Homemade 18" Drum Sander

  • Advertise with us
Project by thewoodworker01 posted 07-16-2012 09:08 PM 23844 views 52 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is my homemade 18 inch drum sander. I have spent about 10 months working on this project. I have had a number of problems, with things not fitting right, ordering the wrong parts, not knowing what to order, so I am going to try to clear up some of the questions anyone might have.

The Frame
The frame is constructed out of two by fours, that are just glued and screwed together using “” homemade drum sander plan. Next time I’d like to build a stronger frame or maybe even a C-frame. This one has served me quite well.

The Drum
The drum is made out of MDF disc glued together. I have a 1” shaft for it, 1” pillow block bearings, and a 1” four step pulley to go with it. I probably don’t need a four step pulley, but it is kind of nice to have. The shaft and bearings came from the “”. The pulley came from “”. I have hose clamps holding the sandpaper on to the drum. This is my second drum, my first drum had a 5/8” cold rolled steel shaft, 5/8 flange bearings, and a 5/8 four-step pulley. When ever I glued up the drum, I bent the shaft just using pressure from the pipe clamps. I believe I had four pipe clamps on there. A 5/8” shaft isn’t big enough, I would definitely go with the 1”.

Motor for the Drum
I have a 1 HP, 1750 rpm motor for the drum. The motor came from an old lathe I had sitting around that I wasn’t using. I’d like to put a bigger motor on the drum sander, maybe a 2 or 3 HP. If your looking for one check eBay.

Lift Mechanism
The whole table is supported by 4 half inch threaded rods. I have 4 nuts embedded into the bottom of the table at each corner. I also have 4 ball bearings at the bottom of the threaded rods and 4 bushings at the top. You must be very accurate when building this. Even if you are off by a 32nd it can jam up one of the threaded rods. Inside the lower case is a chain and sprockets that connect all the threaded rods together. When you turn the front right threaded rod all of them will turn.

The Conveyor table is made out of 2 pieces of 3/4” baltic birch plywood. Next time I’d like to get a piece of marble so I have something really flat, plywood is flat, but just barely. At the front and back of the table I have 2 rollers for the conveyor. Both have ball bearings, so they turn easily. The rollers are made out of 3/4” plywood discs glued together just like the drum. Luckily, I was able to reused my old shaft and bearings from my first drum. I resawed my old drum off on the bandsaw. For the front roller I did have to get another set of bearings and shaft from the surplus center. The belt came from Klingspor. It was a custom belt, 18 inches wide and 60” long. Tracking for the belt is made by a bolt that you just turn out, or in to adjust for tracking. The bolt is located on the front of the conveyor, behind the bearings. Just reciently I have had problems with tracking. The problem is in the rollers. Don’t make them out of plywood. The plywood has split apart, so now the roller is in two. It has happened with both rollers. I’d like to have a machine shop mill me some aluminum rollers.

Conveyor Motor
The conveyor motor is a DC treadmill motor that I found on Craigslist. It did have a circuit board to run it, but wasn’t the correct set up for what I needed it for. A neighbor of mine works for a circuit board factory, and she was able to get me the correct circuit board. Most treadmill motors are rated for about 2 HP or more on 110 volt. You cannot run a 2 HP motor on 110 volt running on an 15 amp circuit. So really they are about half of what the original rating is. It has variable speed, which is really nice when sanding. But the treadmill motor doesn’t have the torque that I need, so I have geared it down quite a bit as you can see in the pictures.

Next Time
Next time I would like to build a stiffer C-Frame. Have 2 drum, and make an adjustment on both, so you can raise each drum up or down seperately. Then a large motor to power the drums. I would also maybe get rid of the four step pulleys, you don’t really need them. I’d like to make it handle more width, so maybe 22” or maybe even a 26”, It all depents on what I am building.

When I finished the drum sander I was, and still am 15 years old. I have had very minimal woodworking experience, the only real experience I have had was in woodshop, in the middle school and high school. Any time I’d have a free study hall I would be done in the woodshop, building something or someone else’s project.

The drum sander has worked out great! Even with all the problems I have had with it. I do have 2 videos of it running on YouTube.

This is part 1

This is part 2

This is part 3

-- Most people say "Measure Twice, Cut Once." I say, "Cut Twice, Measure Once".

16 comments so far

View planeBill's profile


506 posts in 3423 days

#1 posted 07-16-2012 09:41 PM

I truly admire you guys who can make these sorts of things. I wish I could do stuff like this. Great job.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

View SirFatty's profile


547 posts in 3226 days

#2 posted 07-16-2012 09:48 PM

Now that is seriously impressive! I hope it serves you well!

-- Visit my blog at

View thewoodworker01's profile


93 posts in 3159 days

#3 posted 07-16-2012 09:58 PM

Thanks! It is a very cool piece of homemade machinary.

-- Most people say "Measure Twice, Cut Once." I say, "Cut Twice, Measure Once".

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25940 posts in 4119 days

#4 posted 07-17-2012 12:21 AM

That is really nice. I have a plan I made for one but I did not have a powered table with it and only a 3/4 hp motor to drive the sander that would be 26” wide. From your experience, do you think that will be under powered?

I like that variable speed feed belt!! My son in law just threw out a treadmill too!!!!!!!!!!!

I was planning on making a combination machine but it ikept getting bigger and I don’t have any more space to store machines. I was going to make a planer on the bottom with a parallelogram lift table and then on top, I was going to have infeed and outfeed tables that were parallelograms ….....for a jointer.

I picked up the piece of aluminum pipe-6” OD and 3/8” wall ( free) for the drum, but that is as far as I got. I wanted to have a welded square tube frame for it..I’m still dreaming about it.

Thanks for posting this. I’ll bet it will give you a lot of good service!! You’ll appreciate it more because you made it your self!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View thewoodworker01's profile


93 posts in 3159 days

#5 posted 07-17-2012 01:22 AM

Jim Jakosh
A 3/4 HP motor might work for the smaller stuff, but if you are running a full 26” wide board you could stall it a couple of times. I’ve stalled mine a number of times on 5 or 6 inch wide stuff. I have a habit of taking off to much. I think you should go with at least a 1 1/2, or maybe even 2, if you have 220 in your shop.

The circuit boards that come in treadmill are set up differently than what you would need for a drum sander conveyor. There are DC Motor Controllers specifically meant for DC motors. You could probably pick up a DC treadmill motor for around 50 bucks on eBay. But you could spend about 150 for the controller. Maybe even less if you search eBay. I had a neighbor that was able to hook me up with the correct circuit board, actually it was suppost to be junked. Luckily it wasn’t.

The aluminum pipe should work great for the drum. Probably better than the MDF drum I have.

Yes you are right on your last sentence, I definiately will. I’d like you see yours when it is done.


-- Most people say "Measure Twice, Cut Once." I say, "Cut Twice, Measure Once".

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3202 days

#6 posted 07-17-2012 04:30 AM

There can’t be many people who have built there own thickness sander. An amazing feat !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Brohymn62's profile


125 posts in 3269 days

#7 posted 07-17-2012 12:35 PM

Thats awesome!

-- Chris G. ; Los Angeles, CA

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 4476 days

#8 posted 07-17-2012 12:50 PM

How bad was the belt cost from Klingspor? I have a drum sander on the drawing board and am assembling parts for one that will blow yer mind when it all done. I want a 24” belt and all the suppliers I have talked with want my first born and left n*t for a 24” belt.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their [email protected]

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4246 days

#9 posted 07-17-2012 01:21 PM

That’s a great sander there! I have mine in progress (not taking a huge priority right now) and am starting to wish I was done with it. I am a bit intimidated by the conveyor belt mechanism, and was planning on just using a slick table, and manually feeding stock under the drum. Your setup is so much nicer, just intimidating…

I have picked up all of the bits and pieces parts, now I just need to finish building it… Hope you don’t mind a question here or there as I go through my build process…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View DocSavage45's profile


9043 posts in 3856 days

#10 posted 07-17-2012 02:42 PM

You have learded a lot through trial and error. Hope it serves you well.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Ethan Harris's profile

Ethan Harris

300 posts in 3158 days

#11 posted 07-17-2012 06:28 PM

I think I am going to have to try this later on.

-- Ethan, CT: Check out my Small Business at & also follow me on twitter

View ZED's profile


83 posts in 3372 days

#12 posted 07-17-2012 10:39 PM

Very impressive, and as I have seen other’s struggle to builds thikness sanders I can understand the peaks and valleys of trial and error.

-- A good craftsman is able to make it work with the tools he has, I still need more tools

View thewoodworker01's profile


93 posts in 3159 days

#13 posted 07-17-2012 11:43 PM

MonteCristo and Brohymn62


-- Most people say "Measure Twice, Cut Once." I say, "Cut Twice, Measure Once".

View JamesVavra's profile


305 posts in 4330 days

#14 posted 12-19-2012 04:32 PM

@ MedicKen – I just bought a replacement belt for my 16/32 drum sander from – they have a 25” for $24.


View JamesVavra's profile


305 posts in 4330 days

#15 posted 12-19-2012 04:38 PM

Oops – that was the wrong link:

They have a discontinued conveyor belt for a 22”-24” sander but say the machines have changed too much to make it a stock item any more, but they still custom make them. The discontinued one is $54.


showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics