Stumpy Nubs "Original Drum Sander"

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Project by BrentH posted 07-27-2015 06:10 PM 2721 views 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After “My First Wood Turning Project” (see my list of projects), I realized that if I was going to get serious about “tooling up” for wood turning, I was going to need a thickness sander.

The biggest challenge I had in setting up for turning my first segmented bowl was getting a uniform thickness of each layer. Using a belt sander just wasn’t cutting it, as only being able to sand half of the ring at a time was making it hard to get it to a uniform & exact thickness.

I looked around at various sanders, and quickly decided that building was going to be better (and obviously cheaper) than buying, since drum sanders start at about $600.

My Internet searching lead me to Stumpy Nubs’ website, and I liked the idea of his “Original Drum Sander”, and it does work perfectly for my purpose. However, I’m not sure I’d recommend this project to others. I think even Stumpy figured out there were better ideas out there, as about the time I was finishing mine he introduced his “New Drum Sander”, which seems much improved.

Some things I learned from this project:

1) All plans aren’t created equal. This was just a set of drawings, no hints or instructions included. When I first downloaded the plans, I was thinking “Where’s the rest of them?”

2) It pays to study the plans carefully before cutting. There were some errors in dimensions on these plans that would have caused frustration and wasted material if I had just barged ahead.

3) Ideas (and even drawings) aren’t always from the real world. I don’t think a set of bearing blocks exist that would work on this sander as drawn on the plans. It took innovation to make mine work. In my case, I had to cut down the bearing blocks. I noticed that even the sander Stumpy demonstrated in his video was different from the way the plans pictured it.

4) Using 4” PVC for the sanding drum worked for me only because I have a metal lathe that I could use for truing them. The idea of using a board-mounted, flat sheet of sandpaper to true them up as the drum was spinning didn’t work for me at all.

5) The dust collection was, sorry to say, a joke. There just simply isn’t enough room to connect a suitably sized hose to move any air. So now when I use this I roll it outside and stand upwind. That’s part of the reason for the stand I built for it, which has casters with brakes.

Having said all that, I enjoyed the project. It took some innovating, but that’s part of the fun. As I said, it trues the thickness of my segmented rings and other items perfectly. Thumbs up to Stumpy for the idea and design.

-- Brent H. --"This retirement stuff is hard work. I need to go get a job so I can get some rest!"

6 comments so far

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

1696 posts in 485 days

#1 posted 07-27-2015 08:00 PM

Uh oh. You made my brain itch. So I scratched it. And here’s what came out:
A dust shroud that clamps over the roller on top entirely to suck the dust up.
A floor squeegee style shop vac attachment that hooks on the bar in front of the roller (like the shroud on a planer, more or less), aimed up to suck the dust down when using the top.
Collect that dust so you can stay inside in the shade when the wind isn’t blowing outside, or when the weather won’t admit of being outside.
I saw the Stumpy video on this machine. Yours looks less complicated, somehow and inspires me to mebees build one. As it is, I have a 12” sanding disc for the lathe. How did you motorize it? And, can the lower table be tilted for sanding tapered laminations?

Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though ‘twere his own. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Co-opted tagline. I’m collecting them.)

-- Mark

View JoeinGa's profile


7379 posts in 1428 days

#2 posted 07-27-2015 08:29 PM

Wow. That looks fantastic. You may be “new” here on LJs, but you sure as heck aint no NOOBIE woodworker ! :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Redoak49's profile


1820 posts in 1410 days

#3 posted 07-27-2015 09:30 PM

Very nicely done…good at working thru the problems.

View BrentH's profile


58 posts in 461 days

#4 posted 07-28-2015 10:01 AM

Hi Mark: Good ideas on the shroud and/or vacuum attachment. Probably would be an improvement, although the limited size of the vacuum attachment port might still be too restrictive. If I had been smart enough to think of making me a simple sanding disk for my lathe, I may not have needed to build this at all, but it has come in handy.

Actually, mine is probably a little more complicated than Stumpy’s, unless you are referring to his “New Drum Sander, which is entirely different. There are several things I added or changed, such as enclosing the belt for safety, making a sliding “box” instead of just a board (for better precision) for the sanding height adjustment fulcrum; and making a removable side cover so I could use a regular V-belt instead of a segmented belt. The motor sits inside under the sanding height-adjustment table. Speaking of, I couldn’t find a used motor that was decent, so I ending up buying a new one from Harbor Freight for about $85, (using their ubiquitous 20% off coupon). The motor was bigger than would fit in the space provided by the plans (I think most motors would be) so I added 2” of vertical height to the unit to make room for it.

The lower table can’t be tilted for tapered laminations. Hadn’t thought of that but don’t know how I would have done that anyway. I’m still scratching my head about that one.

One thing about this project: tolerances are critical. Stumpy planned for some adjustment to the sanding drum, but it’s not much, and probably wouldn’t be enough to compensate for a sloppy build. Also, given that the design is an open one (only one side vertically supported), there was naturally some vibration, so I added a removable vertical support to the open side (that’s the white board). The holes in that board are slightly oversized so as to still allow for the drum alignment adjustment. I can always take it off should I ever need to sand something wider than 18”, but I don’t see that to be likely anyway.

One last little afterthought for anyone who builds this or something similar: Replacing the sandpaper on the drum can be a little tricky. The end of the sandpaper roll needs to tuck in between the inside of the sanding drum and the drive disk as the drum is slid into place, which can be a pain. I solved that problem by using those little “glue spots” (google “Elmer’s Craft Bond Glue Spots”). Works great. One more thing: Harbor Freight’s sandpaper rolls work well on this. Just cut to size. Cheap, too.

-- Brent H. --"This retirement stuff is hard work. I need to go get a job so I can get some rest!"

View StumpyNubs's profile


6830 posts in 2222 days

#5 posted 07-28-2015 04:47 PM

WOW- looks great!

This was my first drum sander design (as you noted) and mine worked well, but it wasn’t very practical for many people to build. As you noted, even a slightly sloppy build would lead to problems. The biggest was keeping the drum parallel to the table. The open side design is very difficult to achieve with wooden parts, and calls for a high level of precision. In the end, I realized that people who build their own drum sanders don’t usually NEED 36” of sanding width, so the open side wasn’t really worth it. So I created a new version.

The new sander design has a closed side and adds a hand cranked feed belt. It also includes what I think is the best feature of both designs (and one I have never seen on a homemade sander other than mine)- access to the top of the drum. I use that feature the most by far! The new sander plans are also very detailed, including photos and step by step instructions. I agree with you that the original plans were lacking.

Anyway, the sander looks great! Thanks for sharing it!

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View BrentH's profile


58 posts in 461 days

#6 posted 07-28-2015 07:49 PM

Thanks, Stumpy. Proof again that “great minds think alike!”

No regrets at all about this sander. As I mentioned, it works perfectly for me, and it was a fun, challenging, and yet not-really-all-that-difficult a project, thanks to your straight forward design. Just took some thinking.

After I recently saw your new one, I thought for a moment, “Darn! I should have built that one!” Maybe so, but I’m satisified with what I have and best of all, it’s already built. I moved on to making segmented bowls which was the whole point in the first place.

Speaking of which… I have to go now. My current project has just been mounted on my lathe and is anxiously waiting. :-)

P.S. I enjoy your show. Please keep it up!

-- Brent H. --"This retirement stuff is hard work. I need to go get a job so I can get some rest!"

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