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John Abbett

Thickness Drum Sander

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All,

I needed a thickness sander to do thin boards for guitar builds. My planer seems to explode figured maple when it starts getting about 1/4 inch thick.

So I went through my old shop notes and found the plans for this sander. It works well. Didn't take too long to make. Total part cost was about 120 bucks - the little parts add up quick.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15318670@N06/...in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15318670@N06/...in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15318670@N06/2629171434/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15318670@N06/2628342605/

The bottom belt is the feed belt, the top the sanding drum. It hooks up to my 3 hp table saw for power.

The axel is sticking out the end, I intent to make an attachment to do buffing off that extended axel.

-John

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Impressive! I've been wanting to make a small drum sander for thicknessing figured wood and creating volutes, but the stumbling block has always been getting the shaft and drum, and figuring out how to connect everything up. Care to share how you did it?

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Yeah, I don't know that I'd ever actually build one, but I'd also be very curious how you built it.

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Detailed Plans are in ShopNotes Vol 15 Issue 86.

Basically you make a frame and make an adjustable table on the bottom and two pillowblocks on the top with a drum.

The 5 inch drum is made out of hardboard. I cut out 24 circle with a circle cutter, glued them together and trued them up on the lathe. I put pins through the shaft to lock it in place. Once it was assembled, before I put paper on the drum, I put paper on the table and trued up the drum in relation to the table.

The shaft is 3/4 inch, and has a 5 inch pulley. The spindle on my table saw is 5/8 and has a 2 1/2 inch pulley. You tighten it up by lowering the spindle.

The table is unique to these plans, there are lots of plans whee you push the work through. This uses a ready made sanding belt, 16 x 48. You adjust tracking by adjusting threaded rod on each side. The rollers are 1 1/2 inch pipe that has some hardboard circles inside, glued in. It's got a pin through it to the shaft. The handle is just a bolt with pipe over it, and the nut ground round and smooth on the end.

The table raises and lowers by a half circle adjustment mechanism. You turn the knob and it raises and lowers very acurately.

I ended up using about 1/3 sheet of hardboard, some plywood for the bottom table, some scraps for the dust collector and the belt guard.

With the dust collector running, there is NO dust. Without it, it's a white out storm.

Hardware:

Two pillowblocks

5 and 2 1/2 pully - hardware store

v belt - hardware store

3/4 inch shaft - Home Depot

1/2 inch shaft x 2 - HD

Piano hinge, junk drawer

Sanding belt for drive belt 16 x 48

Sand paper for the drum.

Hardware for the handle

Lots of inserts. Since the hardboard is soft, you have to use inserts everywhere.

Threaded knobs x 4 for the bottom table

Threaded knob for the adjustment mech.

1/4 inch threaded rod for the adjustment mech.

threaded rod for the tracking on each side of the feed table.

lots of nuts, washers, etc.

Uhh.. Some other stuff.

-John

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I'm going to build one of these as I have a spare table saw, and could do with a thickness sander. Is anyone else in the UK up for building one, so we can share parts sources/prices, and talk in millimetres, etc? :-D

Good work John - a very nice and effective tool! Is there much flex in the "chassis" or is it stable enough without further reinforcement?

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I'm going to build one of these as I have a spare table saw, and could do with a thickness sander. Is anyone else in the UK up for building one, so we can share parts sources/prices, and talk in millimetres, etc? :-D

Good work John - a very nice and effective tool! Is there much flex in the "chassis" or is it stable enough without further reinforcement?

You don't need an extra table saw, you raise the saw spindle, the belt pops off, pick the entire thing up and set it on the floor. Change the pully for a saw blade and you are back in business. Putting it on is just as easy. 2-3 minutes tops. It's kinda heavy, but manageable.

It's plenty stable, solid as a rock. No vibration, no flex. That hardboard is somewhat brittle if you ding a corner it will chip, but very heavy and solid. You can't bend it. I wouldn't trust screws in it by themselves, but glueing it together makes a very solid block. The sides are three boards thick. It makes a very stable platform. I had a sheet laying around because I am making a princess headboard for my daughter. That stuff works great and once you seal it up, is a dream to paint. The plans specify that stuff too.

Thanks to eshuffle for sourcing the plans. I looked and didn't find them. I assumed (Incorrectly) that they were not available anymore.

The plans are very well written.

-John

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cool i like home made tools i wish i had room for anything other than hand tools!

Prostheta I can't join you in building one but i'm always happy to talk in millimeters! :D

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I'm going to build one of these as I have a spare table saw, and could do with a thickness sander. Is anyone else in the UK up for building one, so we can share parts sources/prices, and talk in millimetres, etc? :-D

Good work John - a very nice and effective tool! Is there much flex in the "chassis" or is it stable enough without further reinforcement?

You don't need an extra table saw, you raise the saw spindle, the belt pops off, pick the entire thing up and set it on the floor. Change the pully for a saw blade and you are back in business. Putting it on is just as easy. 2-3 minutes tops. It's kinda heavy, but manageable.

The table I have isn't used, so I might as well convert it "semi-permanently" otherwise it's another thing under the bench to ding shins on the corners of!

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Mike, Erik, Rich? What are your comments on this home-made sander? I wouldn't imagine consistent results from using a hand crank to feed the piece through.

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If the mechanisms are secure (hence my questions on stability) then the geometry should stay true. The drum itself is trued up using a piece of known-to-be-flat material with sandpaper so I can't see why it wouldn't be good. The design already includes adjustable tensioning for the belt, so the resulting machine will be as accurate as it's build(ers) quality and setup I guess. It will end up being reinforced slightly so it is less likely to flex or move anyway.

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If the mechanisms are secure (hence my questions on stability) then the geometry should stay true. The drum itself is trued up using a piece of known-to-be-flat material with sandpaper so I can't see why it wouldn't be good. The design already includes adjustable tensioning for the belt, so the resulting machine will be as accurate as it's build(ers) quality and setup I guess. It will end up being reinforced slightly so it is less likely to flex or move anyway.

I forgot to mention, the adjustment raises and lowers one end of the feed table, but there is a slot that locking knob ride in. I don't bother locking it for anything but the final pass, but for the final pass, I lock the table so it can't flex on one side more then the other. If I put the material through not center it might push down that side of the feed table. I also rotate the material end for end for each pass, this helps keep any variations to a minimum.

So far, mine is very very close. I put two halves of hard rock maple guitar top through and when I glued them together they were exactly the same height along the glue line. It's close enough for what I'm doing for sure.

Anyway, the design is pretty solid.

-John

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It looks like you have built a very nice tool there. Very smart design :D It is hard to judge how easy to use, accurate, and reliable it will be from pictures, but it sounds like you have had some good test results. When you think about what you are spinning there and the forces acting on the tool, getting good results shows you have some solid woodworking and engineering skills.

I made a thickness sander, and it worked(I did not have a converyor). When I compair it to my performax, I would say #1 the motor driven conveyor(variable speed) is a huge improvement over no conveyor, I am sure it is easier than a hand cranked conveyor(but the hand powered solution is clever and will be MUCH better than nothing). My drum and table was accurate, but did start to show wear and would not take heavy abuse, the performax has been bullet proof. The drum on the one I build did not disapate heat well(actually the heat is a constant fight on any drum sander) and dense or oily woods did in the sand paper much faster than the performax. Table adjustments were ok on my table(this machine looks well thought out) but not as reliable and easy to fine tune as the performax.

Bottom line, I would not build my own over buying with what I know now. I built my own because I thought it looked simple enough, and I could get my sander for a few bucks less. The performax is so easy to use, accurate, and reliable that I actually use it a LOT more than my home built sander. They are actually very useful tools. You get so many years worth of good use out of a good drum sander that I think the expense is easy to justify(even though I had to save my pennies and talk the wife into letting me buy it). I think you will find most people who build and buy a drum sander will give you a similar review.

Rich

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I'm not going to argue with that logic, makes sense to me.

But look at it from my point of view.

I plane everything to thickness typically. My planer leaves a very nice finish I can start at 220 and finer. The only reason I built the is for figured woods that can't handle the planer stresses. I still plane and then sand the rest of the way with this tool. (Oh, and small parts I can't put through the planer)

I will use it occasionally. This tool is NOT industrial strengh. It wouldn't last very long in a production shop, or even a serious guitar builder who uses it all the time. I make 2-3 guitars a year, I'm not going to work it very hard. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on a tool that won't get used a lot. I couldn't justify a 6-700 dollar sander. I found I could build one, and enjoy the process, spend 120 or so and end up with something that is useful.

So, it's not for everyone for sure. It's certainly not a quality pro tool that is built out of steel. But for occasional use, I expect to get years of service out of it. After all, it's 99% wood. I can always replace anything that wears out.

So there you have it. It works for me, but definetely not for everyone.

If that's your expectation, you won't be dissapointed. It's a quality plan.

-John

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Sounds pretty reasonable to me. A lot of what I use my sander for is post resawing(acoustic sets, soundboards), but I also make a lot of bindings veneer plates, and other misc. parts or blanks. Most of the time I am looking to remove about .010-.015" total to surface both sides from backs, sides, or soundboards to clean them up. Things like bindings I am targeting .08" or .06"(ruff sawing to about .090-.100") by 1/4", however I run a lot of them through with each pass, so I am often monitoring the bits as they feed in and need both hands available. Most of the time I use 80 grit, occasionally I may step it up to a higher grit, but not too often. A lot of repetitive stuff.

If I was surfacing one set or blank for a project it wouldn't make much difference if it took a couple extra minutes(I hope I wouldn't be in that much of a rush anyway). As long as the sander is reliable and accurate it would work for me.

Rich

Since you mentioned industrial though :D , I am looking to pick up a larger sander(maybe/hopefully belt) to try to control the heat when I sand the oily dense stuff. Man that ruins sandpaper fast :D .

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I found this one from the net a while ago.

Drum sander

Don't know if it is any good, but I was planning to give it a go as soon as I find some time to get the project started.

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