Drum sander and endgrain Purpleheart

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Forum topic by don1960 posted 10-31-2012 03:31 AM 3450 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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227 posts in 3600 days

10-31-2012 03:31 AM

I finally got my 16-32 drum sander. Nice!!

Anyway, it does a wonderful job on facegrain anything I’ve thrown at it. Endgrain, well, that’s another story. Here’s the deal:

I just finished gluing up an endgrain Maple/Purpleheart cutting board. Thought great, now I don’t have to spend 237.5 hours sanding the thing flat. Seems the endgrain purpleheart had other plans. :-)

Run it thru fast, slow, while standing on one foot, with the garage door open, with the garage door closed, no joy. :-) Even with the slightest, slightest cut, it burns. Tried everything from 180, 120, all the way down to 80 grit paper. I’m talking about just trying to take a few thousandths off at a pass, even.

So, anyone who has tried this, is there some magical combination of speed/paper/cut depth that will work for endgrain purpleheart??

-- -- Don from PA

16 replies so far

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5688 posts in 4221 days

#1 posted 10-31-2012 04:11 AM

I have a jet drum sander and have also discovered that some woods just refuse to go through my machine without burning or gumming up the sandpaper regardless of how miniscule of an amount I try to sand. This will also happen on facegrain. Bloodwood, cocobolo, sinker cypress are a few that come to mind.

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2218 posts in 4683 days

#2 posted 10-31-2012 04:29 AM

Purpleheart and Bloodwood ruin my belts in no time, too much oil in these woods.

-- Tom D

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251 posts in 3226 days

#3 posted 10-31-2012 04:55 AM

Have you thought about an even coarser grit just to get it flat? I know the Supermax guy recommended the coarser grits, i.e. 36 grit or 50 grit, on some of the oilier woods. 80 grit burns PH with my drum sander and I am heading to the coarser grits to see if it helps. I dimensioned some end grain cutting boards recently, although none of them had PH in them, with both 36 grit and 80 grit. While the 36 grit showed slight burning on the actual wood, the sandpaper itself did not have any of the tell tale signs of burning like I experienced with 80 grit on the same type cutting boards. I was also able to increase productivity with the coarser grits by being able to stand on both feet and I could hold my mouth any way I wanted to. Just a thought.

-- They call me Mr. Silly

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2816 posts in 3795 days

#4 posted 10-31-2012 05:05 AM

Do you have a planer? I used my planer on my purpleheart cutting board…supposed to be a no-no on endgrain but if you take very slight passes it will work.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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999 posts in 4095 days

#5 posted 10-31-2012 05:48 AM

I’ve used my 16/32 drum sander on at least 10 boards with purpleheart with great success. I use 180 grit. I adjust untill I just start to hear the paper making contact and then I only adjust the height 1/8 th of a turn after making 2 passes on each side of the board. Before I even think of using the drum sander I make sure there is no glue visible on the board. If when you feed your board into the sander and you hear the machine load up then your height is too aggresive and your feed rate is too fast. After all is smooth and level I switch to my ROS and work up to 400 grit.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 3600 days

#6 posted 10-31-2012 08:31 AM

@prgdesigns: I had considered coarser grits, but I think I’ll just use a router sled to flatten instead since anything coarser than the 80 will leave at least as many lines as the router.

Rob, I hesitate to use the planer, since even if it does work, it leaves tearout that I got the drum sander to (mostly) eliminate. At least, my planer does, even on the purpleheart facegrain sometimes.

@retiredcoastie: yea, all the visible glue is/was gone, and I don’t think it’s possible to take smaller passes than I did.

To all: thanks for the responses. It seems for the most part that certain woods may just not work well. The hard maple sections of the board, even thought they are just about as hard as the purpleheart, had no problem going thru the sander.
If I come up with something that works, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

I suppose I could always take it into work, throw it down on a large surface grinder, put on an 80 grit white wheel and flatten it to ±.001”...... but that’s cheating :-)


-- -- Don from PA

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3288 posts in 3170 days

#7 posted 10-31-2012 02:01 PM

I have found that I don’t get burning if I let the wood cool after making a couple very light (less than 1/128”) passes through the sander. I either sand another board or do something else for a few minutes. Feel the surface of your board and wait if it is warm. HTH

-- Art

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227 posts in 3600 days

#8 posted 10-31-2012 04:09 PM

Art, I’ll have to try that tonight. I do remember the wood getting warm.

Also, since purpleheart is an oily wood (didn’t know that before), maybe a wipedown with denatured alcohol between passes (waiting for the wood to dry) would help. We’ll see later.

-- -- Don from PA

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148 posts in 3498 days

#9 posted 10-31-2012 09:31 PM

was wondering about trying denatured alcohol as well – do let us know how or if that works :D

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 3600 days

#10 posted 11-01-2012 03:22 AM

Well, I had some slight success with light passes and waiting if the wood got even the slightest bit warm until it cooled down. This with 120 grit.

Also tried wiping it down with denatured alcohol. Didn’t see any difference there at all.

By the time I had made 6 or 7 passes thru the sander, though , cleaning the belt with a crepe stick every second pass, it still bogged down and burned the wood. (only the purpleheart, the maple seemed to work fine)

Fortunately, by the time I had done all this, the board was as flat as it was gonna get. All that was left was some work with a ROS and a card scraper. It is as smooth as a glass plate now. That endgrain hardwood is some tuff stuff. Tomorrow i’ll round over the edges, and apply the finish. I think I’m done using purpleheart for endgrain boards though. Still have two more to make to take care of all the kids, but we’ll switch to maple and walnut I think. :-)

Bottom line on my new drum sander is I love it. Just have to watch what goes through it. Does amazingly on face grain boards. Looking forward to using it for a long time to come.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I’ll post a pic when the board is finished.

-- -- Don from PA

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251 posts in 3226 days

#11 posted 11-12-2012 04:49 AM

Used the suggestion of letting the wood cool before running it through again with great success. Light passes, diagonal positioning, and medium feed rate combined with letting it cool resulted in a much better end result. Thanks for the heads up!

-- They call me Mr. Silly

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2 posts in 2786 days

#12 posted 04-09-2013 09:43 PM

I’m running into the same problem with my end grain on purpleheart. I’ve let it sit over night and tried sanding with various grits and even tried wood files. But the end grain continues to look darker and almost burned compared to the rest of the piece. Routers even at a medium speed seem to leave burn marks on the end. Any other techniques I could try or will I have to accept the different color at the end?

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5336 posts in 4794 days

#13 posted 04-09-2013 10:15 PM

Oily woods and my drum sander are a problem. Padauk – yikes – some pieces even side grain just ruin belts. I have sent quite a few boards through and it is one of the most used tools in the shop, but some woods just hate it.

Some things that help: very light cuts, letting the wood cool between passes, and cleaning the drum with an eraser thingy. I have not tried solvents yet. I have no problem with Tightbond glue – maybe I’m lucky.

My V-Drum sander does a good job too as it runs so much cooler with no pressure rollers. But it has other problems with thickness control as it is more like a jointer than a thickness sander.

If only it was easy. Sticking to domestic hardwoods is the real way to solve this.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 3600 days

#14 posted 04-11-2013 02:37 AM

First, I have to apologize that I never posted the pic I promised when the board was done. Soo, late but here it is.!i=2214220963&k=Nkv2nBM&lb=1&s=A

You can see the darker burn marks are still there in the purpleheart. I think Next one I’l try my new low angle block plane to shave a layer off the endgrain at the end. Maybe that’ll get rid of the burn.

-- -- Don from PA

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321 posts in 2867 days

#15 posted 04-12-2013 12:13 AM

I read on some forum somewhere in the last couple of days about someone using abranet on his drum sander and getting astonishing results in both the burn department and the current draw department (he had an ammeter on his drum sander and the current draw with abranet was dramatically lower than with his “normal” sandpaper). He did complain about the cost, saying that the abranet was $33 but that he thought there was enough on the roll for three lengths of drum wrap. I thought that pretty reasonable since I pay about $45 for four strips for my Delta. I’ve never used abranet at all, so I don’t have any points of reference. I wish I could remember where I saw it so I could tell you where to look, but if I stumble across it again I’ll let you know.

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