Chris Knob's Shopmade Drum Sander

Why spend all that money when you can build it yourself?

SHOP OWNER: Chris Knob
LOCATION: Wallingford, PA

    These are photos of a homemade, 22-in.-wide drum sander I made from plans I found on the Internet, with the help of my online buddies at WoodCentral. (Forrest are you listening? Thanks buddy).
     It is made from s(crap) materials left over from building my garden shed. The table top is a piece of laminated particleboard screwed to a 2x4 web which pivots on a bar stock axis in relation to the stationary sanding drum.Pillow Blocks
     I made the drum from 4-in.-dia., 1-in.-thick maple disks laminated on a 3/4" threaded rod that turns in pillow-block bearings on the frame. The drum is powered by a 1-hp TEFC motor I had lying around.
A Look Inside

     After gluing up the rough drum and mounting it in the pillow blocks, I used the machine itself as the lathe. I clamped a pipe clamp on the plywood frame as a tool rest and trued the drum with a roughing gouge and a spindle gouge.
    When I got the drum almost true, I glued a piece of 100-grit sandpaper to a flat piece of plywood and trapped that piece between the drum and the table top. I started the drum turning and moved the sanding block back and forth along the length of the drum to sand it parallel to the table top. Then, I raised the table up to the drum and rotated it by hand with back lighting to look for gaps between the table top and the drum. There weren't any!!!
Height Adjustment Mechanism

     The height adjustment mechanism consists of two main parts--a sliding gross-adjustment mechanism attached to the base of the machine, and the black-painted plywood bracket connected to the pivoting sanding bed. The gross-height mechanism has a 10-in. section of 1/2-in. threaded rod connected to it with U-bolts. A corresponding 10-in. section of 1/2-in.-ID black pipe (reamed out to 9/16 in. about 4 in. into the pipe) is connected to the upper plywood bracket and fits over the threaded rod as a sleeve.
    To adjust the table height, you first make gross adjustments with the sliding mechanism then fine-tune the adjustment by turning the nut under the sleeve. (Note the elegant vise-grip handle.) Very fine adjustments are possible, and a 1/8th turn of this nut raises the table top about 1/128th of an inch.

    I finished the drum with three coats of oil-based polyurethane. Then I attached adhesive-backed velcro along its length and wrapped it with 3-in.-wide, 80-grit felt-backed paper. I purchased both these items from Woodmaster.
    This is a hand-fed unit so it takes some getting used to but I have been very satisfied with the results. I have been able to sand thin veneers and it has done a great job flattening rough glue-ups of panels. The total cost was about $75; not bad for scrap plywood and 2x4s!
    The bottom line on this machine is that it takes the grunt work out of leveling rough stock, but panels still need finishing sanding; and, like other drum sanders, it cannot remove too much in one pass. But it has cut way back on my belt sander use and on airborne dust. The dust collection hood I made works great. I think I refinished every cutting board on the street!!!
    The design is available online at for about $10.00. Instructions are minimal though and a lot of thinking through the project is necessary before you begin. I think the plans, for their quality and clarity, are overpriced.

. . . Chris Knob




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