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Thread: How does drum sander work as thicknesser?

  1. #1

    How does drum sander work as thicknesser?

    I've seen David Marks and others use a drum sander as a thicknesser. I saw a reference recently in the discussion about the DIY drum sander. But I've always failed to see exactly how it would work -
    • [I think] You dial in the elevation of the drum above the feed belt
    • [I think] You place your stock on the treadmill belt and it's drawn under the drum
    • But doesn't the drum need more time to remove 1/16 than 1/32? Is the speed of the treadmill coordinated with the amount of stock being removed?
    Doug, the "Wood Loon"
    Acton, MA (1 mile from Concord)

    70, slow road cyclist, woodworking dabbler, tool junkie , and
    bonsai enthusiast
    Now, if I could just stay focused longer than a few weeks...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    New Hampshire
    The short answer is...slowly.

    On some of the sanders, the feed rate is adjustable (by us, not auto-adjusted by the machine). For the one's that aren't adjustable (and even the one's that are), the more material being removed, the more load that is on the drum motor. You'll find posts here and there about people overloading and tripping the breaker on the drum motor due to too much load from too much material trying to be removed in one pass. The same thing applies to planners as well, but most of them are single speed.

    I'll be getting mine tomorrow. If I have time, I'll build an inline current meter for it. Something with a plug on one side and a recepticle on the other and an ammeter wired in between so I can use it on any machine.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Laguna Beach , Ca.
    I have the General and it is a great machine. You make light passes, but the results are very good and there is no tearout as with planners. For mass stock removal a planner is the tool
    "All great work starts with love .... then it is no longer work"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Portsmouth, VA
    Doug, the term "thicknesser" should be used with caution with a drum sander. It's sanding, not cutting and trying to go any more than 1/32 per pass is asking for problems. So as Anthony said, you go slowly. Of course you wind up with better results than on a planer (and can go much thinner in finished material).

    I have the Jet 22-44 which has a variable speed feed belt. It also has SmartSand technology which automatically slows the feed rate down if it senses the drum head bogging down (from trying to take too much in a single pass). It's a nice feature but the only time it's come on (a red light indicates it's on) for me is when I was testing it. I always take very light passes (I have a Wixey digital gauge on it) and take my time.

    Be well,


  5. #5
    It works because you set the relationship between the abrasive drum head and the table.
    This is about the same as it is in a planar except that (unlike the blades) the abrasive takes off more or less depending on the abrasive the grit and it's condition as well as the feed speed.

    So unlike steel or carbide blades there is a bit of give or softness to the equation that you simply keep an eye on.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Mpls, Minn
    Can't say for a 3 phase time saver in some commercial shop, but with my little 22-44 feed rate and amount of cut are directly related, more cut-slower speed.

    I find if I have, say a 1/4" I need to take off a board and I'd rather not try and run though a saw, the drum sander does it nicely, I just pull up a chair and run it though, again and again, little at a time.
    They work great for that cut that was just a hair too long, not so good for the cut that was a hair to short though..

    Key here is what many have said before, its a sander not a planer, and if you can remove whatever you need by some sort of a saw or planer, that's what I'd do.

    I haven't had mine very long, but I wish I'd bought it a long time ago as I find I use it a lot more than I thought I would.

    Remember our vets, they need our help, just like they helped us.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Blog Entries
    Very slowly.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  8. #8
    In my understanding he generally uses the drum sander to take off saw marks from long thin pieces that could not be sent through the planner.

    Drum sanders are not really made to take off large amounts of stock, but work great on thin stock or figured stock that would tear or chip out or otherwise not make it through the planner.


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