How to Use a Drum Sander

When you’re living in an urban home, maintaining and repairing your own house is a crucial dilemma. Some rely on professional woodworkers for household repairs while others prefer to take matters in their own hands.

One of the most critical tasks when building or repairing a house is shaping uneven floorboards. That’s where a drum sander is most effective. In case you’re not already an expert carpenter, and not thinking on hiring one, here’s a set of detailed instructions to help you use a drum sander with ease.

Preparing Your Floorboard

Before using any sander to even your floorboards, you need to make sure the floor is in proper condition. Make sure there aren’t any nails sticking out of the board. Simply pry them out or use a hammer to even them or they might end up damaging the sanding belt.

Then, fix any spacing left between floorboards by nailing them together. Sweep the floors and clean of any dirt for further safety.

Plugging It in

Using a drum sander should be done with utmost care. It is immensely powerful and requires an enormous amount of electricity to function properly. Otherwise, it’s capable of melting an electrical cord that is not of the required size.

Hence, use extension cords directed by the manufacturer if any or use the one attached to it.

Getting the Work Done or Using The Drum Sander

Drum sanders consist of a replaceable sheet of coarse sandpaper that shapes an uneven floorboard to a pristine finish. However, if you’re not careful with handling this mighty beast of a machine, a sturdy floor will be the least of your worries.

Fortunately, there are two ways you can use a drum sander according to your preference.

1.   Diagonal Method

Turn the drum sander on while tilting it using the lever. The lever controls the speed and position of the drum. Start sanding while facing the wall in front, then slowly putting the sand belt in contact with the floor.

Make sure to tilt it slightly before it touches the wall, then rotate at an angle of 180 degrees. Raise the lever just 1/4th of an inch to avoid any dents in the floorboard. Once back to your desired area, gently lower the lever with a soft touch.

Repeat the process frequently, moving to adjacent corners until you have sanded the whole room.

2.   Side to Side

Switch on the machine in the same manner, avoiding 1/4th of an inch above the floor. Start sanding across the length of the floor from one side of the room by slowly feeding the drum. Lower the drum with ease as you start moving forward.

Likewise, do not touch the budge of the lever once you start walking towards the wall. Only tilt it back up so slightly before you reach the wall. Continue sanding in the same manner as mentioned earlier to give a dazzling finish to your floorboard.

Cuts and Grits

In the beginning, try flattening the floor with angled cuts. Use a 40 or 50 grit sandpaper and feed the drum gradually. Sand the floor until you have discarded all the over and underwood.

Accordingly, once the floor is entirely flat, use a 60 grit sandpaper and feed the drum 50% faster. Do so in an opposite angle.

For the final cut, use 80 grit to increase speed by half a step. Feed it along the grain of the floorboard. When it’s all done, use a buffer to give a finishing touch.

Necessary Precautions For Drum Sander Using

As it is undoubtedly a sturdy piece of machinery, certain safety measures are mandatory for your own security.

  • Use of gloves is a must
  • Must wear goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris
  • Always be mindful not to trip over the extension cord
  • Try not to tilt the drum higher than necessary and to drop it hard unless you want gouges on your floorboard.
  • After you’re done sanding, sweep the floor to clean off all the debris


The drum sander might come off as complex machinery for an amateur woodworker, but getting the hang of it is just a matter of time once you start following the instructions.

Maintaining the few but necessary precautions are compulsory. You might want to try controlling the speed of the sander in a free space beforehand. Once you feel you’re ready, go and get it in action. But remember, safety is the topmost priority of an efficient carpenter!

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David has been a Craft & woodworking enthusiast for 10 years, and in that time has written huge resources on Sander, woodworking, and tools.

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