My Tools #6: Jet 16-32 drum sander

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 07-07-2010 03:09 AM 7940 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Mom visited a couple of weeks back for 10 days. She tends to come out once per year in the summer to see me, her only son. She helped me replace some broken things in my continuing “everything’s breaking” period (broke a bit last week on the mill – pricey, too – my computer a week or two before that, and my TV shortly before that, sigh…). Then over dinner for her birthday somewhere nice we talked about woodworking, and my idea for making some things like cutting boards that I can sell. She asked what I needed to make that happen in any kind of feasible time period, as I’m now working full time, and it’s harder and harder to find hours free in the shop. I mentioned that the one thing that would help a lot would be a drum sander.

The next day we took a trip to Rockler to check them out. They were 2x the starting price I had misremembered ($500ish, not $250ish), and they were out of the 10” wide model. I was ready to go when she surprised me by saying “What about this 16-inch model?” She got it for me for my birthday, which is next month. This is another reason for me not to get married and have kids. All that grandkid money is funneling directly to me! evil laughter


She really is way too nice to me. I have to make this (and all the other stuff she made way more awesome during her visit) up to her this year somehow. She even got me some boxes of grits:


They come in rolls:


I figured eventually I’d get one, but I really thought it wouldn’t be for at least a year, probably a few. I’m still kind of amazed 2 weeks on that this thing is in my shop. It’s unbelievably useful.


I’ve used it almost every day since for about an hour or two per day. I’ve made about 6 different boards with it from various scraps (which I’ll post soon). I’ve cleaned up a bunch of boards from pallets, revealing in a few instances some very pretty wood beneath the grease and grime. I even realized the scraps I save that no one would use, like the 1” thick, mostly bark scrap from the first flat-sawn board from some logs (Chinese elm, e.g.) can be cleaned up into usable pieces. I’ve fed quite a bit thorugh here that simply cannot be put in a planer, and it seems to handle end-grain glue-ups with almost no tearout, though more testing is called for in this area (and tonight I begin on that!).


Switching grits takes about 30-45 seconds, and isn’t unpleasant at all, so I’ve been back and forth between them 2 dozen times now at least. This totally changes how I can work, too. I can do things I wouldn’t, because they’d be such a hassle to clean up later. I fed a 13” diameter log round through it from some Modesto ash, a sister piece to the top I made for this cake stand. 16” is a very useful dimension! Cutting boards fit easily through it, and I can make a second pass with the board spun around 180° to get up to 36” wide sanding. I even put a small piece of aluminum through it today, and it worked well.

I love this thing. It’s WAY more quiet than the planer, and much safer. I almost left the shop with it still running once, because when it’s on it makes almost no noise whatsoever. Some old refrigerators hum louder than this machine. It’s very well balanced.

Here’s a crummy board from a stack of pallet wood:


It turned out to be beautiful underneath, with shimmering chatoyance. I didn’t immediately recognize it until I caught the wonderful, slightly fruity smell. The drum sander warms the wood a bit, making it even more fragrant. It’s alder.


-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

19 comments so far

View lew's profile


13534 posts in 5217 days

#1 posted 07-07-2010 03:32 AM


I am willing to be adopted ;^)

Nice score- sure beats the sock and underwear my mom still insists on buying me!


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

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3672 posts in 5174 days

#2 posted 07-07-2010 03:45 AM

What are you making Mom in return? She should get your most spectacular cutting board!

-- Voltaire: “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities” There are 112 genders (not including male and female)

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4636 days

#3 posted 07-07-2010 03:47 AM



-- -- Neil

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5344 days

#4 posted 07-07-2010 03:52 AM

Good Mom ya got there. She done you good. Tell her thanks for me.

I like helping out my kids too.

I have that sander, and it is one of the most useful tools I own.

Good story,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View degoose's profile


7287 posts in 4816 days

#5 posted 07-07-2010 04:00 AM

I have the same one and I just love it to death…

-- Be safe.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 5419 days

#6 posted 07-07-2010 04:12 AM

Wow..can your Mom adopt me? Thats awesome!
Great looking sander..thats the one I want!


View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5284 days

#7 posted 07-07-2010 04:23 AM

Gary, your mom sounds like a keeper to me!! This is a nice sander that you have obviously already put through its paces. I have one of these on my wish list as well. Could you use a brother? :)

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

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5110 days

#8 posted 07-07-2010 04:28 AM

sweet… those visits sure do pay well, in all aspects :)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24657 posts in 5138 days

#9 posted 07-07-2010 05:52 AM

I’d start inviiting her 2x a year, Gary :-)) You’d better hope she doesn’t read LJ and find out about the grandkids being on hold until your shop is up to snuff ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1133 posts in 4435 days

#10 posted 07-07-2010 05:54 AM

Cool stuff.
Your mom is awesome.

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4396 days

#11 posted 07-07-2010 07:11 AM

You got a great mom and a great sander.
I got the same and found it very usefull.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4577 days

#12 posted 07-07-2010 08:45 AM

I think you most bee this weeks SUCKER , congrat´s Gary with your new toy
but now you have a big problem HOW WILL YOU EVER CUOLD PAY HER BACK
this gesture
enjoy It the next many years


View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4653 days

#13 posted 07-07-2010 02:30 PM

The life of an only child (envy)!!!! :)

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4796 days

#14 posted 07-07-2010 02:51 PM

Your mom is a generous person and a loving mother Gary. Not everybody has one like that, so you can consider yourself a very lucky guy. Your new sander looks great and very useful. I’m waiting for someone to give me one like that. I’m just not sure where I could put it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Porosky's profile


619 posts in 4826 days

#15 posted 07-07-2010 02:52 PM

Welcome to the easy life my friend.

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

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