Drum Sander vs Wide Belt Sander

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Forum topic by Chuck1685 posted 05-29-2018 12:21 AM 2592 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Chuck1685's profile


30 posts in 1967 days

05-29-2018 12:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: drum sander wide belt sander

Hello All. I am in the market for a drum sander or a wide belt sander. I wanted to get some opinions from people who have used both, before I make my purchase.

Up until this weekend I was pretty much set on the SuperMax 25-50 Drum Sander. Then I saw this listing on CL for a SandMax 25” wide belt sander for 1900$.

My main use will be for table tops….and I am sure many other things as well. Originally I wanted to stay with the open ended design of a drum sander so that I can fit a whole dining table top in two passes. Plus the cost difference between a new drum sander and a new wide belt sander is pretty substantial. But now that I have found this used wide belt sander, I am considering changing the plan a bit. A 25’” will allow me to glue up two panels and run them through, then do the final glue up. Cleaning up one seam by hand won’t be too bad.

From the research that I have done so far, it seems that a wide belt sander dominates a drum sander in almost every way….except for cost and power consumption. What do you guys think??? Thank you in advance.

10 replies so far

View MJCD's profile


605 posts in 3251 days

#1 posted 05-29-2018 12:41 AM


IMO… this is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

At the top of this, the wide-belt sander in question – virtually all of them – is 3-phase electric. If you have 3-phase, then this is not a hurdle. If you need 3-phase, the additional cost could be $5,000 or more, depending on how you decide to get it.

Secondly, the age and runtime on this machine: do you know what use it’s received, the condition of the drive belt; the availability of the sanding belts?

When you get it do your shop, how you move it, if necessary; or do you have the space in-front & behind (the grey space) available in your shop?

That said, drum sander have their own limitation – the SuperMax is one of the best available; however, the standard Drum Sander design limits you to very light passes, with relatively slow feed rates – still, they are great in shop (I have a first-issue Performax that can be frustrating at times; but it does serve its purpose).

Sight unseen, I would get the Drum Sander; then ‘graduate’ into the Wide Belt Sander solution at a later time.

View AZWoody's profile


1478 posts in 2104 days

#2 posted 05-29-2018 01:07 AM

A wide belt sander will pretty much run circles around a drum sander but MJ was right, most are three phase. From what I have read, they don’t play well with phase converters either. Also, most need an air supply as all the belt tracking is done through pneumatic pistons and electric eyes to keep everything lined up and usually, do oscillate the belt to eliminate lines on the wood.

Sanding quality though is no comparison in favor of a wide belt. I wouldn’t worry about availability of sanding belts as there are places where you order custom size belts online for whatever machine you have.
Also, changing grits is very fast and easy with a wide belt and with a drum sander, it can take a while to get the hang of it. Having hook and loop does help a lot though.

View Loren's profile


10689 posts in 4528 days

#3 posted 05-29-2018 01:09 AM

The speed of a wide belt will blow you away. They
are slightly complicated and a used machine may
have problems in need of attention. In comparison
using a drum sander is like watching paint dry.

Getting set up to run a 10hp 3-phase could entail
not-inconsiderable expense.

View Chuck1685's profile


30 posts in 1967 days

#4 posted 05-29-2018 01:49 AM

Thanks guys. Luckily my shop has both single and three phase power running to it. I would have to run some lines from the three phase box, but no big deal there. Space is also not much of a concern….as of now lol. I do worry whenever I purchase a used tool, especially when its a tool like this with many moving parts. I really wish I could afford a new wide belt sander, but not quite there yet. What do you guys think about the SuperMax 25-50 for table tops? Most of the table tops I make are around 36-42” with a few larger and smaller than that. I have read that even with it properly calibrated, the drum sander can leave some pretty nasty lines/ridges in the overlapping areas. Any experience with this?

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1779 days

#5 posted 05-29-2018 02:08 AM

I have a wide belt, that I bought used, which had a lot of miles on it when I bought it.
Maybe I got lucky because I have not had to put much money into it.
A few parts here and there, replaced some belts, but for the most part it has been very good.

I’ve had it over 15 years and wouldn’t want anything else, (except a bigger, better, new one.) :)
Night and day compared to a drum sander, IMO

View Loren's profile


10689 posts in 4528 days

#6 posted 05-29-2018 02:52 AM

Well, many of them are built quite tough. When
I got mine I replaced most of the air tubing
because it was leaking. It was cheap and
easy to do. The tubes go into 110v actuators
that open valves. The valves control the air flow
that shifts the top idler from side to side
coordinated with the electronic eyes on either
side that watch for the belt to travel too far
to one side or the other. It’s probably about
as simple as it can be and work well. The eyes
can get dirty, the drive roller or belt may require
recalibration to bring them into parallel and so
forth. None of it is difficult to get your mind

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

112 posts in 2850 days

#7 posted 05-29-2018 10:58 AM

My wide belt has no issues running on phase converters. It is a 20 hp and I had a 20hp converter before the widebelt, so I ran another 20 hp converter in parallel and only turn that one on when I run the sander. The one converter will actually start the sander, but with a 7.5 hp dust collector and potentially other tools running, I got the second converter.

If you can get the widebelt, get it. I change paper in only 2 minutes and the belts will last hundreds to thousands of board feet.

-- Matt Rogers, and

View splintergroup's profile


4044 posts in 2102 days

#8 posted 05-29-2018 01:55 PM

The ridge left by running a surface wider then the drum sanders native width can be difficult to deal with, but doable.

If I was doing some from of production where this became a common occurrence, the wide belt sander would be the only choice.

View rustynails's profile


898 posts in 3409 days

#9 posted 05-29-2018 04:25 PM

I have a like new 50’’ Woodmaster that was I planing on selling if you are interested. Shoot me a PM if you would like to talk about it.

Thanks Richard

View AHuxley's profile


874 posts in 4201 days

#10 posted 05-29-2018 10:39 PM

If you decide on a drum sander the Woodmaster sanders are far and away the best drum sanders. Much better than any of the cantilevered designs. I have a 50” which has a 7.5hp drum motor and while still a LONG way from a wide belt it is still the best drum. Made in the US also.

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