My under $100 wide drum sander (a work in progress)

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Blog entry by Daren Nelson posted 10-18-2008 03:02 PM 45815 reads 26 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I mill wide boards. I have been slipping some of them in the side door of a local cabinet shop when I need them surfaced, but that is getting to be a hassle. I decided to make a wide drum sander. Not really a thickness sander since I mill my own lumber, just a sander to take the sawmill marks out. I had just about everything. A 1 1/2 horse motor, some wood for the frame, belts and pulleys…I did have to buy a couple pillow block bearings.
Here it is almost complete (I still need to built a dust hood) I added a big switch on the side of the frame not shown in the picture, but I have a video I am posting showing me hit the switch. The motor is just hanging from a heavy hinge and the belt like a table saw.

I built a sturdy frame. The drum is fixed and the table raises to the drum.

This screw raises the bed.

It does a pretty good job, looks like it would sand flat to me with the bed all the way up. I have the wrong paper on in this picture, that is just emery cloth I had handy to see if the worm gear clamps to hold it to the roller was even a good idea.

It will sand 25” wide boards. It is set up right now to sand from 2 1/2”-0” thick, my most common need. If I want to sand thicker I can just add riser blocks under the pillow blocks.

This is how I made the roller. I turned some wood plugs and spaced them on the shaft. The shaft is threaded rod and the wood disks are jam nutted in place.

A test run on a piece of osage orange. I was just trying to see if the drum built up too much heat (something I was worried about using PVC pipe) I figured if anything was going to make it hot that hard osage would…it got warm, but not hot.

If you have ever worked with osage orange you know how hard it is, something like cherry/walnut I could pretty much thrown though the machine.

It did a pretty nice job of finishing.

It is not 100% done yet, but any questions, comments, criticisms are welcome.

26 comments so far

View scarpenter002's profile


617 posts in 4473 days

#1 posted 10-18-2008 03:32 PM

Such creativity. Great job Daren.

-- Scott in Texas

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4390 days

#2 posted 10-18-2008 04:21 PM

Nice job, Daren. This is a great project. You saved yourself a bundle and you got the personal satisfaction from completing the project.

Well done!!!

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4336 days

#3 posted 10-18-2008 04:26 PM

nice. i gotta make me a drum sander too. i like the choice of music also ;)

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4453 days

#4 posted 10-18-2008 04:26 PM

Very nice job!!!! I want one!!!!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


489 posts in 4196 days

#5 posted 10-18-2008 05:41 PM


Great looking machine!

Thanks for the post.

I want a 60 inch version.

Do you see one this size in your future?

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4473 days

#6 posted 10-18-2008 05:51 PM

Sawdust, just playing around I did find if I was taking alot of material I would get visible marks where I stopped to get another grip (I am just at this time pushing the stock through manually, may look at power feed some day). But just a baby bite for the last one and the pieces come out smooth even hand feeding. So the last pass is just barely touching the roller and no problems with the few pieces I have sanded.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4158 days

#7 posted 10-18-2008 07:02 PM

How is the kickback factor without having a conveyer?

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4473 days

#8 posted 10-18-2008 09:50 PM

I felt pretty comfortable that a kickback is not likely….but watch the video again I never stand behind the board, I am beside it for safety reasons. 2 things, one that was just test piece that normally I would have just ran through my planer. I am just going to use this for boards in the 16”-24” range and 6’-12’ long, I am not sure with my holding on the motor even has enough power to throw one of those. I intentionally jammed it one time and was able to hold on and make the belt slip instead of kick back. 2 I will most always have a helper, I will feed in and the helper will pull out…having said that I have already started a conveyor (scrapping a heavy duty treadmill) I will update as that comes along. Safety is always a concern of mine though and I am being very careful as always.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4442 days

#9 posted 10-18-2008 10:10 PM

Very cool. Great project but you really need a respirator or at least a good fan for all that dust!

-- Happy woodworking!

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4473 days

#10 posted 10-19-2008 12:37 AM

Blake that was just a test. I am building a dust hood to hook up to the dust collector…Phase 2…power feed. I got my “free” treadmill parts. I will update when I get the power feed running.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4291 days

#11 posted 10-19-2008 02:33 AM

An excellent tool. I have been kicking around the idea of drum sander or thickness sander around for a while. After seeing this one, I may need to start to act.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4336 days

#12 posted 10-19-2008 02:35 AM

can’t wait to see the power feed. thats gonna be cool. i am looking into making one and it will have to have power feed for smaller pieces. or else it will be a pain. is there any snipe?

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4645 days

#13 posted 10-19-2008 12:50 PM

This is getting interesting.

Great thus far.

-- BLOG -

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 4133 days

#14 posted 10-19-2008 02:56 PM

reminds me of the one in shop notes a couple of years back.
Brian, check on plansNow, I bet they have back issues you can order with the plans.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4469 days

#15 posted 10-19-2008 04:21 PM

Wow, 25” eh, they get bigger and bigger. And I love that rise and fall mechanism Daren; it’s real Da Vinci!

Click for details

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

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