Delta 31-260x Drum Sander Review

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Review by rawdawgs50 posted 06-19-2011 10:59 PM 19246 views 2 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Delta 31-260x Drum Sander Review No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Delta Drum Sander 31-260x

Video Review on youtube

Part 1

Part 2

I would rather of not chosen something like the Delta drum sander, but finding a used commercial unit that I liked had been a battle over the past year. To be honest, I really did not want a sander with only a 1-1/2 HP motor although width was not an issue here. I wanted something like a 5 HP 26” Woodmaster. However, price, timing and no warranty on used equipment ended up making my decision…one I hopefully do not regret.

The Review – Walk through

This is more of a walk through than a review because I am writing this all right now with very little time spent on this machine. So everything you read here will only be first impressions and not long term usage. The machine weighs about 250 pounds and comes shipped in one box that is extremely well packaged. The nice thing about Delta is they do not put copious amounts of grease all over there stuff so the time spent on wiping down the machines was minimal compared to say…Grizzly…which I highly recommend btw.

There were two Styrofoam containers in the box. The top one seen here house the frame and misc pieces. The bottom housed the Drum Sander head and motor assembly. The drum sander comes pre loaded with what I believe is 80 grit paper. Delta also included 4 rolls extra of each 80 and 120 grit.

This is the base. I decided now was a good time to add casters rather than attempting after assembly. These are 3” locking casters bought on Amazon for about $7 each. The metric hardware for these was obtained locally from ACE. I had to drill into the base legs an hole just passed the leveling legs (which I am not using) so I could put on the casters.

This is the feed motor and belt assembly. It is cast iron and easily weighs in at 60+ pounds

This is a close up of the bushings, not bearings,...which sucks but no one on this class of machines produces them this way. As long as I keep them lubricated everything should be fine…I hope?

This is a shot of the rest of the stuff in the box. The crank wheel is cast iron. The handle on the wheel did not move very freely on its axis. I shot some lubricant in there and it mildly improved performance. I noticed there was an o-ring that separated the handle from rubbing on the wheel. This was a very tight fit and likely the problem…so I removed that and it rotates easily now. Problem solved.

This is the base assembled. This was very easy to do even with the casters on once I got the hang of doing a balancing act and one bolt in. It took less than 10 minutes for this part.

This is the lower half of the box. This was very heavy and makes up to bulk of the weight. I would guesstimate it is about 130-140 pounds. I moved it myself albeit with a good bit of effort. I would definitely recommend 2 people for this. I would have liked an extra set of hands. The instructions call for the head assembly to be placed on its side for the install to the base as seen in the pictures. However, that is not as easy as just setting it on the base…which is what I did after 10 minutes of frustration trying to install it their way. So I recommend to skip that step of theirs.

Here you can get a good view of the motor and table lifting gear drive belt assembly. You will never see this easily once it is installed.

Since its sitting on locking casters its easily mobile. Installing the base to the drum sander head took 45 minutes and was a bit frustrating trying to locate the bolts through the holes and tighten everything up. But, it is solid and well built so nothing worth complaining about.

This is the close up shot of the wood sample from the video after running the pre installed 80 grit on it. Its pretty rough and I am definitely going to change the grit. I will try the 120 the machine came with and see how I like that and possibly move up to a 150 for my main purpose of trying to to clean off machine marks quickly and evenly.

My first impression with setting up and running the machine are positive. I like how easy it is to adjust the tracking system, although I have yet to run a full width board through to check for table for true parallelism. During setup I followed directions to help get it all parallel, but I will find out how good I was real soon. I will update to let you know how that goes. I am super impressed with the dust collection so far and the variable speed drive belt power. I think Delta has a solid performer here for this segment of the drum sander market. I can not yet say if I will regret going with a smaller HP sander like this yet or not…only time will tell. However, the 5 year warranty will be piece of mind because I intend to use this a lot.

Comparing this to the JET sander is probably the best possible candidate. There are quite a few differences between them…most notable table adjustment vs head adjustment. Secondly….the head deflection problem on the JET is not an issue with the Delta machine. That alone is what pushed me towards the risk of the Delta vs the much more widely used JET. I just could not get over the head deflection, it was a deal breaker for me.

Since there are virtually no reviews of this sander hopefully this will open a dialog on it. I know Delta’s sanders were a hit or miss in the past…this one seems to have improved on those issues. I will update this review as needed as I use this sander. I will give you all the facts so good/bad. There needs to be competition in the drum sander market and it seems Jet has been running the show far to long with no innovation. Maybe this sander will change that…we will see.
UPDATE 7/20/11 – More adjustments have been made.

I have had time to really put the machine to use. I found out that following the manual’s directions left my table a little more than .03” (about a 1/32” of and inch) out of alignment across the full 18” drum (not terrible but not good enough for me). I opened the manual again and messed with the setup block instructions which took a while, and then the table would not raise or lower easily. So I had to follow the other instructions which remedied that…but totally through off my setup block alignment. After screwing around for another hour following their directions I decided something different. Common sense!

I took a piece of plywood 18” long and laid it on the table, raised it up until it just kissed the drum and then adjusted the open end until it looked parallel to the eye. I then adjusted the front right nut because the lifting mechanism was binding a little and then tightened everything back up.

I am now within .01” across the whole 18” drum and know I could do a little better with some more tweaking but across 18” that is pretty good. I ran a full width maple butcher block through once (far end was out .011) and then rotated it 180 degrees and ran it back through without making any adjustments to table elevation and it was dead on every side.

1 / 64 of an inch is = 0.015625 so across 18” the .01 right now it is out is not to shabby, again…I am sure I can get it better will a little more adjustment.

So I am very please with this sander right now. I have managed to make it bog, but that was me just being stupid and not paying attention to how much I was trying to bite off. The 1-1/2 HP motor is more than adequate when paired with the correct grit of paper. The dust collection is FANTASTIC when hooked up to a high CFM collector.

I stand by my original 5 star review and while I think it is pricey (aren’t all drum sanders) I like that it is covered by a 5 year warranty and everything is working as it should. I am feeling less buyers remorse every time I use it ( I originally wanted a 26” Woodmaster DS… More power and more $$$) because it is getting the job done.

View rawdawgs50's profile


83 posts in 4137 days

15 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3812 days

#1 posted 06-19-2011 11:01 PM

Now gentlemen, the review bar has been set. Carry on;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4864 days

#2 posted 06-20-2011 12:02 AM

I had the model that came out in the early 2000’s. It worked fine, as long as you didn’t try to rush it. I also found, if you’re going to sand boards wider than the 18”, the platen needs to be set slightly lower on the open end. I think the manual will tell you how to do this. If it’s set perfectly parallel, the board will burn along the edge of the sand paper. Stay within the 18” and this is a good time saving sander.

View Delta356's profile


463 posts in 3973 days

#3 posted 06-20-2011 05:17 AM

Great Review. Once again Delta has come to the top. What a fine machine.
This is why I buy Delta…
Have fun sanding…....

Thanks, Michael Frey
Portland, OR


View dub560's profile


628 posts in 4032 days

#4 posted 06-20-2011 04:03 PM

i have the older model and can’t get the table leved at all…i think it’s garbage

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View Albert's profile


547 posts in 4709 days

#5 posted 06-20-2011 04:18 PM

I have the older model and like tenontim I’ve had some issues but still consider it a ‘love/hate/ relationship. Take it very slow (1/4 turn or less) per pass and avoid woods with a lot of oil in them and it is a wonderful thing, Get impatient and you’ve got real agony. It takes time and patience to do the setup work also. Overall I wish I had something else but I got it used for a decent price so now I’m paying the price.
Delta should be ashamed for damaging their good reputation by bringing that older model to market, hope your newer machine is better. Thanks for the very well done review.

View rawdawgs50's profile


83 posts in 4137 days

#6 posted 06-20-2011 04:18 PM


I have not had a chance to put a wide board through yet. I will find out real soon though and if it won’t get level with adjustments I will be calling Delta very quickly.

View Paul Stoops's profile

Paul Stoops

358 posts in 3680 days

#7 posted 06-20-2011 06:36 PM

Good review. I have a Performax 16-32 Plus, which I really like. Your photos are very good quality, which adds greatly to the review. Nice job.

It’s hard to appreciate the value of a drum sander until you actually use one. I wish I had bought one long ago. You will love using it.

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

View dub560's profile


628 posts in 4032 days

#8 posted 06-20-2011 07:33 PM

i have to keep an adjustable wrench and a allen key at hand while using mine//plus sometimes i have to assist my piece through and burning is another issue. i’m just frustrated but i need a sander you know

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 3976 days

#9 posted 06-21-2011 04:48 AM

I was seriously considering this Delta but decided to go with the Jet 16-32 on sale for $849. I really like the Jet however I would like to hear how it works out for you in a couple months. If this machine can compare then we have a little competition going in this market.

Your review took some time, thanks for posting it.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4310 days

#10 posted 06-22-2011 09:05 AM

Congrats, enjoy your new toy…One or 2 guys on this sight I know of got the delta.

I have the grizzly 18-36…. all of them seem to be good machines….

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View rawdawgs50's profile


83 posts in 4137 days

#11 posted 07-20-2011 07:44 PM


I might be about to help you get that table level if interested. It is probably very similar to mine and now that I spent some time tweaking it, I understand how it all works and the little tricks to get it dialed in.

View hgk's profile


2 posts in 3234 days

#12 posted 08-30-2012 06:13 AM

Hi, Some insights from a long term user. I bought one in 2000, and use it maybe 2 days a month. I had to change the table height cog belt today as the accumulated wear on the cog belt, and increased tensioning to stop it’s jumping, made the handwheel too stiff to crank easily. The major problem I’ve had over the years is poor tracking of the feed belt. Delta service was as helpful as could be but the problem always came back. I eventually cut an inch off the belt to allow it to track for a longer time before needing to reposition it. Also changed the lock down screws on the infeed roller to allen button heads to make it faster to adjust. I also made up a thin plywood plate to fit between the motor and cog belt as I had the cog belt come off once when making a tension adjustment and it required removing the motor just to get it back on. I also made up a detached infeed guide roller using an old car jack to adjust it’s height to the table. For the outfeed I usually support the board lightly with the right hand while pressing firmly down with my left at the outfeed side of the main housing. Perhaps the Delta table accessory would be a worthwhile buy? Mine has required more than occasional fiddling and wouldn’t be ideal for someone who hates to spend the time to make their tools work right. But it does do a real nice job of preparing figured woods for final sanding My apology if this is inappropriate to post here and if that is the case then please flag it so it can be removed.

View jefrench's profile


14 posts in 133 days

#13 posted 05-15-2021 05:21 PM

I hope some of you are still online, especially hgk. My Delta has this maddening habit of jumping up after it passes the first roller. It then puts a ridge at the back 2” and sands it down about a 1/16” from the rest of the board. I tried running two parallel boards, same thickness, along side my piece to keep the front roller up, but it didn’t always work. If anyone is still reading and has a solution please let me know.

The French Workbench

-Woodwork is in my blood and my blood is on my woodwork.

-- Woodworking is in my blood and my blood is on some woodwork.

View rawdawgs50's profile


83 posts in 4137 days

#14 posted 05-15-2021 09:59 PM


Its been a while since I logged on….but unfortunately I do not have a solution for you. I sold the sander off a few years back, and did not have the issue you are talking about. Hoard to imagine the pressure rollers doing this to be honest.

But, if I had to wager a guess, it sounds like the sanding drum might be catching the piece of wood and lifting it up. I do not remember which way the drum roller should be rotating…is it possible it is running in reverse> wires attached wrong at the motor? Other thing I would check is to make sure table is level with the drum on all 4 corners.

Hope you get it figured out-


View jefrench's profile


14 posts in 133 days

#15 posted 05-17-2021 09:28 PM

rawdawgs50, thanks for posting back
The Delta drum rolls against the feed belt (which is underpowered) so I don’t think it’s digging into the piece. But I will check square.

-- Woodworking is in my blood and my blood is on some woodwork.

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