How about the Sand-Flee?

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Blog entry by thebigvise posted 09-20-2011 12:52 AM 1439 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am looking for a technique to do face jointing (I am limited by a 6” jointer) of wide pieces (~12”) of highly-figured wood such as tiger maple. Any planer design is out of the question because of unavoidable uphill tearout on the multi-directional grain. A hand-held belt sander is out because of imperfect technique (e.g. rocking, listing to either side) and the resulting swirl marks. That leaves drum sanders. Using the usual overhead drum sander design, correcting a 1-mm cup in an 8” board may be difficult if the stabilizing rollers simply flatten the slight cup while the workpiece is passing through only to have the cup return on the outfeed side. The below-table design of the Sand-Flee, in theory, would allow its use as an abrasive jointer. Some reviewers say that this tool is overpriced and underpowered. I would appreciate the advice of my Lumberjocks friends.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

9 comments so far

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2947 days

#1 posted 09-20-2011 01:04 AM

I have a 9” sand flea that I used for boxes quite a bit. It was slow but performed for what I bought it for. Overall I would have to say kind of pricey and rather slow.
This summer I bought a Jet 16/32 and have been very well satisfied with it although I don’t try to flatten boards with it. If I was going to try and take a minor cup(1 mm) out of a board with it, I would probably attach it to another flat board with 2 sided tape and run it through the Jet. It seems to have plenty of power but is a tad slow. It cost more than twice what the “flea” cost.

-- Life is good.

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3011 days

#2 posted 09-20-2011 01:53 AM

You should search lumberjocks for shop built v-drum sanders.
They are about the simplest shop built tool that there is.
I have an 18” version that I made with a 2HP motor. It truly is an abrasive jointer with 40 grit installed.
Any questions shoot me a pm and I would be glad to try and help.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View jeth's profile


262 posts in 2862 days

#3 posted 09-20-2011 03:24 AM

You could try a router jig for flattening and then clean up with the drum sander, or just a ROS if you don’t already have the drum sander. There are numerous examples of the router setr up here in projects and on the forum, search router planer or router face jointing and you should see what I mean.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3183 days

#4 posted 09-20-2011 03:53 AM

Thickness with a planer and then smooth with No. 4 or No. 5 hand plane, depending on the size of the board. As much as I’d love a drum sander for this type of work, it’s hard for me to justify one when the hand planes are fast and effective. Just keep them sharp.

-- jay,

View scueplain's profile


42 posts in 2466 days

#5 posted 09-20-2011 05:02 AM

I had the same problem with some lacewood. I ended up taking it to be thickness sanded at a large cabinet shop. Cost 20 dollars for 4 boards.

-- Dave,Portland OR

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3185 days

#6 posted 09-20-2011 06:00 AM

A drum sander can be used to flatten your boards. I’m not sure what you mean by “stabilizing rollers”, those are on a planer, not a drum sander. If used correctly, a drum sander will not flex the board. If it is twisted, then you must stabalize it using a carrier board (like Howie mentioned for the planer). I typically ‘stabilize’ my boards with a hand plane or belt sander before running them through a jointer, planer, or drum sander.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#7 posted 09-20-2011 06:11 AM

The ‘stabilizing rollers’ in front and behind the sanding drum don’t press the board flat like the feed rollers on a planer. This allows you to flatten a board with a drum sander. This is a slow process unless you start with a very coarse grit [24-40]. After the board is flat then go through progressively finer grits to smooth. This too is a slow process but its the only way I have found with highly figured woods.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3011 days

#8 posted 09-21-2011 12:05 AM

Some drumsanders do have enough pressure on the “stabilizing rollers” to push a cup in the board flat only to cup again when it comes out of the machine. My Grizzly 24” dual drum sander is like this. On the 24” grizzly the drum rotation and conveyor rotation are the same. This is good in one way because you will never overload the conveyor motor with a heavy board. But bad in another way because the rollers must put more pressure on the board to prevent the sander from turning into a pitching machine.
I also have a Laguna 16-32 and the drum rotation is in the opposite direction of the conveyor. There is much less pressure on the rollers with the laguna.
Having said all of the above I don’t use either drum sander for removing cup. I use my V-drum like a jointer the finish with the drumsanders.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2925 days

#9 posted 09-22-2011 02:27 AM

Thanks to all of you for sharing your advice and experiences.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

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