Do I need a disc sander?

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Forum topic by Tom posted 02-13-2017 09:38 PM 2243 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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182 posts in 1625 days

02-13-2017 09:38 PM

I’ve been debating on getting a disc sander (or making one if I could find a cheap electric motor) for projects. I have one of the Rigid belt/spindle sanders that I use and it works fine for what I’ve needed it for; is there much difference in how they work other than one has the sanding horizontal and the other vertical?

I check CL for motors but they’re either too small or almost the cost of just buying a HF sander. Will a washing machine motor work? I’m sure I can find a free (or close to it) machine that has a 110v moter I could use.

18 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8803 posts in 3142 days

#1 posted 02-13-2017 10:08 PM

View Lazyman's profile


4203 posts in 1952 days

#2 posted 02-13-2017 10:41 PM

Washing machine motors might not have enough HP for a disc sander of a decent size. They are probably in the 1/3-1/2 HP range. I would think that 3/4 to 1 HP would be best. You might be able to use some belts and pulleys to slow it down so it has less of a tendency to stall when you put a a large piece of wood against it. Not sure what the RPM is so you would want to make sure that stepping it down so that it doesn’t stall doesn’t make it turn so slowly that it isn’t very useful.

One thing that a large disc sander is handy for is flattening faces that you going to glue together like when making a segmented bowl for example ( if you don’t have a thickness sander). Your belt/spindle sander will handle most of the other types of applications like sanding to a line for example.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View MrRon's profile


5784 posts in 3808 days

#3 posted 02-13-2017 11:27 PM

Different types of sanding machines are designed for specific sanding jobs. No one sander fits all. A combination belt/disc sander is about the most versatile. I have 4 different types of sanders in my shop, not counting the hand held ones.

View Ripper70's profile


1363 posts in 1473 days

#4 posted 02-13-2017 11:30 PM

I made one using the motor from an old scroll saw. It’s a 1/3 h.p. 1725 r.p.m. motor and has plenty of power for my needs. I bought a 12” Shopsmith steel sanding disc for about $20 bucks and sourced 12” adhesive backed paper in various grits, both from eBay. Real cheap. I use it all the time and am glad I have it. It ain’t pretty but it does what I need it to do. I’d love to have a spindle type sander also and hope to add one in the future as they do, indeed, seem like they serve much different purposes.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View clin's profile


1072 posts in 1561 days

#5 posted 02-14-2017 06:52 AM

I have a large (12”?) disk sander. It is much more precise for sanding than a belt sander because the sanding surface is firm and does not flop around. While it is a great tool for quickly removing a lot of material, you have such good control you can very accurately sand to a line.

It really shines when sanding outside curves. A great complement to a spindle sander. Of course it sands flat edges well, but you are generally limited to sanding something no larger than 1/2 the disk diameter. Oddly, it is very good for sanding small parts because of the control you have.

I’m not sure how well a DIY one would work. Mine is made from a lot of cast iron. It’s heavy. I think this contributes to its precision.

-- Clin

View PeteStaehling's profile


99 posts in 1684 days

#6 posted 02-14-2017 01:06 PM

This is one of those things where the harbor freight offering is a very good option imo. Their 12” disc is inexpensive and heavy duty. It would be hard to make something that nice without spending more.

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 2632 days

#7 posted 02-14-2017 01:18 PM

An option: I have seen discs you can buy that install in your table saw…

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View Tom's profile


182 posts in 1625 days

#8 posted 02-14-2017 02:08 PM

An option: I have seen discs you can buy that install in your table saw…

- RandyinFlorida

I’d seen those and had forgotten about them. They seem to work very well and not adding more equipment to the garage/shop is a good thing. I saw one guy make one out of 1/2” ply which is the “cheap” way to go and it seemed to work fine in his saw. I might give this a try but have to make sure that will fit on my table saw arbor…if not I’ll just buy the plate and some paper.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7804 posts in 3479 days

#9 posted 02-14-2017 02:11 PM

An option: I have seen discs you can buy that install in your table saw…
- RandyinFlorida


I used exactly that while adjusting the length of my Harley wheel spacer. Works great!

NOTE: I do suggest vacuuming the TS dust bin FIRST, PLUS again immediately after doing this with metal. You want to minimize any change of fire/ignition. Also, leave the DC in the OFF position.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2572 days

#10 posted 02-14-2017 02:26 PM

Make your own… here’s how I did mine

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Tom's profile


182 posts in 1625 days

#11 posted 02-14-2017 03:02 PM

Joe…I’d do that except for the fact I don’t have an electric motor and the ones on CL are expensive or far enough away that when I compare time to $$ I’m better off just buying a HF model or doing the Table saw mod.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6017 posts in 3378 days

#12 posted 02-14-2017 04:21 PM

I use the same belt / oscillating spindle sander you have, and have never pined for a disc sander. I was actually offered one and turned it down, because I couldn’t imagine what I would use it for.

An oscillating or random orbit action leaves a better finish than a disc sander. Anything with a grinding action will leave a surface that requires more work to finish.

The sander I thought was a great idea was the Delta bench random orbit sander, but it’s not made anymore.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Lazyman's profile


4203 posts in 1952 days

#13 posted 02-15-2017 11:43 PM

One problem with sanding disks mounted on a table saws is that they usually turn much faster than the average disk sander but might be better than nothing, especially for occasional use. If you have a lathe, you could also make a sanding disk for that and have much more control over the speed.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View kathy50's profile


15 posts in 649 days

#14 posted 03-06-2018 08:00 AM

Wen is very powerful, absolutely must have for the price. It is great for both metal and woodworking jobs. The sanding belt is adjustable from horizontal to vertical.


View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3079 days

#15 posted 03-06-2018 01:43 PM

I’ve owned the HF 12” sander since about 2000, back when you could buy it for $99.
It is a horse, heavy, with an aluminum faceplate. The table is decent, and can be easily put to an angle but you have to watch your angle as you retighten the unit as it will creep.

The problem with the unit is if I put on a higher grit, like 120 grit, it burns the paper and wood too fast and all the rubber cleaners in the world won’t bring back the burnt part of the paper. So I keep a 60 grit on it, and use light touches, and it seems to do beautifully. I change out the paper with a heat gun. After 18 years, it still runs well. And the dust collection, (when I take the time to hook it up), is pretty good.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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