19" Shop-Built Drum Sander

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Project by PPK posted 06-15-2016 03:01 PM 21491 views 39 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finished my drum sander this weekend. (Almost anyway) I will add some “retractable” casters for a mobile base later. It will be the same as my workbench mobile base, if you’re curious as to how I did it. (I don’t know how to link, so go to my projects) I spent about a week of evenings and the weekend building it. The height adjustment was somewhat of a head-scratcher, but what I came up with seems very sturdy, and is easy to fine-tune the height quickly. I’m still waiting on my sandpaper to come, so I don’t know how it sands yet… but when I was using sandpaper on a board to flatten the drum, it’s a beast. No bogging down, and the sanding was very smooth. Feeding panels through should be no problem, I laminated my torsion box, and then put some paste wax on it. BTW, torsion boxes don’t need to be pretty, right? Mine looks like heck inside, but seems stiff and flat and looks just fine on the outside!!

Anyway, here’s the specs:

-1.5 HP, 3450 rpm, 220 volt motor from Harbor Freight, wired with re-purposed DPDT switch from my bandsaw
-19” wide sanding capacity, 5” drum diameter on 3/4” dia. shaft
-2300 feet per minute drum speed (calculates to 1759 rpm on drum)
-velcro to fasten sandpaper
-1/4” to about 4” thickness capacity
-threaded rod for fine table height adjustment (see pictures)
-easily detachable feed table with pinned door hinges and modified swivel socket thing.
-Mobile base (coming soon… I just couldn’t wait to post :-0 )
-4” dust collection port and viewing windows of sanding drum
-very little vibration with link belt and fairly well-balanced drum
-Cost to build: ~ $200 (majority of that was the motor)

Some additional pictures of the build:

Update: I ran some wood through the sander. It works very well, but there is a learning curve on using hook and loop sand paper. I did take the sander to its limits, and blew off all the paper when making too deep a “cut”. The motor didn’t bog much, but the hook and loop has its limits. What I’ll probably do is wrap a strip of tape around the ends of the drum to hold down the tapered ends of the sandpaper. I always used to do this even on the “real” drum sanders at work, and it helped make the paper last longer.

I also got the mobile base done. see the extra pictures below…

( I actually sanded right thru the veneer on this plywood, like I said before, there’s a bit of learning curve ;-)
The height adjuster is great though – it stays put, and is easy to make “micro” adjustment quickly and easily.

  • Update 7/18/2016:
    I used this thing enough to get a feel for it now, and it really works well. Surprisingly well, actually, because I’ve never built something that works this good. It sands evenly, and has plenty of power. Applying tape to the ends of the roll is a must, or else the wood catches the end of the paper and rips it all off. After I taped the roll ends, I have had no troubles since. Also, not having a power feed is no problem. I kind of actually prefer it, since you can slow down the feed rate if you’ve got a tough spot or have harder wood, etc. The drum does not heat up at all, unlike the commercial kinds that don’t have hook and loop sandpaper. This is awesome.

-- Pete

15 comments so far

View calisdad's profile


334 posts in 2791 days

#1 posted 06-15-2016 03:09 PM

I like it. I like your circle jig too.
Any reason you didn’t use a piece of ABS for the ‘cutter head’?

-- Groveland, CA.

View PPK's profile


1872 posts in 2090 days

#2 posted 06-15-2016 06:21 PM

Calisdad, I did consider that briefly, I was concerned that there would be too much flex in the pvc/abs. I suppose that I could have put some disks in the middle to address that, but then I’m still cutting disks… I also like the weight that the plywood adds. In my experience, the heavier a spinning “cutterhead” is, the more smoothly and better it works… That’s just my thought process. There’s a bunch of different ways to do it…

-- Pete

View Redoak49's profile


5417 posts in 3270 days

#3 posted 06-15-2016 07:40 PM

Nice build…..I am considering building one. Please post when you run a few boards thru it.

View twicklund's profile


13 posts in 2012 days

#4 posted 06-15-2016 08:11 PM

This is great! I am very interested to see how well it works. It looks like it would perform VERY WELL! Let us know!

-- Brand new to this...Trying to learn...Any help is always appreciated!!

View bushmaster's profile


4147 posts in 3564 days

#5 posted 06-16-2016 12:14 AM

Super build, I like home built projects, you will enjoy it everytime you use it.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View lew's profile


13442 posts in 5036 days

#6 posted 06-16-2016 02:19 AM

Nice! I like the “see thru” dust cover.

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

View Shuja's profile


287 posts in 2847 days

#7 posted 06-16-2016 03:52 AM

Height adjustment!
Innovative. Sturdy

-- shuja

View jayseedub's profile


225 posts in 3246 days

#8 posted 06-16-2016 01:24 PM

I’d REALLY love to build something like this, but I admit that I don’t have a 100% understanding of how it works. It was my presumption that there should be a belt that the workpiece sits on that slowly moves it under the spinning drum—I don’t see that sort of setup here. How do you regulate the speed of the wood going under the drum?

Thanks for sharing your build and the info—would love to see more closeups/details!

View PPK's profile


1872 posts in 2090 days

#9 posted 06-16-2016 01:29 PM

there is no feed belt on this sander. You just simply feed the door (or whatever you are sanding) under the drum at a steady rate with your hands, or a flat pusher board. It is not nearly as hard as it seems. I also put some paste wax on the laminate, so the surface is pretty smooth. The sand paper attaches to the velcro that is wrapped around the drum (that’s why the drum is all black). I will post a few more pics soon. Just got done adding a simple mobile base to it last night! Thanks for the compliments guys.

-- Pete

View fatman51's profile


335 posts in 3118 days

#10 posted 06-16-2016 05:13 PM

Nice job! I love the ingenuity!

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

View Ivan's profile


17046 posts in 4149 days

#11 posted 06-17-2016 06:34 AM

Realy nice engineering and woodworking job. I would made it for myself also but my workshop is too small for another maschine.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View PPK's profile


1872 posts in 2090 days

#12 posted 06-17-2016 01:16 PM

Thanks guys. I did try it out last night, it works well! I threw on some more pics for you

-- Pete

View HUE166's profile


17 posts in 2011 days

#13 posted 07-04-2016 07:08 PM

Looks very good. Unfortunatelly is at the moment my shop too small, but once I will build it :)

-- Excuse my english, I'm german!

View Jerry's profile


3496 posts in 2929 days

#14 posted 02-13-2020 06:26 PM

This is a very impressive build. I’ve been wanting to make one of these for years. Really well done and an inspiration. Thanks Pete.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View sg67129's profile


1 post in 361 days

#15 posted 12-01-2020 09:49 PM

I sure would like to know the over all height I`m just a amateur.

Bob McC

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