Drum Sander Gear Lash

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Forum topic by Kazooman posted 10-19-2015 10:08 PM 805 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1413 posts in 2563 days

10-19-2015 10:08 PM

I purchased a Jet 16-32 Plus drum sander a few months ago and I have been very happy with the results, especially on end grain cutting boards. A really well built machine that does the job well once I passed the learning curve on belt grit, feed rate, and depth of sanding.

I do have a question to other owners of this or similar sanders. What amount of gear lash do you have on the thickness adjusting mechanism? I seem to have almost an eighth of a turn of gear lash. Just to be absolutely clear for anyone reading…... If I am turning the adjustment up and then reverse direction, there is about an eighth of a turn of slop before the gear teeth take hold for the adjustment. The same holds true for adjustments in the opposite direction.

I can’t see any way to make an adjustment to reduce the lash. Am I correct to assume that I just have to be aware of the issue and approach adjustments from the correct direction? I gave my Delta contractor saw away to a friend, in part, because the only way to adjust the fence was to be adjusting it from the right to the left.

5 replies so far

View Ken 's profile


21 posts in 1838 days

#1 posted 10-28-2015 02:06 AM

Not familiar with that piece of equipment but very familiar with gear lash as I’ve rebuilt and repaired a lot of metal working machinery. Metal working machines must produce considerably tighter tolerances than woodworking tools but the adjusting knobs and related gear train are still much the same as you are currently experiencing. There’s always some clearance in the gears, or somewhere in the gear train, usually by design. Unless yours is problematic (as opposed to just “unusual”) I’d live with it.
I have the same issue when raising or lowering the blade on my table saw. Just enough play in the handle to irritate me when I want to back off just a hair. My solution to this particular condition is to back off more than needed, then raise back up again. This way I have the gear train tight and not subject to sliding back on its own (just a hair). I have the same condition on my joiner. Raise or lower the table and there’s always a little bit of slack when reversing the wheel.
It’s all very common.

View MNgary's profile


313 posts in 3028 days

#2 posted 10-28-2015 04:12 AM

I have a Delta drum sander and the 1/8 gear lash describes my experience, as well.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Kazooman's profile


1413 posts in 2563 days

#3 posted 10-28-2015 12:06 PM

Thanks for the replies. Sounds like my machine is normal.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3301 days

#4 posted 10-29-2015 12:14 AM

Both of my drum sanders (1 big Craftsman and 1 10-20 Jet) have the same gear lash as yours.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View splintergroup's profile


3220 posts in 1833 days

#5 posted 10-29-2015 03:36 PM

I have the Performax 16-32 which is identical to yours.

You can back off the tension on the four sliding bolts that connect the main drum to the table (the part that allows the drum to raise/lower). Only do this if you are confident at making these kind of adjustments. Too loose and the drum will rock, too tight and you’ll wear out your jack screw.

Ideally the drum should lower itself when you screw the drum down (that is, the screw should not be forcing the drum down, gravity should). This setup will eliminate the backlash as the jack screw will always be loaded to one end. If getting the slide bolts loose enough to allow for this ‘free fall’ ends up letting your drum rock around, you can add an extension spring to help pull the drum down (makes the drum act like it is heavier).

Alternatively, as others suggest you can just live with it 8^)

Before I made my bolt adjustments, I’d always make sure to adjust the drum height in the same direction. That is, when sanding, I’d always lower the drum, never raise it, until the sanding was finished. If I changed grits, I’d swap out the belts but never change the drum height. For the first pass with the new grit, I would not change the height so in effect I’d get a light cut (this avoids an overly heavy cut on the first pass)

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