Low speed router-like tool for drum sanding

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Forum topic by altendky posted 05-08-2012 03:58 AM 4881 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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169 posts in 2235 days

05-08-2012 03:58 AM

Yep, I know that routers are too fast for drum sanders and will not ‘give it a try’... so what now?

I have a 12-sided tube about 16” x 6’ tall with cutouts up the face on one side. One for each of my five cats. :] When I cut the holes I used my jig saw and did a less than stellar job. This left the holes rough and burned on the corners. I gently tried a sanding drum in my 12v drill and it worked well enough, but I don’t want to destroy the drill’s bearings. Given the size, I obviously can’t use a table-top tool. The orthogonal nature of a router would be nice but perhaps I just need to use a junky drill. On the other hand, MLCS has an external speed control that says it can run from 0 RPM so perhaps I just need to find a small fixed-speed non-soft-start router?

Obviously I’ve got some ideas but with my limited experience over the past year I’m hoping you can provide some wisdom, or perhaps even answers.

Thanks for whatever you’ve got,

19 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#1 posted 05-08-2012 04:39 AM

Don’t run a sanding drum in a router collet. Not safe.

Get a curved microplane or Iwasaki file and use it to
shape the hole. Then hand sanding starting at 60
grit or so goes pretty quick.

A standard curved rasp leaves quite a rough cut but
can be followed by a curved file and then sanding.

The microplane tools don’t stay sharp all that long
but they do cut very cleanly with a lot of control.
The curved Iwasaki file won’t do as fast a job
rounding the hole edges, but they stay sharp and
are great tools to have on hand for wood shaping.

View mveach's profile


56 posts in 2407 days

#2 posted 05-08-2012 05:15 AM

I think it was Delta or Porter Cable that made something like what you are talking about. I don’t recall what it was called but it was a hand held drum sander with a base like a router or jig saw. I just found one. here is the link.

View mveach's profile


56 posts in 2407 days

#3 posted 05-08-2012 05:23 AM

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2796 days

#4 posted 05-08-2012 06:11 AM

Just get yourself a harbor freight drill + and use your sanding drums in that. If the drill dies, you’re out $20-$30 or whatever.

If you really want to get crazy, build a base around the drill to make a permanent enclosure thing for 400$


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 2235 days

#5 posted 05-08-2012 11:08 AM

Not sure how quoting works here…

First off, wow. I’ve been poking around here for awhile when I’ve had other questions and have appreciated the knowledge. Still, compared to various other forums that I would consider fairly active I have to say that this is an impressive response. :] Thanks.

@Loren: By microplane do you mean I was initially thinking of something more like a standard plane (small, micro even) but in a curved body. The options do look interesting.

@mveach: I’m embarassed that I didn’t find that. I searched and even looked specifically on the PC site and it is located right where I should have been looking. For $200 I might have ordered one this morning before heading out to work, but $400 makes me think a bit more. I suppose the price is driven by the dual action (rotary and linear) combined with the apparently low demand (since nobody else makes one that I have seen).

@Jeremy: If HF were closer, that’d be a good option. For now I might just settle for using the already-wobbly Craftsman. I did a little side cutting in sheetmetal with it years ago so wood shouldn’t make it too much worse. :]

I also just found the Grizzly H2881:

Opinions? Very simple and just reduces loading into the drill by reducing the moment (assuming you are careful).

Anyways, given the price of the PC I am tending towards sticking with the drill and cheapo drums I’ve already got for right now, but I do need to consider the microplane stuff. It seems like it could be quite nice to have around. Thanks again to everyone.


P.S. I suppose mentioning that the wood is ash could be relevant to what tool should be used to work it.

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2717 days

#6 posted 05-08-2012 12:11 PM

This is why they make corded heavy duty drills. Buy one it’s worth the money to have unlimited power in your hands and you can use all kinds of accessories. Milwaukee makes the best IMO.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2995 days

#7 posted 05-08-2012 12:25 PM

Hey, I have a novel idea; why not just use a router bit in a router?
Some pretty nice wood products were built way before sandpaper was invented.

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 3421 days

#8 posted 05-08-2012 12:33 PM

Porter cable makes a portable hand held oscillating spindle sander that works great.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 2275 days

#9 posted 05-08-2012 12:56 PM

Michael’s comment sparked my interest, so I did some research. According to the wiki, sandpaper’s first recorded use was in the 13th century. By the early 1800’s it was being manufactured in its current form. Compare that to the router which came about during the 20th century…

Not really relevant, but interesting.

-- Rex

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3316 days

#10 posted 05-08-2012 02:00 PM

I don’t think those Grizzly two-hand sanding drums will work for this. You’d have to have one hand inside the tube. It may work near the ends, but not in the middle.

I second the router recommendation. Concentrate on making one good hole in a piece of plywood or MDF, then use it as a template with a bearing-guided bit to finish off the others.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View ChuckC's profile


828 posts in 2959 days

#11 posted 05-08-2012 02:35 PM

You could make a slightly over-sized template with thin stock, double-side tape it to the tube, and use a flush trim/template bit on a router to clean it up? Then maybe a round over to soften the edges.

View mveach's profile


56 posts in 2407 days

#12 posted 05-08-2012 03:11 PM

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 2235 days

#13 posted 05-08-2012 10:02 PM

@mtenterprises Actually, I have a $10 giant Milwaukee from a garage sale, though it may be a hammer drill… hmm, I’ll have to pull that out, thanks for reminding me.

@crank49@chuckc I didn’t describe it in complete detail. The holes actually span two of the twelve faces so it would be a bit more complicated than just a basic template. I may still end up doing this, but I’m still tending towards something more manually controllable than a router bit (sanding drums or the rotary microplanes).

@Rex Bair Relevant or not, thanks :]

@jjohnston the holes are comfortably large enough for a cat so i think I could fit my hand through alright, but a good consideration. Next time, I think I’ll post a picture straight away to help you guys with your answers. They’re good and all, but it would be more worth your time if I had provided that extra ‘info’. See below.

@mveach Again, thanks for the reminder. I wanted one of those awhile back but didn’t end up getting it. Actually, I bought the Sears one online but when I went to pick it up they ended up being out of stock. That and none of them actually looked like decent quality. All were either plastic or pot metal as far as I could tell from the pictures and reviews. Still may have to get one though.

Again, thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Now I just have to decide.


View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#14 posted 05-09-2012 12:07 AM

Microplane has found their big market is in the kitchen, but
it started out as a woodworking product.

“Fairing” inside edges and curves with rasps and files is often
a faster way to do it than any other method in my
experience. Files aren’t written about much in the
woodworking magazines as a tool to cut wood with,
but I use them all the time for shaping. They are
quick to use and it’s much easier not to screw the
work up with them compared to edge tools.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2867 days

#15 posted 05-09-2012 01:58 AM

Hey, I have a very interesting story for you guys.
Early on in my woodworking journeys, I done something really stupid that relates to this thread.
I had these drum sanding doo hickeys that were meant for the drill press.
One of them had a quarter inch shaft.
I had a quarter inch router in a router table.
The drill press at top speed done a pretty good job but I wanted to sand faster.
So I decided what could I hurt by putting the quarter inch drum sanding accessory into the router?

Let me stop right there and explain that somehow it did not occur to me that these drum sanding things were not exactly balanced and that this cheap router had on one speed, 30,000 RPMs.

It ran great for maybe half a second.
Then the top part of the unbalanced drum sanding thing started swinging further and further away from center.
By this time, the whole table and all was bucking too bad for me to catch the power switch.
I headed for the cord.
It was too late.
Parts of sandpaper had started flying off at shrappnel speed.
At this point all I could do was dive under a nearby table for safety and wait for the events to unfold.
The table (this was a HEAVY weighted table) started doing more than bucking. It was more like a jackhammer at this point.
Then it started whirling around about two inches off the floor like it was caught up in a tornado.
It would slam the floor every few seconds.
Th whole drum sander assembly broke off (later I learned it broke even with the chuck that holds the bit)
The router table was still violently dancing though.
Then something else broke off and flew the opposite direction (I later found out this was all of the router shaft that sticks out of the router housing)
The router then sounded like it sped up to about 100,000 RPMs.
Then the lights when out (later found out this was because the router motor housing had cracked open and shorted something out.)

So, ummmmmm, NO.
Never put a drum sanding attachment into a router.
I tested that theory and it doesn’t work out very well.
I ruined the router, the router table, the drum sanding attachment, the door that the drum sanding attachment flew through, and I swear I took at least two years off of my projected life span from the fear.


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