Burn Marks on my Drum Sander Sand Paper- what gives?

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Forum topic by Peter5 posted 06-28-2011 08:31 AM 10215 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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65 posts in 2225 days

06-28-2011 08:31 AM

I recently bought a drum sander and it’s great, but I keep getting burn marks on the sandpaper. I have figured out that they can be avoided by taking lighter passes, and running the conveyor belt at slower speeds. OK, but even when I think I’m being extremely careful they still pop up when I’m not expecting it. The worst part of it is that once the burn mark is there, it makes an ugly, black, deep gouge in whatever I try to run through the sander after that point. So I have two questions- are there any other secrets to avoiding these burn marks, and once you have one is there any way to remove it? For example, could I scrub it with a solvent or something? I’m going through sandpaper faster than I can afford it so someone please help me out!

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

24 replies so far

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 2472 days

#1 posted 06-28-2011 09:36 AM

One, use the right grit sandpaper; Don’t start too fine. Two, don’t take too big a bite. Take lighter paSSES.
Three, clean your drums often with a gum rubber pad. Four, get feed and speed right. Some woods, as you know are prone to burning. On them sometimes you have to take lighter pass, but take them FASTER to keep from overheating by sitting in one spot too long. As to removing the scars, sanding (hand), scraping (hand); you get the idea. Avoidence is the key. I think.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


234 posts in 3343 days

#2 posted 06-28-2011 02:34 PM

Are you running glued up panels through it ? Pitch will gum up your paper too. I use 100 grit on my front roller and 220 on the second. I don’t have much problems with buildup. I also only work with hardwoods and nearly all clear stock.

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2472 days

#3 posted 06-28-2011 04:05 PM

From using my drum sander, I’d have to agree with the above comments:

-Use the correct feed speed. I actually found that faster is better, as the wood is in contact with the paper for a shorter period of time, thus less heat is generated at one particular point. I was getting some slight burn marks on maple right out of the shoot, so I sped the conveyor speed up and that solved the problem. You definitely have to take lighter passes with a faster feed rate speed though.
-Keep the paper clean and use the rubber eraser/gum stick/whatever you want to call it to keep the paper on the drum clean. Raise the lid and clean it off after every few passes, depending on the wood, how big the piece is, etc. This will also help the paper last longer.
-Wood such as pine will gum the paper up in a hurry, sometimes after 1-pass.
-Take light passes, going no more than 1/8-turn on the handle at a time. If you’re using a finer grit paper, such as 220-grit, you’ll likely be better off going 1/16-turn.
-I have not found any “easy” way to remove burn marks/built-up pitch from the paper, maybe somebody else has found a solution?

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

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2730 days

#4 posted 06-28-2011 05:36 PM

What type of wood are you running through your sander? As others have stated, light passes & feed speed are extremely important but some hard woods just will not go through without burning or gumming up the paper.
I have a difficult time sanding hard woods and oily woods such as cocobolo & bloodwood…while other hardwoods sand just fine.
Some softwoods such as pine and sinkeer cypress gum up quickly.

View Peter5's profile


65 posts in 2225 days

#5 posted 06-28-2011 05:48 PM

I have mostly been running walnut and rosewood lately. I never thought about actually speeding the conveyor belt up, I’ll try that! I’ll also try soaking a belt in Simple Green- I will be completely stoked if that works! Has anyone tried that? Sometimes the belt will be completely fine except for one slim burn mark, and yet it’s rendered useless- so frustrating!

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

View childress's profile


841 posts in 2963 days

#6 posted 06-28-2011 05:55 PM

You could try what bently said above. It should clean the belt. And definitely get a rubber cleaning stick to keep the paper clean when in use…..

Now, for the answer I really wanted to give you, is the one thing that stopped this with me is I started to use good paper. As soon as I stopped using the jet paper, and switched to deerfos, never a burn again!

It’s also cheaper than buying the pre-cut rolls and last longer too!

-- Childress Woodworks

View Peter5's profile


65 posts in 2225 days

#7 posted 06-28-2011 06:13 PM

Hey Childress, that’s a great tip- so do you have to cut those yourself? Is it rather painless? It looks like the rolls are about $17 each- is this correct? That’s quite a bit more than what I’ve been paying (I’ve been paying about $6/roll) but if they don’t burn then I guess it’s worth it.

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

View JL7's profile


8411 posts in 2387 days

#8 posted 06-29-2011 01:25 AM

Peter – not sure if this was already covered or not, but keep that sandpaper tight to the drum – if it overlaps even slightly – it will burn instantly.

Have to defineately agree with Childress on buying the good paper – I was fortunate to find bulk rolls of 3M Regalite (I think) on Craigslist and this paper NEVER burns and doesn’t load up. It is really amazing stuff.

I cut my own strips and for me the price and performance is worth it….........


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 2968 days

#9 posted 06-29-2011 02:32 AM

Looks like you answered your own question Pete. What does the word “cheap” have in common with the word “quality”. I have found that i tend to get just what i pay for and whenever i try to go cheap i end up paying more in the end. I have never had burn marks from our drum sander. Two things i do, buy good quality paper that is hook and loop, take roughly 1/12 turns for very light passes

-- .

View childress's profile


841 posts in 2963 days

#10 posted 06-29-2011 06:52 AM

Remember those rolls are 35’ long, so depending on your size sander, you should get a couple of wraps. And yes, it’s very easy to cut, just use an older pre-cut one as a template….

-- Childress Woodworks

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 2612 days

#11 posted 06-29-2011 08:18 AM

Light passes…the lighter the grit the lighter the pass…
The slower the speed = more heat = more burn
hard woods lighter passes
use the belt erasedr frequently….

dry wood helps is your stock kiln dried?

Enjoy your toy..I got mine 2 months ago it is great…You’ll get the hang of it.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 1976 days

#12 posted 06-29-2011 11:07 AM

check your rollers to make sure there is no marks on them …hollows will leave a rasied mark on your job and high points will burn… coarser paper to get to required thickness and the a fast pass with a finer grit to finish.
we mostly put treated pine through oursand for that we use 120. sometimes we have to run kwila,vitex or american white oak which i tend to hit with 80 and then a pass with 120….no problems. our native timbers burn something wicked(rimu and matai) so i only take .10 of a mm a pass for that as has been said earlier speed feed versus cut is everything.

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 3262 days

#13 posted 07-01-2011 04:59 AM

My Jet 22-44 OSC started to leave some burn marks on me. I looked at my sandpaper and I guess I didnt had it tight enough on the drum. Itghtened up my paper and the problem went away.
Mine was totally operator error!

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View Peter5's profile


65 posts in 2225 days

#14 posted 01-12-2012 10:00 PM

I usually use my drum sander to flatten a panel after gluing up multiple boards- I use 24 grit for this. Do you guys recommending going from 24 to 60, then 100, 150, and finally 220, or can I skip some of those? It seems like I can go from 24 to 80 if I take lighter passes and more of them, then go from 80 to 150 and, again, take many light passes. Which approach is more time efficient in your experience, many passes with few grits, or many grits and less passes? I’m getting ready to order a bunch of paper and I want to get the order right. Let me know, thanks!

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2472 days

#15 posted 01-12-2012 10:15 PM


It’ll work either way, you’ll just have to make more passes for each grit you skip, compared to working up through the grits consecutively. I think it depends on how big of a batch of wood you’re running at a time. It usually only takes me a couple of minutes to change between grits. Figure that 2-3 minutes is several passes for something not overly long to go through the drum sander. But then you’ll also need to clean the paper more too, which adds a little more time.

I’d say if you’re running a batch of something that’s all the same thickness through the drum sander, it’d be more efficient time-wise to work through the grits, rather than skipping grits.

For instance, if you have 3-of something (cutting board, panel, whatever) that are all the same thickness, it’s still going to take you the same amount of time to change the paper, whether you’re running one panel through the sander, or ten panels through the sander. If you skip grits on 10-panels though, it’s going to take a lot longer since you’ll be making lots of extra passes. Hope this makes sense.

A numerical example would be the following:

Not skipping grits, you make 2-passes on each grit: 24-60-100-150-220 = 10-passes.
Skipping grits means extra passes on each consecutive grit, but only 2-passes on 24-grit since you’re starting there: 2-passes on 24-grit, plus 5-6-passes on 100-grit, plus 5-6-passes on 220-grit = 12-14-passes.

I have not performed this experiment on my drum sander, but I know when handsanding or using my ROS, it definitely takes a lot longer when I skip grits, compared to just working up through the grits, which is what I’ve based the above example on.

This is not necessarily an exact representation of the number of passes, just an example to show that it’ll likely take you more passes by skipping grits, plus a little more cleaning of the drum paper with your eraser.

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

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