up" moving it up/down and one person was very disgruntled about the inordinate amount of time it took him to adjust everything "which should've been done at the factory". That notwithstanding, there were enough positive opinions, plus the favorable WW magazine review. What follows are my findings, thus far:

    Packaging: Nothing short of excellent. Molded styrofoam for all major pieces, plus additional styro padding where necessary.

    Assembly: Piece of cake! The instructions are exemplory and easy to follow. They do indicate two (or more) people to handle some of the aspects of assembly, but I was able to do it by my lonesome without any problems. Fit and finish was excellent throughout and the few parts I did need to tack on to the machine, fit perfectly without any "friendly" persuassion necessary. I stopped at my local Woodcraft on the way home with the machine (felt guilty, I guess) and picked up a set of their retractable casters (normally used on contractor table saws). Being a retrofit, this necessitated drilling holes in the sander's legs. Again, all went easy and works great. FWIW, all the nuts, bolts and allen screws on the 31-255 are NOT metric, but standard issue, even though the machine is manufactured in Taiwan. A pleasant surprise.

    Operation: Contrary to what some of the opinions stated, I have experienced no vibration when the unit is running, although there is a bit of a "shudder" when it's winding down. It's kind of a low frequency shudder, so I'm thinking it may well be the belt just as it's coming off load. Others have stated issues with raising the platform up/down, saying it would bind and literally get "locked" into a single position. Again, no such issue with this unit. Then there's the "adjustment" issue. Must've been my day, because the *only* adjustment I made is to zero-in the depth indicator. It doesn't come mounted on the machine, because it goes on after the belted delivery platform is installed.

    Performance: I left the factory installed 80 grit paper on the drum. I had a chunk of laminated MDF, about 10" wide by 2 ft. long. Pre-sanding measurement was exactly .749 at all four corners. I drew a series of pencil lines perpendicular to the board and ran it through the machine. I kept cranking the table up by a 1/16th of a turn until I had contact with the board. First pass having contact with the drum, evenly eliminated all the pencil marks. I then took my digital calipers and re-measured at all four corners. I'm impressed: .734 all the way around! Although I didn't have anything handy, which was in excess of 18", I did take the same board and fed it about 1/2 of it through the open end of the sander, flipped it around and did the other half. Once again, even all the way around, this time at .719. One of the opinions I had read also mentioned "extremely severe snipe, worse than what you get out of a planer". Me thinks this poor soul either has a crappy planer or doesn't know how to properly setup/use his equipment! I did note the very faintest shadow of snipe, but it wasn't even measurable. Furthermore, a guy will want to do final sanding on a piece before assembly/finish.

    Conclusion: Either Delta has very pro-actively addressed previous issues with their design, greatly increased their QA at the assembly plant or I just got lucky. Maybe all three! If I were to make a recommendation soley based on my own experience, I'd say, "Go for it!"

    Just a few disclaimers: No, I don't represent Delta in any way shape or form. No, I'm not a one-brand too buyer (Delta fanatic or such.). Lastly, this is my first drum sander and I have no A/B comparison which I can do, based on previous experience.
    Cheers,
    John K. Miliunas

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  2. #2
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    Sounds like a great machine. Thanks for the review. Looks like something else to add to my wish list. How much floor space does it require when not in use? I would think it would work well on a mobile base. Would be interested in knowing if the good results are still there when sanding a longer board.
    ________
    Ron

    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  3. #3
    John,,,when you get into using it alot I would like to know if you have any problem with convyer belt walking off,,thats the only problem I have with the older model I have,,,, it was suppose to fixed with the X models,,,,
    Mike

  4. #4
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    $699.00 ???

    John,
    You got the 31-655x for $699.00? That is an amazing price it is going for $899.00 everywhere else. I'm very close to getting one of these but can only find the 31-650 for $750.00 on sale in my area. If I could ask what is the name of your local supplier. Thanks for the review.
    Greg

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Scott
    John,
    You got the 31-655x for $699.00? That is an amazing price it is going for $899.00 everywhere else. I'm very close to getting one of these but can only find the 31-650 for $750.00 on sale in my area. If I could ask what is the name of your local supplier. Thanks for the review.
    Greg
    Greg, probably just a typo, but that's a 31-*2*55x, not *6*55. I'm sure it's the same one I'm talking about. I got it at the Farm & Fleet in Madison, which is not exactly all that far from you. Plus, you also have F&F in Iowa, as well. I can't be sure it's the same sale or item over there, but might be worth checking out. Yeah, it's a helluva' deal!
    Cheers,
    John K. Miliunas

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  6. #6
    Dan Bussiere Guest
    John,
    Thanks for the review. I have been thinking of making that same purshase in the near future. I have watched with interest the posts you have recieved on the delta. I am not a dedicated brand name guy either, but I have leaned toward the delta on this purshase. Great to hear it isn't as bad as some have stated. Maybe you are lucky! I also would be interested to find out what kind of footprint is required to have one of these and the stability on the mobile base.
    Thanks for the info.
    Dan

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Bussiere
    I also would be interested to find out what kind of footprint is required to have one of these and the stability on the mobile base.
    Thanks for the info.
    Dan
    Hi Dan. Yeah, Ron is interested in the amount of real estate it takes, as well. I'll try to remember and check that out for you when I get home. It is very stable, though maybe a bit wide for some folks. The retractable wheels I installed add to the dimensions, as well, but space really isn't much of an issue for me now, so I really like the setup.

    One other aspect I was remiss on, in the context of the review, is dust collection. My installation currently has the sander at the very end of my DC system runs. Woodsucker through 6" ducts, through, at least, 3 wyes, then going to a 6>4" adaptor and about 4 or 4-1/2" of flex. Dust? What dust?! Not even a hint of dust escaping from around the shroud. Granted, my passes were only 1/164th, but that was with 80 grit, so I'm pretty pleased with that, as well.
    Cheers,
    John K. Miliunas

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  8. #8
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    John,
    You are correct about the price $699 here at Blains Farm & Fleet as well but the store here in Muscatine has the 31-250 on display not the 31-250 on display not the X model. I have a few other Blains here within driving distance so I'll have to check them out as well. Thanks for the heads up.
    Greg

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Scott
    John,
    You are correct about the price $699 here at Blains Farm & Fleet as well but the store here in Muscatine has the 31-250 on display not the 31-250 on display not the X model. I have a few other Blains here within driving distance so I'll have to check them out as well. Thanks for the heads up.
    Greg
    Greg, the F&F in Madison only had the 31-250 on display, as well. BUT, the one which was boxed up and I received is definitely the 31-255X. It may be worth your asking to "check out a boxed unit", even if the display is the older version.
    Cheers,
    John K. Miliunas

    Cannot find REALITY.SYS. Universe halted.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Bussiere
    John,
    Thanks for the review. I have been thinking of making that same purshase in the near future. I have watched with interest the posts you have recieved on the delta. I am not a dedicated brand name guy either, but I have leaned toward the delta on this purshase. Great to hear it isn't as bad as some have stated. Maybe you are lucky! I also would be interested to find out what kind of footprint is required to have one of these and the stability on the mobile base.
    Thanks for the info.
    Dan
    Dan & Ron,

    The footprint of the unit on its own base is: 36x21. If you need to "stash" it aside somewhere, be aware that the table itself is actually 23", which sticks out just a tad more than the width of the base. With the retractable casters from Woodcraft, the total real estate increases to: 42x27. Don't know, but I assume that a typical mobile base would probably consume a similar space to the casters. FWIW, I have the 3-wheel mobile bases on a couple of my other machines and I find the retractable casters to be much more stable when moving equipment. (I used to have the same setup on my old Delta contractor saw.)

    Ron, I still can't tell you about the efficiency of long boards through the sander and I'm not sure when/if I will. I rarely process anything much longer than about 6' in the rough, as most of my projects are smaller than that. When I do have the substantially longer pieces, I usually rough-cut them to shorter lengths anyway, as I find it to be easier to handle. If I do run something longer through there, I'll be sure to let you know.
    Cheers,
    John K. Miliunas

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Miliunas
    Dan & Ron,

    The footprint of the unit on its own base is: 36x21. If you need to "stash" it aside somewhere, be aware that the table itself is actually 23", which sticks out just a tad more than the width of the base. With the retractable casters from Woodcraft, the total real estate increases to: 42x27. Don't know, but I assume that a typical mobile base would probably consume a similar space to the casters. FWIW, I have the 3-wheel mobile bases on a couple of my other machines and I find the retractable casters to be much more stable when moving equipment. (I used to have the same setup on my old Delta contractor saw.)

    Ron, I still can't tell you about the efficiency of long boards through the sander and I'm not sure when/if I will. I rarely process anything much longer than about 6' in the rough, as most of my projects are smaller than that. When I do have the substantially longer pieces, I usually rough-cut them to shorter lengths anyway, as I find it to be easier to handle. If I do run something longer through there, I'll be sure to let you know.
    Thanks for the follow up John. If I had the $ I could find the space!
    ________
    Ron

    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  12. #12
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    Nice review John. I bought the 31-250 shortly after they came out with it. I spent some time dialing it in as I do with all my machinery. I have not had a lick of trouble with it. I do occasionally get some snipe but there are ways around that.
    Do yourself a favor, get the folding infeed/outfeed tables ASAP. I waited a couple of years before getting mine and wish I had bought them when I bought the machine. They make using the machine much more enjoyable.

    Another trick I use when trying to “find” the wood for the first cut is to open the top and spin the drum by hand while raising the table, (unplugged of course), make contact and then back off the table a half turn or so.

    BTW, you got a pretty good deal. As I recall, I spent considerably more and didn’t get no stinking free router!

    My machinery motto: By high and sell low
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  13. #13
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    Hey John...

    Did you ever get your new Laguna band saw to work?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nic obie
    Hey John...

    Did you ever get your new Laguna band saw to work?
    Yes. No. Well, kinda'. I've given it some limited use, thus far, but I don't want to take a chance by "counting on it" to do something important right now. That vibration is 'bout enough to drive a guy batty. (OK, batty-ER than I already am. ) If it weren't for the noise/vibration, it cuts quite well, actually. It'll be a couple more weeks before the replacement arrives. In other words, major resawing jobs will wait until then. At that point, I'll mount up the Resaw King, as well. I'll throw a post up once the replacement gets here and see how it fares.
    Last edited by Ken Salisbury; 01-07-2004 at 7:25 AM. Reason: spelling corrections
    Cheers,
    John K. Miliunas

    Cannot find REALITY.SYS. Universe halted.
    60 grit is a turning tool, ain't it?
    SMC is totally supported by volunteers and your generosity! Please help if you can!
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  15. #15
    Dan Bussiere Guest
    John,
    Thanks for the real estate info. I believe I can find or make room for it after all. I thought it would take up more than that for some reason. Now to save up the duckies to get it with!
    Thanks Again,
    Dan

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