Consensus on Planer vs. drum sander

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 08-17-2010 02:23 AM 7690 views 0 times favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18388 posts in 3874 days

08-17-2010 02:23 AM

Topic tags/keywords: consensus jointer planer drum sander

Howdy gang, Along with my consideration of a Jet combination Jointer / Planer in 8 or 10”, not the big industrial god ones ;-)) I have been thing that maybe a drum sander would be best for thicknessing. It would get very close, no end grain tear out or snipe to worry about and I could always finish it off with a hand plane. I don’t really have much use for a jointer that I couldn’t do with hand planes. Mostly, I need to get rough stock to a fairly uniform thickness. What is the consensus about a drum sander over a jointer/planer or even just a planer?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

36 replies so far

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3378 days

#1 posted 08-17-2010 02:30 AM

Rough stock to uniform thickness = planer

My DW734, although a benchtop planer, produces so little snipe I usually don’t have to do anything about it. If you have snipe fix it, it’s not something you should have to live with.

Smoothing of large panels, thin stock or complex/end grain = thickness sander

A drum sander would be great, but you’re going to be removing much less material each pass. I’d love to have a thickness sander but I would imagine that most will agree it’s not really the way to “plane” rough lumber.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3501 days

#2 posted 08-17-2010 02:41 AM

hey topa…from what ive seen these drum sanders have come along way …if i were to do it over again and doing it now with all that is out there…i would have a drum for sure…i think having a small planer on hand is not a bad idea, but its worth looking into i think…maybe enough jocks will post in on this and help you with your decision ..good luck…...grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3660 days

#3 posted 08-17-2010 02:50 AM

Lets say you have a rough milled board, a full 4/4 and you need stock that is 3/4 or even 5/8, a jointer and planer are the way to go. I would take forever and a lot of sandpaper to get it to thickness. I dont think a drum sander can replace a planer in that respect. I do think they are great for flattening glued up panels and rough sanding, thats why I am building one.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 3248 days

#4 posted 08-17-2010 03:34 AM


If your main goal is for thicknessing stock, my vote would be a planer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the drum sander I picked up recently, but it takes forever to really remove a serious amount of stock. Granted, I only have the one roll of sandpaper on there that came with it, which is maybe 100-120 grit, so it’s not meant for that. I do have some 36-grit on order that should be arriving tomorrow or the next day. I can report back after that, as I think I’ll be able to take a bit more off with each pass, but it’s still going to take more time to remove stock this way than running it through a dedicated planer.

I think JasonWagner and MedicKen nailed it on the head above:
Rough stock to uniform thickness, or taking a lot of material off a board like MedicKen mentioned would be best done with a planer, while the drum sander would be best for thin wood, end grain products, or taking a little bit of stock off.

With that being said, I will be on the hunt for a jointer and planer sometime in the future. Since I’ve got the drum sander, I might go the jointer route first, then add the planer later.

Or, you could just get both and be done with it! ;-)

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3846 days

#5 posted 08-17-2010 03:45 AM

2 different animals. if you need to mill and dimension lumber – get the planer. if you need a way to finish wide boards in 1 pass – get the drum sander.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16280 posts in 4416 days

#6 posted 08-17-2010 04:12 AM

After careful consideration of both options, my vote is…... Yes!

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18388 posts in 3874 days

#7 posted 08-17-2010 09:09 AM

Charlie, you have seen too many electrical discussions on here. It has the same affect as getting bit too many times ;-)) BTW, did you see the one a couple days ago?

WEll guys, scratch that idea. Back to combo or single unit planer and or jointer.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View antmjr's profile


262 posts in 3381 days

#8 posted 08-17-2010 09:53 AM

it depends also on the type of wood with which you like to work: my favorite wood is black locust, which unfortunately tears easily in my planer. (but I haven’t a drum sander yet, for now I have only bought two bearing units)

-- Antonio

View stefang's profile


16123 posts in 3532 days

#9 posted 08-17-2010 05:05 PM

Good advice here Bob. Drum sanders are really for the fine work not the primary dimensioning.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3484 days

#10 posted 08-17-2010 06:09 PM

As much money as you must have stashed away, I don’t see why you haven’t just bought all of the above.
Making practicle decisions is overated. Spend now, maybe your heirs will pay for it long after you are gone. LOL

With sarcasm out of the way, I would prefer a planer if I had to choose one, but that certainly depends on the type work you do.


View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4090 days

#11 posted 08-17-2010 06:24 PM

I have both, but if you just need to thickness rough lumber, I would go with a planer. It takes too long to dimension wood on a drum sander. It would also cost you a fortune in belts. I thickness with a planer and flatten with the drum sander. The only exception to this is when I have highly figured maple.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18388 posts in 3874 days

#12 posted 08-17-2010 08:15 PM

Not sure why you think I’m a miser Kent:-)) I wili say what the lying ba$$7@rds at Merrill Lnych and the incompetent ba$$7@rd that OD me on Topamax would make a nice retirement fund :-))

I suppose most of the wood I will be thicknessing will be Walnut, maple and alder as they grow locally. Not sure if the maple will be highly figured or not, guess that is luck of the draw ;-)) Probably cross that bridge if I get there??

Thanks for the advice LJs. Sander will be in the future if I get that far or find a real steal on CL.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3181 days

#13 posted 08-18-2010 01:45 AM

Go for just the planer then, as you can face joint with the planer using a sled and finish thicknessing without the sled.

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

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3307 days

#14 posted 08-18-2010 02:02 AM

TopamaxSurvivor – If you go with a combo jointer/planer package, stay away from the Jet Bench models. I have one and I make do, but it takes alot of frigging to get it to work right. I would advise staying away from any of the models that use aluminum for the table. They bend, mark, and warp too easily. Nothing you probably do not know already, but I thought i worth mentioning.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18388 posts in 3874 days

#15 posted 08-18-2010 01:03 PM

Greg, What is face jointing?

David, That is stuff I should know, but might not think of. Thanks for the reminder. There was a sleeper 6” jointer on CL with very little use and extra baldes, but it weighs over 100 pounds, not really a mobile model. The guy was asking $100. I had to pass, need something that is mobile.

Sounds like I would really be better of with separate machines in bench models, eh?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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