Thickness sander

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Project by Bob, Oregon posted 01-05-2011 04:03 AM 18959 views 91 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Made this with the inspiration of an Internet article and the patient advice of a buddy in my ship modeling club in 2008. I had an old reliable 1 h.p. working motor remaining from a table saw that I had junked and this was the ideal new home for it.

The body of the sander is almost 100% 3/4” Baltic Birch ply (used up a good-ish bit of a 5 X 5 sheet) and the drum is laminated oak. The table is covered on both sides with Formica.

This project was my first real endeavor at making a motorized tool of any sort and I learned a wealth of things from doing it. Turning the drum was a unique project and it required a somewhat bizarre, but effective setup on my 20” lathe. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

I designed the tool so that I can sand wood up to 5” thick. Don’t ask me why. I have yet to try sanding down a railroad tie in the thing. :) There is a coarse adjustment on one side of the table and a fine adjustment on the other end that will allow moving the table in the thousandths of an inch at a time. Dust collection is almost 100% effective with the enclosed little Quonset hut-looking thingy on top. What little doesn’t get sucked up is just lying on the table.

A fun project; very useful and very satisfying.

-- 73, Bob

37 comments so far

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 4040 days

#1 posted 01-05-2011 04:09 AM

MAN!,...I want one SO bad but I never seem to get around to it!! Great project!

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View rance's profile


4277 posts in 4165 days

#2 posted 01-05-2011 04:11 AM

Nice job Bob. Thanks for posting for the inspiration of others(like me).

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Condor1's profile


64 posts in 3982 days

#3 posted 01-05-2011 04:22 AM

O.K. I’m hooked on the concept. Are you just pushing the stock under the rotating drum? Also, what diameter is the drum and what R.P.M. is the drum turning? I would also like to see a little more of the table adjustment setup. Good job and workmanship. Thanks for posting!

-- There are times when a mistake is remembered as your best work.

View Mark's profile


26 posts in 4735 days

#4 posted 01-05-2011 04:23 AM

Very nifty, and what a clever setup to turn the oak drum concentric with the axle. I too would like to know how you made the fine height adjustment mechanism for the table, and how much pressure it takes to feed the wood through.

Bob, I see you’re an Oregonian too – whereabouts?

-- Mark

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3773 days

#5 posted 01-05-2011 04:23 AM

If it works half as good as it looks it will be a great tool. You have to get a thrill every time you use it.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 3776 days

#6 posted 01-05-2011 04:24 AM

Very nice, I am curious, would it be possible to “turn” the drum when it’s attached to the sander itself, instead of using a lathe?

I don’t own a lathe but would love to build one of these things.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View SteveKorz's profile


2140 posts in 4718 days

#7 posted 01-05-2011 04:29 AM

This is great… I’d like to see more pictures of the completed project if you have any… from the top and front, of the motor, etc.

I would love to build one of these… maybe this year. Thanks for the post, this looks very nicely done!

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4879 days

#8 posted 01-05-2011 04:36 AM

Its great to see people building these sanders. I absolutely LOVE mine, which happens to be very similar. I think I got the idea for my design from the same person, but the link to the original website I saw it on doesn’t work anymore. I do remember that it was intended for model ships though.

You didn’t show any photos of your table-raising mechanism though. Is it just a hinge on one side and a threaded rod on the other like mine? Can you post some photos of it?

Click for details

-- Happy woodworking!

View waters's profile


369 posts in 4350 days

#9 posted 01-05-2011 04:40 AM

This is seriously cool, I need to put this on my wish list of things to do for myself. Plus, it LOOKS great, very impressive. Thanks so much for sharing, Bob!

-- Dale, Oregon

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1130 posts in 3978 days

#10 posted 01-05-2011 04:57 AM

That is a thing of beauty!!
Absolutely love it

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

View KDO's profile


154 posts in 3774 days

#11 posted 01-05-2011 05:09 AM

Great looking tool.

Could you share the plans/article that you used to build it with?

-- Christian, Husband, Grandpa, Salesman, amateur Woodworker.

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4293 days

#12 posted 01-05-2011 05:48 AM

nice, i need to get the parts together an make one my self. It’s cool i have afew people to ask questions if i get stuck.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 3850 days

#13 posted 01-05-2011 05:51 AM

Very inventive!

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4008 days

#14 posted 01-05-2011 06:16 AM

Very nice work indeed, looks like you will be receiving many years of service for very little money spent. Very handy tool

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

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3885 days

#15 posted 01-05-2011 06:22 AM

How cool is that! If you buy one it’s $900 or so. This probably cost $50 in parts!

One question, how do you get the sandpaper to adhere to the roller?

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

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