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What’s a Drum Sander?

A Drum Sander is a very powerful tool with replaceable rough sheets that sand wood surfaces to a dazzling smooth finish. Drum Sanders allow one to work with large flat pieces very fast. The only effort needed is to run the piece through the machine and with that, you can quickly smoothen tabletops, boards, and doors among others. For small woodworking premises, a drum sander is a lower priced option to wide belt sanders available in large production shops.

Drum Sander PictureDespite the fact that some of these sanders are heavy floor models, they are small in size compared to the wide-belt sanders and are also cheaper with prices ranging from $600 to $2500.

Sanders are capable of dimensioning stock using coarse-grit papers. They can smooth stock up to 36-inches wide and at the same time remove the cup from the face of the board. Drum Sanders utilize an abrasive strip wound around a drum and for fine finish sanding can hold grits from 36-inches up to 220-inches for dimensioning stock.

A drum sander works by putting a large spinning drum over a workpiece and at the same time push it to expose its surface to the smoothing grit.

It is recommended to use a dual drum sander that has both lower and upper grit if your shop operates under a time limitations. For extra control, some of these Sanders utilize an independently adjusted rear drum. These drums are very different and have different capabilities.

You have to understand that double drum sanders are closed types and cannot accommodate wide materials. In that case, you will have to invest in a different sander that will solve your problems efficiently.

If you are concerned about the tool life, the best to have is an oscillating drum sander. This sander type operates to and fro and minimizes heat on the machine and also keeps the drum from loading. As a result, you will save time and money on drum changes.

There are a wide variety of drum sanders available in the market and choosing the most appropriate one depends on the most outstanding features best for your needs.

Comparing Drum Sander with Other Types of Sanders

Drum Sander versus Belt Sander

Belt sander and a drum sander are two different tools. They both operate using different mechanisms. Drum sanders have little abrasive in contact with the wood and will remove less material as compared to belt sanders that have great abrasive in contact with the wood. Belt sanders will outdo drum sanders in some ways but there are instances where one can only use a drum sander especially when the piece used is not very wide.

Drum Sander versus Thickness Planer

Both a drum sander and a thickness planer essentially do the same thing but in different scales. If you have a stock of 4/4, and you would like to thicken it to 4/3, then using a drum sander might take you forever to finish. A thickness planer is mostly used for thickening while a sander is mostly used for smoothening. However, a drum sander can deal with thin pieces of wood than a planner would do. One advantage a drum sander has over a thickness planer is that it doesn’t have the tear out issues likely in more featured wood.

Drum Sander versus Orbital Sander

A drum sander has a sleeve piece of sanding paper fitted into a drum that is lowered to the floor by the use of a drum lowering handle. Only a small portion of the floor is in contact with the drum that results into a very assertive cutting action. The main difference between a drum sander and an orbital sander is that a drum sander cuts while an orbital sander grinds. For a roughly shaped piece of material that is damaged, cupped or has a heavy finish, a drum sander is the best option.

An orbital sander performs best for light smoothing and refinishing. An orbital sander is also used when one needs to put down a fresh cover of varnish. Drum sanders work faster because of their aggressive cutting action and saves much time when compared to orbital sanders.

Drum Sander versus Square Sander

A drum sander is one of the choicest machines for wood refinishing professionals. It utilizes a cylindrical sanding belt that enhances the smoothening of wood floors. Note that one need to be well trained in proper sanding techniques because it is possible to ruin your floor when refinishing it using a drum sander. A drum sander works faster than a Square sander. It has a high assertive action, and it is more likely to cause sanding marks on your material. On the other hand, a Square sander is less aggressive. Beginners can achieve excellent refinishing results using a square sander as they can confidently use it without the fear of ruining the floor. When smoothing a large piece, use of a Square Sander will take quite a lot of time but it is recommended to use it if you have no experience in using a drum sander.

Drum Sander versus Disk Sander

Both a drum sander and a disk sander are smoothening materials that utilize sanding papers but with different mechanisms. A disk sander is used to remove very small amounts of waste material. As a result, one can only use a disk material when the surface they want to smoothen is not very rough. Contrary to that, a drum sander smoothens be eliminating a large piece of waste and applies to very rough surfaces. Another difference is that a disk sander has an allowance for sanding the material at an angle.

Drum Sander versus Stroke Sander

Choosing between these two entirely depends on the type of work. A stroke sander produces the best refinishing results, especially when dealing with veneered panels. It requires some experience but once you master its operation, you will be able to give a better finish. Changing the belt of a stroke sander is simple and easy, and this equipment doesn’t overheat to the extent of burning the wood. Contrary to that, a drum sander can sand up to the final thickness that is not the case with a stroke sander. This is because a stroke sander is less aggressive and operates with less power as compared to a drum sander.

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FAQ’s about Drum Sanders

JET Drum Sander
JET Drum Sander

A drum sander is an invaluable tool for smoothing wood, flattening wide panels and reducing stock thickness without causing grain tear. It’s basically made of an endless loop of sandpaper which is moved at high speed by a motor. A drum sander is just what you need if your floor is cupped, damaged, in rough shape or has a heavy finish. It is an extremely useful tools which allows rough finish sanding of surfaces that are unfit or unsafe for a planer.

That said, here are the FAQs about drum sanders;

How the does drum sanders work?

A drum sander works just like a chainsaw; it receives a sleeve roll of sanding paper which slides onto a drum that is lowered to the floor with a drum-lowering handle. The drum rotates at 1,800 rpm and due to the fact that only a tiny portion of the drum/paper is in direct contact with the floor at any given time, there is very aggressive cutting.

What are the various types of drum sanders?

There’re several drum sander varieties. The difference between them has to do with the mechanism of application of the paper to the drum. Generally, there are 3 main types:

Clamp bar – this is the most prevalent drum sander whereby a clamp bar is tightly screwed to the drum, hence holding the paper in place.

Expandable – This is a popular variety especially because it’s a little less complicated for a DIY’er to handle. In this type, belt slides over the drum and hold the paper in place using centrifugal force. its downside is that its paper is twice costlier compared to that used in clamp bar varieties.

Cam-lock – A cam-lock drummer locks the paper to the drum using a wrench.

What to look for when purchasing a drum sander?

When looking for a drum sander, there are a few important things you should keep in mind. First, look for ease changing the paper, capabilities to lower the drum to the floor while keeping the sander on a steady 3-point stance and to be disassembled during transportation. Finally, choose a drum sander that can be hooked onto a tank vacuum for maximum dust collection.

What are the top considerations when using the drum sander?

  • Keep a consistent and steady pace.
  • raise or lower the drum lever while in motion, and not when stopped.
  • Never stop the sander in one spot while the drum is lowered.

What is the right drum sander model that fits my work?

Closed-ended sanders, such as the Grizzly’s G0459 and its near twin the Shop Fox W1740, cannot sand anything that is wider than 12 inches. But the fixed bearing mounts on the ends of the drum make deflecting the drum up or down hard. On the other hand, the drums on the Delta 31-260X and 2 Jet machines (16-32 Plus and 10-20 Plus) are cantilevered, leaving one of the ends open. This allows you to sand panels twice wider than the drum simply by turning the workpieces end-for-end after every pass.

How are sanding belts changed?

Wrapping is quite tedious. Ideally, changing of sanding belts would be as simple as swapping blades on table saws. But it is not. With most machines, you proceed by wrapping narrow abrasive belts with tapered ends round the drums. With other models, you proceed by securing one of the belt ends in a spring clip inside the drum, tightly wrapping the belt, and finally clasping the other end in another clip. Operating the clips could get clumsy, and does take trial and error to find the appropriate starting points on the belts.

Why is it necessary to lift the drum before beginning the backward pass?

If you were ever to leave the drum lying on the floor as when transitioning from going forwards to backward, what you would find is a little stop mark at the spot where you had changed the direction. In order for the drum sander to change direction, it must first stop. When it tops, it digs. So, for that moment when the direction changes, the sanding drum should not be on the floor.

What are the leading drum sander brands?

The top brands are Grizzly, Jet, Delta, Flatmaster, Powermatic and few others.

What are drum sander plans?

These are detailed instructable for building drum sanders.

How do you operate a drum sander?

before you turning on the machine, begin by setting the stage. Check your floor for protruding nails and gaps or cracks that need repair, and also, sweep your floor. Preparation also includes ensuring you have ear and eye protection, a dust mask and that your room is well-ventilated because sanding is dusty, noisy and messy. Once you get everything ready, roll the drum sander out. One method of sanding is diagonal sanding, starting from one corner to the opposite one, turning round and going back while ensuring you tilt the sander when turning. Start over from the adjacent corner so that you make sure you sand the entire room. When using coarse sandpaper, redo the floor again, with medium and finally fine sandpaper. For places the drum sander cannot reach, you will require an edge sander to finish the job.

How do know when to change the abrasive?

Abrasives have distinct lifespans; most drum sander belts are made to last between 250 and 300 square feet and edger discs must be changed for each 20 linear feet. Incase your paper is glazing or loading well before the scheduled expiration, that’s a sign that you started off with a very fine a grit for the task – throw it away and begin with a new piece at a lower grit. Well, the sharper the paper, the more efficiently and quickly it will cut.

Do drum sanders require maintenance? If yes, what are those?

Yes, they do. Below are a few maintenance tips;

  • Check your wheels daily. They do collect debris and old finish, especially if you use it a lot to remove old finish or to sand pine floors. To clean its wheels, prop the machine up and use a hand-scraper to get rid of any old finish.
  • Periodically check the machine has even pressure. A great way of doing this is by using a dark sheet of 4 by 8 foot Masonite in a flat surface. Drop your drum down to the Masonite for a full impression. The mark the abrasive leaves ought to be perfectly uniform.
  • Most machines have drum-pressure screws which get so dirty that cannot unscrew them—so take your time to unscrew as well as blow them off.
  • For big machines with vented motors, unscrew their covers once each month and blow them out, too. If the start switch and capacitors get dirty, the machines experience problems starting.
  • As each day ends, loosen the belts, and loosen or remove the abrasive.
  • Make sure you check the strain relief in the cord periodically. ensure it still holds the cord, otherwise, it may pull the wires on.
  • Ensure the drum sander gets the right voltage on each job.