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NotYou

Bench Top Drum Sanders

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I've been without a planer for quite a while, but I can finally get one. While looking for something in my price range, I realized a drum sander might be more suitable, since we use so much figured and brittle wood on guitars. The one I used before was really nice and still chipped and tore brittle wood all the time.

I don't know jack about drum sanders. I've heard from other builders that they're the way to go, so I'm looking into it.

I found a nice looking bench top one that can do 18". That's plenty big for larger guitars and even some acoustics (if I get a planer I can only afford 13" and I need wider for some current and upcoming builds). The drum isn't overhead like most seem to be. You run the board over it, like you would on a jointer. I know it'll take longer than a planer, but that's not a problem as long as it gets the results I want eventually.

Does anybody know if that will work for planing? I've heard it will, but I want some other opinions. Like I said, I know hardly anything about these.

My ignorance is not bliss. I want to know what I'm getting into before I decide anything.

This is what it looks like:

38425-01-500.jpg

Edited by NotYou

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I've been without a planer for quite a while, but I can finally get one. While looking for something in my price range, I realized a drum sander might be more suitable, since we use so much figured and brittle wood on guitars. The one I used before was really nice and still chipped and tore brittle wood all the time.

I don't know jack about drum sanders. I've heard from other builders that they're the way to go, so I'm looking into it.

I found a nice looking bench top one that can do 18". That's plenty big for larger guitars and even some acoustics (if I get a planer I can only afford 13" and I need wider for some current and upcoming builds). The drum isn't overhead like most seem to be. You run the board over it, like you would on a jointer. I know it'll take longer than a planer, but that's not a problem as long as it gets the results I want eventually.

Does anybody know if that will work for planing? I've heard it will, but I want some other opinions. Like I said, I know hardly anything about these.

My ignorance is not bliss. I want to know what I'm getting into before I decide anything.

This is what it looks like:

38425-01-500.jpg

NotYou, don't waste your money on that. My local Woodcraft had one and after a demo returned it. It is in a nice word "DANGEROUS" things can fly off at speeds that will hurt you. Also keeping a fixed thickness is near to impossible as you are the thickness guide, since it has only one reference plane. :D

Just my observations.

MK

MK

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The one problem I can foresee with this style of sander is that there is no way to guarantee that opposing sides will be parallel (like they are with a planer). Also, removing certain defects could be much more difficult with one of those. Of course, building one of those types of sanders is dead easy. You can make the top of MDF, use an old 1725 RPM motor, and make the drum out of a bunch of circles cut from MDF. If it were me, I would probably go with a planer and save my pennies for a drum sander with a conveyor to maintain parallel top and bottom. Of course, whichever route you go, I am sure to be envious :D

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NotYou, don't waste your money on that. My local Woodcraft had one and after a demo returned it. It is in a nice word "DANGEROUS" things can fly off at speeds that will hurt you. Also keeping a fixed thickness is near to impossible as you are the thickness guide, since it has only one reference plane. :D

Just my observations.

MK

MK

The one problem I can foresee with this style of sander is that there is no way to guarantee that opposing sides will be parallel (like they are with a planer). Also, removing certain defects could be much more difficult with one of those. Of course, building one of those types of sanders is dead easy. You can make the top of MDF, use an old 1725 RPM motor, and make the drum out of a bunch of circles cut from MDF. If it were me, I would probably go with a planer and save my pennies for a drum sander with a conveyor to maintain parallel top and bottom. Of course, whichever route you go, I am sure to be envious :D

Thanks, those are all good points.

I could see it being dangerous, especially with everything exposed like that. Not a huge concern... but that's because I'm reckless. I guess it should be an issue.

Thicknessing isn't my big concern. I mostly want to be able to get boards flat so I can laminate them properly. If they're uneven thicknesses, it's still not a big deal as everything I make has a lot of hand carving done to it. I just can't get the wood flat enough by hand to attach a top to a body. I have a jointer I use for necks, but it only does like 6.5".

I'm pretty sure I have a one of those motors in my shop. I pulled it out of something else years ago. I've moved since then, though... I hope I still have it.

Edited by NotYou

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For planers, these are in my range.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=29962&filter=planer

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=31270&filter=planer

and, of course, one from Grizzly:

http://www.grizzly.com/outlet/13-2-HP-Planer-with-Dust-Collection/G0689

I'm making a custom right now that about 14", so buying a 13" planer is kind of an issue. I also have one planned that's going to be about 16".

If I reaaaaaalllly stretch it and plan, I can get a 15" Grizzly... although, I'm not entirely sure that'd be worth it:

http://www.grizzly.com/products/15-Planer-Moulder/G0477

Edited by NotYou

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I got the Performax 16-32 drum sander second hand recently here in Australia for cheaper than the Grizzly 15" planer. Should be even cheaper there as it's a US made product. I couldn't be happier with the unit - like you I found I couldn't get body blanks as flat as I'd like for laminating - it's a breeze with the drum sander. If that's still out of your price range, they make a 10-20 unit that will do up to 20" in 2 passes. If you can I reckon it's worth going for the bigger one - much less hassle setting up if you do it in one pass.

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I got the Performax 16-32 drum sander second hand recently here in Australia for cheaper than the Grizzly 15" planer. Should be even cheaper there as it's a US made product. I couldn't be happier with the unit - like you I found I couldn't get body blanks as flat as I'd like for laminating - it's a breeze with the drum sander. If that's still out of your price range, they make a 10-20 unit that will do up to 20" in 2 passes. If you can I reckon it's worth going for the bigger one - much less hassle setting up if you do it in one pass.

Ahhh, thank you.

... and thank you, craigslist:

http://denver.craigslist.org/tls/2808051243.html

Edited by NotYou

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Hey, don't buy one of those things. Drums sanders are terribly easy to build, you'll save a bunch of money (especially if you already have a motor), and you can build it to spec. If you want it to sit on your benchtop, you could make one that would do it. If you want to make one that can sand 16/4 wood that's 40" wide, you can do that. Mine has a 22" capacity, and can currently handle wood up to about 2.25" thick (though I'm soon going to modify it for 3"+ stock). It can also bring down material to an incredibly thin thickness, and if you get creative, you can build it as a multi-purpose tool. It's amazing what you can do with a spinning steel bar.

Plans for these things are all over the internet. I think a few people around here have made one. I'd certainly be glad to help answer your questions if you decide to do it.

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I wanted to spend my building time building guitars, not tools (limited time in the shed after work and family), so buying a ready made drum sander was a no brainer for me. I need a drum sander because my skills aren't up to getting the body pieces flat enough without it....no way I'd get anything close to the accuracy of the drum on the Performax if I built one. I'm sure that Craig's woodworking chops are superior to mine, so it might be worth his while to DIY. :D

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Yeah, I don't like making tools anymore either. I've made quite a few jigs and a pickup winder, but I hated every moment of it.

I'm strapped lately, but I'd still rather buy something than make something.I might actually buy a 13" planer and make a drum sander, though. I'll save a few bucks and have a planer for most of my builds. The few larger ones will just need to be finessed a little more.

I'm still thinking about it. I won't have the money until later in the week, so I can toss the ideas around some more. If that one I posted from craigslist is still available, I might go that route if I can talk him down some (and you can ALWAYS talk down craigslist people).

Edited by NotYou

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Ok, new plan:

Get a 13" planer & a good hand plane (I have a crap hand plane now).

That would keep me within my budget and give me a lot of versatility.

Any thoughts on that?

Edited by NotYou

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Random thoughts- very influenced by my own situation and limitations FWIW

-really good hand plane isn't that much cheaper than second hand drum sander (at least here in Australia, a good Veritas smoothing plane is just under half the cost of the 16/32 you posted)

-time it takes to learn to use hand plane properly compared with your hourly rate

-ease to keep faces of timber parallel on drum sander compared with hand planing

-planer (and sometimes even excellent hand plane work) won't handle highly figured timbers as well as drum sander

-for that model drum sander in particular, paper changes are really quick and easy (less than 2 mins to change grits)

OTOH, hand plane is more "sensual", not noisy, not dusty and certainly more satisfying when (for me "if") you get the desired result.

Because this is your income, somewhere in the decision has to be a calculation Return on Investment - how much time you will save and how much that time is worth, potential lost $ if you get tearout on expensive figured timbers.

Hope this helps.

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The planar will destroy lots of great figured wood.

I loved my Jet 10-20 but it wasn't big enough to put a full guitar body through. However it made very accurate lams for necks.

I now have a Performax 16-32 and while it is great for body blanks and tops it does not make good accurate lams. I can not trust it to make something perfectly flat without joining it first (and for figured wood that is bad).

I plan to either get a nicer 16-32 or get another 10-20 just for lams.

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RAD, any idea why it doesn't do well with lams? Everything I've thrown at it so far - from body blanks, to neck lams to acoustic sides - has come out beautifully.

FWIW, when I'm close to final thickness, I run the piece through a few times without further adjustment of the drum height. If I don't get to final thickness then I adjust 1/8 turn (equivalent to 0.2mm according to the instructions).

I still use the planer (mine is 8" combination planer/jointer) to get close to final thickness if the blank is way thick - the drum sander will do it, but takes more passes.

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RAD, any idea why it doesn't do well with lams? Everything I've thrown at it so far - from body blanks, to neck lams to acoustic sides - has come out beautifully.

FWIW, when I'm close to final thickness, I run the piece through a few times without further adjustment of the drum height. If I don't get to final thickness then I adjust 1/8 turn (equivalent to 0.2mm according to the instructions).

I still use the planer (mine is 8" combination planer/jointer) to get close to final thickness if the blank is way thick - the drum sander will do it, but takes more passes.

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RAD, any idea why it doesn't do well with lams? Everything I've thrown at it so far - from body blanks, to neck lams to acoustic sides - has come out beautifully.

FWIW, when I'm close to final thickness, I run the piece through a few times without further adjustment of the drum height. If I don't get to final thickness then I adjust 1/8 turn (equivalent to 0.2mm according to the instructions).

I still use the planer (mine is 8" combination planer/jointer) to get close to final thickness if the blank is way thick - the drum sander will do it, but takes more passes.

So mine is an older Performax 16-32 and it doesn't have many adjustments to tune. It keeps nerfing the ends which pisses me off as I am used to only using enough stock to get the job done. I hate wasting wood. It also has a tendency to follow a curve... so I get decent results if I join at least one surface before starting.

It has another habit of bouncing when a piece first contacts the drum causing me to fiddle with the feed rate.

I have tried making a few passes without moving the drum and it helps but still not the level I am used to. I will try the 1/8" turn this weekend and see how it goes.

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I just got back from checking out hand planes at Rockler. I think I'm getting one. Just holding it made me excited (that's what she said).

Since I work low volume, the extra time it takes to hand plane isn't a big deal. As long as I get the results I want, I'm happy. I also love using woodworking hand tools in general. How can you not?

I can get a really nice low angle one for about $180 and I get $20 off there. Not too shabby.

After I work with it for a while, I'll decide which way to go. The 13" from Grizzly looks like the best bet. With a little love, Grizzly's tools are pretty decent for the money.

Here she is:

35736-01-500.jpg

Edited by NotYou

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It's a done deal. :D

404954_10150590068175138_183692040137_8947405_1807910793_n.jpg

:D

Once I figure out how to plug it in, I'll be all set.

Edited by NotYou

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It's a done deal. :D

404954_10150590068175138_183692040137_8947405_1807910793_n.jpg

B)

Once I figure out how to plug it in, I'll be all set.

I do know the on/off switch is on the handle. Push for on :D

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I finally got to use it today. It's amazing. I had a stupid smile on my face every time I pushed it through the wood. LONG ribbons of wood were everywhere.

It was plenty sharp out of the box to plane most woods, but I tried it on a big piece of figured bubinga and it wasn't quite enough. I got it flattened, but it was rough. I did expect it to be even that sharp, so I was still impressed. I'll sharpen it tomorrow and I'm sure it'll eat right through it.

I'm very, very pleased. It was worth every cent.

Once I figure out how to plug it in, I'll be all set.

I do know the on/off switch is on the handle. Push for on :D

Ba%20Dum%20Tssshhh.jpg

Edited by NotYou

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It's a done deal. :D

404954_10150590068175138_183692040137_8947405_1807910793_n.jpg

B)

Once I figure out how to plug it in, I'll be all set.

You've been bitten by it now. Next on your list if you haven't already got one is a low angle block plane. Veritas make some beautiful examples, however if I can master making Norris style adjusters I will likely make my own dovetailed brass/steel block plane with a Ziricote infill :-D

Beautiful. :D

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It's a done deal. :D

404954_10150590068175138_183692040137_8947405_1807910793_n.jpg

B)

Once I figure out how to plug it in, I'll be all set.

You've been bitten by it now. Next on your list if you haven't already got one is a low angle block plane. Veritas make some beautiful examples, however if I can master making Norris style adjusters I will likely make my own dovetailed brass/steel block plane with a Ziricote infill :-D

Beautiful. :D

Yeah, I've definitely been bitten. I'm jonsing to make a table now. B)

I've been eyeballing some other small planes, mostly luthier specific stuff like what LMI sells, but that'll have to wait. I thought of getting a Veritas this time around, but this one is perfect for me. I did plenty research first. I was also able to buy it right down the street from my place.

Make sure to post the progress if you make one. I'd love to see that!

Edited by NotYou

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Just gathering materials at the moment. Finding them locally is difficult in the small quantities I need, and shipping from afar where I can get the right quantities is also expensive. Grr. I'll definitely document any of my adventures as is customary!

As for the LMI planes, I am a little circumspect. Their recommendation of the Anant block plane for example does not give me 100% confidence in their general choices. The standard Veritas block plane would easily blow those cheap Anant planes out of the water, especially as the modest $20-40 price difference would be felt immediately.

My first project will be a Norris A31 patterned plane, although I doubt I could ever reach this level of perfection: http://www.holteyplanes.com/infill-planes-A31.html

----edit----

Sorry, I have to add that maybe I come across as a bit of a tool snob here. That said, I find it disappointing how many amateur guitar builders (myself included) would gladly pay some of the larger companies out there a king's ransom for a set of cheap dollar bearings and a rabbet cutter, yet would gladly economise on the tools like planes, saws and the basics which otherwise do the real work. In that respect, it is not snobbish to consider a chisel that holds a fine cutting edge and doesn't tear wood out superior to one that is just marketed by a specific luthiery company. Spending €200 on a "simple" block plane doesn't seem to figure as being sense at first, but put that side by side with a cheap block plane and those dust-free transparent wrinkling curls and shimmering clean cuts instil a huge joy into the work in addition to the control and quality of the work.

Ah 'kit. Snobbery is justified in this case.

Edited by Prostheta

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Tool snobbery is totally justifiable, especially with hand tools, IMO. I used to think the guys who got all crazed about their chisels and planes were just cork sniffers and wanted something to obsess over. Once you learn how to use those tools and get into finer work with them, you really start see how much quality matters.

I never thought I'd spend that much on a plane, but I think it was worth every cent now. And I didn't buy it for any kind of enjoyment. It's a workhorse. I'd happily buy another for just as much if I saw a need for it. I think my next big purchase will be some nice chisels. I have cheaper ones now that I use for rough work and beating with hammers, but some nice, sharp ones for slicing away wood would be totally worth the money (when I have the money, that is).

Edited by NotYou

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I have recently gotten a couple of older planes from antique/junk stores. They were all solidly built with quality blades. They needed cleanup, to be sharpened, and set up but the prices were sweet. Keeping an eye out in the classified can yield some great deal on hand tools too.

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