Lathe Based Thickness Sander

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Project by BobAnderton posted 08-10-2014 09:29 PM 50249 views 42 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve seen several examples of this type of thickness sander powered by a lathe. Shipwright made one that was powered by a shopsmith that comes to mind here.

I made the drum using a 6 inch diameter 15” long piece of plastic tube. I made the endcap using plywood and tapped a piece of pear to 1.25-8 to thread onto the spindle. I had a roll of fabric backed sandpaper already and I cut the end of it on a diagonal such that the downweb length of the taper equals the circumference of the drum so that it wraps onto the drum correctly. I used 3M super 77 spray contact adhesive on the back of the sandpaper strip to attach it to the drum.

I had some of these pieces of 3/4 inch 13 ply plywood and doubled them up to make 1.4 inch thick ply for the two tables. The tables are 15×30”. I had a bunch of these really stout hinges and used two of them to hinge the two panels together and used a couple of pieces of threaded rod and knobs to make jackscrews at the back corners for elevation. You can kind of see one of them in the back of picture 2. I made clamp pieces out of some ash and mesquite to clamp the lower table to the lathe ways in the same manner that the tailstock and toolrest do. I added the strips on the underside just to position the lower table on the lathe to make it easier to get the clamp pieces engaged.

Once I had it made I cut some shopmade veneers out of a piece of mesquite that I had milled and dried. I cut them with the setup shown in picture 3. The thickness is governed by the distance between the blade and the rip gauge roller. In this manner you can cut one veneer, index the upright fence over, and cut another without having to joint the piece in between because the jointed face stays against the upright fence. Bob Simmons covers it here. I cut them to about 100 thousandths and then sent them through this thickness sander a few times to remove the bandsaw marks and take them down to about 80 thousandths.

The sander seemed to work quite well and was very well behaved. It seemed to have plenty of power. This Nova 3000 has a 1hp DC motor. This type of sander needs to always run such that the stock is being fed in the direction opposite the motion of the sanding drum, which in this case means that the stock gets fed in from the back table and exits on the front table.

My dust collection system for this is that it sits next to the open garage door and I use a box fan blow all the dust out the door. That’s probably how I’ll keep it because it’s so easy and it works so well.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

10 comments so far

View Thewoodman2000's profile


822 posts in 2820 days

#1 posted 08-10-2014 09:47 PM

I haven’t seen this before (lathe part) great job and for sure something I will be looking into very soon.

Thanks for showing!!!

-- (the only thing in there she says is....tap on head..........tap..........tap..... saw dust) - James

View shipwright's profile


8581 posts in 3648 days

#2 posted 08-10-2014 11:50 PM

Great take on the lathe drum sander. I like it. I’m still very happy with mine. Once you get past the learning curve about feeding evenly it is a superb tool.
Nice work.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View BobAnderton's profile


311 posts in 3640 days

#3 posted 08-11-2014 02:08 AM

In retrospect, Paul, it seems to me that the best place for the jack screws that raise the upper table is at the point directly under the drum because even though the 1.4” thick ply upper table is pretty stiff, it isn’t infinitely stiff. I’m thinking that the more flex that upper table can undergo as stock is being pushed in there the more dependent the result will be on uniform feed rate. In my case I’m pretty space constrained below the lathe because of the way I built the lathe stand. I might try it out and and see if it makes it better because it would pretty much take any flex out of the upper table.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View shipwright's profile


8581 posts in 3648 days

#4 posted 08-11-2014 05:50 AM

My table is reinforced with a grid underneath and it stays pretty flat. That said, I sand mostly thin stock and marquetry and take very thin cuts so I don’t really stress the table.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View michelletwo's profile


2785 posts in 3866 days

#5 posted 08-11-2014 12:12 PM


View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3654 days

#6 posted 08-11-2014 12:15 PM

I think one of the main keys to any drum sander is taking many passes on the same setting, in my opinion.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 2918 days

#7 posted 08-11-2014 07:55 PM

shipwright and Roger hit the nail squarely on the head. Too many tend to use the drum sander as a planer. Not good!!

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3854 days

#8 posted 08-12-2014 01:04 AM

Great idea, well done

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Woodknack's profile


13473 posts in 3230 days

#9 posted 08-12-2014 03:50 AM

I like it. Been wanting to do this for awhile but never get around to it.

-- Rick M,

View bobbg's profile


8 posts in 1218 days

#10 posted 10-04-2017 05:33 PM

I’ve seen this for a Shopsmith, but I was thinking this could be done with a Radial arm saw too.
Nice job.

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