An oscillating spindle sander and a drum sander both contain a drum and have the goal of smoothening rough surfaces. However, their similarities end there.

Simply put, different tasks require the application of the different type of sanders. While one job may attain perfection when an oscillating spindle sander is used, another may require a drum sander and nothing else.

In this short piece, we tell you when to pick an oscillating spindle sander, as opposed to trusting a drum sander. But, before going into that, let us take a look at the main differences between an oscillating spindle sander and a drum sander.

Oscillating Spindle Sander VS Drum Sander

The most fundamental difference between an oscillating spindle sander and a drum sander is, of course, the oscillation part. While an oscillating spindle sander possesses the ability to oscillate or to move up and down during its operation, a drum sander does not.

Oscillating Spindle Sander
Wen Oscillating Spindle Sander

Basically, a spindle sander works by rotating its drum and performing up and down motions simultaneously. Due to this reason, a wooden piece gets exposed to pretty much every portion of the drum. However, the same cannot be said about a drum sander as there is no oscillation in the picture. This gives the oscillating spindle sander a somewhat better ability to perform its tasks very evenly, without causing any unnecessary marks.

Another difference between the two woodworking tools is their size. Typically, oscillating spindle sanders tend to be smaller compared to drum sanders. While a member of the former kind may feature a drum of only 4-inches of height with a diameter of 2-inches, a member of the latter kind may boast of a drum of 8-inches of height with a diameter of 4-inches, or more.

In addition to the above, oscillating spindle sanders tend to be significantly less powerful compared to drum sanders. A truly powerful drum sander may be able to provide as much as 10HP or 15HP. However, even the best of spindle sanders assure power of only 1HP.

See Our Picks for Best Oscillating Spindle Sanders for 2017

The One Thing Spindle Sanders Can Do That Drum Sanders Cannot

As is evident from the above differences, despite a spindle sander and a drum sander utilising the same technology, their basic mechanism differs. As a result, their applications differ drastically, too.

The job of a spindle sander is to make odd surfaces smooth, whereas the job of a drum sander is to make ordinary plain surfaces smooth. Owing to the small size and oscillating motion, a spindle sander can deal with arcs and curves pretty easily. Contours and other shapes can be tackled by a spindle sander without a problem, as well. The same does not hold true for a drum sander. What this means is that if your job involves requiring to sand odd surfaces on a regular basis, a drum sander cannot help you much, but a spindle sander certainly can.

Both spindle sanders and drums sanders are great tools in their own right. However, to harness their abilities to the fullest, it is important to respect their boundaries.

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