Combo Drum Sander #3: Surface Sander, cabinet, specs, cost, observations

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Blog entry by tyka posted 04-03-2011 09:55 PM 9579 reads 27 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Thickness reducing sander Part 3 of Combo Drum Sander series no next part

This is the last of three parts detailing how I made the sander. Part 3 provides details for the surface sander attachment, photos of the final combo sander, specs, dimensions, comments, observations and a cost estimate.

I found the sander too heavy to lug around and too high to use on my bench or assembly table. It’s now on a rolling cabinet made with ¾” plywood. The cabinet has two large drawers and storage in the back for the Surface Sanding Table, a place to hang a large push stick on one side and the red drum cover on the other side. It’s very nice to be able to push it around where I want it. So far locking it on the floor has not been necessary.

In surface sanding mode.

In thickness reducing mode.

Surface Sanding Table
The surface sanding table frame was made with ¾” plywood and the 1¼” thick table is made with laminated ¾” MDF and 9-ply ½”plywood. The edges are a mix of Maple & Birch and the MDF is covered with Formica. The table is heavy and doesn’t need much to hold it down. It’s held with the same knob holding the red drum cover and kept in place with two rare earth magnets. The magnets are in the frame and the metal washers recessed in the pillow block base. The same type of magnets holding the belt cover closed.

The 2” wide 45 degree table opening was done on the table saw. Wood dust is trapped with two angled cross members close to the drum and evacuated through a cut-off shop vac crevice tool connected to my dust collection system. A shop vac would do as well here. The crevice tool is held in place with a wood screw; runs under the drum and stops ¼” in front of the cross member. It picks up sawdust where it is mostly concentrated. However, it has to be pulled out to remove or install the surface sanding table. I used a red marker to color the edges near the drum to remind me to keep my fingers away. I found I became too relaxed…. sanding is so easy now.

BTW It takes about the same amount of time to switch from thickness sanding to surface sanding that it takes to change a table saw blade.

I took a couple of very short videos with my Canon PowerShot digital camera to give an idea how the sander works in both modes. If you look closely you can see the sawdust being extracted in the thickness reducing mode. The background noise is a combination of the dust collection system and the sander. You will notice some dust on the surface sanding table. I think my dust collection system is too small. I bought it to replace my burn’t out shop vac. I think a good shop vac could do better. I haven’t replaced mine yet.

Something really cool I thought I’d mention
Here’s a great way to keep the stock flat and snug on the table. It also prevents long boards from falling off the table and short thin boards from vibrating under the drum. If the broom is very fine and soft, it will follow a variety of contours without scratching. The tip of the broom should be about ½” lower than the drum. Beats any kind of wheel or roller… I think. I used my shop broom to illustrate this in the video. The knob in the picture is there to show how I will hold the broom when I get one.

Finished piece as seen in the video.

Note: For some reason adding more videos messes up the rest of the blog. The videos are in Photobucket.

Thickness reducing video

*About the Plan* I didn’t have a plan so I took short tutorial lessons from the “Chief” a great site to learn the software. The plan I made is fairly close to the end product. The 3D SketchUp views really helped see where I was going. I tried posting the file but couldn’t.

Some Mesurements
Sander height, depth and width: 15” x 16” x 23”
Total sander/cabinet height to the top of the drum cover: 42 ¾”
Average working height between 36” and 42” (great for me at 6’-2”)
Thickness reducing table: 20” x 32½” x 1½”
Surface sanding table: 19½” x 30” x 1¼”
Cabinet height, width and depth: 24” x 24¾” x 18¼”

Some Specs
Drum shaft: 5/8”
Pulleys: 2”
Motor: 120VAC, 1HP, 1725 RPM, Continuous run.
Final drum diameter: 3 7/8”
Maximum sanding width: 19¼”
Maximum sanding thickness: 2 5/8”
Minimum sanding thickness: table goes tight to the drum.
Estimated sander weight without the surface sanding table and cabinet: 55 lbs.

Approximate Cost (taxes included)
5/8” drum shaft: $5.00 (local machine shop)
MDF drum discs: from scrap
New 1HP motor: $150.00 …ouch!!! (Princess Auto)
2 balanced pulleys: $13.98 (Princess Auto)
Link belt: $32.20 (expensive but smooth and no vibrations) (Lee Valley Tools)
5/8” pillow blocks: $27.10 (Princess Auto)
1” x 60” piano hinge: $9.78 (Home Depot)
1.5 sheet of ¾” maple veneer plywood: $84.00 (also used for cabinet) (Home Depot)
¾” MDF and 9-ply ½” plywood: $12.50 (surface sanding table) (Home Depot)
Formica: free (local cabinet shop)
4 – 3” casters: stuff I had on hand (Harbor Freight Tools)
3” x 8’ drum Velcro $54.15 (Stockroom Supply)
3” x 10 yd 120 grit PS33 H&L sand paper: $22.54 (Stockroom Supply)
Dust port: $3.38 (Busy Bee Tools)
3/16” Plexiglas $5.27 (Rona)
Knobs, paint, hardware, glue, magnets, drawer tracks ?

PS: Don’t add this up…. you might get discouraged. lol.

Some Comments and Observations
It cost more than I wanted to pay. However, it’s built to last and should be trouble free. It’s not that bad for two large dust-free sanders and a nice storage cabinet, considering the price of these sanders ready made. I believe most of us tend to forget the cost fairly quickly but rarely the ongoing problems caused by inferior materials and/or workmanship.

I suggest you don’t start building the sander before you have the motor. I would have made the sander higher to get more thickness reducing sanding height if I would have known the motor took so much room.

Having both sanders is quite a treat. Fine sanding box joints, dove tails drawers, boxes, panel doors, smaller pieces and edge sanding are some of the nice features of the surface sander. Surface sanding is a bit slow unless you use coarse grit sand paper. But with a wide drum you can install three grits of sandpaper (80, 100, and 120) side by side to speed things up. On the other hand, the thickness reducing sander is quite aggressive and fast even with 120 grit sand paper. It will take planner and jointer marks off in a pass or two. It removes paint and varnish quickly. Extra large sanding tables make sanding safer and easier. I would also recommend the use of MDF instead of plywood for the thickness reducing table. The laminated 3/4” maple veneer plywood did not give me the flatness I was aiming for.

Some Links (Good surface sanding information and videos)

Thanks for looking and for all the words of encouragement. This is an amazing family of woodworkers! Paul

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

7 comments so far

View Druid's profile


1754 posts in 2792 days

#1 posted 04-03-2011 11:26 PM

Hi Tyka, I’ve been thinking of building one of these for a long time (too long), so now I think I’ll make use of your blog to get me going. Thanks for taking the time to get all of this posted. It looks great.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Chris Lewis's profile

Chris Lewis

6 posts in 2604 days

#2 posted 04-28-2011 02:04 AM

Tyka – Here I thought I came up with this concept myself. Seems that someone else is always one step ahead.
Great job on this. Would love to have your sketch-up file when I start building. I’ll send you my e-mail address separately.



-- Saw Dust Generator

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3285 days

#3 posted 04-28-2011 02:47 AM

great work!

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View beginner's profile


1 post in 2340 days

#4 posted 12-26-2011 12:58 AM

Paul: great artical well thought out. Excellent parts list.
But where did you buy the sanding drum? Better yet from whom?

View tyka's profile


142 posts in 2689 days

#5 posted 12-26-2011 01:47 AM

Hello beginner and welcome to Lumberjocks.
Have a look at Part 1. The drum was made with 3/4” MDF discs.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

View luthiergeorge's profile


4 posts in 2062 days

#6 posted 11-03-2012 02:26 AM

Wow! Some GREAT IDEA’S on your bulid. I am going to build this same machine but my plans are to use 3/4” keyed shafting 26” long. Do you have any copy’s of your Sketch up plans, I would be willing to purchase? I can send you my email address.

I am ready to build!

-- George,Shelbyville,Tn

View tyka's profile


142 posts in 2689 days

#7 posted 11-03-2012 02:02 PM

This was the first and only Sketchup plan I ever made. It is not very accurate and a bit amaturistic. Although it was good anough to use it to build the sander. I tried to post the file of the plan here but cant figure out how. Send me an email and I will return it with the file.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

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