Dave's Wide Drum Sander Build. #1: Working on the design, getting the parts.

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by dbhost posted 01-25-2012 08:48 PM 7024 reads 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Dave's Wide Drum Sander Build. series Part 2: The bearings are in, off to the machine shop... »

After seeing the many well thought out, and expertly crafted wide drum sander builds here, and on the other forums, I am sufficiently inspired and motivated to build my own.

I have been working out the design, and have come to the conclusions that while the design isn’t finalized, I AM confident enough to start gathering the “Stuff” to start building it… This “Stuff” so far is…

#1. Pair of 5/8” center hole cast iron ball bearing pillow block bearings. (Order being processed as I type this.) $20.00 after S&H. #2. 5/8” diameter x 48” steel rod to be length reduced during the build process. $7.55 after tax, purchased locally. #3. 4” Schedule 40 PVC. Presently 4” piece. $0.00. It was given to me by a friend that had a cutoff. #4. 4’ of Harbor Freight Link Belt. Effectively $0.00. I had the HF link belt that I used on my band saw, this is just surplus. #5. 1.5HP Compressor Duty Motor. $112.00 after tax. I am completely open to donated motors. If anyone has a suggestion as to where I can get a motor for free I am all for it! FWIW, I had initially wanted to rebuild a Dayton 1.5HP 3600 rpm motor for this application, but the inner bearing seized up on it and it appears to have welded itself to the shaft… Bye bye birdie! #6. 3/4 Aracuo Ply. Leftover / cutoffs being used, so $0.00 #7. 20 stud grade SYP 2×4s. Again, $0.00 as these were cast off from a construction project as surplus. #8. Box of 2.5” coated deck screws. $10.00 (If I recall right) Yeah I am planning on screws and glue for this thing… I want strong, not pretty… #9. Tempered Hardboard. $0.00. Literally, I have 2 sheets that were given to me… #10. Hammer on Single Gang electrical box. $0.00 (pulled out of my attic. It was literally just sitting there loose when I bought the house…) #11. “Safetly” power tool switch. $21.95 #12. 12 ga cable and plug. $0.00 (chunk of an extension cord the neighbor ran over with a mower and threw out. I was able to get a 20” section with a molded plug out of the deal free! #13. Casters. $0.00. I reclaimed them when I tore apart the old / original rolling router table cabinet in favor of the table saw wing… #14. Piano hinges for motor mount plate and main table to pivot on. $0.00. Leftover cutoffs from the clamshell cabinet projects. #15. Misc 1/2” plywood for the drum cover. $0.00 from the scrap bins. #16. 4” S&D PVC for the dust port. $0.00. I have tons of cutoffs from my dust collection setup..

I have some stormfall Oak I plan on using for the end plugs / center support(s), and yes, I plan on turning the V groove in the motor side end plug in order to provide the upper pulley.

My intention is to build this for the least amount of money possible. Partially for me, but partially to give inspiration to others that a project of this magnitude doesn’t have to be expensive.

So bear along with me as I muddle through this project, and hopefully my blogging about it will give you enough information for your own build.

I want to thank all the Lumberjocks ahead of me that already built one of these. There are far too many out there to list, but your work has given me inspiration to move ahead on my build. Thank you! However out of all of these builds, and they are all fantastic mind you, I do intend on borrowing HEAVILY ideas from Lew’s build. He has a great blog series that has provided me ample inspiration…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

12 comments so far

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3524 days

#1 posted 01-25-2012 09:27 PM

A well thought out list.
Where did you end up getting the blocks/bearings?

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View DIYaholic's profile


19877 posts in 3211 days

#2 posted 01-25-2012 09:48 PM

What is your plan for the width of your sander?
Are you going to go “Hook & Loop”? (or just Loopy? Lol.)
Will you incorporate a power feeder?
Can you come over and build me one?

Good luck with your build.

Remember to always look over your shoulder…....Many inquiring minds will be following you!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3768 days

#3 posted 01-25-2012 09:53 PM

SASmith: Amazon is the source for the pillow blocks. Them, the motor, and the gumption to get it all done are what have been taking me so long…

DIYaholic: What is your plan for the width of your sander? I haven’t settled on that yet. 24” minimum. I like working on BIG cutting boards, which is the driving force behind this whole project… I am leaning toward 30 or 32”, but I don’t have that set in stone yet. I am planning on a couple of prototyping runs to iron bugs out as I build… Are you going to go “Hook & Loop”? (or just Loopy? Lol.). Hook and loop. I’ve seen plenty of these things that have a “Tab Lock” kind of arrangement, if need be I will lock down the leading tab as well, but I’d rather not… As every Lumberjock knows, going loopy is always an option though… Will you incorporate a power feeder? That isn’t in my plans at this point. However, I am planning on building it so that I can easily replace a tilting feed table with a raise / lower platen rig… I just don’t feel my fabrication skills mechanically are up to snuff yet. So a simpler build is in order for me! My first inspiration for this project really was Darren over at Woodworkingtalk, I think he’s here too… That got me thinking, and the onslaught of builds from other members got me thinking I could actually pull something like this off, and although nearly everyone says a power feeder would be nice, almost nobody says they are neccessary… Can you come over and build me one? That’s not in my plan either… But I am planning on blogging this to death, with photos as I can get them done, so at least you can learn from my mess ups…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Sarit's profile


551 posts in 3676 days

#4 posted 01-25-2012 10:47 PM

IMHO the solid wood drum is a better option compared to the PVC/Wood combination. The reason being that you can true the drum to the table by just putting some sandpaper on the table and raising the table until it sands the drum true. Its more important for the drum to be parallel to the table than it is for it to be perfectly cylindrical. You’ll also be able to re-true it if any wood movement occurs.

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3768 days

#5 posted 01-25-2012 10:59 PM

Possibly a completely valid point, However I have had nothing but trouble trying to build a solid wood drum. Admittedly I have been using MDF which is most likely my issue…

Thus far I have seen 3 sanders built with the wood / PVC drum method, and I have seen no reports of any problems with that method YET… Mind you, I am not allergic as it were to that idea, but if I were to use solid wood, I would end up having to do a painfully large glue up of segments done in sections so that I can get the center hole through a section at a time, then glue the sections. The process seemed problematic, and a potential source for failure… A slight out of true can be corrected with the mentioned method as well, it just can’t be very much is all… But then again, if your drum is that far out of true, and you are sanding lots of material off, you are reducing your sanding surface area more than I’d like anyway…

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on why I am steering this way with the sander… Not that I hadn’t considered, or even started down the all wood path, it just seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View JL7's profile


8754 posts in 3502 days

#6 posted 01-26-2012 04:12 AM

Hey Dave – good for you – best of luck on the build. I have the 22” Performax bolted to the RAS and a couple things I learned pretty quick. It can be really tricky (and dangerous) to hang onto a larger board, especially on those final passes when everything is getting flat and you have maximum contact.

I built a sliding table on mine and I run it completely from the outfeed side – no chance of getting in the way of a wooden projectile! Something to think about. You can also get snipe if you don’t have a constant feed rate. I have a few different posts on this in my “basement” blog. Downside – it takes some floor space – Upside, it is really efficient – you can feed stock back and forth without ever removing the stock from the table and you can flatten warped boards using shims. This is tough to do with a belt feed….

Lastly – I wouldn’t build any bigger than absolutely necessary, reason being if you do trash the paper, the longer the drum, the greater the pain…..and good paper ain’t cheap!

But whatever you decide – go for it – it’s a great addition to the shop!


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3701 days

#7 posted 01-26-2012 04:29 PM

Just watching from the sidelines. Like I told Lew, I have enough trouble just getting down to the store to buy a tool, let alone build it. Mostly, I don’t have the time or energy. No experience, so don’t have much to say. I think the only real tool I built was my tablesaw switch, which incidentally, works flawlessly and I totally forget about it, which is the way it should be.

Good luck on the build, hope it works well.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3768 days

#8 posted 01-26-2012 05:27 PM


For me, I view shop projects / machine building as skill builders. Look at it this way…

To build the drum, I get more time on the lathe practicing making accurate cuts.
To build the elevation mechanism, I get practice on mitered half laps (sort of).
To build the table I get practice on lamination (Tempered hardboard over plywood).
To build the frame, I get practice on half laps, as well as Mortise and Tenon.
To mount the pillow blocks, I get practice on drilling DEEP, accurate holes with deep counterbores ALA Lew’s setup.
To build the dust hood / drum hood I get to practice bending plywood., and drilling accurate, LARGE holes in uneven surfaces…
To finish the thing, I will get more than a little practice spraying. I intend of painting mine for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the humid environment where I live and work…

Most importantly, I am in no hurry to get this done, this project will most likely be a long term ongoing thing as I work other, smaller projects around it. For example, I have paint and drywall to get done inside the house SOON. I have Attic Foil that needs to finish getting installed, I have a few more rolls of R30 that need to go over the bedrooms etc… (I really need to hire some hands to finish this kind of junk up!)

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3701 days

#9 posted 01-26-2012 08:23 PM

I think those are great reasons. I guess from my perspective, I do so much shop development, I really don’t need anymore. I actually have two non-shop projects to post, just haven’t got there. Might get to do it when I am on vacation if I get all the pictures taken.

Take your time, and have fun. I did a glue up on a major section of my cutoffs cart this morning before I went to work. It is coming along.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Sarit's profile


551 posts in 3676 days

#10 posted 01-27-2012 10:48 PM

Regarding the construction of the solid wood drum, if you have a lathe, then there’s another method that might be easier than making a bunch of little disks.
Take a 4”x4”x24” piece of hardwood, split it in half length wise and route a centered grove w/ a 5/8” cove bit in both halfs (also length wise). Sandwich the metal rod in the groove with epoxy and glue the hardwood halves back together.

Now the trick is how to mount this centered in the lathe. You can do this by making the same disks you were planning to make and using them as end caps for the lathe chuck and live center to grab on. On the chuck side, add a few screws through the end cap into the hardwood blank. The chuck jaws can then grab onto the circular end cap. On the live center side, you merely need a block with a stopped hole that fits over the metal rod. There is a through pilot hole at the bottom of the stopped hole for the live center to be located. (you can also just make a divot in the center of the metal rod if you are confident in your machining skills). Then its just a matter of turning it so its like 1/16” over sized (or whatever you feel comfortable with) and using the sanding technique to remove the rest.

An even easier (but much more dangerous) approach is to take the glued up blank and rod go ahead and install it into the sander as if it were done. Then when you turn on your sander, you’ll notice that you essentially have a lathe. You’ll have to improvise a tool rest and be sure you have the right rpms.

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3768 days

#11 posted 01-27-2012 11:26 PM

Sarit, an interesting thought, however, doing it in one piece on my lathe would be, well a challenge at best. I would simply run out of lathe bed for a wide enough drum… I did have the thought to do the drum in smaller chunks, say 5” chunks, to just over 4” diameter on the lathe, and gluing them up while keeping them centered on the shaft, gluing it up, and then sanding it down to final dimension with abrasive mounted on a sufficiently wide scrap of granite (shockingly easy to come by here…) Sort of turn it while sanding it smooth and to final dimension…

It appears that others are far more concerned than I about using the PVC… When Darren first did his I was skeptical, but after seeing a few in use for a couple of years, I am willing to give it a shot… If it fails, no biggie, I can go with a solid wood drum later. I just seriously doubt it will be a problem…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View lew's profile


12881 posts in 4292 days

#12 posted 01-28-2012 11:05 PM

First, thanks for the kind words about the blog! You are too kind!

So far, the PVC drum has been working great. I did find, as Jeff mentioned, you must move the material continuously to prevent “divots”.

Something I read and I think it might relate to the “roundness” tolerance requirement of the drum. Supposedly, hook and loop systems allow the sandpaper to actually lift off of the drum, when it spins. This is said to allow the paper to run cooler and clog less. Also, this system provides a cushion between the grit and the solid drum (the hook and loop material). Considering both of these factor, it makes sense to me at least, that some very minor variations in the drum “roundness” would not be a problem.

Just my 2¢


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics