2 in 1 Finish Sander and Thickness Sander

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Project by Wingstress posted 02-05-2011 08:42 AM 20410 views 131 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have FINALLY completed my drum sander project. I had been wanting to make a drum sander ever since I saw one on lumberjocks. The only problem was I didn’t know if I wanted to make a finish sander or a thickness sander. So, I decided to make both! Its a 24 inch finish sander and thickness sander. The overall construction took close to a year because I never had the parts I needed and I never wanted to spend any money. So, I slowly started to accumulate some components that I thought would be useful. For the most part, almost everything was either found at a tag sale, or was stuff I had laying around the shop. I did have to purchase a few key components on ebay; like the conveyor belt, electric DC motor, and the potentiometer.

I originally made a scissor jack design, but it had disastrous results. My drill press and jigs just could not hold the tolerance and there were too many degrees of freedom to lock down. So, I reverted back to a typical piano hinge design. For the jack screw I simply flipped a shop fox veneer press upside down. The self aligning head on the press made it perfect for the tilting conveyor. The only problem with it is that the thread is rather corse so I can only do little turns. I think it would have been better to go with some threaded rod, but I really liked the handle on the veneer press.

The conveyor belt has a torsion box core with a mini torsion box that slides inside the larger one. This allowed me to put the conveyor belt on and then add tension. The bolts on either side of the belt act as tensioners and tracking screws. I just loosen or tighten one side and the conveyor belt shifts slightly form one side to the next. The bolt is held on by a right angle metal bracket I found at Home depot.


Because the top is so thin, I added some angle iron to stiffen it up. I then built a box around the drum and put a dust collection hood on the side. It is currently connected to a 5” dust port and does a good job eliminating the dust. The drum is a bunch of MDF disks epoxied together with velcro similar to other drums you find on LJs.

The conveyor is infinitely adjustable from 0-15 ft/min with a knob that is attached to a potentiometer. I found a great site on ebay called that sells the whole setup pre-wired for reasonable prices. I connected the motor to the conveyor with a cain and sprocket setup. I made the motor mount out of some scrap UHMW. I also used a cutoff of UHMW for the chain tensioner. I made the guard from 1/4 inch thick plexiglass I had laying around in my shop.


The drum was attached to a hinged motor with a powertwist belt with two 3 inch pulleys. Like the chain, it was covered with 1/4 plexiglass.

After I built the frame (mostly from scrap hickory beams), I placed it on an old Ryobi table saw stand. It wasn’t until after I put the whole thing together, that I realize how heavy it was. So I decided to build a mobile base. Considering that it was just an after thought, I’m very please how it turned out. I used a 2X3 I had laying around and some 3 inch casters. A simple door latch ensures it doesn’t disengage when rolling. When disengaged, it sits on two rubber motor mounts and the two fixed wheels.

Wheels disengaged…

Wheels engaged held in place by door latch

In the end it was a very fun project. Its kind of funny now that its done, I’m not really sure what to use it for. Just for fun, I tried it out on a cabinet door. First I flattened the bottom side with the finish sander. Then I walked to the other side of the machine and put it through the thickness sander. It worked like a charm.



-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

31 comments so far

View Alan Hart's profile

Alan Hart

71 posts in 3472 days

#1 posted 02-05-2011 08:57 AM

2 in one, great idea!!

-- Al Hart

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 3613 days

#2 posted 02-05-2011 09:06 AM

really nice idea.
haven’t really seen a finish sander before though. wouldn’t you want fine grit on it to … finish sand it?

-- Ben L

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3668 days

#3 posted 02-05-2011 10:58 AM

Double the tools for the same footprint is always a good idea with shop space being limited. Great idea.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View EzJack's profile


457 posts in 3951 days

#4 posted 02-05-2011 11:49 AM

Now that’s cool.

-- Ain't better or worse than any other woodpecker in the woods.

View scarpenter002's profile


618 posts in 4685 days

#5 posted 02-05-2011 12:06 PM

Really nice job. Since you’re not sure what to use it for, I would be happy to take it off your hands. :-)

-- Scott in Texas

View mafe's profile


12592 posts in 3869 days

#6 posted 02-05-2011 12:56 PM

Relly really nice!
I love the thinking part.
I’m sure you will get plenty of use for this.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View JimArnoldChess's profile


210 posts in 3775 days

#7 posted 02-05-2011 03:25 PM

Very cool!!!

If you wanted, you could send it to me and I could use it for you until you came up with something <grin>. I’ve always wanted (and needed) one.

Seeing projects like your is one of the main reasons I joined LJs.




View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3584 days

#8 posted 02-05-2011 03:34 PM

wow! you are an engineering top notch engineer! one h_of-a-project

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

View sras's profile (online now)


5500 posts in 3909 days

#9 posted 02-05-2011 03:54 PM

A very well engineered project and a great description to go with it! I am interested in a little more information about your conveyor belt.

What material is it? Rubber, canvas or ??

Where did you find it?

Thanks for sharing!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Russ's profile


357 posts in 3857 days

#10 posted 02-05-2011 04:06 PM

Very impressive work. Thank you for sharing all the details.

-- Russ

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4069 days

#11 posted 02-05-2011 04:12 PM

now that’s sick, this is just what i want to build. Very nice idea and great execution. ;)

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

View moonls's profile


412 posts in 3767 days

#12 posted 02-05-2011 04:26 PM

Even if I didn’t know that you’re an engineer, I would have guessed that with this project. Your precision and technical skill made this project a success! I’m sure you’ll enjoy having this sander to use on future projects!

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View Vince's profile


1261 posts in 4209 days

#13 posted 02-06-2011 02:17 AM

That is slick, good job.

-- Vince

View douglbe's profile


373 posts in 4741 days

#14 posted 02-06-2011 03:12 AM

That’s awesome! Can you build one for me????

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View TMcG's profile


191 posts in 3781 days

#15 posted 02-06-2011 04:24 AM

Man, that is sweet !

I’m in the middle of converting an old craftsman table saw into one of these and have been noodling how to make the conveyor motor driven rather than hand cranked.

Could you share a few more details on that side of the project ?



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