Newbie question about drum sand vs planer

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Forum topic by gdiddy13 posted 09-11-2017 06:57 PM 819 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 1985 days

09-11-2017 06:57 PM

Can someone explain the basics of a drum sander, meaning how it compares to a planer?

I have a planer, but have to make adjustments to my pieces due to bows, twists, etc.

Then I saw others running live edge or cutting boards through drum sanders and getting it dead flat on one side with no adjustments. Is this right? Why wouldn’t I buy a drum sander instead of a planer.

I understand that a planer makes one side parallel to the other, but does a drum sander not do that?

Thanks guys!

4 replies so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4610 days

#1 posted 09-11-2017 07:04 PM

Drum sander does the exact same thing as a planer, just at a much slower pace and shallower cut. To flatten a board, you need to shim under it where it does not touch the surface.( of a flattening sled) to keep it steady through the planer or sander. When one side is flat, take it off the sled and run it through to flatten the other side. A good planer will give you a finish ready surface just like a drum sander will.

View splintergroup's profile


5856 posts in 2464 days

#2 posted 09-11-2017 07:11 PM

Consider a sander like a planer with much finer control over the cut, but the cut can not be nearly as aggressive as a planer provides.

A sander excels at gnarly grain (no tear out) and as you noticed, end grain.

Where a planer will force the bow out of a board as it gets pressed flat by the rollers, a sander has much less aggressive down pressure and a bowed board will result in snipe unless a sled and shims are used.

I own both. I rarely use the planer except for getting close to final thickness. I use the sander if I’m within 1/8” or so of final thickness. A few passes with 36 grit paper can quickly get me down to a few 0.01’ths where I’ll use finer grits.

I also tend to remove minor twist/bow on the sander with a sled and shims.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7229 posts in 3735 days

#3 posted 09-11-2017 08:06 PM

What they said, and if you opt for a sander instead of a planer plan on multiplying your shop by a factor of 10 or more to get the same work done. Sanders are nice, but they are not a substitute for a planer.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View bbasiaga's profile


1259 posts in 3237 days

#4 posted 09-11-2017 08:21 PM

Normally to flatten a board you need a jointer and a planer. I did not think a drum sander could serve both functions any better than a planet can (there are ways to joint on a planer).

The big advantage I see is that the drum sanders are able to do wider boards at a lower cost than wide planers.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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