Will spindle sanding mess up my drill press?

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Forum topic by Purrmaster posted 04-10-2014 03:22 PM 2778 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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915 posts in 2089 days

04-10-2014 03:22 PM

Hello, folks.

I find I have a need to do some curved sanding. I want to get a set of sanding drums that I can chuck into my drill press. Probably the Delta kit or a knock off of it.

My drill press is an old but very solid bench top Craftsman drill press. My very kind and wise cousin gave it to me a couple of years ago. I mentioned to him that I wanted to put sanding drums on it to use it as a sort of spindle sander.

He advised against it. He told me that the drill press wasn’t designed to sideward pressure such as spindle sanding and that using it that way could knock the drill press out of alignment.

I wanted to get a second opinion. Is this correct? Would I screw up my drill press if I put sanding drums on it? I know many other people have used sanding drums in their drill presses but perhaps that does put the drill press out of whack.

Opinions, please?

25 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


2914 posts in 2168 days

#1 posted 04-10-2014 03:29 PM

short answer yes. If you are going to use the sanders for a short period and not much side pressure you’ll probably be ok. If you have a lot of sanding to do you need to get a spindle sander. The drill press is not designed to handle the side pressure on the spindle and you will get excess wear on the bearings.
A drill press will not do anywhere near the job a spindle sander will. It comes down to the fact that a drill press is designed to drill and a spindle sander is designed to sand.
I used a sanding drum in my drill press for a number of years but was never happy with the way it preformed. The drum only rotates and would clog with sawdust very quickly I never used it very much. I finally had the money and bought a ridgid. I have been very happy with its preformance.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Robsshop's profile


907 posts in 2970 days

#2 posted 04-10-2014 03:42 PM

If you need to spindle sand to complete projects or it makes your life easier in the shop then I say go for it, but with that said it does put abnormal forces on the design elements of most DP’s IMO. All tools have a built in shelf life and no one actually never knows what it is so I don’t try to worry to much about it, if the tool serves my needs than I am happy to use it as I feel it should and only time will tell otherwise! JM2cts.

-- Rob,Gaithersburg,MD,One mans trash is another mans wood shop treasure ! ;-)

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2272 days

#3 posted 04-10-2014 03:58 PM

I used a sanding drum in my drill press for a number of years but was never happy with the way it preformed. The drum only rotates and would clog with sawdust very quickly I never used it very much. I finally had the money and bought a ridgid. I have been very happy with its preformance.

+10 experiences are the same….I bought the Ridgid sander and am totaly happy. Night and day difference of using it versus the drill press…..

Edit: After reading comments below mine, I wanted my post a bit clearer. I can only relate to the clogged drums and not so good performance I experienced. The Ridgid out performs the drill press for sanding IMO and was worth the small investment. I can’t answer yes or no on premature wearing on the bearings.

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Mario's profile


174 posts in 3392 days

#4 posted 04-10-2014 03:59 PM

I can´t recall a single time where spindle sanding has made any difference on the accuracy of a well made drill press, even in a pro shop under heavy use. If your machine is able to run under normal sanding pressure it would take years before bearings would wear out, your motor is more likely to go before the spindle is out of alignment, well, unless the drill press is intended for light duty.

View Woodknack's profile


11610 posts in 2376 days

#5 posted 04-10-2014 04:07 PM

I’m curious about the bearing argument because drill presses use radial bearings, same as many lathes. And I believe my drill press and lathe use nearly identical size radial bearings.

-- Rick M,

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 1534 days

#6 posted 04-10-2014 04:16 PM

I’ve been using a $40 cheep drill press for sanding for over 20 years. I understand the concern regarding side thrust pressure but we’re talking sanding not shaping. My cheep drill press is still going strong. Spindle sanders are great if you have one. Not to be argumentative, but my position is run what you brung. Use what you have for what you need to do but go lightly if you’re concerned. Let the grit do the work not the pressure you apply.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View firefighterontheside's profile


18159 posts in 1852 days

#7 posted 04-10-2014 04:21 PM

Well, I do it but I have a $30 drill press. I can see the argument that the dp is meant for up and down and not side to side. Still, with a good one, I would think it would take a lot of use to mess up the bearings. If you get to where you need to do it a lot, then go get a spindle sander. I see them on craigslist occasionally. That’s what I’m gonna do. Once I need it a lot, I’ll get the correct tool.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2442 days

#8 posted 04-10-2014 04:35 PM

I did a quick search on this subject and it seems it’s alright to use your drill press as a drum sander as long as you leave the quil up to prevent the shaft from bending,people have been doing it this way for years and have not lost any accuracy of their drill press.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View oldnovice's profile


6845 posts in 3363 days

#9 posted 04-10-2014 04:45 PM

I always thought that side to side pressure was harder on the chuck and the chuck taper (if the drill press has one) than the bearings.

I used my Delta table top DP for a lot of sanding, quite a number of years ago, and the only issue I had was with the chuck not running true any more, I replaced the chuck and everything was back to normal.

Occasionally I do a TIR, total indicator reading, on the taper end of the DP. Considering that this DP is probably 35+ years old, it still has virtually no run-out at the taper. For chuck test I use a 1/4” drill blank, meant just for this purpose, instead of a drill bit.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2089 days

#10 posted 04-10-2014 05:17 PM

What I was thinking of using it for is sanding chair legs cut on the bandsaw. Basically, to clean it up and make the legs identical. In which case it probably would get some fairly heavy sanding use. I can’t afford a spindle sander right now. Perhaps I’ll stick a drum in my craptastic hand drill I don’t care about and use that.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2483 days

#11 posted 04-10-2014 06:09 PM

Alternative solution to single mount side thrust:

Mount your wood in the chuck as per usual.

On the other end, drill a shallow 1/4” hole.

Mount a multi-step drill bit or a reamer in the hole.

Below that, solidly mount a piece of wood with a bearing installed, (I use one from an inline roller skate).

Center the bit in bearing, sand to your little hearts content.

When done, remove the bit from the work piece.

Poof…... all side thrust problems are addressed.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View BJODay's profile


526 posts in 1939 days

#12 posted 04-10-2014 06:21 PM

Do you have a photo? I’m not following your description.


View bigblockyeti's profile


5112 posts in 1716 days

#13 posted 04-10-2014 06:33 PM

Per the bearing concern, the bearings in over 99% of drill presses sold are of a radial design that will also support the thrust loads induced by drilling. These bearings typically have a radial load twice that of their axial rating. The other design elements to consider are the head casting, quill, chuck and spindle. The first three are a non-issue unless you’re attempting something that would certainly damage a dedicated spindle sander. The spindle is another story, though it is not as dangerous as trying to use a router bit in a drill press, the absence of a thrust load while applying a radial load can eventually cause the chuck to come off the spindle. That said, it’s done frequently and without consequence due to not only the tight fit of the tapered spindle/chuck interface, but the moderate speed and radial loading that could take a very long time to actually cause the chuck to come off when used as a spindle sander.

View Woodknack's profile


11610 posts in 2376 days

#14 posted 04-10-2014 06:34 PM

I think Dallas is talking about mounting the chair leg in the drill press but the same principle works with a sanding drum. Shopnotes and others have plans for a sanding drum with either a bearing or bolt through the bottom that fits into a mortise to provide support against side pressure.

-- Rick M,

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2483 days

#15 posted 04-10-2014 08:53 PM

No pictures… I never thought of it being an issue.

However, picture the drill press as a lathe.

A lathe needs a bearing on each end of the work piece usually.

I just add an extra bearing on the bottom of the work piece. Held in place by whatever is handy. Clamps, the hole in the drill press foot, or even just pressing the mount to a base of some sort. I dunno.
All I ever did was add a bearing held in a hardwood mount which was clamped with a couple of c-clamps.

By the way, I never used a step drill bit, instead I actually have a tapered piece of steel made for a roller conveyor. I doubt if you could find one like I have. It just kind of attached itself to me somehow.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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