Quick, Cheap Thickness Sander for ShopSmith or Lathe #5: Test Drive.. She works a treat

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 12-03-2011 08:53 PM 6621 reads 9 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Tuning Up Part 5 of Quick, Cheap Thickness Sander for ShopSmith or Lathe series Part 6: Sander in Action Video. »

Well, the velcro kit arrived yesterday afternoon but just as I got it installed a friend showed up and made me go golfing so I didn’t get to try it out until this morning. The results are better than I had hoped. It adjusts quite easily either with the two original adjusters or with the new center one but the key really is the locks for precision.

Here’s my test. I sanded a piece to see if it came out smooth first. It did with some reservations (more on that later) so I drew a line with felt pen across the width of a piece near the capacity of the sander.

When I ran it through at a minimum cut, it came out like this. If you could examine it closely you would see that the line has been scratched everywhere but not sanded through anywhere. That’s close enough for me.

Now about those reservations. I had been warned about possible flex and vibration with ABS and I can’t exactly say that I had none, however there seems to be a way to control it (and vibration may not even be the cause). I noticed that if I paused at all during the cut there would be a little wear groove where the drum had paused. If I moved the piece through smoothly there was no sign of the groove.

Possible explanations in order of likelihood in my opinion:

1) The hook an loop expanding a little from centrifugal force when the pressure on it diminished.
2) The piece lifting a little because it is really only the drum holding it down, no table rollers.
3) Vibration of the ABS pipe

Whatever the cause, the problem is easily solved by advancing the piece smoothly through the cut.

The sanded surface from side to side is not a perfectly straight line as can be seen in picture #2 but it’s damn close. I credit this to an inability to get the velcro and paper surface perfectly even but we’re really splitting hairs here. I’m very happy with it.

As for the dust collection, I was sanding MDF and there was no dust in the air. Better than that, I won’t be bothering to install the magnets I had bought to hold the collection manifold down. The suction from the DC holds it so tight you can hardly get it off.

All in all I’m thrilled and it’s on to the marquetry press. Then I can finally get some marquetry done.

Thanks for watching, I hope this was of some use to someone.

Comments, questions and critiques are always welcome.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

18 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3723 days

#1 posted 12-03-2011 09:26 PM

congrats paul, i think you did a great job, your good thinking here has allowed you to create a tool you need for your wood work, and its pretty dam good in my opinion…as they say, good enough for government work…lol….except i think this is much better…bravo on a job well done…...i really think you should get lucy to give her paw print of approval…now that really should be your new symbol, lucys paw print on your projects…lol…yea i know im off a little…to much saw dust smokin…have a great weekend …thanks paul, i love watching friends come up with good ideas…you should patent this set up for others who have your type of equipment…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View SPalm's profile


5333 posts in 4302 days

#2 posted 12-03-2011 09:40 PM

Sweet. It runs! Looks good too.

When I tried to do this years ago, the snipe that happened if I varied (or stopped) the feed rate was my biggest problem. I don’t think it is mainly because of the PVC drum, but just flex in the entire system. The main cause it is probably just a matter of inconsistent feed rate. I will get the same result on my Jet if I turn off the feed motor. Heck, even on a jointer or Table saw you can notice a difference if you stop then resume feeding.

If you get snipe because of this, just send it through a couple more times at the final thickness without changing the height. It should solve a lot of this.

Good job, looks like a winner,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Phil53's profile


90 posts in 4042 days

#3 posted 12-03-2011 09:46 PM

Look good.
Did you put all this together or was it a kit?

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 4250 days

#4 posted 12-03-2011 10:58 PM

Way to go Paul, I’ so happy that it worked out! I see that same line appear if I get a pause at all on my Performax sander too, so you are right the key is to have smooth motion throughout the pass.

Very ingenious system you came up with dust collection. I’m glad to hear that it works so well.

For the press are you making the sam full size version you have at home or are you scaling it back a bit?

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View shipwright's profile


8320 posts in 3218 days

#5 posted 12-04-2011 12:15 AM

Mat, the press will be pretty similar but without the legs. It will be a benchtop model.

Phil, I’m afraid it was design as you go on this one.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Druid's profile


2096 posts in 3215 days

#6 posted 12-04-2011 02:05 AM

Looks like you’ve done a great job there Paul. Thanks again for sharing your ideas.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4400 days

#7 posted 12-04-2011 02:22 AM

Hi Paul;

I would say it was very useful post.

I too made a drum sander, but used a blank of baltic birch for the drum. I had a friend with a metal lathe turn it for me to ensure it was perfect.

It didn’t see much use, as I built the shop shortly after that and equipped it with a delta unit.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3581 days

#8 posted 12-04-2011 02:42 AM

Nice job Paul. Only thing I might add is most builders of drum sanders get the drum true by sending a board through with sandpaper glued to the top, thus sanding the drum itself true. Light passes are the key. Then install the velcro & paper on the drum and you are on your way. Depends on how much vibration you have whether you want to pursue this or not. Again, nicely done.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3456 days

#9 posted 12-04-2011 12:01 PM

The feed rate problem (grooving when you stop) also happens on a drum sander made with wooden discs, like mine. Constant feed is the only way to obviate (overcome) it. I still favour a fixed bed over a roller fed one though as you can thickness, on mine anyway, down to fractions of a millimetre (see comment 10). Useful when making veneers of the same thickness as commercially produced ones. Congratulations on not only a first rate job but one that fits the style and quality of the Shopsmith.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View shipwright's profile


8320 posts in 3218 days

#10 posted 12-04-2011 04:57 PM

Thanks everyone for the kind words

Rance, I was prepared to do that but as I said above it was already true. There is a certain amount of inconsistency in the nature of the hook and loop animal however. I thought of re-wrapping to see if I could do better but based on the test above I don’t think I could improve it much.

What maybe surprises me most is that I can sand the full width (about 22”) withthe SS 3/4 Hp motor, even at higher speeds.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

11630 posts in 3849 days

#11 posted 12-04-2011 06:42 PM

Pretty darned cool, Paul!
Re: Velcro My V Sander from Stockroom Supply uses Velco and it’s designed to lift a little. When not spinning, the paper is just a smidge below the table top. When spinning, it’s a smidge above. (a smidge is just a hair less than a skosh.) :-)

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3657 days

#12 posted 12-04-2011 10:13 PM

Great looking machine! I’m always impressed by your projects and this one is no exception. I’ve got to build one soon too.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View justoneofme's profile


735 posts in 2900 days

#13 posted 12-05-2011 05:56 AM

Hi Paul:
At last, a chance to tap in and let you know how very impressed I am over your wonderful drum sander. Thanks for keeping me in the loop during its creation. Man … where were you all the many years I’ve been using those hand and paint scrapers?!!!
As a matter of fact I was thinking of you today while manually levelling a Marquetry design I’ve been working upon as a Xmas gift … wishing I could just wander over and check this baby out!
It feels good to be back ‘on line’ with Lumberjocks again, and hope I can soon share photos of this latest project I’ve been trying to finish. Between the grandkids working on their hand-crafted Xmas gifts, and the joyous mess of that, my workshop is in total chaos … making anything I’m trying to do a real challenge!
Looking forward to your ‘press building tutorial’ Paul.
Must be hard having to leave one playground to go play in another, but isn’t golf more along the lines of exercise?!
Bye for now … Elaine from Duncan

-- Elaine in Duncan

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3456 days

#14 posted 12-05-2011 03:27 PM

By the way my comment was not meant to sound sarcastic. I was merely qualifying what I said by experience, which is only by my machine. I’m sure your’s sands right down to paper thin as well, Paul.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View shipwright's profile


8320 posts in 3218 days

#15 posted 12-05-2011 03:41 PM

No problem Martyn. I think the 150 grit that came in the kit is a little coarse for fine work but if I can scratch the whole line and still see the whole line I have the accuracy. For fine work I plan to slip pieces of paper under the work and get literally “paper thin” cuts. I have a roll of 220 grit on order.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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