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  • Rethinking the concept for a drum sander...

    You know, I've wanted a wide drum sander for years.

    If you hadn't noticed, they are expensive, and REALLY bulky.

    The part of my noggin that spends far too much time around engineers started thinking (I should know that is a warning sign!), I've got this big horizontal spinning thing with an electric motor... (A.K.A. the lathe). Why not build some sort of jig to use the equipment you have for this?)

    So has anyone here done a drum sander / jig for a lathe yet? Am I the only nutcase to have this thought?

    I would imagine with that paltry 3/4HP of the lathe I would have to do very fine passes, but that's okay by me...
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  • #2
    Look at the vdrum sander kits from stockroom supply. I have the 30" vdrum kit and use my shopsmith as a power supply for it. Basically it clamps on the bench tubes and I use the accessory drive from the head stock to turn it. You should be able to do something similar with a lathe either direct drive like mine or with a link belt. The drum and wooden box lost about 2/3 of their weight when I removed the motor from it and used the ShopSmith to drive it instead.
    Chr's
    __________
    An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
    A moral man does it.

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    • #3
      I purchased a Grizzly 10 inch, which seems small of course. But I thought about it long and hard. A full 95% of my needs are for 8 inch and smaller boards. And I have a couple of thousand feet of cherry, oak, walnut and hard pine. I do need the sander and the 10 inch has been fine for my needs. I certainly wanted a 16/32 but I would not have used its potential but rarely.
      Hank Lee

      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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      • #4
        I have the jet 10/20 drum sander. I think it is 4 years old now. It is used for about every piece of wood I build anything out of. I don't particularly like it, actually I'm disappointed with its performance. Under the right circumstances it does what it is intended for, which is to sand the surface evenly. The catch is getting everything under the right circumstances. To do that, boy is this thing slow, not like the planer that was used to bring the wood to the desired thickness, and cause the ripples that require the drum sander in the first place! You can't rush it either, if you do it will stall and trip out. Slow the sander feed conveyor down to a slower crawl and it works well, but crank down on the drum just a bit and you risk stalling the motor out again. Yep, its that touchy! When the piece is sanded nice and smooth you can look at it and tell it was definitely sanded with a drum sander because there are a zillion straight lines caused by the sandpaper, and if you want them out you have to replace the paper on the drum with a lesser grit. That's a pain in the butt too. Or you can do what most others do, grab the ROS sander and clean it up with several different grit sizes.
        This description was my opinion of a professionally manufactured drum sander. I still use the drum sander because in the end it is better than not having one.
        i considered building one, there are several home made versions like Stumpy nubs has. My first impression of any of these home made devices is...... these dang things would gnaw your arm off up to your elbow! The store bought versions provide a conveyor with a sandpaper grit surface that does a nice job of feeding the board into the drum and keeping it from slinging it back at you like a tablesaw kickback. Some online versions I looked at did not have any facilities for feeding the wood in, the operator pushed or pulled it. That scares me . I like my fingers a lot! if I were to have an accident on woodworking equipment I think I had rather have a saw simply cut off a finger rather than a sander grab my hand and maul it up with sandpaper running at 200 mph and have eventually have a surgeon remove it at my elbow!
        That said, I don't think the lathe has suitable bearings to handle the constant load of the drum sander. I also don't think the lathe allows easy enough access to both sides of the drum to handle the wood. Building your own drum, conveyor, safety guards and dust control ( which by the way is quite good on my drum sander) is a task that is probably a wash when you figure out your build cost, your labor and how much other project time you lost while building this contraption that you will have to spend many bf of lumber troubleshooting.
        capncarl

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        • #5
          Has anyone thought of using the parts from a treadmill? On occasion I've seen used treadmills for sale. I would think the motor and drive mechanisms more than strong enough, and if the controller is still working, VS might even be possible. Question is whether the, usually, two rollers are too small in diameter to be useful, but the width is close to two feet, which I imagine would make for a nice drum sander if all those components could be used in an accommodating design.

          CWS
          Think it Through Before You Do!

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          • #6
            Carl,
            Your earlier comments on the slowness prepared me well and I accepted that. While I have run 8 ft boards through my Grizzly, and it was slow, I don't normally do long boards on it. I use short pieces, 4 ft and shorter, mostly pieces for pen turning and scroll saw. The 10 inch Grizzly is not a production sander for sure, but for pens, scroll saw and smaller objects from stool size and down, it works fine. Having said that, I know pen turners who love to get things done fast and would not be happy with it. But for me, I can allow the time for precision it produces at the lower price of the 10 inch.

            My first shock was that I couldn't sand a 4 inch by 10 inch board as a trial run WITHOUT the DC hooked up. I tried it, but I didn't like the results!

            CWS: That is a good idea.
            Hank Lee

            Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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            • #7
              Drum sanders really need two motors. To get good sanding results, the carrier belt needs to move past the sandpaper at a fairly consistent pace. If the work stops you'll get divots similar to thickness planer snipe. Hand-feeding requires you to make sure the work piece never stops... slowing down a little is one thing, stopping is entirely something else. I have the Jet 16/32 unit which will slow the feed rate if the load on the sanding drum gets too high - i.e. if the sanding is taking too deep a cut for the width of the work. It slows itself automatically... but never actually stops. The main issue I have when using my sander is taking too deep a cut on some materials, even with the auto-correcting belt speed, results in excess heat on the sandpaper. That in turn brings sap to life which ends up making concrete-hard stripes around the drum... ruining the sand paper and making millimeter-deep gouges in the work. The drum spins at 1720 RPM; it's 5 inches in diameter. Compare the resulting sandpaper rate to a lathe-based setup to make sure you have sufficient sanding speed and yet not too excessive (too much heat) as well.

              mpc

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              • #8
                MPC, you are correct about the heat created by the sandpaper causing sap to collect. When I purchased my 10/20 Jet I debated over the models that had the auto slowdown feature built in and decided against it. I think I am glad I don't have it. The first week I used my sander I was building some Tables out of antique heart pine barnwood, and nearly ruined every piece of drum sander paper I had. You couldn't do anything right! Just letting the sandpaper on the drum touch the wood caused it to resin up and burn streaks in the wood. I finally gave up trying to use the drum sander on pine before I ran out of papers. In the 3 years since then I hadn't found any wood that ruined paper like the pine did......... until earlier this year I bought some Sinker Cypress that had been recovered from the bottom of the Flint river, milled and kiln dried. It was worse than pine on my drum sander and would only take seconds before it ruined the paper on my ROS sanders. I finished it with a scraper and decided to use the rest of this very expensive wood on a project that required no sanding.

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                • #9
                  I've had oak generate sap/resin in my sander; it's the material I use most frequently. Pine easily creates belt-ruining sap with anything but the lightest sanding depth. Oak is a little more tolerant of heat... only a little. My experience anyway. The little bit of walnut I've run through the sander has been much less problematic.

                  So maybe that's a consideration for folks thinking "do I need/want a drum sander?": What types of material do you routinely use? Drum sanders may not be all that compatible with the material!

                  mpc

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                  • #10
                    MPC.... well said. Maybe a disclaimer should be attached to the description of the Drum Sander saying it is not suitable for use on particular woods?
                    Right off I'd put Pine right at the top.
                    capncarl

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mpc View Post
                      So maybe that's a consideration for folks thinking "do I need/want a drum sander?": What types of material do you routinely use? Drum sanders may not be all that compatible with the material!
                      mpc
                      I have at least a thousand BF of wood that is at least 25 years old. Half of it is 3/4" to 5/8s rough cut cherry along with some oak. I think my dad picked it up from a saw mill in the early 90's at a discount because of its thinness. I ran a cherry board through, and had to do it twice to get enough off to see the brilliant cherry. (Getting off the point of your question)

                      I have a good bit of other wood that is at least 25 years old and some walnut that is close to 50 years old, cut down on our farm back in the mid-60s. All of my wood is air dried.

                      My primary intended uses:
                      1. In pen turning, it helps to have consistent thickness wood in some segments. This does not require lots of wood of course but consistent thickness in boards a foot long and a few inches wide.
                      2. Scroll sawing, this requires consistent thicknesses in a thin board also.
                      3. Segmented bowl pieces, I haven't started this yet but this is a hope for future use. Drum sanders do this well.
                      3. Thickness planers don't do a great job with thin small pieces of wood without jigs.


                      So for me, even the small drum sanders are suited for what I do.
                      Hank Lee

                      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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