Why Use Drum Sanders
A drum sander will, without a doubt, be an excellent addition to your collection of power tools and it will certainly make your wood projects easier. It is still important, though, to understand why a drum sander is beneficial and what you can expect when you purchase yours.
- Efficiency. Using a drum sander is a really efficient way of sanding your work. It is a lot faster than sanding by hand and is faster than a handheld sander too. Unlike sanders that you might be familiar with, a drum sander has a conveyor belt. This moves your wood through the sander, making the results both consistent and professional.
- Large capacity. Drum sanders have a huge workspace, even if the machine itself doesn’t take up a lot of room. These power tools do tend to be quite large and come with large tables that can accommodate big workpieces.
- This modern sander is one of the most convenient tools for sanding that you can own. Some drum sanders have a stand so that your back is protecting when you are standing to use the machine. They also can come with a conveyor belt that automatically adjusts to suit the piece that you are sanding. Finally, you can get belt sanders with feed rates that are varying. This makes it possible to sand different things without ruining anything.
Drum Sander - Buying Guide
1. Closed-End vs. Open End Drum Sander
A closed-end drum sander has a supporting structure. The pressure rollers and feed belt are closed on the ends. With this design, you can’t sand anything that is wider than the drum’s length. For example, you can only sand boards that are 12-inches wide on a 12-inch closed-end sander. These sanders are more stable than an open-end drum sander because the roller won’t flex apart or open.
If you mostly work with large boards, you’ll probably want an open end drum sander. With this sander type, a 12-inch sander can sand boards that are up to 24-inches in width. These are less even in terms of their sanding capabilities due to their open ends, however.
2. Single vs. Double Drum Sander
The oldest and most popular type of drum sanders are single drum sanders. With a single-drum sander, you only have one sandpaper so you have to change it if you need to use more than one for the project. One advantage of a single drum sander is that their design is simple and they are easy to use. Mostly, they cost less too.
A double drum sander has two drums, as you would expect by the name. The advantage of this is that you can have two different sanding grits at once. E.g. the first drum can have a more coarse paper, while the second can have finer paper. These are more expensive.
3. Quality and Durability
A drum sander is a bit of an investment so you want to get the best value for money. Check how it’s made including the pressure rollers, feed belt and housing. These power tools are prone to vibration, some more expensive models will have anti-vibration technology to minimize the problem.
It is crucial to consider the sander’s motor and this should be something to look at when you buy a drum sander. Most have power between 1 HP and 5 HP.
The size of the material your drum sander can handle is important. Read above regarding closed-end and open-end drum sanders.
The best drum sanders will have a variable feed rate and speed. If you can vary the feed rate, you will have more variety in what you can use the item for.
7. Dust Collection
Anyone who has ever sanded anything will know that sanding comes with heaps of dust. Look at how the drum sander collects dust.
8. Maximum and minimum wood sizes
If you are planning to make a large dining table, you’ll really need to consider the sizes of the drum sander in terms of maximum width. For smaller projects, this won’t be as important but you should still check the Specifications. The thickness of wood is also a consideration.
9. Motor strength
Some of the more expensive drum sanders can do tasks usually assigned to planers but most can’t. Less expensive styles expect you to regulate the machine to prevent damage otherwise the motor will not be able to cope.
At the moment there are two distinct types of drum sanders out there: old school and high-tech. The old-style has manual levers and knobs to adjust the measurements while the high-tech ones have computers to help regulate and make adjustments. These are much more precise but they are also much more expensive.
11. Feed rate
The feed rate fluctuates depending on how deep you ask the machine to cut. There’s a faster feed rate for shallower cutting. For some older models, you will be controlling the feed rate manually and so you’ll have to ensure you don’t overtax the drum roller.
12. Portability and weight
It’s not likely that you will need to transport your drum sander regularly and you shouldn’t really consider a drum sander as portable. There are models with wheels attached for easy maneuvering.
13. New sandpaper installation
Most sanders have a similar way to install the sandpaper but some take around 30 seconds to install, while others take more like 30 minutes and need an extra tool. Check before you buy!
14. Bench or stand
When looking at sanders, read the descriptions carefully. Some don’t have a stand so if the one you’re looking at doesn’t have one, you’ll need to think about getting one.
Since a drum sander can generate lots of power, it is prone to vibrations. This is tiring for you as you need to work harder to keep your wood in the right place. It also leaves marks on the wood. Lighter sanders and high-end models have fewer vibration issues.
16. Noise Reduction
Drum sanders can be excessively loud but some have newer tech that reduces the noise. Always use ear defenders and look for a machine that is less than 95 dB, as this isn’t harmful.
Snipe isn’t just an issue for planers. On drum sanders, evidence of snip is usually in the middle of a board. You just need to make sure you don’t overtax your sander and you should be fine.
You can get a budget sander; it depends on your requirements though. Don’t go all-out and pay for expensive advanced features that you are not going to use.
19. Other Features
Here are some other features to check out that may sway your purchase:
- Cantilever hoods
- Customer service
- Digital height reader
Drum sander Using Tips & Tricks
A drum sander isn’t difficult to use but there are some things to know to make it easier:
- Choose sandpaper carefully – go for premium paper for premium results.
- Take time – don’t try to take a lot off with each pass – it is not a planer. Have patience for the best results.
- Buy a dust collector – you will thank me!
- Don’t sand through brads – ever! It will leave lines in your paper that will be shown on the next item you sand.
- Start with the right grit – you should start with a coarse grit and finish with a fine one.
- Use a face mask and goggles even if you’re using a dust collector.
- Don’t mess with the power cable and don’t use an extension lead as these can result in potential electrical fires.
A sander is dangerous, never think otherwise. Never get complacent no matter how used to the machine you are. The most dangerous part is the 4 inches closest to the sander bit. Make sure you concentrate fully when you operate the machine and don’t have any materials pressing up against it.
When using your sander, you should stand properly and make sure there is no risk of you losing balance or slipping. Don’t stretch to handle the wood and make sure you have no distractions like children or dogs around that might make you jump.
If you choose materials that are too small, you run the risk of getting into difficulty because your hands will need to be closer to the sanding parts. Also, make sure that the wood doesn’t have any irregularities that might cause the wood to jam or kick back on your hands.
Don’t wear loose clothing and make sure long hair, including beards, is tied back. Chains and necklaces should be removed or tucked away securely. It is best to use protective clothing like gloves, aprons and steel toe boots. Ear defenders and goggles are a must!
In this Best Drum Sander Review and Buyers’ Guide, we hope to have covered all bases to help you to decide which drum sander is most suitable for your needs and budget.
Our Editor’s Choice officers great value for money while being an excellent product for a great number of people with varying needs. There are two dual drum sanders in this review if that’s something you’re keen to purchase and we have a mixture of high-tech and old school too.
Whatever your needs and desires, we hope to have found something suitable for you or, at least, helped you to decide what features you need and want when buying your new drum sander.
1. How does a sander work?
Ans: A drum sander moves the paper quickly against a wood surface creating smooth wood really quickly.
2. What are the differences between drum sander and planer?
Ans: Planers remove much more material than a drum sander. A drum sander is the best machine for finishing a product. Planers remove up to ¼ inch with each pass, a sander would take 25 passes to remove the same amount.
3. What are the differences between drum sander and belt sander?
Ans: They both work in a similar way. A drum sander fairly abrasive but it removes far less than a belt sander. When an object is not too wide, a drum sander is ideal.
4. What are the differences between drum sander and orbital sander?
Ans: A drum sander has a drum with a sandpaper belt around it. The drum spins when the machine turns on. An orbital sander has a plate that oscillates, this is much slower.
5. What are the differences among drum sander, square sander and disk sander?
Ans: A square sander is a choice item for professionals in refinishing woodwork. A disk sander is often used when the wood surface isn’t very rough. Disk sanders can be used at an angle, unlike drum sanders.
6. How much does a drum sander remove?
Ans: Typically, a drum sander will remove between 5 to 7 thousandths of an inch for each pass.
7. How much sandpaper do I need for a drum sander?
Ans: It depends on what you are sanding. If you sand a floor with a drum sander, you might need 5 sheets of finer (120) grit sandpaper, 8 of 90 grit, 8 of 40 grit and 12 of 24 grit. You’d need about the same for an edging sander too.
8. How long does it take to sand a floor with a drum sander?
Ans: If you have a room that is 140sq. ft. it will take around 5 hours.
9. How much does it cost to rent a drum sander?
Ans: A rule of thumb says that it costs around $1.50 for each square foot, this includes rental charges and materials. Compare this to hiring a professional to do the job for you costs $4 to $5 per sq. ft.
10. How long does it take to sand a table?
Ans: It depends on how you sand it and its size! With a sander, it will take less time and probably less than one hour with all the different grits being used for a professional finish.
11. Will a drum sander flatten a board?
Ans: A planer will be much more efficient but it is possible with a drum sander, it will just take longer.