Drum Sander vs. Belt/Disc Combo

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Forum topic by DRJZ1974 posted 06-12-2010 12:45 AM 2595 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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71 posts in 2938 days

06-12-2010 12:45 AM

What do you think is more useful in a shop making mostly small things like boxes, trays and cutting boards etc. I had always been set on getting a belt/drum combo (6” wide belt and 12” disc), but a woodworker recently told me he thought a drum sander was much more useful if you could only have one. I did a few searches on here and didn’t come up with much. What do you guys think?

11 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#1 posted 06-12-2010 01:05 AM

That’s kind of an apples/oranges comparison, as those machines do very different jobs.

I have a belt/disc sander, and it is one of the most used tools in my shop. I use it in my box making all the time. I would love to have a drum sander, though, for flattening panels.

Since belt/disc combos are considerably cheaper than drum sanders, my recommendation would be to get one of those first. If you still want a drum sander, it would be a great addition to your shop.

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

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#2 posted 06-12-2010 01:58 AM

In my shop, with the type of work I do, a belt sander is essential. On small items you can actually shape wood with a belt sander. A drum sander is more for working on panels of wood or whole boards.

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

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3766 days

#3 posted 06-12-2010 06:06 AM


-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3007 days

#4 posted 06-12-2010 07:24 AM

Since we’re talking about a shop that makes small things one would have to consider what he needed it for. If its for thicknessing boards it would be a waste for the size material you would be working with. I have the belt/disc combo and use it all the time. I also have a oscillating spindle sander I use a lot as well as the drum sanders for the drill press. I imagine if I worked with a lot of reclaimed lumber then I would want a drum sander to save on planer blades.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3184 days

#5 posted 06-12-2010 08:05 AM

Just seeing the title I was thinking apples & oranges too until I saw that you were making boxes & other small stuff. I’d say get the combo, but the more you do glue-ups and higher end boxes, then you’ll want a drum sander.

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

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3456 days

#6 posted 06-12-2010 10:16 AM

I have both and the stationary belt sander is used a lot more often than my drum.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View TheDane's profile (online now)


5441 posts in 3687 days

#7 posted 06-12-2010 03:03 PM

I think it depends on the type of projecy you are doing. They are different animals, and do different things.

I have had a combo (8” disk/4”x36” belt) for several years … built a v-drum sander earlier this year ( ). They both get a good deal of use.

I can’t imagine sanding a 5” bandsaw box on the v-drum, or a raised panel dor a door on the combo.

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

View DRJZ1974's profile


71 posts in 2938 days

#8 posted 06-12-2010 03:51 PM

Thanks guys, this is what I was looking for. It sounds like the belt/disc combo is right for me now. I would love to be able to make raised panel doors, but am not there yet. Guys with the combo, what do you think you use more the belt or disc? Classes I have taken, we always use the 12” disc, but probably because there is no belt sander in the class.

View DRJZ1974's profile


71 posts in 2938 days

#9 posted 06-13-2010 05:23 AM

glivingston, thanks, I hope to learn sometime about how to make the raised panel doors!

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2657 posts in 2946 days

#10 posted 06-14-2010 01:52 AM

I have two 4” belt/disc sanders and a 12” drum thickness sander. I use the Belt portion of the the belt/disc sander much more than I use the drum sander. I do not use the disc sander at all. It is too fast and burns the wood and wears out the sanding disc way to quickly. A lot of what I sand on the drum thickness sander could be done with a random orbital sander (Hand held)

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3074 days

#11 posted 06-14-2010 07:55 AM

I bought my ryobi combo absolutely years ago and she is still chuffing along. I couldn’t be without it and I find that I use the belt a whole lot more than the disc. It is a god send making small things but doesn’t get a look in with anything big, but I really dont tend to make anything that big anyway. Also as it is set up all the time it is so easy to just use the paper without turning it on just to get a rough edge off or something.
The other thing I recently found was a cleaning stick for the belt sander. As it was only $10 (AU) I bought it, well I think it was one of the better things I bought recently. It cleans the belt and states that it will make it last longer, dont know about that, but it certainly cleans it well.

-- Theresa,

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