Building a drum for a drum sander?

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Forum topic by swayze posted 03-13-2010 07:24 PM 3117 views 3 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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97 posts in 3627 days

03-13-2010 07:24 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jig

I have seen all the post about building these drum sanders and now I need one. Anyway I am wondering what my easiest method of cutting the circles for the drum would be. Keep in muind I don’t own a bandsaw. But maybe this is a good excuse to buy one. Anyway what ideas do you guys have that will keep my sanity for cutting that many circles. Thanks


17 replies so far

View PaulfromVictor's profile


228 posts in 3884 days

#1 posted 03-13-2010 07:37 PM

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

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#2 posted 03-13-2010 07:44 PM

A hole saw.

View mikedrums's profile


102 posts in 3574 days

#3 posted 03-13-2010 07:45 PM

Are you talking about cutting a bunch of circles from mdf or plywood, in order to glue them all together to form a long cylinder?
If that’s the case, a hole saw could crank out the roughs pretty quickly. Then you could use a circle jig with a router to finish them all, or ONE for use as a template. Use the template and a pattern bit (straight bit with a flush bearing) to cut out the rest.

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3718 days

#4 posted 03-13-2010 07:58 PM

Most plans suggest the drill press type circle cutter. circle cutter

I’ve seen that the final shaping can be done when the sander is put together. You run a board with sandpaper on it under the drum and it flattens it parallel to the bed.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View swayze's profile


97 posts in 3627 days

#5 posted 03-13-2010 08:02 PM

Thanks for ideas guys. Never even thought of the hole saw. I have a a circle cutting template for my router but I don’t think it can go that small. But I could build a jig for it and that would be easy and give me clean circles. Thanks for waking my brain up!!

View swayze's profile


97 posts in 3627 days

#6 posted 03-13-2010 08:03 PM

Also is there any reason most guys are using MDF instead plywood when making these circles?

View Ger21's profile


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#7 posted 03-13-2010 08:19 PM

The circle cutter that Jason mentioned will cut much faster, and cleaner, than a hole saw. But you can’t use it over 250rpm. I’ve tried, and the chuck on the drill press would always come loose. But at 250rpm, it works great. Personally, I’d cut them on my CNC Router. :-)

-- Gerry,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3613 days

#8 posted 03-13-2010 08:27 PM

Building a V sander is on my list. I’ve thought about it quite a bit but I have not really done anything yet.

I’ve got this idea about making some end caps for a piece of 4 inch pvc pipe and using the pvc for my drum. It seems like the surface of the pvc would be a better surface to work with.

Is this a really dumb idea?

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

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

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#9 posted 03-13-2010 08:33 PM

Rich that is what I did, used PVC pipe. I did however put maple “slugs” inside the pipe to stiffen it. I used 3/4” threaded rod for the shaft and jam nutted the slugs every few (8-9?) inches inside the pipe. I think the pipe would have heated and flexed had I not done that. My drum was for a wide thickness sander and it is 32” long.

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3699 days

#10 posted 03-13-2010 09:13 PM


Keep in mind that the initial cutting of the disks is a rough cut. After you glue the stack together on the shaft, then you run a piece of MDF or other very flat board through with sandpaper on one side to true up the drum. This is done after the machine is mostly complete. Most of the drum sanders use about a 5” drum. I’m building my drum sander from the shop notes plans. What plans are you using, or are you designing your own?

MDF provides a much smoother surface than even B. Birch cab. grade ply. Using plywood could result in striped lines in your workpiece you are sanding.


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

View swayze's profile


97 posts in 3627 days

#11 posted 03-13-2010 11:03 PM

Rance, right now I’m thinking of building the v-drum from the plans on stockroom. But also have thoughts of making a thickness style drum sander instead.

What you said about the MDF being smoother makes sense. I was hoping to use plywood just because the MDF is so hard on bits.

View marcfromny's profile


45 posts in 3898 days

#12 posted 03-19-2010 12:36 AM

I used mdf, made a 5/8” hole in 18 rough mdf discs. then I mounted a 1 1/2” piece of the 5/8” rod in scrap wood and clamped it to my router table and spun it to true up the disc. If I had to do it again (and I just might) I’d try tunring it quick and easy on a lathe. Since now I have a metal lathe with a carriage that moves it will be all the same thickness across its length. Still, mine came out fine and works like a charm, here is the video of it

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3544 days

#13 posted 03-19-2010 04:35 PM

”Also is there any reason most guys are using MDF instead plywood when making these circles?”

MDF would be easier to keep balanced due to it’s more uniform material and glue mixture. Plywood can have voids, or knots in the veneer, or thicker glue lines in spots, all affecting the balance of the finished drum.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3770 days

#14 posted 03-19-2010 04:54 PM

I am using a hole saw on mine. Doesn’t have to be pretty or expensive, just round… A 4” hole saw, a drill press, and you are good to go.

I’m using scrap cabinet grade “void free” allegedly birch ply for my disks. MDF doesn’t like humidity, and the Texas coast has a LOT of humidity…

I probably wouldn’t use anything like B/C (sheathing grade) ply though, WAY too many voids, way too rough to glue well…

I have seen one guy use SCH 40 PVC pipe with spalted maple (scrap) disks as braces. Not sure I like the PVC idea though, that drum gets hot enough, it might just deform.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View PaulfromVictor's profile


228 posts in 3884 days

#15 posted 03-19-2010 05:53 PM


I am in the process of finishing up my drum sander. I used MDF for my drum and that seems to be a good solution.

Using PVC was brought up in a previous thread. A couple issues I see with that are that there is limited gluing surface unless you fill it somehow, and also that there is very little mass. I wonder if the PVC could be filled with something that hardens (concrete? fiberglass?). This would help secure it in place, but would also provide additional mass that will provide inertia for the spinning drum.

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