Homemade 16" drum sander

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Project by jayman7 posted 05-28-2012 10:47 PM 7582 views 25 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been wanting to build one of these for a while after seeing so many people building them. It was easier than I expected. I pretty much followed this project/plans that I found online exactly except I increased the width by 4 inches.

Homemade drum sander
The actual pdf of the plan is at the bottom of the page but it can take a while to download. It’s laid out pretty well.

The MDF drum is just shy of 4” in diameter, which I cut on the bandsaw using a quick and dirty circle jig. I used about 1 dixie cup full of epoxy for the glue up. I roughened the shaft with some 60 grit sandpaper to give the epoxy something to bite onto. I was originally concerned about slippage between the drum and shaft but it feels pretty secure. I used the velcro conversion kit from Grizzly and worked out great, which also included several rolls of 120 grit sandpaper.

The frame is mostly 2×4s (which I jointed and planed) and plywood except for the areas that I thought needed to be stronger, where I used red oak and maple. I also pinned the lap joints with two dowels each for added reinforcement. I used a heavy duty piano hinge from Amazon for the motor and bed mounts. The bed is two layers of 3/4” plywood which I shellaced and waxed to make it extra slick. I added windows on the dust lid using scrap acrylic that I used for past picture frames.

I used a 2” pulley on the motor and 5” pulley on the shaft. The motor is a 1.5 HP 3750 RPM from harbor freight. I had to wire up the electrical cord using the included diagram but that was easy. Pillow blocks are from ebay. I used a 5/8” steel shaft from home depot which worked okay, but I suggest using a precision ground rod to minimize vibration and so it slides into the pillow block with ease. I had a lot of trouble sliding the rod into one of the pillow blocks and ended up pounding it into place. The vibration isn’t bad, but it’s enough to rotate the depth mechanism if it’s not tight enough. The linked belt from harbor freight helped but not as much as I wanted.

Total cost of the project excluding scraps I had around the shop: $308. The motor was half of the total cost since I couldn’t find a cheap one on Craigslist.

I can now say goodbye to tear out on figured wood and endless sanding sessions for end grain cutting boards!

18 comments so far

View Schimmel's profile


76 posts in 3695 days

#1 posted 05-28-2012 11:27 PM

Great job, looks like a good deal for the price for quality.

-- Chad, Gilbert AZ and

View Doug's profile


1247 posts in 4004 days

#2 posted 05-28-2012 11:34 PM

Nice machine. While not exactly inexpensive it’s alot less expensive than one from Woodcraft or Rockler. Thanks for posting the plans on your blog.

-- Doug

View Kevin's profile


575 posts in 3542 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 03:20 AM

Great job, and thanks for posting the plans I will definitely be checking out your blog a few times. The sander looks great, and I wouldn’t mind having one for sanding end grain cutting boards.

-- Measure twice, cut once, then sand a whole bunch

View Dreluks's profile


8 posts in 3455 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 04:38 AM

Very nice ;)
I like this project. I’m going to also take a grinder for this, however, I demand my products will be.

I greet

-- dreluks

View knotheaded's profile


4 posts in 3598 days

#5 posted 05-29-2012 04:40 AM

Nice job on the sander! I’ve seen a few of these builds popping up lately, and people seem to be having good luck with them. I hope it serves you well.

I have a couple of questions about your motor. I don’t want to hyjack your thread, but I’ve been looking at the same HF 1.5HP model for a homemade bandsaw build. The few reviews I can find talk about it having very little torque. Is this true in your experience? Would you spend the money again?

View jayman7's profile


219 posts in 4748 days

#6 posted 05-29-2012 11:13 AM

I haven’t had any issues with motor torque, but then again I haven’t put it through its paces yet. As long as you take really shallow cuts (quarter turn of the knob), it doesn’t struggle at all. This will also prevent burning and damage to the sandpaper and velcro adhesive.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4109 days

#7 posted 05-29-2012 11:32 AM

Congratulations on building this. It will make a nice addition to your shop.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View MagDaddy2's profile


53 posts in 4927 days

#8 posted 05-29-2012 01:01 PM

Very Nice! I, like you, have wanted to build one of these for some time now… Do you have a link to the plans you found?

-- -- Only God can Create it. We are blessed to see it, live it, and enjoy its beauty.

View DocSavage45's profile


9069 posts in 4085 days

#9 posted 05-29-2012 02:09 PM

Looks like a clean and funcional build. Have a wide range of temperatures and humidity here in southern MN. I will be interested in how it functions over different seasons. Hope you post some updates?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4475 days

#10 posted 05-29-2012 03:12 PM

I am doing a similar build presently, however my upper pulley is a 6” instead of 5”, with a 30” x 4.25” (4” Schedule 40 riding on reinforcing plugs) drum. Same motor, and basically the same design.

I had been thinking about using solid wood drum made from disks like you show, but I was concerned with how to make the drum concentric with the shaft. Might still do that. Do you have any advice for pulling that off?

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4891 days

#11 posted 05-29-2012 03:48 PM

nice build…. was cringing when I read you pound the bar into the pillow blocks…. those are ball-bearing blocks and pounding on them could cause some damage. but sounds like it’s all working for you which is the bottom line.

dbhost – to make the drum concentric, once positioned into the table, without applying the sandpaper or backing material to it – run the drum and use a sand paper stuck onto some plywood at full width under the drum and slowly lower the drum onto it keeping the ply secure – this will sand the drum to a consistent shape across it’s length and make it concentric to the bar it is running on.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View jayman7's profile


219 posts in 4748 days

#12 posted 05-29-2012 06:25 PM

PurpLev explained the exactly way I trued up the drum. I also applied several layers of shellac to solidify the MDF edge material to give the velcro adhesive something to bite onto. I was originally going to use plywood for the drum, but I had some MDF that was laying around the shop for years and wanted to get rid of it.

Yea, I felt uncomfortable pounding the pillow block into place. I reached the point of no return where I know it would be impossible to remove so I just had to stick with it. The shaft still rotates just fine so I don’t think anything broke. If it does end up breaking, I think it will be easier to make a new drum than remove the shaft from that pillowblock!! Note to self, if a shaft does not slide a pillow block with ease, find a new shaft or reduce the diameter a hair somehow.

I will post updates the more I use the tool if I run into any problems. Let me know if you have any more questions!

View hunnypot's profile


36 posts in 4619 days

#13 posted 05-29-2012 08:47 PM

How is the material fed into the machine? I’m guessing that it doesn’t come out the other side on it’s own, do you have to feed it through manually or is it self feeding?

View jayman7's profile


219 posts in 4748 days

#14 posted 05-29-2012 09:43 PM

I have to manually feed the stock through (against the rotation direction of course!). It works fine as long as you take shallow cuts and feed it at an even pace.

View OregonWoodRat's profile


174 posts in 3530 days

#15 posted 05-29-2012 10:33 PM

Thanks for sharing the build of this and for sharing the source of the plans. I to have been thinking of building one and it helps to see what someone else has done.

Please update with how it performs, I would like to hear about it.

-- Peter, A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

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