First things first: I’m writing about something I did … I’m not saying you should do it. Use your own judgment and common sense! Read your manuals. If something seems dangerous, don’t do it. I’m no expert … not by a long shot, so don’t trust me over what your granddad told you or over what the little voice in your head tells you about keeping track of your digits and limbs. I welcome all supportive advice, feedback, and questions.
Recently I bought a used Performax 22-44 drum sander via Craigslist for $350. On the plus side, it came with a box of assorted sandpaper rolls; on the downside, the drive belt was shot all to heck (you need to keep an eye on how those belts track … and incidentally, before you shell out for a replacement, you might want to give Industrial Abrasives a call. They make belts to order at very competitive prices … as in less than half of the price other folks were quoting me. I’m not affiliated, just a very satisfied customer based on that one purchase).
Another downside was the condition of the dust shroud:
As you can see, it’s set up for a 2.5” Shop Vac hose rather than a 4” dust collection hose, and as the next picture reveals, it’s been rather chewed up:
I don’t see a 2.5” hose doing the job. Furthermore, I would imagine that the weight of the hose could have forced the plastic shroud into the sandpaper, which would make very short work of it. My new shroud helps with this, but I still prefer to suspend the hose from the ceiling. I would consider replacing it with plastic pipe to reduce resistance, but honestly, it does fine with the wavy hose, and I prefer to be able to wheel the sander out of the way when necessary. It’s got a pretty big footprint!
My first attempt at an improved shroud was to hack up a 6” PVC drain pipe fitting, one that had a 4” T coming out of the middle of it. I couldn’t make it work to my satisfaction as it was not pliable without heat, and working in the basement of my house with a torch and PVC seemed like a lousy idea. So I went to the hardware store and picked up a heavy gauge piece of snap-together metal duct, not the flimsy dryer stuff.
First I cut it to length with some snips and filed the cut edge smooth. Then I opened it up gently. Then I clamped it to the edge of a workbench with an inch or so left hanging over the edge, and a piece of scrap wood running above it even with the edge of the bench. With the palms of my hands I bend the edge outward, and then repeated on other side, to give the thing a kind of omega profile. If I had a sheet metal brake we wouldn’t be having this conversation!
The next step was to add dust collection. For that I used a PVC 45 degree elbow, placed just as the port was on the original. I used the sander itself to shape the edge of the elbow to approximate the contour of the shroud. I don’t imagine those fumes were very good for me, but I had a fan running.
I marked out my cut with a Sharpie, and then I got to work with a drill and some snips and made a hole in the shroud, leaving tabs to rivet to the elbow. My work here is pretty sloppy, but it’s effective. I know some of you would have bondo-ed the gaps and rivets and probably transferred the decals from the original to the new one, but my shop’s a shop, not a tool museum! I could have used some longer rivets, though, since they didn’t all bite. There’s probably a better way to do this, but hey, it worked. I’ll do better next time, if there’s a next time, which is unlikely.
So that’s the shroud. The original just lays on these metal ears, but with the weight of the 4” hose, I didn’t see how that was going to work securely. Therefore I got out my trusty Harbor Freight taps and made holes for wing screws. I ended up dropping the whole assembly down and doing this off the tool since I couldn’t get a straight shot at the tabs. If your drill and tap handles allow it, just do it on the machine (though I have to say reassembly wasn’t very hard).
The wing screws pictured are longer than they need to be, and by rights they need two nuts on each to serve as stops, since you really don’t want to screw down so far that you’re interfering with the movement of the drum. Once I had the holes drilled and tapped, I drilled matching holes in my homemade shroud. After that I was pretty much ready to go.
A few notes: I was fortunate in that I had the original shroud to work from. My new one sits so that it’s a little higher than the rollers on each side of the drum … in other words, it does not ride directly on the work (though I think it could do so without harm). I considered adding some plastic or rubber hose, sliced lengthwise, over the edges of the shroud, but as I keep my hands well clear of this thing in operation, the current setup feels safe enough to me as is, and black rubber might scuff up the work. With the right tools you could seam the edges, but as I said, I don’t think its urgent.
I hope this helps somebody. I love this machine! I’m building a kitchen full of cabinets out of maple right now, and I just ran a whole stack of face frame parts on edge through the thing to take off some burn marks. A couple of passes did the trick. I might even end up running the face frames through it if they need leveling … and the raised panel doors … and …