Sanding Plywood with a Drum Sander?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Phred posted 03-16-2010 07:01 PM 5922 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Phred's profile


53 posts in 3718 days

03-16-2010 07:01 PM

Hey There,

I just finished sanding and staining, and lacquering a whole bunch of Maple cabinets, and.. boy.. I’m tired of sanding…..

My question to those out there, can you, and do you use a drum sander to sand Cabinet grade plywood? I had to take the plywood down to 100 Grit, then 150 or it would blotch real bad. It took a HELL of a long time, and I’d rather like to avoid it for the next time, and I’m thinking about running the plywood through the drum sander, then a final sand with the RO sander to reduce some labour.

If not cabinet grade plywood, then would you sand Baltic Birch? (thicker top ply) I have a lot of drawers to sand now, and I just don’t want to. I’m thinking it’s time to buy a drum sander, but if it’s not a good idea to sand plywood, then I might just pickup a better RO sander.



-- But honey.. this new power tool will pay for itself when we re-do the kitchen!

12 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#1 posted 03-16-2010 07:27 PM

You can sand plywood any way you want as long as you don’t sand through the top layer of veneer. :-)

Smart a** answer, I know, but what I’m saying is all depends on the veneer thickness of the plywood. I’ve sanded some cheap plywood with a hand-held sanding block and gone through the first ply.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3660 days

#2 posted 03-16-2010 07:28 PM

Actually, sanding plywood was one of things I had in mind when I built my drum sander …

Haven’t used it for that purpose yet, but it takes such a light cut I think it might be the best way to avoid sanding through the top ply.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View PaulfromVictor's profile


228 posts in 3342 days

#3 posted 03-16-2010 07:29 PM

It would be easy to accidentally sand through the veneer, but you could carefully do it. I am not sure how much time you would save though, because, as you said, you will still need to ROS to eliminate the sanding pattern that the drum would leave.

If you want a drum sander, you can build one to your needs much cheaper than you can buy new. See my favorites for some drum sanders made by others. There is not much too them mechanically. I am currently building one with about a 20” capacity for a cost of a little over $400. If you have the time and inclination, it is a fun project.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3477 days

#4 posted 03-16-2010 08:10 PM

I agree with Charlie, you can sand anyway you want, but have to be careful not to sand too deep. For that reason I always sand plywood by hand. I find that using the 3M sanding pads works best and easiest.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Phred's profile


53 posts in 3718 days

#5 posted 03-17-2010 02:17 AM

I had a lot of trouble with this plywood, it seems the blotching was maybe from the glue/adhesive used under the veneer. (standard veneer core plywood, domestic) using a pre-stain solved the problem, but changed the colour too much. sanding thoroughly (drawing lines with a pencil then sanding off) seemed to solve the problem, but it sure was a lot of work!!

Just looking to save some time on the next one..

-- But honey.. this new power tool will pay for itself when we re-do the kitchen!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#6 posted 03-17-2010 02:41 AM

It is too darn easy to sand through the veneer. I’m very cautious when I sand plywood and I take a real minimalist approach.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View 747DRVR's profile


199 posts in 3353 days

#7 posted 03-17-2010 02:55 AM

If maple wants to blotch I dont see how sanding with a coarser grit and then going back up is going to help you.If you dont like the color penetration when you use conditioner maybe you should try a gel stain

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3056 days

#8 posted 03-17-2010 03:06 AM

I agree that it should not take that much sanding if using cabinet grade plywood. With the blotching, I think I would have to try using a wood conditioner and then using a gel stain or glaze to get the color or tone that you want. It takes a little bit of experimentation, but not near the labor of all that sanding. I am amazed that you didn’t sand through the veneer with all of that sanding.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Ingjr's profile


144 posts in 3013 days

#9 posted 03-17-2010 03:13 AM

Your got some sound advise so far. Having said that, there’s no way I’d run ply through a drum sander. Most of it’s already sanded to 180/220.

-- The older I get the faster I was.

View Phred's profile


53 posts in 3718 days

#10 posted 03-17-2010 03:43 AM

Here is what I battled. The only way I seemed to cure it was to sand the heck out of it.. not my first option. I think that the next time, I will go straight to 180, and work with the finish from there.


Am I battling bad plywood? anyone else seen anything like this??



-- But honey.. this new power tool will pay for itself when we re-do the kitchen!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3957 days

#11 posted 03-17-2010 06:08 PM

Looks like a bad skin rash.


View Ingjr's profile


144 posts in 3013 days

#12 posted 03-17-2010 10:39 PM

Woo, that looks nasty. I’d say in this instance it probably is the ply.

-- The older I get the faster I was.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics