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Drum sander vs. thickness planer

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Forum topic by nickbatz posted 12-14-2019 09:40 PM 806 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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nickbatz

395 posts in 687 days


12-14-2019 09:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sander planer

Not having used either one, it looks to me like a drum sander will thin boards but a thickness planer won’t sand them. And you have about 16” between the edge of the drum sander’s belt, so you can turn the board over and sand up to 32”.

A planer’s specialty is flattening boards, yes, but I do have a jointer (6”, but I buy boards that are flat enough for my uses).

Am I right that a drum sander is more versatile?


27 replies so far

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Redoak49

4354 posts in 2595 days


#1 posted 12-14-2019 09:45 PM

No, I think the planet is more versatile and I have both. You only take off a bit at a time with the drum sander. I got my planers first and got the drum sander recently.

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nickbatz

395 posts in 687 days


#2 posted 12-14-2019 09:48 PM

Well, since posting that I see that there are no parts available for the Craigslist drum sander I was looking at.

But the planer is limited to about 12” width, right? Doesn’t that mean it’s designed for flattening and thinning boards rather than smoothing wider surfaces?

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TEK73

283 posts in 314 days


#3 posted 12-14-2019 10:18 PM

A planer and a thicknesser is not the same – even if it’s often combined in one machine. The comes in various widhts – but yes, the widere ones are ofte exspensive and they are often not as wide as a drum sander.

A planer is ised to get two straight sides, normally with 90 degrees between.
A thicknesser is used to get the piece to a even thickness or to a given target thickness – normally after getting one side flat with the jointer.

I would say that a thicknesser is for thicknessing pices to a even thickness and to a given thickness.
It may take off several mm per pass – so if you have a piece that is 3cm and you need it to be 2,4 that can be done in 2-3 passes with a thicknesser.

A sander I assume (I do not have one) will be good to flatten a piece that has a rough surface, but not to actually change the thickness of a piece or to make a piece that is very uneven (like 1cm diff) even.

I would select a thicknesser before a sander, but that might be just because I work a lot with hardwood of various quality and quite a bit off twist/bends. Your need may not be the same as my needs!

-- It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. - Ursula K. LeGuin

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TEK73

283 posts in 314 days


#4 posted 12-14-2019 10:28 PM

I think a regular work procedure for me to make a table top would be:
- Use the jointer to plain two sides (90deg between)
- Use the thicknesser to ensure even thickness
- Glue up the boards
- Even the glued-uo top with the drum sander

So, if you start with straight wood, you may be able to just use the drum sander

-- It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. - Ursula K. LeGuin

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nickbatz

395 posts in 687 days


#5 posted 12-14-2019 11:22 PM

Okay, thanks.

My process (even though I have a jointer) is to choose good boards at the lumber yard and have them joint them. Then I run them through the table saw and edge-join them, and finally use a random orbit sander to clean up.

Primitive. :)

But it seems like maybe a planer would be more useful, if for no other reason than that my router bits (dovetail for instance) max out at 3/4”.

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splintergroup

3207 posts in 1829 days


#6 posted 12-15-2019 12:09 AM

I have both but rarely use the planer. Typically I’ll re-saw wood to near final thickness (1/8”) then use the drum sander to perfect it. I’ll sometimes go thicker on the bandsaw and use coarse grit (36) to bring it closer to finish much faster.

The planer is the only go-to tool when I need to thickness boards wider than I can re-saw (12”) and when I need to remove thickness quickly, usually when I have a lot of bf. to finish.

The sander is almost always used for final finishing to an exact thickness.

Don’t believe that a sander can be used to double the drum width. My 16/32 actually has about 15” of useable width and flipping the board will get the two halves close, but not perfect.

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pottz

7696 posts in 1591 days


#7 posted 12-15-2019 12:21 AM

well if i had to choose and luckily i dont i would start with a planer,there are many ways to sand a board.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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Rich

5141 posts in 1196 days


#8 posted 12-15-2019 02:54 PM


well if i had to choose and luckily i dont i would start with a planer,there are many ways to sand a board.

- pottz

+1

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Andre

3009 posts in 2413 days


#9 posted 12-15-2019 05:07 PM

Have thought about getting a drum sander but only real reason for me would be to finish sand end grain cutting boards, my 12” jointer/planner will do everything else almost perfectly? To each their own :) Think a smaller ( 4” ) jointer would get way more use in my shop, but then what excuse would I have for all them hand Planes?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

883 posts in 517 days


#10 posted 12-16-2019 08:55 AM

Even if you pick nice boards, a planer is quicker to flatten boards and bringing the board to the thickness you want. To add a drum sander such as a 16/32, is a welcome addition to planer. But don’t consider the belt sander as a replacement to a planer.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

12002 posts in 1745 days


#11 posted 12-16-2019 02:57 PM

Drum sander if you need it for boards thinner than 1/4” or so on a regular basis, need it for really wide boards or need it for end grain like cutting boards. Otherwise a planer is better IMO. The jointer is to flatten the first side, the planer will flatten the second and make it parallel to the first. Planer is also much faster because the blades can take significantly bigger bites than sandpaper.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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RightBrained

3 posts in 730 days


#12 posted 12-16-2019 03:22 PM

I recently added a Supermax 19-38 to the shop and it’s an extremely useful tool but I would give it up in a heartbeat if I was choosing between it and my planer. The drum sander is excellent for a few specific uses….anything end grain, extremely thin pieces (think shop-sawn veneer) and anything large that doesn’t need a lot of flattening (i.e. panels after glue-up). The downside to the sander is it’s much, much slower than the planer….I would guess the planer is 4X faster. In addition, you need to take very light passes to avoid burning the wood and you’ll need a really good dust collector to keep the sandpaper from loading up with sawdust. Now, I absolutely love having the drum sander and it excels at the things mentioned above but the planer and drum sander are not interchangeable pieces of equipment.

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PPK

1641 posts in 1416 days


#13 posted 12-16-2019 06:24 PM



well if i had to choose and luckily i dont i would start with a planer,there are many ways to sand a board.

- pottz

+2

-- Pete

View nickbatz's profile

nickbatz

395 posts in 687 days


#14 posted 12-16-2019 07:22 PM

Thanks everyone.

Which planers in the $300 starting range are worth looking at, if any?

I’ve bought all my other big machines on Craigslist (other than the sliding miter saw). But they all have external motors that can be replaced if they give out, and you can find parts for Craftsman tools even though they’re not made anymore. Is it safe to buy a used planer?

View ChetK's profile

ChetK

15 posts in 328 days


#15 posted 12-16-2019 11:41 PM



Thanks everyone.

Which planers in the $300 starting range are worth looking at, if any?

I ve bought all my other big machines on Craigslist (other than the sliding miter saw). But they all have external motors that can be replaced if they give out, and you can find parts for Craftsman tools even though they re not made anymore. Is it safe to buy a used planer?

- nickbatz


I am not sure I would buy a used planner. I think they can receive some real abuse in the hands of the wrong person. And if you have to replace blades or anything you can end up with the used planner coming close to a new on.

If you can hang on and save a little more money you can get something like the Dewalt 735 which could last you a long time. It’s one of the nicest bench top models out there and only around $550.00

-- Chet K. "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over". John Wooden

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