Thickness Sander

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Project by Blake posted 05-16-2008 02:52 AM 158457 views 530 times favorited 124 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Boy, am I glad to have this done! I have been wanting a thickness sander for over a year now. I have ended up with so many small pieces of wood that I would love to use for boxes, but I had no way to dimension them. For a long time I thought about saving up and buying one, but the “cheapest” model is about $600 bucks, which seemed way too expensive for such a simple machine (it’s just a spinning drum!)

I have been in to building my own shop machinery lately. If you haven’t seen my router table, check it out too:

Click for details

Anyway, I originally saw a similar design on another blog (which is no longer active and the old photos are gone.) But seeing this design what made up my mind to just make my own. I really like this design because it seemed simple and just the right size for my work. A couple other Lumberjocks have built other versions before mine and answered questions for me (thanks).

Here are some other Photos:


  • I started by building the frame out of plywood and biscuits. I primed it and spray painted it teal-blue.
  • The table is a laminated scrap I got for free from a cabinet shop. I lined it with Beech (all the bare hardwood you see is Beech.)
  • To raise and lower the table I built a simple mechanism with a piece of wood and some common hardware. At the top of the allthread there is a cap-bolt (with a round top) that pivots freely like a socket joint in another large nut that I found.
  • I ordered the pillow block bearings online. The drum shaft is drill rod from the hardware store.
  • I chopped up some 1/2” MDF into squares and then cut them into circles on my bandsaw with a impromptu circle-cutting jig. Then I stacked them up on the shaft with glue in between each circle and clamped them together to form the drum.
  • I installed the motor, switch, pulleys, and link belt. Then I started it up and ran blocks of wood with sand paper stuck to them under the drum until it was uniform and true to the table.
  • I built the dust hood out of Plexiglas and hardwood. I made cut-outs to fit over the pillow blocks and inserted a couple of rare-earth magnets to keep it down (but still easy to lift off)... see photo above.
  • I covered the drum with epoxy to make it smooth enough for the self-adhesive velcro to stick to (which I ordered from Grizzly).
  • I also ordered a 150 grit 3” wide roll of hook-n-loop sandpaper from Grizzly which I cut and stuck to the drum.
  • I had a small rolling cabinet that was the perfect size which I am using for the base right now.

Stats: The drum has a 4” diameter and is 12 1/2” wide. It has a vertical capacity of about 4” tall for running entire small boxes through. The motor is 1 hp, 1725. The pulleys change the speed of the drum to about 2200 rpm’s.

It seemed to work perfectly on my first test piece! It runs very smooth and quietly and is dust free. And by the way, feed rollers/belts are over-rated. It is very easy to just push pieces through the sander, and the drum keeps them down flat against the table. I just use a flat push block to push the piece through.

Let me know if you have any other questions. This is a relatively simple and cheap project for such a handy shop machine.

-- Happy woodworking!

124 comments so far

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 5204 days

#1 posted 05-16-2008 02:56 AM

Good looking piece of equipment Blake. I really admire those who can make their own.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 5230 days

#2 posted 05-16-2008 02:58 AM

thats great, building a drum sander is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time but haven’t got to yet. your’s came out great too. those big drum sanders do seem overpriced for what they are so its good that we can always resort to making our own. thanks for the post.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5284 days

#3 posted 05-16-2008 02:58 AM


You did well with this. This is a tool that will be very useful in your shop. I would love to have one of these but, like you am put off by the price tag. I may have to look into building one of these as well.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Steffen's profile


326 posts in 5497 days

#4 posted 05-16-2008 02:59 AM

Can you come to my house and build one? That thing is great! I had looked at one on line someone had built before and wondered about building one myself. I make shaker boxes and it certainly would be handy. Nice job Blake.

-- Steffen - Kirkland, WA

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 5331 days

#5 posted 05-16-2008 03:08 AM

A drum sander this size would cost with shipping a little over $1100.00. I really don’t care what yours cost. You manufactured it from a drawing or an idea and its just the way you wanted it. Perfect. WoW what a undertaking. Your the Man!

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View Joey's profile


276 posts in 5277 days

#6 posted 05-16-2008 03:13 AM

that is cool. I want one so i can start cutting my own veneers. this would be perfect.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms

View Rob 's profile


216 posts in 5129 days

#7 posted 05-16-2008 03:20 AM

Very impressive. Building stuff is one thing, but building your own power tool is DIY-extreme! Nice job.

View gizmodyne's profile


1785 posts in 5552 days

#8 posted 05-16-2008 03:23 AM

Excellent Blake! I want to make one now. Question: Does only one side of the table elevate?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 5336 days

#9 posted 05-16-2008 03:27 AM

This is great. I just favorited it!

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

View Scott's profile


63 posts in 5323 days

#10 posted 05-16-2008 03:34 AM

You have done a wonderful job building this sander. The only thing i would recommend is that you build a guard to cover the drive belt.

-- Scott, Kentucky ----- "Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry" Mark Twain

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5453 days

#11 posted 05-16-2008 03:35 AM

Well Done Blake…. Now all we need are the detailed step-by-step plans. :)

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 5336 days

#12 posted 05-16-2008 03:36 AM

Gizmodyne: Yes, the table is hinged in the back.

Scott: I thought about it but it is relatively out of the way, and I am the only one that will use this machine. But I might do this in the future, thanks.

-- Happy woodworking!

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5450 days

#13 posted 05-16-2008 03:40 AM

Great job Blake! I know what you mean about it being easy to push through by hand. My first thickness sander
was only 3” wide! I won’t give my feed system though.

Again, Great job!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View pashley's profile


1047 posts in 5179 days

#14 posted 05-16-2008 03:48 AM

Great. Yet ANOTHER project I’m going to have to “get to”! LOL!

-- Have a blessed day!

View Tony Z's profile

Tony Z

205 posts in 5252 days

#15 posted 05-16-2008 03:53 AM

That is awesome. I will be contacting you when I build mine some day. How much time did you have into it. Time is one thing I’m short of these days.

-- Tony, Ohio

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