Yes, I did need a drum sander

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Review by Ben posted 09-06-2010 07:28 AM 9439 views 2 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Yes, I did need a drum sander No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them


When I run across a list of must-have tools in the woodworking magazines, a drum sander is never mentioned. I hemmed and hawed about whether or not I needed one for my growing hobby. I finally bought the Jet 16-32 last December and I am more satisfied with my purchase every day.

A few things that were a little bothersome

This machine can be slow. I am accustomed to my planer hogging off large chunks of wood in a couple of minutes. This tool is not meant to replace a planer. It takes significantly longer to get wood to your desired thickness.

Sandpaper can be expensive. I did not want to dread purchasing sandpaper every other time I used my drum sander. I went ahead, bit the bullet, and purchased large rolls of almost every grit fom 36 to 220. Kind of like pulling a band aid off really fast… It hurts like hell but the pain subsides quickly.

Dust Don’t even attempt to use this thing without a dust collector. When hooked up to a dust collector everything is great. When not hooked up, get ready for the next dust bowl!

I believe that these observations are inherent to drum sanders as a group and therefore do not merit reducing the rating from 5 to 4 stars.


I ordered from CPO Jet during a 15% off sale and the delivery was easy. I had it in my shop in less than four days. Assembly was very smooth. I did have to adjust the drum as it was slightly uneven from the inboard to outboard side. This required loosening four bolts and turning the height adjustment knob. The stand is extremely thick metal and will probably be around long after I am gone. Very solid construction. It has a shelf on bottom. I purchased 4 casters from Rockler. They were about 1/3 the price of the Jet brand casters and are very good quality.

Will I use my sander?

After purchasing this machine I continue to find new uses for it.

One thing that never occurred to me before my purchase is that a drum sander can also double as a giant face jointer. With a planer, if your wood is not fllat, the rollers will flatten a cupped board and plane the wood. When the board comes out of the other side the wood will bounce back to it’s original cupped shape (albeit slightly thinner). On the other hand, a drum sander gradually sands away at the cupped portion of the board until you have a flat surface. You can then flip the board, run it through your planer, and get an opposing surface equally flat and paralell. Sure, a 12 inch jointer is faster. However, for occasional use, the drum sander loaded with 36 grit paper will do the job just as well. It can handle the boards too wide for your 6 or 8 inch jointer.

The next thing I really like about this machine is the ability to handle almost any stock you can throw at it. Wild grain, short boards, extremely thin stock, end grain cutting boards, this tool does not care. My planer is not suited for any of these chores.

Finally, running your boards through this machine and going through the progressive grits prior to assembly of your project can save you loads of time with a handheld sander. You will still need to do some touch up with your ROS but it will be minimal.


This sander comes with something called Sandsmart. If you set the speed of the conveyor belt faster than the sander can handle, Sandsmart overrides and slows the conveyor to a workable pace.

Using the sander

After purchasing this tool and six boxes of pricy sandpaper last December I started to wonder whether I really needed it.

Then, my next project called for 3/8 inch lumber. I was using wild-grained sycamore. I discovered that my planer could not handle the task without destroying the wood. Two ruined boards later, I rolled out the drum sander. Problem solved.

Last week, a coworker had some 12 inch wide rough cut cedar her husband needed planed. The cedar had a serious cup in it. My 6 inch jointer was too narrow and I smiled as I plugged in the drum sander and proceeded to remove the cup before planing it.


You can survive without a drum sander but, if quality work is your goal, and your time is valuable, I believe you will find numerous occasions where it is indispensable. I really like mine and I would say that the Jet 16-32 is hard to beat.

View Ben 's profile


164 posts in 4135 days

18 comments so far

View Kerry Drake's profile

Kerry Drake

169 posts in 3791 days

#1 posted 09-06-2010 01:26 PM

I have such tool envy right now!

-- Kerry Drake, Loudon NH,

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3724 days

#2 posted 09-06-2010 02:04 PM

I concur. I have the smaller Jet 10-20 that I use mostly in my box work. Seems I’m always resawing pieces, or making banding, lines or the like, and I would hate to make do without the little sander. I guess I would say it has become indispensable. Getting pieces to the right thickness and proportion to fit the box is critical, and It’s much harder to do without the sander. Great product.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3845 days

#3 posted 09-06-2010 02:14 PM

Thank you for such and excellent, well written, review.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1917 posts in 4443 days

#4 posted 09-06-2010 03:59 PM

I feel the same way. The walnut lumber I bought at Rockler last year was just a hair over 3/4”. Not wanting to go much thinner, I ran all the boards through my Jet 16-32 and got all the boards flat and parallel for my Chippendale Small Chest. I especially like the way the drawer fronts came out, flat and even up against the case, and right on at 3/4”!! But you’re right, it’s a slug!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4079 days

#5 posted 09-06-2010 04:01 PM

Drum sanders are definitely worth the money. I bought the Jet 22-44 drum sander almost a year ago and it has been invaluable. I first thought the larger model was bigger than I needed until I got some 22” bubinga. Then I realized the value of the extra capacity. Sure, I could have made one pass and then flipped direction and sanded from the other side but I would rather have too much machine than not enough.
Either choice, it is a great machine.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4728 days

#6 posted 09-07-2010 03:42 AM

Great review….lots of great information. Nothing beats drum/wide belt sanders…the most used machines in any shop I have ever worked in, that was lucky enough to have either.


View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4593 days

#7 posted 09-07-2010 12:13 PM

Thanks for the review. I have a drum sander on my wish list and this review has been helpful.

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

View Todd Thomas 's profile

Todd Thomas

4969 posts in 4219 days

#8 posted 09-07-2010 01:45 PM

I guess I just added a drum sander to the list of tools I need before I die!! nice review…...I have been trying to justify getting one and your review has helped…..

-- Todd, Oak Ridge, TN, Hello my name is Todd and I'm a Toolholic, I bought my last tool 10 days, no 4 days, oh heck I bought a tool on the way here! †

View Ben 's profile


164 posts in 4135 days

#9 posted 09-08-2010 03:58 AM

I doubt anyone would envy the look I received when my wife got the credit card bill. Water under the bridge now…. but the sandpaper was expensive.

If I had it to do again I would make the same purchase….Next time, I will exercise a little more discretion with the credit card statement.

View TroutGuy's profile


224 posts in 4482 days

#10 posted 09-08-2010 08:02 AM

I’ve had the same machine—okay, mine says Performax on it, but it’s the same machine—for about 9 months now, and I couldn’t agree more. I bought mine used with very few hours on it.

These things may be slooooowww, but they’re very accurate when properly set up. I wouldn’t tackle an end-grain cutting board without it.

-- There is nothing in the world more dangerous, than a woodworker who knows how to read a micrometer...

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3705 days

#11 posted 09-08-2010 08:04 AM

Great review!
I have the same one and I love it. I use it more often than the planer.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View woodcrafter47's profile


353 posts in 3876 days

#12 posted 09-08-2010 02:46 PM

I was just looking at them at Grizzly’s here in Williamsport ,PA. On my wish list as well. Cost??

-- In His service ,Richard

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3831 days

#13 posted 09-08-2010 05:55 PM

This machine can be slow. I am accustomed to my planer hogging off large chunks of wood in a couple of minutes. This tool is not meant to replace a planer. It takes significantly longer to get wood to your desired thickness.

Remember the sander is for finishing smoothing only, you should not be removing more than 1/8 material.

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4937 days

#14 posted 09-09-2010 02:13 AM

Great review! I’ve been using the 22-44 Jet for a couple of years now and could not agree more with the conclusion that these machines are indespensible. I have found that my work is much easier to complete and much quicker than using old winding sticks and block sanders!-LOL The tool allows me to use all different dimensioned wood for projects as well. Sometimes a 1/2” board is just too thick for the proper aesthetic look and the sander allows me to quickly remedy that. Great tool and a must have!

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View johnzo's profile


86 posts in 3567 days

#15 posted 10-12-2010 05:52 AM

Great review and interestingly enough your general comments also are true of my shop-built “full featured drum sander” that I built last winter (see it listed under ‘Hot Projects’). In fact, in the woodworking I do, I haven’t operated my 15” Grizzly planer since I finished the sander. No more snipe or tear-out with the sander – just nice, controllable stock removal! My 16” DS doesn’t look as pretty as your ‘store bought’ machines, but right now (next to my table saw) it’s my favorite power tool in the shop! To my way of thinking, increased milling time is a worthwhile trade off for accuracy!
John Z

-- 70 is the new 50!

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