Drum sanders are powerful tools useful for many applications from bench sanding to floor sanding.
The top brands produce different versions of drum sanding machines for both commercial and professional use, in addition to products aimed at enthusiastic hobbyists.
While that's good for customers (since they can find a model that suits them) it does make the buying decision quite tricky. When picking a drum sander to buy, you will need to take many factors into consideration. Here are 6:
1 - Build Quality
Top brands generally use top quality materials and have serious R+D teams. They might cost extra but you pay for durable alloys and in the end you'll recoup your investment in both time and money. Always purchase from a reliable supplier who represents recognized manufacturers.
2 - Platen Width
A platen is a reclining section at the lowest point in the drum sander. Higher quality drum sanders will feature platens manufactured to survive the friction and vibrations faced by regular daily operation of the machines. Purchase a drum sander with a platen width at least one inch wider than the width of the drum.
3 - Sander Speed is Vital
I feel the need... the need for variable speed. The more speed options you have, the more you can do with your drum sander.
Some sanding actions call for slow and more deliberate speeds to achieve the desired results, while a higher RPM will enable you to perform tasks like polishing. Speed is every bit as important as electricity when it comes to drum sanding.
4 - Dust Collection
The most effective drum sanders offer some form of dust collection system, which helps to reduce, if not remove, dust from regular operational use.
Not only does a dust collection system help keep the machine cleaner and functioning safely, it will also decrease the potential for dust getting into your hair and clothes. Some drum sanders, such as floor sanders, also have detachable vacuum systems which allow even more effective dust collection.
5 - Noise Reduction
Many drum sanders are super loud. But there are some new technologies that help reduce the volume.
A normal, acceptable limit that is not considered harmful is 95 decibels. Look for a device that meets that target, and always have some safety ear muffs handy.
6 - Vibration Reduction
Any sander which vibrates is inclined to end with what are known as "blabber" markings on the wood being sanded. For enthusiastic woodworkers, these excessive vibrations can eventually lead to Carpal Tunnel. The more feather-weight the selected drum sander, the lower the vibrations that are caused.
But a good, strong drum sander may also use the most recent anti-vibration designs, which make safer sanding processes a possibility.
Always consider what sort of sanding work you'll be doing, plus the type of stock wood you'll be sanding, together with the machine's weight and your skill level/experience.
The 3 Best Drum Sanders to Buy in 2018
Three drum sanders stand out from the crowd in terms of effectiveness per dollar spent. Those are the JET 628900, the JET 629004K, and the Shop Fox D4595. Here are some further details on each one:
#1: JET 628900
The JET 628900 drum sander has some serious longevity.
This rings especially true even if you plan to utilize its one-horsepower motor and speed setting variations to properly finish up hardwoods on a consistent basis.
The extremely heavy duty body of the JET model is made from cast iron, allowing users to sand down a piece of wood up to three inches thick without breaking a sweat. The drum itself is larger compared to alternatives, but can be mounted onto a table for ease of use in a pinch.
For simple and fast changes, the 628900 features a set of very abrasive fasteners. It comes with sealed ball-bearings, meaning that there are zero dust collection issues prevalent.
Additionally, the wheel is ergonomic, limiting the potential for exhibiting carpal tunnel symptoms with extended use.
#2: JET 629004K
The JET 629004K is a thorough floor-developed drum sander having an appropriate stand to keep the belt from sitting on the ground, enhancing overall product lifespan.
The centerpiece of the drum sander is the sanding drum, providing a smooth performance, as well as enhanced heat dissipation.
There's also a well-placed dust port, a 100-grit sanding belt, and an 80-grit sanding strip to begin!
The sander is also able to manage many different material sizes economically, in a range from 1/32 of an inch to three whopping inches in depth.
#3: Shop Fox D4595
Looking like the world's manliest rolling pin, the Shop Fox is perfect for smoothing and hand contouring tasks.
With other tools these tasks can become too large to allow for the efficient use of a stationary sander.
But with this one, you simply need to throw the spindle to a cordless, portable electrical, or air powered drill to get the a really impressive level of control.
The unit also includes an air valve for effortless pump inflation.
Drum Sanding 101
Drum sanders are incredibly versatile owing to their ability to solve multiple issues - the kind you'll find in most woodworking shops and large-scale sanding projects. That said, don't expect miracles. Manage your expectations and you won't be disappointed!
Drum sanders have larger capacities than most other sanders, jointers and planers. They let workers manage materials with widths from 24 to 32 inches. The downside of the extra size is that some models can warp across the width of the board. For this reason, long bed jointers are far better options for very wide wood.
In the same vein, woodworkers can handle smaller materials safely with a drum sander. Likewise, working extremely thin pieces with a belt sander is a breeze. Experienced woodworkers can effortlessly get rid of band saw marking from wood with thicknesses as low as 1/16 of an inch.
Drum sanders can also get rid of saw marks from frame piece edges. Tearing out of wood is a snap as well with a drum sander. Whether you are scuffing up the top of boards with some grain, or moving in opposite directions to resurface some grotesque looking wood, you will always get a smoother surface with a drum sander than alternatives.
But this doesn’t come without its caveats. This assurance doesn't include flat surfaces. It is very common for drum sanders to cause difficult-to-see shallow dips at random across the width of a stock. These dips can be spotted underneath wood finish. These can be sanded out with ease manually and rather quickly. To surface rough boards, there are very mixed opinions on which drum sanders do the job the best.
When it's the matter of speed, planers and jointers tend to work slightly faster in removing wood. On the other hand, drum sanders barely remove 1/64 inch at a time. If your wood is thin, or if your problems are right at the surface, few tools beat drum sanders for effective surface work.
Drum Sanders vs Other Sanders
- BELT SANDER: Belt sanders and drum sanders work through the employment of various mechanisms in contact with the wood piece being worked on. A drum sander is quite abrasive, removing far less wood than belt sanders. While sometimes the belt sander outperforms the drum sander, there are many times when a drum sander is the only thing needed to get the job done. This rings especially true when the material is not wide enough to need a belt sander.
- THICKNESS PLANERS: Drum sanders and thickness planers perform similar tasks, but perform these tasks at different levels. Using drum sanders may be too time intensive for taking a 4/4 piece of stock to 4/3 levels. Thickness planers are kind of the opposite of drum sanders, which are designed for smoothing. Regardless, the drum sander can tackle a wide variety of thin wood pieces in comparison to what the thickness planer can. An additional benefit of the drum sander over the thickness planer is that the drum sander does not have the same level of tear out issues that a thickness planer is prone to experience.
- ORBITAL SANDERS: The main difference between drum sanders and orbital sanders is that the orbital sanders grind, and the drum sanders cut. Drum sanders are more than ideal for very rough shaped wood pieces with heavier finishes, or wood that may be damaged or cupped. Conversely, orbital sanders are ideal for the refinishing process, or very light smoothing. They also can work well for leaving fresh wraps before a solid varnish coat is added. Regarding speed, though, the drum sander’s cutting action makes it the ideal choice for getting the job done fast.
- SQUARE SANDERS: Square sanders have long been known as the preferred sanding tool for a wide variety of refinishing by professional woodworkers. Additionally, square sanders are often the weapon of choice for tasks such as refinishing and
- DISK SANDERS: Disk sanders and drum sanders are both tools used for the smoothing of wood. These two tools perform their tasks differently, though. Disk sanders are much more preferred for discarding small quantities of wood waste materials. For this reason, woodworkers typically use a disk sander when the surface isn’t all too rough. Drum sanders, alternatively, remove a ton of waste in the sanding process. The only downside of drum sanders over disk sanders is that disk sanders have the capacity to sand at an angle.
So, drum sanders tend to be the better option in each of these situations overall due to a larger sanding capacity, higher quality more efficient belts, convenience, efficiency and ease of use.
- Huge Sanding Capacity: Many drum sander dimensions are available in the construction field, which enables them to supply an enormous working area regardless of needed footprint. Normally, drum sanders are also larger, sometimes measuring up to three feet in diameter. They feature large tables (or drums) which can accommodate work pieces as large as 38 inches.
- High Quality and Efficient Conveyors: Unlike some other sanders, drum sanders feature conveyor belts for transferring your work pieces. These belts are usually strong, steel reinforced to support heavy substances, and run economically for quite a long time.
- Convenient: Many contemporary drum sanders are super easy. A few of the sanders, for instance, include racks to help protect your spine. The conveyor belts for additional sanders are adjustable to match your load capacity. However, drum sanders with varying feed rates helps to smooth different kinds of work pieces accordingly without destroying them.
- Easy to use: Drum sanders are undoubtedly among the easiest types of sanders to use. It may seem hard to sand with a dual drum machine when you're new to it, but the experience gets