Who Can Make a Benchtop Drum Sander?

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Forum topic by ChipOffTheOldBlock posted 12-24-2015 07:30 AM 1506 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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65 posts in 1736 days

12-24-2015 07:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip resource jig sanding sander

I’ve noticed at least a half dozen folks have built their own benchtop drum sander. As I look to furnish my shop with what I call “secondary” tools – or, the tools that I don’t think are core to the shop like a table saw or drill press – I find myself in need of a drum sander.

The problem is, however, this seems to be a tool where its cost far exceeds it’s value (IMO). From my research, it doesn’t appear that a variety of drum sanders exist at pricing echelons as with other tools like (coincidentally) a table saw or drill press. The entry point for this market is around $600-700. Even if that were in my budget, it does not seem like a reasonable price for this particular piece of equipment.

To set some context, I am more of a hobbyist and while I do have some relatively decent quality level tools, I shy away from buying equipment that a professional or super enthusiast may acquire. For example, I have a Ridgid 4512 table saw, the Incra Router Table system, a couple of Festool tools (midi, jigsaw, sander), but not a $1,200 Jet Planer or a $2,000 Sawstop table saw.

All of this said, and I apologize for the lengthy pretext, I thought it may serve my and someone else’s mutual interest to pose a request for one to commission a homemade benchtop drum sander, where I’d be willing to pay for all materials, shipping, and of course some kind of labor/profit add-on to make the offer more appealing. Of course, this proposal would be moot if the costs of these line items is close to, the same, or more than an off the shelf product.

I know some of you may ask/think, “why don’t you just build one yourself?”. Well, frankly, I don’t think I have the skills or desire to build one myself as opposed to the stack of projects already in my queue.

If anyone is interested in building and then selling me a benchtop drum sander, please send me a message and we can talk specifics.

Alternatively, I’d be interested to hear anyone’s thoughts on my thinking here; does anyone share the same sentiment regarding shop equipment or drum sanders in particular? Has anyone considered purchasing or selling shop made equipment (e.g., Blake’s router table)? Any feedback or advice on drum sanders?

Thanks for your time.

-- "Excellence is a thousand things done just a little bit better"

26 replies so far

View tomsteve's profile


784 posts in 1217 days

#1 posted 12-24-2015 10:47 AM

you will end up paying as much or more to have someone build you one. theres quite a few hours involved in construction of a drum sander. even if a shop labor rate was $20/hr, which would be very low, 40 hours of labor is $800 labor alone. then materials,overhead, and profit…...

how much you willing to spend?

View rwe2156's profile


2925 posts in 1478 days

#2 posted 12-24-2015 12:46 PM

What he ^ said. I don’t know how you an commission something like this. What if you get it in your shop and there are problems?

I would look for used equipment.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2512 days

#3 posted 12-24-2015 12:51 PM

I agree with the above sentiments.
Also, concerning it being a piece of equipment that will not be used up to its value? I think myself I have passed on multiple projects, (quality end grain cutting boards come to mind), since I don’t have one basically because I just don’t have any more room in my humble 11’X24’ shop.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View cracknpop's profile


294 posts in 2346 days

#4 posted 12-24-2015 01:19 PM

I hunted for and found a Jet 16-32 open ended drum sander on Craigslist ($600) because I needed it to make some 30” counter tops. Figured I would use it on one project and then resell on CL. WOW, there are a lot of projects I have used that on since. Probably won’t give it up unless I come across a good 22-44 for a fair price.

You might reconsider the thought of a drum sander being a “secondary” or seldom used tool.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View Sprung's profile


94 posts in 1714 days

#5 posted 12-24-2015 01:53 PM

Chip, I’ve been considering building my own drum sander for over 2 years now – and hope to finally make it happen in 2016. I’ve looked at pictures and builds of more shop built drum sanders than I can count and have read through a number of sets of plans or detailed build records. When you start pricing out materials, you’re looking at $300 to $400 to build one yourself – the largest expense being a motor to power it, unless you have a motor on hand already. (I do – two, actually – which will dramatically decrease my cost to build one for myself.)

By the time you look at paying someone a fair price for their labor, your commissioned drum sander build will, as the above have mentioned, cost you at least as much as a new one.

If the price is too much for you, keep your eye out for a used one. Even with plans to build one, I’ve been keeping my eye out for a used one at a good price.

And, if you know how to use the tools you’ve mentioned having in your shop, you should easily be able to build a drum sander. It’s also something that would be a good skill builder to build – plan out the whole build ahead of time, take your time, etc.

I also agree with Rick – once you have a drum sander, I doubt you’ll view it as a “secondary” tool. Having been able to use someone else’s drum sander on occasion, I know that once I have a drum sander, I’ll likely be using it on just about every project I make. It have a small shop (13’x23’), but will certainly make room in my shop for a drum sander when that day comes.

-- Matt, SW MN,

View PeteStaehling's profile


51 posts in 1117 days

#6 posted 12-24-2015 02:00 PM

You might reconsider the thought of a drum sander being a “secondary” or seldom used tool.

I agree. I guess it depends on your work, but I’d give up my table saw before I’d give up my thickness sander. My band saw is my most crucial tool, but the thickness sander is pretty important to my work.

View fuigb's profile (online now)


481 posts in 2955 days

#7 posted 12-24-2015 02:22 PM

Someone ping Mattias over at Wood Gears. Bet he could come up with something that would kick butt.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 2983 days

#8 posted 12-24-2015 02:26 PM

I have yet to find any item that can be purchased on commission for less than a mass produced version. The mass production system eliminates as much skilled labor as possible to drive costs down. Commissioning an item is all about skilled labor doing everything, so of course it will cost more. Also, a private party shipping something like that will cost more than getting it shipped from someone like Grizzly. From what I have read, making one isn’t that bad. I need to make one for my guitar building, as my planer doesn’t do terribly well on figured woods.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View 2ndFloor's profile


4 posts in 886 days

#9 posted 12-24-2015 02:39 PM

I agree with the above. I have seen and purchased a used unit for $200 range. Just have to be in a a position to pull the trigger when it comes up. It took me about 6-8 months to find one in the price range I would spend. Once I did get it, I use it on most projects, saves lots of sanding. Good luck

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2795 days

#10 posted 12-24-2015 02:50 PM

You didn’t mention if you had a lathe. If you do, this one is cheap and easy to build (~$100) and works very well.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View jmartel's profile


7891 posts in 2147 days

#11 posted 12-24-2015 03:04 PM

Thanks for the link, Paul. I’d forgotten about that. Now that I have a lathe, I should make one.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1678 days

#12 posted 12-24-2015 04:07 PM

Why not look for plans and follow those? I know Stumby Nubs has two different ones and there is one I tend to remember seeing in I believe ShopNotes a few years back that you can probably buy on their site. There might be a few others out there but those are the two that come to mind. With a good set of plans it would take a lot of the guess work out of the process and make it something I think most woodworkers could tackle.

View Todd's profile


398 posts in 1674 days

#13 posted 12-24-2015 05:42 PM

If you can build any kind of furniture or other woodworking project of any complexity, you can build this.

Click for details: Flatsander (V drum sander)

I didn’t even have any plans. I have yet to have much of a need for a thickness sander so this addresses 95% of what I would need a drum sander for.

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

View JAAune's profile


1798 posts in 2314 days

#14 posted 12-24-2015 06:57 PM

I can probably build one for about $10,000 if you’re interested. It’ll take a couple iterations and a couple thousand in materials to work out the bugs and get something of similar quality to a manufactured machine. There will also be a few months of waiting for this to happen.

Or just open up Craigslist and find something ready to go. The sprockets, chain, motor, bearings to build a single machine will probably cost at least $400 and that’s before labor and design time get factored in.

Lastly, if the value isn’t justifying the expense, you really don’t need the tool. Random orbit sanders can get a person pretty far in most types of work.

-- See my work at and

View MrUnix's profile


6709 posts in 2196 days

#15 posted 12-24-2015 07:07 PM

Google treadmill drum sander or treadmill belt sander for some ideas on how to build one fairly cheap. Treadmills show up quite frequently for free or very, very cheap and have most everything you would need to build one.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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