Best Drum Sander in 2018 – Expert Reviews and Buying Guide

Did you know that there are over 50 drum sanders for sale in the market? The drum sander is an essential tool for any high-level woodworking project because of the professional results it delivers and the time it saves.

They can sand both wood and plastics, quickly and efficiently. Some can even sand metals. They’re designed to provide an even, smooth finish to any piece which is why there are so sought after by both professional woodworkers and hobbyists.

Powerful and complex, there are several types of drum sanders with varying features. There are no handheld models and they tend to be large and heavy, so this is just one of the many factors you need to consider when selecting a sander.

Since this can be an expensive and vital piece of equipment for the dedicated craftsman, we want to ensure that this guide covers everything you need to know about selecting the best drum sander for your needs.

We’ll examine the most durable, accurate, and well-regarded drum sanders available and include extensive drum sander reviews to ensure you have the most up to date information on the drum sanders. Yes, there are over 50 drum sanders on the market. But, luckily for you, we have done all the research so that you don’t have to.

Image

Products name

Power

Price

Jet 723520K drum sander review

Jet 723520K JWDS-1632

1.5 HP
JET 628900 Drum sander review

   Jet 628900

1 HP

Powermatic PM2244 Drum Sander review

 Powermatic PM2244 

1 HP

JET 629004K Drum sander review

Jet 629004K

1.5 HP

JET 22-44ODS Oscillating Drum Sander Kit with closed stand review

Jet 22-44ODS Oscillating Drum Sander

1.75 HP

SHOP FOX W1678 Drum sander review

SHOP FOX W1678

5 HP

Delta Woodworking 31-481 Drum sander review

Delta Woodworking 31-481

3 HP

SHOP FOX W1772 Drum Sander Review

SHOP FOX W1772

10 HP

SUPERMAX TOOLS 19-38 Drum Sander Review

SUPERMAX TOOLS 19-38

1.75 HP

Grizzly G0449 Drum Sander review

Grizzly G0449 Drum Sander

10 HP

Drum Sander Reviews

We examined 10 of the most popular drum sanders today. We’ve included several types of sanders, in several different price ranges, both open-ended and close-ended, and models which suit both casual and professional woodworkers.

1. Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 16-32 Plus 20 Amp Service with 608003 Stand   

Jet 723520K drum sander review

We commence our top 10 battle with the JET 723520 JWDS-1623, which can be an excellent choice if you have a small workshop.

The first notable feature of this drum sander is the sturdy steel construction. The heavy-duty stainless steel rollers and the die-cast steel frame offer a strong platform to take any wood size/type. Well, it does tend to vibrate a bit when working on sizeable wood pieces.

Another thing worth pointing out is the Sandsmart Technology, which will monitor the load on the drum continuously. It will then regulate the conveyor motor speed to maintain the highest feed rate without experiencing an overload. Now, those are some digital features right there!

Thanks to the open-ended cantilever hood, you can push your large wood pieces through the machine without any limitation. With the simple turn of a dial, you can easily adjust the parallelism of the conveyor bed. The dial sits just outside the bed.

There's a dust port that swallows all the wood chips and dust off the working table. You don't have to worry about the unit heating up because it comes with an extruded aluminum drum. The drum is well-balanced and precision-machined to prevent the working surface from heat damage.

Highlighted Features

  • This is a sturdy and dependable open drum sander with the ability to handle up pieces up to 16 inches in height and 32 inches wide.
  • A modern conveyor bed parallelism system is easily adjusted without tools, simply by turning a dial. It also features a stop which will return the conveyor bed to a flat position quickly.
  • It has a precision-machined and well-balanced aluminum drum which is designed to release heat to prevent overheating and protect your work surface from any heat related damage.
  • An integrated channel mirrors the shape of the drum is included in the dust hood. This feature directs dust and chips to the collection port.

Pros

  • This model uses an abrasive attachment system which is self-tightening and makes the tiresome job of changing abrasives much faster, easier and without the need for tools.
  • The machine will handle stock which measures up to 32” in width.
  • The price is reasonable considering the machine’s capacity and quality.

Cons

  • This is a large, heavy machine which means shipping is expensive.
  • ban
    The frame may flex if it’s overloaded which will prevent you from achieving a flat, even sanding surface.

Quick Recap:

The Jet 723520K does an excellent job at a reasonable price. It has enough sanding capacity for most jobs.

2.  Jet 628900 (115-Volt 1-Phase) Mini 10-Inch, 1-Horsepower Benchtop Drum Sander

JET 628900 Drum sander review

If we were to suggest this drum sander to anyone, we'd recommend it to a DIY enthusiast. It is small, affordable, and able to deliver high performance. The user experience is quite friendly, which is another reason for suggesting it to DIYers or beginners.

First off, it comes with a large hand wheel, which eases the adjustments of the drum sander. You'll also enjoy the paper change design that has been designed to reduce downtimes.

Well, it is a small unit, so you shouldn't expect it to pack a powerful motor. Specifically, it runs on a 1Hp motor, which is one of the smallest on the market. However, the motor offers  decent power for a benchtop drum sander.

It can deliver a maximum speed of 1700 rpm, and you can adjust the feed rate from 0 to 12 fpm. The motor is powerful enough to deliver fast stock removal.

The sander comes with a wide sanding surface of 20 inches. There's also a 4-inch dust port that helps to keep the working areas clean and dust-free.

Highlighted Features

  • The 1-horsepower motor makes for quick removal.
  • The 4-inch dust port makes collecting dust and chips simple.
  • It can be easily adjusted by the large hand wheel.
  • Powerful yet lightweight.
  • It has a capacity of 20 inches to enable you to sand larger areas.
  • The sandpaper can be quickly changed to enhance your productivity and reduce downtime.
  • Helps eliminate snipe.
  • Front mounted on/off switch which is easily accessible and can prevent accidental start -ups.

Pros

  • It’s well-built with permanently sealed and lubricated ball bearings.
  • Comes with a free stand which is easily assembled.
  • This drum sander can run for hours without needing to stop.

Cons

  • Will not handle large jobs due to its maximum capacity of surfaces up to 20 inches in width and 3 inches in height.
  • Learning to adjust the sander to your specifications may take time.
  • ban
    This machine is a good value for the price but cannot take the place of more expensive models in terms of versatility and quality of workmanship.

Quick Recap:

The Jet 628900 (115-Volt 1-Phase) is a small yet powerful drum sander which can handle the more basic jobs which woodworkers undertake.

Since it has a smaller footprint it can be accommodated in most workshops and is ideal if you’re looking for a less expensive alternative.

3. Powermatic PM2244 1-3/4 hp Drum Sander  

Powermatic PM2244 Drum Sander review

Our third contender is the Powermatic PM2244 Drum Sander. Is it a compact sander as well? Yes. Does it perform better than the JET 628900? It sure does.

This one is a relatively compact drum sander, but it offers better performance than the JET 628900 thanks to the 1.75 hp motor. Coming in slightly heavier, this one is ideal for a professional woodworker. The controls are somewhat advanced, which might be challenging to a beginner.

The sander comes with an integrated LED control panel that displays the belt speed, power, and DRO of the unit. There is a feed logic that lets you achieve a quality finish on your wood pieces.

The best part is that the feed logic comes with sensors that help to prevent an overload. It will sense the size of the material and automatically adjust the feed speed.

Do you have some tools that you need to store when you finish working on your projects? Just throw them in the built-in storage compartment. There is a cast iron drum carriage that offers incredible strength and consistent performance.

The large chrome handwheel lets you adjust the height of the drum with ease. And, of course, it comes with a steel hood that directs dust to the 4-inch dust port.

However, the power cord is quite short, which might be an issue for some users.

Highlighted Features

  • Power, DRO, and belt speed is shown on an LED control panel which is integrated.
  • Excellent dust collection due to a steel hood which features a 4-dust port.
  • This sander features greater strength due to a drum carriage which is cast iron.
  • Feed logic ensures that the surface will be sanded to a high-quality finish and won’t cause the machine to overload.
  • The digital display monitor can be set to millimeters or inches.
  • Both the feed and the drive motors are independent which allow you precise sanding control.

Pros

  • The machine can handle stock up to a width of 44 inches, which makes it suitable for many larger jobs.
  • Free shipping is available on this model.
  • This model uses an abrasive attachment system which is self-tightening and makes the tiresome job of changing abrasives much faster, easier and without the need for tools.

Cons

  • The frame may flex if it’s overloaded which will prevent you from achieving a flat, even sanding surface.
  • ban
    It’s expensive and might be out of the budget for many woodworking hobbyists.

Quick Recap: 

Powermatic is considered a top-of-the-line brand and this model is no exception. It is a modern and large closed drum sander which can handle both very large or very thin pieces.

You might also want to check out our Review of Best Belt disc sanders

4. Jet 629004K 16-32 Plus (110-Volt 1 Phase) 16-Inch Open Stand Drum Sander 1-1/2-Horsepower

JET 629004K Drum sander review

When it comes to versatile drum sanders, the JET 629004K stands as one of the best on the market. This unit is comprised of a drum sander and a stand to offer you perfect versatility.

It runs on a 1.5 hp motor that is relatively strong and capable of managing massive projects. The sander utilizes a trackers conveyor belt, which minimizes the manual tweaking. Equipped with a single drive and a feed motor, this machine will offer you incredible sanding results.

What's more to love about this sander? That would be the self-cooling aluminum drum. You do know what that helps with, don't you? To make it clear, it protects your materials from heat damage. We loved the Sandsmart control that tracks the drum motor load.

By the way, the Sandsmart control will also regulate the conveyor motor speed. This feature helps to retain the highest possible feed rate without an overload. The overload protection is built-in, and you can also adjust the feed rate from 0 to 12 fpm.

JET offers this hybrid unit with a box of abrasives, as well as a TufTool. For the record, the TufTool lets you operate the spring-loaded clips, which hold the sandpaper in the drum sander.

It comes with two motors: the main motor and the direct drive torque motor. So, whatever sanding project you’ve got, this unit will handle it accordingly.

Highlighted Features

  • An aluminum drum which is self-cooling helps prevent overheating.
  • It can handle stock up to a width of 32 inches.
  • The performance of the sander is optimized by having separate drum motors and feed which allow independent control.
  • Comes with a metal stand which includes a shelf, a 100-grit abrasive belt, an 80-grit abrasive strip, and Tuftool.
  • More torque is delivered due to the new continuous motor which allows the drum to operate at 1700 rpm.

Pros

  • An excellent choice for working with very thin or very large pieces.
  • This is a high-quality drum sander which features ease of use and accuracy.

Cons

  • The Jet 629004K is a large and heavy machine. If your space is at a premium or you have a weight limit (i.e. mobile workshop), this may be an issue.
  • ban
    Swapping belts can be time consuming.

Quick Recap:  

The Jet 629004K 16-32 Plus works well with a variety of projects including thin and large pieces and can cut your sanding time down up to 75%.

Its large size makes it better suited for a larger space and its power and versatility make it a good choice for a small commercial shop.

5. Jet 22-44ODS Oscillating Drum Sander (featuring closed stand)

JET 22-44ODS Oscillating Drum Sander Kit with closed stand review

Most drum sanders on our list come with multiple features, but it's rare to find one with the oscillating feature, like the JET 22-44ODS. This is an open-end drum sander that packs some advanced features.

We all know that the oscillating system helps to reduce heat buildup, hence, preventing heat burns on your wood. This one also features propriety conveyor trackers and  SandSmart technology that enhances the feed control while controlling the feed speed.

It packs a 1.75 hp motor that offers some powerful performance. However, it might seem slower when you are working on finer grits. Besides that, the sander comes with an infinitely variable-feed control that offers superb finishes.

With patented conveyor belt trackers, this sander will minimize the need for manual adjustments of the belt. The drum ball bearings are sealed and permanently-lubricated. Translation? They will last for a long time.

The best part is that you don't need to buy additional pieces to add to the sander. It comes as a whole and ready to handle your projects. If you are new to woodworking, this sander will serve you well.

Highlighted Features

  • The conveyor belt is patented because of its innovative technology which reduces the need to make manual adjustments to the belt.
  • Heat build-up on the sanding belt is dramatically reduced due to the oscillating feature.
  • Drum ball bearings are permanently lubricated and sealed to prolong their life.
  • The drum moves from left to right which reduces heat build-up.
  • Variable feed control will produce an exceptional finish whether it’s at a rate of 0 or 10 feet per minute.
  • Warranty: 5-year

Pros

  • It’s a closed stand model which provides built-in storage space which will help you keep supplies and accessories organized and out of the way.
  • The oscillating feature not only prevents the machine from heating up, it also contributes to ensuring a high-quality finish.
  • The dust collection system is extremely effective.
  • check
    Load control and automatic speed regulation courtesy of the SandSmart technology.

Cons

  • You may require assistance with assembly.
  • Some owners find that changing the sand paper can be difficult.
  • ban
    The standard table will only accommodate wood up to 2 ft. in length, so you may need to purchase an extension.

Quick Recap:

The Jet 22-44ODS is a good option if you’re looking for a drum sander with an oscillating drum.

6. SHOP FOX W1678 5 HP 26-Inch Drum Sander

SHOP FOX W1678 Drum sander review

If you don't mind spending some good money on a top-notch drum sander, the Shop Fox W1678 wouldn't be a wrong choice for you.

It is one of the priciest units out there, and its powerful 5 HP proves that it is worth the money. With such a powerful motor, the drum sander can deliver a speed of up to 2300 rpm. It also has a variable feed rate of between 0 to 20 fpm. Clearly, it outshines our previous drum sanders.

This unit comes with a 26-inch drum that is also one of the largest on our list. If you are dealing with large wood pieces, this one should be your ideal drum sander.

The main drum is for sanding your stocks (as usual), and the rear drum is micro-adjustable. Furthermore, it features a hook and loop sandpaper attachment. This way, you can change your paper quickly and easily.

The unit is powder-coated for scratch resistance, and it comes with two 4-inch dust ports. There's an amplifier meter that shows the load. You might want to be careful when handling this unit since it comes with a short, limited warranty.

Highlighted Features

  • The sander features an attractive powder coat pain finish.
  • Simple, easy to use control panel.
  • The rear drum is micro adjustable.
  • Sandpaper change is easy with the hook and loop attachment.
  • Comes with a powerful, 5 hp motor with an output of 3450 rpm.
  • The conveyor built is constructed from industrial grade rubber to increase durability.
  • Features four ports for more effective dust collection which prevents it from accumulating and makes for smoother operation.

Pros

  • The double drum design will allow you to rough and finish sand in one quick pass.
  • The 5 hp motor makes sanding harder woods, like hickory and maple, a breeze.
  • check
    Durable, heavy-duty frame to minimize vibrations

Cons

  • If you want to easily move the machine, you will need to install casters.
  • The front and back rollers sometimes misalign.
  • ban
    The warranty is short considering the cost of this drum sander.

Quick recap:

The powerful motor and double barrel design is a good addition to a small production shop or hobbyist’s workshop. It’s an expensive model but delivers reliability.

You may also like to check our review on - Best Knife Sharpening Belt Sander

7. Delta Woodworking 31-481 26-Inch Dual Drum Sander, 3-HP, 230V

Delta Woodworking 31-481 Drum sander review

If you are a woodworking specialist who's always concerned about motor delivery, you shouldn't worry about this one. The 31-481 model from Delta Woodworking comes with a 3HP motor that controls the 26-inch dual drum.

It also comes with two motors. The primary motor controls the main drum, while the other motor controls the variable speed feed belt. The feed rate ranges from 3 fpm to a massive 20 fpm. Furthermore, the drum speed reaches 1550 rpm.

The two drums offer efficiency and quick delivery. There is an independent, adjustable rear drum that delivers a one-pass sanding capability. It uses two grits to reduce processing time. You'll also love the rear roller adjustment dials that level the rear drum accordingly.

You shouldn't worry about the durability of this unit since it comes with a heavy-duty steel frame that will beat rust, corrosion, or scratches. We found it easy to access the dual drums using the latching top door. This way, you can easily sand the wrap changes.

The large drum features two dust ports that will eliminate the excessive dust and chips off your working table. Luckily, the sander comes with a 5-year warranty.

Highlighted Features

  • Adjustments to tensioning and tracking are simple to make.
  • The feed speed is variable and can range from 3 to up to 20 FPM.
  • Dual drums model will save you time.
  • Two ports for more efficient dust collection.
  • Well-constructed with a heavy-duty steel frame.

Pros

  • A relatively affordable double drum sander with a strong motor.
  • Moderately sized which makes it easier to move and find space for in your workshop.
  • The double drum design will allow you to rough and finish sand in one quick pass.
  • check
    Fast and efficient feed.

Cons

  • Despite the strength of its motor, this model will not stand up to the volume of work at professional shop.
  • Will not work on material which exceed 26 inches in width.
  • ban
    The cost can be prohibitive.

Quick recap:

The Delta Woodworking 31-481 drum sander is a good value for the money. It can be a sound choice for a woodworking enthusiast who looking for a good quality double drum sander. While not quite up to the task of a professional shop, it’s still a viable alternative for smaller scale projects.

8. SHOP FOX W1772 10 HP 37-Inch Drum Sander

SHOP FOX W1772 Drum Sander Review

This is one of the unique drum sanders on our list, coming in with two drums, but close-ended. It packs one of the most-powerful motors. The massive 10 HP motor can handle just about any project with ease.

The 37-inch dual drum design assures you of a reliable working platform for your sanding projects. This is definitely the perfect unit for a high-production woodwork shop. So if you are a regular DIYer, this one might not be your ideal choice. It is twice the price of most drum sanders on our list, too.

You can adjust the feed rate from 6 to 18 fpm, which lets you fine-tune your delivery as you wish. The best part is that the variable speed knob and amp meter are easy to access and control.

Two dust ports might be good, but not good enough compared to the four 4-inch dust ports on this beast. The emergency stop bar lets you stop the machine when need be. What's more, the sander comes with a self-tightening abrasive attachment system. This feature helps you to change the abrasives quickly and effortlessly.

The dual sanding drums are computer-balanced, and the digital height is also adjustable. It doesn't have a storage compartment, which might be an issue.

Highlighted Features

  • This model features two drums which are computer balanced.
  • The conveyor control box is variable speed.
  • Extremely powerful 10 hp motor.
  • Emergency stop bar for safety.
  • It will sand boards and panels which are up to 4 inches in thickness and with a width of up to 36 ½ inches.
  • Adjustable feed speed which can go from 6 to 18 FPM.
  • Heavy duty conveyor for durability.
  • The four dust collection ports minimize airborne dust.
  • Warranty: 2-year

Pros

  • The double drum design will allow you to rough and finish sand in one quick pass.
  • This model uses an abrasive attachment system which is self-tightening and makes the tiresome job of changing abrasives much faster, easier and without the need for tools.
  • Free shipping is available on this model.

Cons

  • The high cost might be prohibitive for the average woodworker.
  • This is a heavy machine and you’ll need help to move it.

Quick recap:

The SHOP FOX W1772 10 HP 37-Inch Drum Sander is a feature-rich powerhouse with its almost 37-inch capacity and will take you beyond your woodworking hobby into production work.  It is well suited for sanding large boards and panels.

9.SUPERMAX TOOLS 19-38 Drum Sander with Open Stand

SUPERMAX TOOLS 19-38 Drum Sander Review

For those looking for a decent drum sander that comes with a simple design, this one should be your ideal choice. It might seem simple, but the sander doesn't come cheaply. This one is an open-stand sander, which makes it easy to operate.

It features an indexed alignment setting that handles both narrow and wide pieces. The conveyor table is also large enough, coming in at 47.5 by 22 inches. This should give you enough work space.

Powered by a 1.75 HP motor, this sander is capable of delivering a top drum speed of 1740 rpm and a variable feed rate of between 0 and 10 fmp. The open-design stand helps to limit heating issues. You can adjust the height as you wish.

The conveyor speed adjusts automatically to let you handle different sizes and type of stock. It also helps to minimize any possible overload. The best part is that the drum sander entails a simple initial assembly.

So, yes, it can be an excellent choice for the hobbyists or woodworking beginners. However, the machine is wide, and it will take quite some space.

Highlighted Features

  • The alignment feature is fast and easy; one nut adjusts the conveyors to parallel the sanding heads.
  • Will accommodate narrow and wide stock due to an alignment setting which is indexed. The index lever adjusts when the board being sanded is wider than 19 inches.
  • Height is easily adjusted due to a thrust bearing located below the handle a nut in a position above which prevent the drum from moving from its set position. This feature allows for smoother and easier height adjustments.
  • A conveyor table which is 22 inches wide adds support to the stock and a conveyor which is extra wide can accommodate anything over 19 inches in width.
  • By bolting the drum carriage to the base, the drum is prevented from going out of alignment. This eliminates movement issues.

Pros

  • This sander is expensive but reasonable when you consider the quality and capacity.
  • This model uses an abrasive attachment system which is self-tightening and makes the tiresome job of changing abrasives much faster, easier and without the need for tools.
  • Free shipping is available.
  • check
    Boards with widths up to 38 inches can be accommodated.

Cons

  • The frame may flex if it’s overloaded which will prevent you from achieving a flat, even sanding surface.
  • Short warranty relative to the high cost.

Quick recap:

The SUPERMAX TOOLS 19-38 Drum Sander is a reliable and advanced machine which is ideal for woodworking professionals. Built with longevity in mind, it should provide many years of service.

Also Read Our Expert Review On - Palm Sander

10.Grizzly G0449 Drum Sander 10-HP Single-Phase, 37-Inch  

Grizzly G0449 Drum Sander review

We end our product assessments with this powerful sander from Grizzly. This is none other than the Grizzly G0449 Drum Sander .

Here is yet another great drum sander that can manage heavy-duty sanding. It might not be the best for offering smooth edges, but it has enough power to handle massive stock.

It packs a hefty 10 HP motor that is strong enough to deliver a 1725 rpm belt speed and a feed rate of 6 fpm to 18 fpm. While the finishing might be mediocre, the power and performance of the machine are fantastic.

Okay, this unit is definitely not designed for the regular DIYers. Instead, the sander is ideal for production purposes, thanks to the industrial-quality conveyor belt, and the 6-inch sanding drums. It has a large 37-inch drum that lets you achieve more work in less time.

On top of the easy to access and operate controls, this drum sander comes with an emergency stop button. Since the machine can take large, heavy, and an increased quantity of stock, this means that you can enjoy the four 4-inch dust ports, too. These ports help to keep the work space free of wood chips and dust.

Highlighted Features

  • Offers the ability to sand materials with a thickness of 4 inches and widths of up to 36 ½ inches.
  • Offers variable speed feed control.
  • This machine is built for professional production environments. The conveyor belts are industrial grade.
  • Dual 6-inch drums which are computer balanced.
  • Drums are easily accessible via the hinged hood.
  • Dust collection is maximized with the 4-port dust scoop and dust bag.
  • Solid-steel construction for durability.
  • Infeed and outfeed rollers help minimize snipe.
  • The stock is held down firmly with three rollers.
  • Emergency stop safety measure.
  • Powerful 10 hp motor produces 1725 rpm and an SFPM of 6 to 18 (variable speed).

Pros

  • Sandpaper changes are simple due to the easy access design.
  • Much less expensive than similar machines by other manufacturers.

Cons

  • Numerous lubrication points which are difficult to access.
  • Inexpensive looking details and finish.

Quick recap:

The Grizzly G0449 Drum Sander can’t be beat for the price. This is a professional, industrial quality drum sander which offers power and performance. Despite the fact, that not much attention was given to the cosmetic details, this machine is sturdy and well-built.


What You Need to Know When Buying Best Drum Sanders

Now that you’ve decided that you want a drum sander, let’s examine what you should consider before making your purchase.

Know your needs: 

What is the width of the material you want to sand? Would you be willing to gain extra width by going with an open-ended drum sander? Will the machine be getting a lot of use? Then you’d want to consider a sturdier model.

Size:

If you don’t have a lot of space, then you may want to consider a smaller model. There are several which offer enough power for smaller projects. However, if you plan on working on large pieces such as table tops, then you’ll need a larger machine.

Budget: 

Drum sanders aren’t cheap, and the larger, more professional models can be quite expensive. Especially if you opt for a dual-drum model.

Power:

Some machines run on 110 volts, but the more powerful ones run at 240. If you have the option of running 240 volts then you will have access to greater power.

Single-drum vs. dual-drum: 

You will save time by choosing a two-drum sander. If you don’t mind changing grits and spending more time on your projects, then you can save money by selecting a single-drum model.  

Open-ended vs close-ended: 

Again, this goes back to knowing your needs. An open-ended drum sander will give you more width, but you sacrifice stability. A close-ended model will be a better option if you don’t need to sand very wide stock or if stability is important to you.

Quality: 

Even the least expensive drum sander is an investment, so it pays to do your research and choose the best machine you can afford. That’s why we prepared this buyer’s guide, to provide you information you can use without having to scour the internet.

Types of Drum Sanders    

Not all drum sanders are created equal. There are two types of drum sander and they are either close-ended or open-ended. This distinction is based on the frame which houses the sander’s inner workings.

Open-ended Drum Sanders

The structure of open-ended drum sanders supports the pressure rollers, feed belt, and the sanding drum in a way which is open on one end. Boards which are wider than the length of the drum can be fed into the machine.

For instance, if you have a 20-inch open-ended sander, you will be able to sand boards which are up to 40 inches in width. Ideally, the board will run through the machine and is evenly sanded.

One of the problems with open-ended sanders is that while under pressure they may flex which causes uneven sanding. There is a way to get around this which is by reducing the pressure between the mechanism.

After some time, the drum may start sagging which can cause deep gouging on overlapping areas.

Advantage: 

The ability to sand boards which are wider than the length of the sander’s drum.

Disadvantage:  

The structure may flex and cause uneven sanding across the entire width of your stock.

Closed-ended Drum Sanders

Closed-ended drum sanders are built differently in a way which can support the sanding drum, the pressure rollers, and the feed belt but is closed on both ends. As you have probably already guessed, this prevents you from sanding boards which are wider than the length of the drum.

For example, if you have a 12-inch closed-ended drum sander, then you will only be able to sand boards which are a maximum of 12 inches across.

You gain stability with a closed-end drum sander even though it comes at the cost of width of the material you can sand. Since both ends of the are constrained, they won’t flex open and will remain stable.

Advantage: 

Both ends are kept in place by the drum sander’s structure, so the rollers will not flex apart.

Disadvantage: 

The width of the stock you sand will be limited in a close-ended drum sander.

If stability is more important to you than having a sander which can sand materials which are wider than the drum, then a closed-ended drum sander is the best option for you

Single-drum sanders vs Dual-drum sanders

In addition to the two main types of drum sanders, you have two sub-types which are single-drum and dual-drum sanders.

A single-drum sander has one sanding drum so you are limited to one grit when sanding. If you have a project which requires a two or three step process using different grits, then you will have to stop and change the sanding strip before moving on to the next step.

Advantage: Single-drum sanders are usually less expensive.

Disadvantage: You are limited to one type of sandpaper at a time, so the process will take longer if you’re planning on using more than one grit.

Two-drum sanders have two drums which can run two different grits of sandpaper. Normally you would use the rougher grit on the first drum and follow with the finer grit on the second one. You save a considerable amount of time by running two different sandpaper grits.

Advantage: You can produce a nice finish with one pass through the sander which saves time.  

Disadvantage: This type of drum sander is more complicated and more expensive.

Do I Need a Drum Sander?

Even the most inexpensive drum sanders aren’t cheap, so your first consideration should be whether you need one in the first place. You’re probably familiar with a hand- held belt sander which you manually move back and forth over the area you wish to sand.

However, if you do a lot of woodworking, the repetitive motion of the sander can cause discomfort in your hands and its also a slow and tiring process. A wide belt sander is a great alternative, but they are expensive and geared towards the professional and not the hobbyist.

Which leaves us with the drum sander.  This is a great alternative for the home woodworker because it can considerably shorten the time you spend sanding. Its also easier on your hands since you feed the stock into the machine and let it do all the work.

Uses for a Drum Sander

  • Wood comes in standard lengths, widths, and thicknesses. If your project requires stock which is anything but standard, a drum sander will allow you to customize it to your specifications.
  • If you need very thin stock, then a drum sander will provide the best results.
  • For making wood veneer.
  • For working with figured wood or wide panels.
  • If you want the ability to smooth and thin stock.

Understanding Your Drum Sander

There are a lot of moving parts to your drum sander. Here are is a breakdown of the most important components in your sander.

  • Motor – The motor powers your drum sander and it’s critical that the motor is powerful enough for your specific needs. These can range from 1 hp to 10 hp or more.
  • Drum – This cylindrical structure gives the sander its name. The drum itself may be abrasive, or more commonly, as in the drum sanders which we reviewed, abrasive materials (sandpaper) are attached to the drum.
  • Belt – The belt is used to feed the material through the sander.
  • Rollers – Rollers are located in front of and behind the drum and serve to keep the wood against the belt, so it can grip the wood as it’s fed into the sander.
  • Sandpaper – Without sandpaper there is no sanding! Different grits (or grades) are used to achieve the desired finish. Generally, the lower the grit, the coarser the sandpaper.
  • Dust port – It’s important to have a system to collect all the dust which the sander produces. The dust port connects to your vacuum system.  The size of the dust port varies depending on the model of drum sander.
  • Dust bag – The dust bag is attached to your vacuum system and collects the dust. Make sure to empty the bag once it becomes half-full. If you wait until it’s almost full, you risk losing suction and your system won’t effectively remove the dust.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

1- Do I need a planer or a drum sander? 

If you need to remove large amounts of wood, then you should get and use a planer. For finer work, then a drum sander will sand your surface to a smooth finish.

2- How do I handle dust collection? 

Drum sanders produce a lot of dust and its important to handle this correctly for both your health and the well-being of your machine.  Check the owner’s manual to see what CFM (cubic feet per minute) is required by your sander.

If your vacuum system doesn’t meet the CFM, then it will not capture everything. Also make sure to check that your connector is the correct width.

Our Recommendation for the Best Drum Sander

After much research and consideration, we recommend the Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 drum sander over all the other models that we’ve reviewed.

The Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 is the best drum sander in terms of quality, cost, ease of use, and versatility. The Sandsmart control and other features make it an excellent choice for the woodworking hobbyist.

FINAL VERDICT

If woodworking is your hobby or side business, then a drum sander can be an indispensable part of your workshop. Projects requiring precision sanding will benefit from the accuracy of the drum sander rather than the less precise belt sander.

The 10 drum sanders which we reviewed offer a wide variety of types (open-ended and close-ended), and single or dual drum, and price points. We’ve brought you the best in each category and selected the best overall drum sander so that you can make an informed decision.

Drum sanders used to be out of reach for woodworking hobbyists but in recent years manufacturers have introduced drum sanders at a price and scale which makes sense. Their versatility and the quality of the finish they provide will contribute to the success of your project.

Thank you for trusting us to provide you with the information you need.

David B. Harper
 

David is a Professional Craftsman & woodworking expert for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources and guides on woodworking and tools.

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