Full featured Drum Sander

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Project by johnzo posted 09-30-2010 06:46 AM 26489 views 146 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my last winter’s project. I started out by reading the DS article in the vol 15 issue 86 SHOP NOTES magazine. It’s basically about a shop made hand crank transport drum sander whose 16” wide abrasive conveyor belt transport is pivoted into an MDF sanding drum. I didn’t like the fact that the drum was made up of 19 slices of 3/4” MDF or that it required temporary use of your tablesaw’s top and motor drive. I wanted a heavy, free-standing drum sander and since I had a metal lathe, I bought a 4.5” OD X 1/8” wall aluminum tube and turned end plates for mounting the drum to a 5/8” shaft and pillow blocks. Owing to the flat & stiff nature of MDF, I constructed the cabinet and transport of that cheap and stable material. I used ordinary hem-fir 2X4’s as ties between the 2 main MDF upright frame members. Rather than mess with a compromised incline cut thickness adjustment system, I opted for the Woodmaster DS system consisting of a nut bracket on the 4 corners of the conveyor transport which engage vertical threaded rods with a bearing/bushing at upper & lower ends. At the lower end of each rod is a small pinned sprocket engaging an endless bicycle chain. At the upper end of 1 of the longer rods is a hand crank for moving the transport conveyor up and down. Works beautifully! The next thing I changed was the hand cranked transport. I connected a 57 RPM gear motor to chain drive 1 of the transport rollers. The MDF transport rollers were also changed to PVC rollers with alum endplugs. I bought a Craigslist used 3/4 HP motor ($50.) to drive the sanding drum and wind a 3” wide cloth backed sanding strip (100 grit) onto the drum and tape the ends to secure. I built a hinged wood & plexiglass cover to contain the fine dust from the sander and into my dust collector.
RESULT: Since I started using the drum sander, I’ve yet to start up my planer. I LOVE this tool! My planer used to snipe and cause chip-outs. The sander is accurate end to end within 1000’s of an inch which is exactly what I need in the woodworking I do. Anybody want to buy my 15” planer? I don’t know if I’ll ever use it again! This has got to be the most enjoyable project I’ve ever attempted and I actually use it almost every day! The cost of building this sander was roughly $300. although if I had scrounged more for parts on Craigslist I could have done better.
John Z

-- 70 is the new 50!

39 comments so far

View blacknail's profile


153 posts in 4261 days

#1 posted 09-30-2010 07:09 AM

Wow! I am impressed!!! I’ve got some pecan just begging to take a run through that…

-- Darrell B.

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 4289 days

#2 posted 09-30-2010 07:55 AM

nice job, wish i had more access to machine shop tools. i would have made a bunch of jigs out of metal.

-- Ben L

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4817 days

#3 posted 09-30-2010 08:21 AM

Hey John,
Sweet, simple, and functional…well done.

View Ken90712's profile


18113 posts in 4645 days

#4 posted 09-30-2010 11:35 AM

Great build and story. Sure looks like a great drum sander from here. Get rid of snipe and chip out is a good thing no doubt. I have when I planning some real nice wood and it happens to the end of the board. I just built a table top V drum sander and love it, might have to think about this one this winter.

Thx for the post.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4693 days

#5 posted 09-30-2010 01:38 PM

Great project. I’ve looked at several drum sanders and so far, and each time I want one more and more. I’d like to have one with a 25” bed and the cost of a commercial sander that size is way too much for my budget. I work with a lot of tiger maple and other curly woods that tear out on my planer. A drum sander would get a lot of use in my shop. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve got some scrounging to do before cold weather sets in…

-- Hal, Tennessee

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4323 days

#6 posted 09-30-2010 01:43 PM

That’s a real nice shop built sander. You did a great job on it.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5702 days

#7 posted 09-30-2010 01:48 PM

Great job, I too have all the stuff to make on, just got to get busy and do it. I like you design, very effective and original.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View dub560's profile


632 posts in 4369 days

#8 posted 09-30-2010 02:48 PM

real nice. i might be consulting you about this project because i need to get one of these

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5338 days

#9 posted 09-30-2010 03:30 PM

Yea! Yea!

Drum sanders rock. Very nice build. I like your attitude.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4920 days

#10 posted 09-30-2010 04:28 PM

That is too cool!!!!! I love shop built tools. This one looks well built and delivers excellent results. Good job,
OBTW: Welcome to LumberJocks!

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View johnzo's profile


86 posts in 4252 days

#11 posted 09-30-2010 05:21 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments. If anybody is interested in the design details I would be more than happy to accomodate. The drum sander is built mainly around the Kllingspor 16” X 48” 100 grit sanding belt which serves as the transport belt (cat#WB51410). The Shop Notes article is extremely well done, has many of the specs/sources listed and in retrospect I could have easily gone with the hand crank transport design. Adding the gear drive simply frees up one of your hands. I really like my chain drive transport elevation system though. It’s so convenient to just crank the handle a few degrees for a perfect measured thickness. That’s another thing I despise about a planer. You’re either over your desired stock thickness or you’ve gone too far and you’ve ruined your piece. Another bit of info I meant to mention: my 3/4 HP drum drive motor is 1750 RPM. I would be afraid of a motor spinning twice as fast.
John Z

-- 70 is the new 50!

View manilaboy's profile


177 posts in 5391 days

#12 posted 10-01-2010 02:33 AM

Yeah! The best home built drum sander I’ve seen so far.

It seems that each home built DS is better than the last. What’s next? Digital controlled depth of cut? LOL.

How I wish I could build one.


-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 4336 days

#13 posted 10-01-2010 03:21 AM

That’s $900 for a pro model!

Nicely done!

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 4399 days

#14 posted 10-01-2010 05:06 PM

John, I would agree with Splinterman : that is sweet, functional and well done.
And also simple…rocket science for me.
That is a great piece of engineering mate!!

Thank for posting, and Welcome to LJ!!

-- Back home. Fernando

View johnzo's profile


86 posts in 4252 days

#15 posted 10-16-2010 06:54 PM

Each day I use this drum sander I discover more ways in which it is superior to my planer. For instance, it’s a great way to flatten a piece of wood. It isn’t a super fast process, but repeatedly flipping the piece from ‘cupped’ to ‘rounded’ side eventually perfectly flattens both sides – perfectly. Plus it does it so gradually, that it never ‘gets away from you’ like my planer does! Another advantage I just discovered is when you have to make identical thicknesses say of 4 table legs (and you also want to maximize the leg thickness): By inserting them 1 or 2 at a time, changing the stock removal setting after all 4 have passed thru, you are left with the maximum common thickness of both dimensions. Try getting it done as precisely with a planer. Then there is also the noise factor. My dog sets up a howling you wouldn’t believe with the planer!
John Z

-- 70 is the new 50!

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