Mom visited a couple of weeks back for 10 days. She tends to come out once per year in the summer to see me, her only son. She helped me replace some broken things in my continuing “everything’s breaking” period (broke a bit last week on the mill – pricey, too – my computer a week or two before that, and my TV shortly before that, sigh…). Then over dinner for her birthday somewhere nice we talked about woodworking, and my idea for making some things like cutting boards that I can sell. She asked what I needed to make that happen in any kind of feasible time period, as I’m now working full time, and it’s harder and harder to find hours free in the shop. I mentioned that the one thing that would help a lot would be a drum sander.
The next day we took a trip to Rockler to check them out. They were 2x the starting price I had misremembered ($500ish, not $250ish), and they were out of the 10” wide model. I was ready to go when she surprised me by saying “What about this 16-inch model?” She got it for me for my birthday, which is next month. This is another reason for me not to get married and have kids. All that grandkid money is funneling directly to me! evil laughter
She really is way too nice to me. I have to make this (and all the other stuff she made way more awesome during her visit) up to her this year somehow. She even got me some boxes of grits:
They come in rolls:
I figured eventually I’d get one, but I really thought it wouldn’t be for at least a year, probably a few. I’m still kind of amazed 2 weeks on that this thing is in my shop. It’s unbelievably useful.
I’ve used it almost every day since for about an hour or two per day. I’ve made about 6 different boards with it from various scraps (which I’ll post soon). I’ve cleaned up a bunch of boards from pallets, revealing in a few instances some very pretty wood beneath the grease and grime. I even realized the scraps I save that no one would use, like the 1” thick, mostly bark scrap from the first flat-sawn board from some logs (Chinese elm, e.g.) can be cleaned up into usable pieces. I’ve fed quite a bit thorugh here that simply cannot be put in a planer, and it seems to handle end-grain glue-ups with almost no tearout, though more testing is called for in this area (and tonight I begin on that!).
Switching grits takes about 30-45 seconds, and isn’t unpleasant at all, so I’ve been back and forth between them 2 dozen times now at least. This totally changes how I can work, too. I can do things I wouldn’t, because they’d be such a hassle to clean up later. I fed a 13” diameter log round through it from some Modesto ash, a sister piece to the top I made for this cake stand. 16” is a very useful dimension! Cutting boards fit easily through it, and I can make a second pass with the board spun around 180° to get up to 36” wide sanding. I even put a small piece of aluminum through it today, and it worked well.
I love this thing. It’s WAY more quiet than the planer, and much safer. I almost left the shop with it still running once, because when it’s on it makes almost no noise whatsoever. Some old refrigerators hum louder than this machine. It’s very well balanced.
Here’s a crummy board from a stack of pallet wood:
It turned out to be beautiful underneath, with shimmering chatoyance. I didn’t immediately recognize it until I caught the wonderful, slightly fruity smell. The drum sander warms the wood a bit, making it even more fragrant. It’s alder.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator