Drum Sander Opinions

Hey friends,

I'm a Winston Salem based hobby woodworker hoping to buy a drum sander someday soon.

I do a lot of cutting boards and similar glue-ups. I have a small shop but am dead set on getting larger space someday in the next couple of years. I'm open to both used and new machines and have restored a number of old woodworking tools (still miss the 3ph, 3hp general 350 saw I left in Oregon). Price cap would be 2K, ideally.

I've looked at new machines, double drum machines, and even used wide belt sanders. I'm not sure what's right for me, but I'd like to hear some of y'all's dos and don'ts on this matter.

What are your experiences with drum sanders and wide belt sanders?

Would it be worth buying a 3 phase machine and wiring it for operating on a VFD (I'm comfortable with this kind of work)?

What are your main parameters when choosing a sanding machine like this?

- Jason
 

BKHam

Bradley
User
I'm not expert on the wiring and horsepower parts of this but I've owned 3 different small shop, open ended drum sanders. i really only use mine for making shop made veneer (so it will be sanded once in glued down) and thin stock for a variety of uses.

putting the paper on takes a little practice but I've become proficient at it (small binder clips are my trick). that being said, i dread taking it off. i usually leave a 120 grit on it and that leaves a surface that i do not think is a final surface, even on a cutting board. the variances in the paper telegraph onto the board and leave visible scratches.

to have the double drum and have 220 on the back to get much closer to a finished surface would be amazing. if you have the space and the budget for that, I don't think you'd ever regret it.

I believe the cost jumps way up when you go to a wide belt sander but that would be nice too. really easily changed belts would get you to the same place.
 

Berta

Berta
Corporate Member
I have a Jet 22 - 44 that I bought used from another member. I love it. I don’t use it everyday or even every week. When I need it, it’s there. It is on locking wheels. It does need to have dust collection to work properly.
 

beloitdavisja

James
Corporate Member
I have a Supermax 25-50. Bought it off a member here about 2 years ago. It's a beefy machine, and probably bigger than I need, but I love it.

If you're comfortable with wiring 3PH w/VFD and can find one in your budget, why not? Get a quality machine with the most power you can afford. But if you're going the open-end route, the Supermax's are very nice.
 

Hjanes

Harlan
User
I have a Jet 22-44 oscillating I'm pleased with. I use the oscillating function only with coarse paper on fairly rough boards. While that function prevents loading the paper up while cutting pretty fast, it does leave tracks that have to be sanded out with straight sanding. I mostly use it as a straight sander. For nicer projects I'll sand to 180 on the machine. Then, since there's some spring in the platen and paper, I pass the work through again without adjusting the height and that cleans things up nicely. Then I finish sand by hand to 220 usually. Strong vacuum and keeping the paper unclogged with an "eraser" is helpful. It's not a "finish" sander, and you can't be in a hurry or too aggressive with height reductions. I've found the paper loading process reasonably easy and fast with this machine. It comes with a tool intended to assist the paper loading process but I find I can do it easy enough using my fingers. Once you've installed a new abrasive, you'll likely have a little slack in the paper. Unfasten one end of the paper, work that slack out and refasten before using it. And depending on the material and its width, I find passing the board through the machine at a slight angle seems to improve the machine's performance and likely spreads the wear on the abrasive. For what it's worth.
 

I have not used one, but have heard good things about it.
Wow! That looks pretty darn cool. I think I want a complete machine, but they sell one that has the base and just requires a motor and belt...and I have a couple of motors on hand. I'll definitely look at this a little closer.

That said, I'm a little turned off by some of the language in the description of their products (like, "we have made the best drum sander by doing it differently than everyone ever because we're geniuses.*).

*not an actual quote
 
I have a Jet 22-44 oscillating I'm pleased with. I use the oscillating function only with coarse paper on fairly rough boards. While that function prevents loading the paper up while cutting pretty fast, it does leave tracks that have to be sanded out with straight sanding. I mostly use it as a straight sander. For nicer projects I'll sand to 180 on the machine. Then, since there's some spring in the platen and paper, I pass the work through again without adjusting the height and that cleans things up nicely. Then I finish sand by hand to 220 usually. Strong vacuum and keeping the paper unclogged with an "eraser" is helpful. It's not a "finish" sander, and you can't be in a hurry or too aggressive with height reductions. I've found the paper loading process reasonably easy and fast with this machine. It comes with a tool intended to assist the paper loading process but I find I can do it easy enough using my fingers. Once you've installed a new abrasive, you'll likely have a little slack in the paper. Unfasten one end of the paper, work that slack out and refasten before using it. And depending on the material and its width, I find passing the board through the machine at a slight angle seems to improve the machine's performance and likely spreads the wear on the abrasive. For what it's worth.

That's good feedback! I do like the idea of the oscillating machines, but I think that Jet may have killed that option when they bought whatever company was originally making those machines.

A lot of people seem to like the Jet open ended sanders, and since they are everywhere I bet that parts and advice would be readily available.
 
I have a Supermax 25-50. Bought it off a member here about 2 years ago. It's a beefy machine, and probably bigger than I need, but I love it.

If you're comfortable with wiring 3PH w/VFD and can find one in your budget, why not? Get a quality machine with the most power you can afford. But if you're going the open-end route, the Supermax's are very nice.

I am comfortable with it. Some of the consideration has to do with the work/time involved, some with portability.

Here's one that I just messaged the seller about. I need a little more info about what motors are running in it. One thing about a VFD on these is the mystery of how to run two motors (the drum and the conveyor). I'm guessing I'll need two vfds, or something. One silly reason that I'd be interested in this one is because it's from Oregon, and I'm from Oregon, so that's cool:


But it's giant. And it would have to live in my basement forever, because how would I ever get it out?
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
had a jet 22-44 and hated it. I sand alot of maple and no matter what I did, grit, feed, depth of cut, I got alot of pitch build up and then burning. Constantly changing the paper gets old when youre trying to do actual work. I went and picked up a used bridgewood 15" wide belt sander, its 5 HP single phase too!. You can overload the feed but it just kicks out the drive motor for the drumand feeds through. It will remove a ton of material in no time as well. The elevator for closing the bed to roller gap could be alot less sensitive to adlustments (turn the crank handle about 15 degrees and it moves about 1/32" maybe more. It does an amazing job and changing grits is a breeze. One caveat, it requires a 220 line, vacuum and air to operate.
 
had a jet 22-44 and hated it. I sand alot of maple and no matter what I did, grit, feed, depth of cut, I got alot of pitch build up and then burning. Constantly changing the paper gets old when youre trying to do actual work. I went and picked up a used bridgewood 15" wide belt sander, its 5 HP single phase too!. You can overload the feed but it just kicks out the drive motor for the drumand feeds through. It will remove a ton of material in no time as well. The elevator for closing the bed to roller gap could be alot less sensitive to adlustments (turn the crank handle about 15 degrees and it moves about 1/32" maybe more. It does an amazing job and changing grits is a breeze. One caveat, it requires a 220 line, vacuum and air to operate.
I'll never have 3 phase, but putting in new conventional circuits is no problem. I found a used powermatic wide belt that I was considering, but the seller said tha the "air hoses had dry rotten and needed replacement." I had no idea about the air hose aspect of these machines. What kind of air requirement is there and what does the air do? I'm guessing that they keep the rollers clean, or something?

The concern about pitch build up is legit because I have cut a significant amount of recycled long leaf pine that I like to use in various projects.
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
The air does 2 things, it tensions the belt and makes it oscillate. Replacing the airlines is easy to do. I originally had it hooked up to a 22 gal compressor but it was constantly running so I bought a 80 gal unit and no problem!.
 

Chris C

Chris
Senior User
I have a Performax 22-44 Pro Max III and have no complaints. But I ran a small amount of 80+ year old pine from a family tobacco barn and it quickly ruined a 120 grit belt with pitch buildup.
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
Couple of things.
Drum sanders or belt have either a secondary motor to drive the feed or they could have a gearing that accomplishes the same thing. If you build your own you can use a car wiper motor to a rotisserie motor for that.

As for wiring a vfd it is pretty easy to do. However most the VFD'S have Chinglish instructions. There are plenty of youtubes that help.
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
I'll never have 3 phase, but putting in new conventional circuits is no problem. I found a used powermatic wide belt that I was considering, but the seller said tha the "air hoses had dry rotten and needed replacement." I had no idea about the air hose aspect of these machines. What kind of air requirement is there and what does the air do? I'm guessing that they keep the rollers clean, or something?

The concern about pitch build up is legit because I have cut a significant amount of recycled long leaf pine that I like to use in various projects.
I see you're from Winston, i'm down in Lexington if you'd like to come have a look at mine.
 
Couple of things.
Drum sanders or belt have either a secondary motor to drive the feed or they could have a gearing that accomplishes the same thing. If you build your own you can use a car wiper motor to a rotisserie motor for that.

As for wiring a vfd it is pretty easy to do. However most the VFD'S have Chinglish instructions. There are plenty of youtubes that help.
Good points. I could probably find some way to make the belt drive work, no matter the setup. I feel pretty comfortable setting up the vfd. Here's me the last time I did one, this is the bench teat phase:

bringing a 3 phase table saw to life with magic

That project convinced me that vfds are basically magic. I had an electrician friend check and verify my whole setup before using it.
 

joec

joe
User
Once you start using one, it is hard to imagine not have it. I use mine most often for sneaking up on the exact thickness of a board to match a dado or spline etc.
 

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