|Review by Wiley||posted 07-01-2010 04:25 AM||5368 views||1 time favorited||28 comments|
This has been my dream tool since about two weeks after I started woodworking. I had a 9” tabletop bandsaw, a $25 Craigslist router, and a bunch of oak flooring that was in the garage when we bought the house. I managed to resaw that wood flooring into closish-to1/4” stock, and then I sat there with a Black & Decker Mouse trying to get rid of the saw marks. It generally took about an hour per 2”x12” piece of wood.
Then I was at Rockler one day for my weekly class, and we had a slightly cupped board. The teacher showed us how to remove the cup by putting it through the drum sander. I was completely hooked. The next week I brought in all of my little washboarded planks of oak. One after the other, I put them through the drum sander, and they came out smooth, just like that. And I swore to myself that someday, I would have one of these of my very own.
About a week ago, that finally came true, and I came home with a Performax 16-32 Plus that I got on craigslist for $500. It’s completely brilliant. There are already plenty of reviews out there for the Jet/Performax line of sanders, so let me just add my own idiosyncratic observations.
1. This is an absolutely wonderful tool for reclaiming scrap. When you do as much resawing as I do, you end up with a fair amount of weird little thin sheets lying about, not to mention wedge-shaped ones where the drift went weird, and with the drum sander you can turn all of them into usable wood of a uniform thickness. You’d be surprised how often you can find a use for an 1/8” piece of wood as long as it’s truly 1/8” and will fit well into a dado. And when you have a 30” board that’s 3/16” at one end and 9/16” at the other, you can save most of it by sand it down to 3/8”, cutting off the smooth bit, sanding it down to 1/4”, cutting off the smooth bit, and so on. Can you tell I’m a real miser when it comes to wasting wood?
2. It’s worth getting a set of really good calipers to use with it. The built in gauge isn’t very accurate at all, but with a good set of calipers and some patience all my resawn boards are now within about a hundredth of an inch of the thickness I’m going for by the time they’re done in the sander.
3. Even using fairly fine sandpaper, it’s likely to leave lines on your wood. If you really don’t want lines, you can try really fine sandpaper (I haven’t, but it might work) or go for one of the fancier oscillating versions. But they aren’t bad and you’re going to be sanding the finished project anyway, so I wouldn’t let it bother you.
4. The dust collection is fantastic. With my 2HP Harbor Freight dust collector, I ended up with about two cubic feet of sawdust in the dust collector and about a teaspoon of sawdust on the floor. And that mostly came from opening the dust collection cover and having some that had hidden in a corner fall out.
5. I always make sure to sand along the grain. Because the saw marks are generally perpendicular to the grain, this makes it much easier to tell when all the saw marks are gone. Not only does that indicate a smooth board, it also indicates a uniform thickness.
6. It’s really not as hard to change the sandpaper as you might think. As long as you’re using Jet’s pre-cut sandpaper or sandpaper you’ve cut using the Jet paper as a template, it’s fairly intuitive. I managed to get it all lined up first go, and I’m hardly an expert.
7. It is much, much quieter than a planer. I’ve only heard one planer in operation, but even with ear plugs I could barely get within ten feet of the damn thing. I wouldn’t run the sander while trying to make a phone call, but as power tools go it’s pretty quiet. And the noise it makes is much more of a low-frequency shushing noise than a grating, high-pitched planer noise. Plus, there’s no problem with tearout on figured woods. If you routinely take stock from 3/4 to 1/2” on your planer, the sander’s probably going to be too slow for you, but if you just use a planer for smoothing and fine tuning the thickness of wood, this is a lovely and relatively quiet alternative.
That’s all I can think of at the moment, I’ll update this post as I use it more.
-- "When you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think straight" - Inherit the Wind