Drum sanders

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Forum topic by Boberto posted 07-26-2016 03:55 AM 1343 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 1137 days

07-26-2016 03:55 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have been doing a lot of sanding lately with an orbital sander and just wondering if a drum sander is a worthwhile investment. I have a small hobby shop and like everyone else I hate sanding. Can you get a finish sanding with a drum sander or do you still have to use an orbital to finish sanding?
Grizzly has the go458 for $865 or the go716 for about half that.. Are either of these worth considering or is there something else I should consider? I don’t see anything on Craigslist in se Iowa. Any suggestions?

24 replies so far

View Redoak49's profile


3589 posts in 2158 days

#1 posted 07-26-2016 10:54 AM

I do not have one yet but after reading a lot of reviews and comments. Eventually, I will get a Supermax. The second thing is you need a dust collector as they put out lots of dust.

View OSU55's profile


1915 posts in 2159 days

#2 posted 07-26-2016 11:35 AM

Hand planes solved my sanding dilemma. I figured I would never have a drum sander or planer wide enough (30+ inches) to get a table top through, so I needed a way to flatten large glue ups. This led to learning how good of a finish hand planes can leave, and now all my electric sanders gather dust.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5124 posts in 2662 days

#3 posted 07-26-2016 11:49 AM

I do not consider a drum sander a finish sander. In my case, I quit using anything more fine than 120 grit or so, and it leaves scratches the length of the work piece. They weren’t too bad to remove with an ROS, and it did reduce my total sanding time….but expecting them to be a finish sander is not realistic (IMHO). Some of the points above bear repeating: you have to have a DC, and even with one life isn’t all that sweet. I can actually watch the filter on mine clog (I have a gauge) as I’m running the DS; the finest dust winds up in the filter and the gauge tells me when to clean it. Hand planes really help reduce the sanding effort, consider moving to them. Lastly..if you do buy a DS, I suggest a Supermax. I sold my Delta just last year, and it’s replacement will be the Supermax 19/38.

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

View rwe2156's profile


3133 posts in 1650 days

#4 posted 07-26-2016 02:01 PM

About all I use if for is sanding veneer to a final thickness.
It will NOT take the place of a finish sander the highest grit I recommend is 120.
I like the look of wood smooth planed so I never use a ROS on my projects, just a scraper maybe a little hand sanding.

I have a dual drum 16” Grizzly.
Unless they’ve changed the design, I would stay away from Grizzly models.

Dust collection is horrible even though it is 5 feet from the DC.
Paper gets loose too fast.
I upgrade to a hook and loop which helped, but now I get a lot of burning.

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

View Julian's profile


1386 posts in 2859 days

#5 posted 07-26-2016 03:10 PM

I have a Supermax 25” drum sander but I do not use it for finish sanding. It is set up with 100 grit paper and use it primarily to flatten segmented rings for turning or to flatten boards with wild grain. Drum sanders will leave long scratches in the surface which require additional sanding.

-- Julian

View splintergroup's profile


2338 posts in 1391 days

#6 posted 07-26-2016 03:17 PM

On my latest project (white oak), I use my drum sander (Performax 16-32) on all pieces through 220 grit. Usually I don’t go that fine (typically only up to 180), but white oak behaves well at that fine of a grit.

As to your question, even though I sanded up to 220, I still use my ROS, beginning at one grit down from my final drum sander pass (180 in this case). The drum, sander leaves linear scratches which are very visible, no matter how fine of grit you go to. On some woods, these scratches can be a bear to remove and many times I’ll go back to 100 grit with the ROS.

For me, the drum sander is more about dialing in the thickness of a board down to a couple of thousandths of an inch and getting the board dead-flat. Sanding still requires a lot of time with my ROS (although probably a tad less after the drum sander).

View a1Jim's profile


117263 posts in 3746 days

#7 posted 07-26-2016 03:23 PM

I agree drum sanders are used to flatten or sand up to 120 grit or so,but when you think that most of the time you spend sanding is at lower grits 60-120 you still can minimise your sanding time with a drum sander.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View moke's profile


1252 posts in 2945 days

#8 posted 07-26-2016 04:59 PM

I have a Supermax 19/36….I love it. Let me say I use it a lot, way more than I anticipated. As mentioned by most everyone, it will not give you the finish sand, but it will get you closer and make your project flatter than without it. I always sand in two grits up to 220 after I use it. I get great results. I also use it for segmenting turning things. It’s great.
I am in Cedar Rapids and monitor Craigslist every day….I have seen a performax 16/32 a couple of times, but they don’t last long and IMO are over priced. As you have probably noticed Craigslist in Iowa sucks! What ever you do, I would, from past experience, not buy a drum sander that the table raises and lowers.
If you want to try mine, drop me a PM if you get to CR and I will try and meet with you.
Just my .02

-- Mike

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2615 days

#9 posted 07-26-2016 05:30 PM

open end drum sanders are a compromise to the larger (closed end?),more bulky ones,you can sand a wider board with smaller footprint but the are a few drawbacks:the conveyor belt is finicky to set up,you can only sand/remove 1/32” with each pass ,you need to keep the drum parallel to the belt but with all that ,I still would not hesitate to buy another one for my shop(if the one I have breaks down),it is not a planer but in a way it does the same job but even better on cross grain projects like picture frame.
I love my 16-32 sander,use 120 grit but next time I’ll order 80 grit, it seems to last longer.

Moke said it best : What ever you do, I would, from past experience, not buy a drum sander that the table raises and lowers.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View splintergroup's profile


2338 posts in 1391 days

#10 posted 07-26-2016 06:46 PM

Good points from Ken (distrbd).

You really need to have a planer to get close to final dimensions since the typical 1-2HP drum sander can only remove 1/32” per pass (But I have removed 1/4” in a pinch with multiple passes). Finer grits (150+) can only do about 1/64” or less per pass to avoid loading up the belt and burning the wood.
They are finicky to set up and take a learning curve to maximize belt life and eliminate sniping, but as with any new tool…...

View DrDirt's profile


4488 posts in 3911 days

#11 posted 07-26-2016 07:08 PM

Drum sander is handy – but does not replace final sanding. Inevitably you will have cross grain scratches in some parts as you cannot sand an assembly flat with all grain running one direction.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View AandCstyle's profile


3170 posts in 2426 days

#12 posted 07-26-2016 10:09 PM

Boberto, I have a Delta 18-36 drum sander and agree with others that 120 G is about the max without burning the wood. However, it does a good job on end grain cutting boards and veneer. I don’t use it on frames because of the cross grain scratches. FWIW

-- Art

View RogR's profile


111 posts in 1034 days

#13 posted 07-26-2016 11:20 PM

I have a love-hate relationship with my Jet 22/44. There was a learning curve, and it wish it had a couple of more horsepower. I have a good DC so dust is not a problem, it just requires some patience, and I don’t always have that in stock.
OTOH I use it more than my bandsaw …

View Boberto's profile


20 posts in 1137 days

#14 posted 07-27-2016 02:34 AM

I do have a dust collector and a Dewalt 735 planer and dewalt ros which I am happy with. I thought maybe a drum sander might get me a finish sanding quicker but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. The smoothing plane idea looks good, too.Thanks for all the responses and advice.

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1089 days

#15 posted 07-28-2016 03:30 AM


I agree with the posts so far. The drum sander will likely do little to reduce random orbital finishing sanding. A few years ago, I acquired a drum sander because I tired of the drudgery of sanding the glue-ups flush. The drum sander was great for that. I have not considered using the drum sand in lieu of random orbital finish sanding because of the added time required to change the sand paper on the drum sander and typical cross grain scratches that would result. Therefore, I continue to spend a good deal of time with the random orbital sander.

I currently use Mirka Bulldog Gold sanding disks, but will be trying out the Abranet product line in the near future, hoping to reduce some sanding time. In addition to reducing sanding time because it cuts faster, Mirka claims Abranet offers superior dust collection and the disks last longer. The reviews on LJ seem to bear out Mirka’s claims for their Abranet line of abrasives. Unfortunately, I cannot now offer a personal experience opinion on this product.

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