|Project by mileskimball||posted 02-01-2016 03:19 PM||1417 views||0 times favorited||4 comments|
I’m gearing up to try making ukuleles. One of the challenges is getting the stock for the soundboard, back, and sides thin enough. My planer goes down to 1/8” (about 3mm) – the stock needs to be around 1.5-2mm (~3/64ths). I did a couple of test soundboards by hand, with planes, scrapers, and sandpaper. It takes longer than I’d like, my hands got sore, I pulled a muscle in my thumb…
I know now why luthiers use big drum/surface sanders!
However, those are cost-prohibitive, and I didn’t really want to invest the time in building my own shopmade drum sander, as some have done (http://woodgears.ca/reader/walters/drum_sander.html)
So instead, I figured I’d just build a frame for my old belt sander. The sander is held to the top of the frame with a couple of brackets, and a table mounted on opposing wedges adjusts the thickness. A crank and a 3/8” threaded rod pull or push the table up or down the wedges about 1/20th of 1/64th” per crank turn – pretty precise! The table is an old piece of laminated countertop I had lying around. This helps because it’s slippery.
To use the sander I just push the wood in under the belt against the direction of rotation – it spits it back out, then I just kind of go back and forth until it stops cutting. Then turn the crank and do some more until I get to the desired thickness, flipping the wood as necessary until everything is evenly thicknessed. It’s kind of like a metal worker’s planishing hammer or english wheel, but for woodworking. Of course, you don’t want to take too big of a bite at one time.
Dust collection (not shown) is through the sander’s integral dust port.
The cost: $0, since it was all built from scrap and an old tool I don’t use much anymore.