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Drum Sander or Surface Planer

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Forum topic by Wondermutt posted 02-09-2016 04:24 PM 944 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Wondermutt

69 posts in 322 days


02-09-2016 04:24 PM

I have been sitting on the fence for the last few months on which one would serve a greater purpose for what I do. Given the type of work I do, which direction would you go? Here we go:

First off, I am a hobbist. I do not do this for a living nor do I generate a revenue stream from woodworking. What I use wood working for is a way to wind down and do projects. My wife loves the product she is getting and I have been making some killer Christmas gifts.

Most of my projects require some sort of milling. Most of it is to true up hardwoods to the same thinkness. Meaning flatten up cutting boards, etc. Most of the time, it never requires that I remove no more than 1/8” from either side of the project. Here is the rub. Most of my projects are over 17” wide so should I go the route of a thickness planer, I would need quite a hog of a machine.

I have been looking at the JET 16-32 and its cousins. On the planer side, well, I would need a machine nearly double the cost. On a side note. I have gotten very proficient with a #6 and jack plane, but man, there has to ben an easier way. :)

So there ya go. Which directions would you go? If I have missed something, please point me in that direction.

Thanks

WM


22 replies so far

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Kazooman

628 posts in 1417 days


#1 posted 02-09-2016 04:44 PM

As I am certain you know, the two machines serve different purposes. The drum sander is really intended to be used for final flattening and smoothing of the surface. Trying to remove even as little as 1/8” would be a real chore. The drum sander really shines for end grain projects. Most people agree that it is not a good idea to run end grain through a surface planer.

I owned a surface planer for a long time before getting a drum sander. It allows you to purchase rough milled stock and then plane it to exactly the dimension you want. You can save a lot of money by going with rough stock instead of paying someone to mill it for you. The width of your projects does present a challenge, but most things can be done in sections with a final glue up.

I would recommend the Dewalt DW735 planer. It does a great job. It costs much less than the Jet drum sander. I have the DW735 and the Jet 16-32. If I could only keep one it would be the planer. I made a lot of end grain cutting boards before getting the drum sander. Rough flattening with a belt sander and final with the ROS works ,fine.

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Fred Hargis

3945 posts in 1958 days


#2 posted 02-09-2016 04:46 PM

Stay with a planer, you will be really disappointed bu how slow a drum sander is at removing stock. They have their use, but not for planing…besides which a good DC is required for a DS; it generates mountains of very fine dust. So if you don’t have a DC that would add to the cost.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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Kelly

1113 posts in 2409 days


#3 posted 02-09-2016 04:52 PM

I’ve owned and operated commercial and lesser planers. Now, I have a lunchbox planer (Delta). If it died, it would be replaced with the same or the upper end Dewalt.

Planers run a whole lot less than drum sanders. They even run a lot less than my drum-disc sander. While I love the idea of having a drum sander, my first choice would be what got the wood down to the dimensions I needed. That would include a jointer and a thirteen inch planer. The step, after those, would be the wide belt sander.

These things said, a planer would be a horrible choice for cutting boards, since, planer size aside, it would be little more than an investment in a grenade, of sorts, if you were doing end grain boards. As such, and presuming you are or will be doing end grain boards, for your purpose, it seems the belt is the only way to go.

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Wondermutt

69 posts in 322 days


#4 posted 02-09-2016 05:11 PM

Thanks guys. I was wondering about using the drum sander in place of a planer for surfacing or milling.

What started this quest was pure economics. As of now, its costing me about 75 to 100 dollars to get my work planed at a local cabinet shop.

I had not considered a lunchbox planer and multiple glue UPS and sitting here thinking about it, it would pay for a itself in short order. Since I am doing most of my planing by hand it’s not a bad option.

I do have a dust collector buts its a creation my neighbor used. He packed up and moved back to California and he gave a me a killer deal on it before he moved and will some day upgrade that.

Thanks again for your input. Lots and of good advise here. It’s appreciated.

WM

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splintergroup

829 posts in 687 days


#5 posted 02-09-2016 05:23 PM

I have both, bought a lunch box planer before a 16/32 Performax.

By far, I use the DS more than the planer, however I do buy rough sawn lumber and the planer is the ‘go-to’ tool there.

Given that my planer is in a cabinet and to use it I need to drag it out and clamp it down, I only use it when really necessary. There have been times that I needed 1/4” removed and have put the 36 grit paper on to the DS to get it close, followed by the finer grits. It works and doesn’t take too long, but definitely not optimal.

The DS is always the last tool used in thicknessing boards.

Given your statement (and an unlimited budget), I’d get a 18/36 or wider DS. You can do so much with them. My DS is the second most used major tool after the table saw.

You can save some money by getting a narrower cantilevered DS and making a flip pass, but that will usually require a touch of cleanup.

For 1/2 the cost, you can get a good planer, but would still need to do some edge glueups with the added cleanup since lunchbox planers usually stop around 13”.

Drum sanders are way overpriced compared to planers, so given a more modest budget the best bet would be a (good) planer and a good ROS for removing the planer marks.

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Kelly

1113 posts in 2409 days


#6 posted 02-09-2016 05:32 PM

P.S. [Regarding my post, above, and your original post]

I presumed, when you are talking of taking down up to 1/8”, you are not saying the entire board has to be taken down that much. For example, a single, end grain block or board might be sitting proud of the others. As such, this would be far less work for the sander.

The only hassle I see is, changing from 36 grit to …........., as you worked toward an end product.

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Wondermutt

69 posts in 322 days


#7 posted 02-09-2016 05:33 PM

I wish I had an unlimited budget. That’s the problem. If I can present it as a tool that will pay for itself the wife may give the nod. Since I had a HF router bit bearing explode and embed itself in my shop timbers, I have been given a little more latitude when buying tools…. Not carte Blanche but reasonable price.

The cabinet shop I use has a big ol hawg of a DS and its their go to tool as well. I realize I could never afford such a tool but it got me thinking.

You are spot in Kelly.

Thanks again

WM

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8255 posts in 2893 days


#8 posted 02-09-2016 05:45 PM

WM, you might consider a router sled for the wider stuff or end grain boards. The Wood Whisperer has a You Tube video showing how he levels a work bench with a router. His process will be easy to adapt to a smaller scale.
I have a DeWalt 635 and it serves most of my needs but, the router sled comes in handy for the larger pieces.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View moke's profile

moke

861 posts in 2241 days


#9 posted 02-09-2016 05:47 PM

Maybe I have missed something, but WM, you are not talking about planing a completed end grain cutting board, right? Running one of those though a planer, lunch box or otherwise is a bad idea…ie: it could result in the scar I have on my left hand, as it spit it back out at mach 2, as it happened to me about 20 years ago…..

Forgive me if I misunderstood….
Mike

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Wondermutt

69 posts in 322 days


#10 posted 02-09-2016 05:48 PM

Hi Gene. I really wish I had the data plan to go on you tube. But we have 3 phones and 2gig of data so I am not much of a internet guy especially one that uses High amounts of data. I do appreciate the direction though.

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Wondermutt

69 posts in 322 days


#11 posted 02-09-2016 05:52 PM

Mike: nope. I would not do that but I get the spirit of the replies. No harm in a guy lending some advise when it comes to power tools and safety. It’s something I always encourage and embrace.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2155 days


#12 posted 02-10-2016 01:26 AM

I agree with most of the above posts. I have 2 planers and use them to thickness rough stock (with the notable exception of highly figured stock which I thickness with my drum sanders). It is much slower than planing but you won’t get any tearout that can ruin a highly figured (and expensive) board in a nanosecond.

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

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8255 posts in 2893 days


#13 posted 02-10-2016 02:52 AM

WM,
Here’s a picture of one exactly like mine

except I use a 3 hp router and a 3” wide bottom cleaning bit.

Time wise, it falls between a planer and the drum sander. It being quite a bit faster than the sander and somewhat slower than the planer.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

818 posts in 385 days


#14 posted 02-10-2016 03:01 AM

Wondermutt,

For the wife: Since planing at the local cabinet shop costs $75 per project; 13.3 projects costs $1000, 26.6 projects cost $2000, and 40 projects cost $3000. Somewhere in there the economic woman will be on board with you buying a planer.

I used a Dewalt belt sander with a sanding frame to flush up glues-ups for quite a while. The sanding frame makes the belt sander act like a hand held power planer. The sanding frame encircles the belt on the sander and the depth of sanding can be adjusted. The frame prevents gouging, since the sander does not tip. When using the sanding frame, only the high spots are removed while leaving the low spots untouched.

By the way, a new Woodmaster 18” wide planer costs $3000. I am guessing a belt sander with a sanding frame is no more than $300.

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gfadvm

14940 posts in 2155 days


#15 posted 02-10-2016 03:21 AM

JBrow, I have been looking for a sanding frame and it appears they are no longer sold by DeWalt or Makita (both used to sell them).

That 18” WoodMaster planer can also be had with an 18” sanding drum (as well as several other accessories). It is a great tool for surfacing rough sawn lumber/slabs as the 5 HP motor doesn’t mind hogging off material.

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

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