Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Random Drum-Sanding Thoughts

While drum sanding drawer stock for my bathroom vanity project, I realized there are a lot of small tips I picked up along the way that help make this tool even better.

In this video, I'll go through a number of tips and ideas.  If you have a drum sander, I'm sure you'll know some of them, but hopefully others will be new and useful to you.

I got lazy and didn't setup the softboxes so the lighting was a bit washed out; easy to get lazy in a 97ºF shop!  I think I'm still sweating from that day...

As a bit of an update to the vanity project, there are a number of small things to work on now that don't really merit a video.  I've sanded the two outside panels to P400 and we'll go over a wet-sanded finish for them; it feels like glass when prepared this way and so easy to do!  It's a great tactile finish especially to the sculpted surface that's purely there for the tactile experience.  Drawer stock is prepared and ready to become drawer boxes so those will be recorded this weekend.  Now, we'd really make progress if a cold front suddenly moved through the city :)


  • Anonymous said...

    good video Paul, nice shirt.

    Charles Neil

    :) :) :)

  • Anonymous said...

    I have experienced snipe at either end of the board when thickness sanding. Your video made me realize that I can take a deeper cut if I slow down the feed rate. From using my planer, I'm so used to running the machine at the fastest feed rate.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    How did you get snipe, Chris? Like regular planar snipe? Worse I've had was a dig in the end because I had it set to take much too aggressive of a cut, but that's maybe 1/4".

    In editing the video, I realize that I kept the speed down for the sake of filming and explaining. That sander on "100" really moves.

    Also try the biased sanding; I think you'll get back some of the speed you lose from a deeper cut.

  • Anonymous said...


    The snipe I get is just like regular planer snipe. It seems to be for the same reason - improper/inadequate stock support.

    I do use the bias technique a little, but usually there is one section of belt that's fried (right in the middle, of course) that prods me to feed straight. Slowing down the conveyor might prevent frying belts. For whavever reason, the previous belt lasted months, but this one lasted less than a week.

  • Vic Hubbard said...

    I've had snipe with my Delta, too. As Chris said, it seems to be due to improper support..but, that's my biggest bitch about the Delta. Stupid engineering. The table moves instead of the drum head. Still, it's a big time saver, although I'd rather watch paint dry than use it.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Then maybe it's how I use mine for the lack of snipe. I regularly "spider crawl" my hand on the board as it goes through until it pokes out the backside (and therefor under the second pressure roller). Guess I did that without noticing or thinking it was relevant.

    You'll be happy to know, Vic, that I can get 3 coats of varnish here in Chandler in a day, easy. Paint likely dries even faster!

  • Anonymous said...

    Do you use open-coat sanding paper for your drum sander? How about a cleaning stick for cleaning the drum sanding paper (looks like a giant pencil erasure)?


  • HalfInchShy said...

    Hi, Dean,

    The paper isn't as open-coat as you'd expect considering the load on it. In a way, I wonder if other paper vendors have better paper that is open-coat. To me there is little difference in the coat of these belts versus Festool Rubin paper. A little more room for the dust to escape, a little less heat, all pluses.

    I almost wonder if open-coat belts "look" cheap since they are more sparsely covered so people complain about them. Just a hypothesis.

    I know Charles Neil prefers paper from Industrial Abrasives for his drum sander, but I had a pretty good stock from the people I bought the sanders from or needing to pick some up that day to finish a project. One day I'll get to try their belts.

    I have a cleaning stick I got from my neighbor. They seem to work; honestly haven't used mine since I've never gotten the paper so loaded. That belt I had from her with the streaks and tons of loading.. all her used stock was that way. Softwoods load more, though, and the ducks were made of softwood. With Sapelé, Red Oak, Maple (hard/soft), Poplar, and Mahogany, I never noticed much build-up.

    I like your term for the cleaner: "giant pencil eraser". I've always called it a big block of snot. :)

  • rmac said...

    Two rookie questions:

    1. I suppose this depends on lots of factors, but in general, how much material can you remove from a board if your goal is to reduce its thicknes and not just get it smooth? In other words, when do you use your planer instead of your drum sander?

    2. What is the real name for this big block o' snot of which you speak? Will I find one of these at Home Depot, or do I need to make the trek to the Rockler store?

    -- Russ

  • Erik Gilling said...

    Thanks, what great timing! I just received my 16-32 Monday and set it up last night. The manual was sorely lacking on good information about how much to tension the belt other than have "approximately equal tension on both sides of the belt when taut" and warning against over tensioning. Do you have tips on setting the tension?

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Well, Russ, you're correct on the multiple factors.

    For this drawer stock, I would want to drum sand it anyway so I knew it was coming out. I didn't plane the stock first because the ratty sides weren't very deep. IIRC, it took 4 passes to get through it all at 60 grit. Those 4 passes took less time than pulling out the planer, adjusting to just skim, etc.

    Taking off a total of 1/8" isn't difficult at all so even on a wood like this that could have gone through the planer originally, I used the drum sander. For more, it may benefit you speed-wise to have the planer get it closer.

    For figured wood that's fragile or difficult to plane, the drum sander is your friend for sure. I made a small table of figured Eucalyptus mitered together at Christmas and the top with grain going everywhere was easy to pass through the sander.

    The snot block is called an Abrasive Cleaning Stick at Rockler; likely have it at the big box. You're close to the Phoenix Rockler IIRC so grab it for $7 (then impulse shop for another $50 :)

  • HalfInchShy said...


    Glad it helped!

    For the main abrasive belt they warn against too much tension? Sure that isn't for the conveyor belt? For the abrasive, you clip it in on the left then use the TuffTool to clip it in on the right; the rightmost clip is mounted to a spring-loaded arm to take up slack so the tension isn't really adjustable unless they mean to not wrap it too tightly, but you won't like the results if you do that... overlap (=a dig, burn, damaged paper) and not as flat sanding... much like using a belt sander to scribe a straight line, you need to press the platin (drum in this case) to the stock hard to take any slack out of the paper.

    If they indeed mean the conveyor, use the built-in wrenches to set the tension so you can't make the conveyor belt slide by hand (no power). Then put a block on it and press on the block while just the conveyor runs. You want it to be really difficult to make the conveyor belt slip (drive motor turns under belt but belt doesn't advance). Tighten until you get that.

    If you over-tension the conveyor belt, you'll stretch it and have to take up the slack; a vicious vicious cycle :)

    Also, bookmark this for later: 2Sand.com's Replacement Conveyor belt. Half the price of the Jet replacement.

    You'll enjoy the sander, for sure.

  • JimE said...


    Another great vid with useful information and you were right from the start.

    I have 22-44, knew some things and learned a lot.

    Keep 'um comin'. I look forward to them.

    Kodak, TN

  • Erik Gilling said...

    Yeah, I meant the conveyer belt. Thanks for tip there!

  • James said...

    I'm surprised to see you still managed to get that much energy to actually shoot the video in that heat!