Author Topic: Drum sander or...?  (Read 1972 times)

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Offline Tom Gensmer

  • Posts: 640
  • Residential Remodeler in Minnesota
Drum sander or...?
« on: October 14, 2017, 10:34 AM »
Good morning folks!

I have an upcoming project that will involve a lot of sanding. The project involves replacing the stain grade Maple trim in a lobby. I could have my supplier S4S everything, but the quantity is such that I can also order it straight line ripped and planed, and I can use the cost difference to buy some equipment that would be handy for future projects and do the final sanding myself.

The material is (roughly) 700 lineal feet of 1x6 Maple, and 300 lineal feet of 1/2 x 3" Maple. My painter has spec'd that the material be sanded to 150 grit.

If I order it ripped and planed, my intention is to order it dimensioned to 13/16" for the 1x stock and 9/16" for the 1/2" stock. I have a Byrd Shelix cutter head on my DW735 planer and get good results from it, so I was planning on using the Shelix to remove the ripples and chatter from the lumber yard's planer.

At that point then I'm looking at sanding. There's enough room in the budget to acquire a drum sander, either the 19-38 class or 22-44 class. My thought would be to run everything through the drum sander at 120, then 150, and then lightly hit everything with my RO150 at 150 grit as a final pass.

Does the above process set an appropriate expectation for what a drum sander will do? I'm not asking it to dimension the lumber, just sanding to the desired grit, taking a tiny fraction of an inch.

The alternative is to plane with the Shelix head, then hand sand with my RO150, and/or purchase the ETS EC 150/3.

If I go with the drum sander, is there any input regarding whether to go with the newer Jet models versus the Supermax? What does Laguna's recent purchase of Supermax mean for service and support?

Thanks!
Tom

« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 11:14 AM by Tom Gensmer »
CT-26, CT-MIDI, C-18, RO-150, RO-90, OF-1010, OF-1400 (x2), MFK-700, MFK-700EQ/B, EHL-65, DTS-400, LS-130, MFT/3 (x2), MFT/Kapex (x3), CMS-OF, KA 65 Conturo, Sprinter full of Systainers

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Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 224
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2017, 12:38 PM »
I have had a Performax 16/32 for about 4 years and used it as you intend.  On large projects it was beneficial for getting a level sanded surface much quicker than ROS...I typically ran it with 120 grit only and then ROS finished with 120 up to whatever grit level was needed for the finish I wanted.  Starting the ROS at the same grit as the drum did a quicker job of wiping the directional scratches from the drum.

Then I changed my jointer and DW735 planer over to Byrd heads.  After awhile I concluded that the finish off the Byrd heads allowed a much quicker and easier progression through the ROS sanding grits and I haven't used the 16/32 since except for thicknessing very thin stock.  YMMV!

Offline lwoirhaye

  • Posts: 178
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2017, 01:17 PM »
I've had a drum sander for many years and never used it much due to how finicky it is to get acceptable results with it.  These are the issues that can come up:

1. The tracking belt will get off center when you aren't paying attention.  Mine doesn't do this very much or badly, but if you get one that does it can chew up a $40+ belt pretty quick.

2. The paper is tricky to change and it tends to expand in use, from heat probably.  When this happens, if you aren't paying attention, the paper can overlap and burn the work.  It can also tear.

3.  Hook and loop paper is available but it is more costly.  You can save money on paper by cutting your own wraps from bulk rolls.

4. With repeated paper changes the paper gets worn at the ends where it gets fixed in the clamps. The ends becomes floppy and difficult to tension well.

5. If the work gets hung up in the sander for any reason the sander will sand a hollow in the work.

6.  The sander has to calibrate the work for thickness before it can sand to finish grits.  If you sand a hollow you have to calibrate sand again to get it out.   

7.  Drum sanding is slow and boring but you have to keep a hawk-eye on lots of things that are going on.

Some people love them.  Personally I found the sander most helpful for dimensioning small and thin parts.  I have seldom used it for things like doors.  Just too much hassle.   I'm sure some of the newer models have taken measures to address some of the problems I have had.   Some people even claim to be making money at woodworking with them.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 01:25 PM by lwoirhaye »

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 2503
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 11:45 PM »
I have the original Performax 16-32 now owned by Jet.  I've upgraded it with new parts through the years and it's worked well for me.  They're can be finicky so adjustment is important and you have to watch them.  It works well, but you have to get the belt tight and you have to take your time on speed and amount removed.  I have not had great luck with trying to sand beyond the width and reverse the piece.  I tend to stay within the width of the sander in one pass.  Most of the sanders today have auto sense which will slow down the feed rate if you try to take too big of a cut.  Highly recommended that you make sure that is an option on the unit you consider.

If I was buying today, I'd look hard at the SuperMax - it offers more options for things like brush sanding and appears to have a more rigid frame. 

The drum sander is probably one of the most used tools in my shop.  I do a lot of smaller pieces and it's great for quickly dimensioning door rail and stiles, for example.  Or drawer parts.  For your long pieces, you will need to consider consistent in/out tables as any drop off will show up in the surface of the work as it progresses through on the long pieces.

If you have a shelix head, I think you might be able to plane down and go right to hand orbital and do a good job without the need for a drum sander, since it will be dimensioned accurately from the lumber yard and then through your planer.


Offline Tom Gensmer

  • Posts: 640
  • Residential Remodeler in Minnesota
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2017, 06:50 PM »
Thanks for all of the input!

Yeah, I guess my concern is that I don't want to spend ~$1,500 on a drum sander, spend a lot of time with it, and still have a lot of ROS sanding to do.

Put more simply, I see two scenarios:
Option A: Drum Sander and ROS
1. Dimension and generally clean up the Maple with my DW735 w/Byrd Shelix head
2. Sand the Maple at 120 with drum sander
3. Sand the Maple at 150 with drum sander
4. Sand the Maple with RO-150 or ETS EC 150/3 at 150

or, Option B: All ROS
1. Dimension and generally clean up the Maple with DW735 w/Byrd Shelix head
2. Sand the Maple at 120 with ROS
3. Sand the Maple at 150 with ROS

I guess the follow-up question is: introducing the drum sander to the sequence adds a step. Assuming that the sander is properly set up, will I save time with the drum sander, or just effort?

Thanks again for your input, it's really helpful!

CT-26, CT-MIDI, C-18, RO-150, RO-90, OF-1010, OF-1400 (x2), MFK-700, MFK-700EQ/B, EHL-65, DTS-400, LS-130, MFT/3 (x2), MFT/Kapex (x3), CMS-OF, KA 65 Conturo, Sprinter full of Systainers

Offline lwoirhaye

  • Posts: 178
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2017, 08:27 PM »
Stroke sanders can be found as well.  They take up more space and they don't calibrate sand.  I bought my drum sander when I was building guitars and found it useful for calibrating the thin parts a planer would tear apart.   I later got a stroke sander and find it more useful for cabinet making. It doesn't thickness sand, it just finish sands.  It does what you wish you could do with a hand held belt sander.  A wide belt is even nicer but much spendier, mechanically complex and thirsty for juice.

If you look at reviews on Amazon of drum sanders you'll find a salty group of 1-star reviews for almost any model they sell.  Perhaps these users are the unfortunate recipients of lemons, or perhaps they are more discerning in what they're expecting, maybe a combination.   You'll also often find a selection of 4 and 5 star reviews that boggle my mind when compared to the bad ones.

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 224
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2017, 09:37 PM »
In my experience using a planer with a Byrd head and taking a very fine (perhaps 0.005") final pass leaves a very nice surface that has microscopic scallops from the individual cutters.  These can be quickly knocked down ith 100-120 grit ROS then move on to the higher ROS grits.

A pass on the drum sander at 120 grit leaves a flat and smooth surface, but with a pronounced linear scratch pattern from the drum that also needs to be knocked down with 120 grit ROS sanding then moving on to higher grits

So I have concluded that a workpiece off a Byrd head and a workpiece off a drum sander provide an equivalent starting point and I'd say it takes more sanding with 120 ROS to get the drum sanded scratches off than to remove the Byrd head scallops.  That's why my drum sander has seen little use since I converted to Byrd heads.

Offline Tom Gensmer

  • Posts: 640
  • Residential Remodeler in Minnesota
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2017, 08:45 AM »
Thanks again for the feedback. It sounds like using a drum sander would likely add a step, and likely introduce another potential set of variables to deal with.

I’m going to whip up some sample Maple boards for my painter, experimenting with what I can get away with after the Byrd head (100-120-150, 120-150, or even just going straight to 150) using my RO-150. I’ll post up what he says. Maybe this is the project where I justify the purchase of a ETS EC 150/3....
CT-26, CT-MIDI, C-18, RO-150, RO-90, OF-1010, OF-1400 (x2), MFK-700, MFK-700EQ/B, EHL-65, DTS-400, LS-130, MFT/3 (x2), MFT/Kapex (x3), CMS-OF, KA 65 Conturo, Sprinter full of Systainers

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 4010
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2017, 09:18 AM »
Thanks again for the feedback. It sounds like using a drum sander would likely add a step, and likely introduce another potential set of variables to deal with.

I’m going to whip up some sample Maple boards for my painter, experimenting with what I can get away with after the Byrd head (100-120-150, 120-150, or even just going straight to 150) using my RO-150. I’ll post up what he says. Maybe this is the project where I justify the purchase of a ETS EC 150/3....

The ETS/EC 150/5 may go at it quicker... Is there a place in the cities that carry them?

Offline Tom Gensmer

  • Posts: 640
  • Residential Remodeler in Minnesota
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2017, 09:41 AM »
Thanks again for the feedback. It sounds like using a drum sander would likely add a step, and likely introduce another potential set of variables to deal with.

I’m going to whip up some sample Maple boards for my painter, experimenting with what I can get away with after the Byrd head (100-120-150, 120-150, or even just going straight to 150) using my RO-150. I’ll post up what he says. Maybe this is the project where I justify the purchase of a ETS EC 150/3....

The ETS/EC 150/5 may go at it quicker... Is there a place in the cities that carry them?

I am very fortunate to live within a 30 minute drive from 3+ Festool dealers, so I definitely have ready access to most of the product line. My thought was that since I already have the 5mm orbit covered with my RO-150, I could use that sander for aggressive and intermediate sanding, and then supplement it with a ETS EC 150/3 for fine sanding. In a perfect world I’d love to add a ETS EC 150/5 to the mix as well.

I imagine the EC sanders would be more comfortable than the RO-150 for extended use for medium to fine sanding, do you think I’d be better served with the /5 for sanding raw wood in the 120-150 grit range?
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 09:47 AM by Tom Gensmer »
CT-26, CT-MIDI, C-18, RO-150, RO-90, OF-1010, OF-1400 (x2), MFK-700, MFK-700EQ/B, EHL-65, DTS-400, LS-130, MFT/3 (x2), MFT/Kapex (x3), CMS-OF, KA 65 Conturo, Sprinter full of Systainers

Offline retfr8flyr

  • Posts: 18
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2017, 11:05 AM »
I have the Jet 22-44 OSC drum sander and I can't imagine being without it. I can put some 150 grit paper in it and not need any further sanding on a project. The oscillation removes the fine lines drum sanders are famous for and saves a ton of time because you don't have to go over the project with an ROS sander to clean it up. I don't really see much improvement going to higher grits and I am very happy with the way things come out with 150 grit. The Jet costs a little more than a non OSC version but it's worth every penny.

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 4010
Re: Drum sander or...?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2017, 06:41 AM »
...
The ETS/EC 150/5 may go at it quicker... Is there a place in the cities that carry them?

I am very fortunate to live within a 30 minute drive from 3+ Festool dealers, so I definitely have ready access to most of the product line. My thought was that since I already have the 5mm orbit covered with my RO-150, I could use that sander for aggressive and intermediate sanding, and then supplement it with a ETS EC 150/3 for fine sanding. In a perfect world I’d love to add a ETS EC 150/5 to the mix as well.

I imagine the EC sanders would be more comfortable than the RO-150 for extended use for medium to fine sanding, do you think I’d be better served with the /5 for sanding raw wood in the 120-150 grit range?

Well as you know I have a Mirka in 5-mm, and I have had paws on an RO.
Even an absolute beginner can use the Mirka (ETS/EC), and the 5-mm goes at wood like a starved beaver. The ETS/EC 150/5 is not too different.

So I am more wondering if it would be work considering?
(Like on some example planks of maple at one of those 3-stores...)

I would certainly be receptive to how you compared to the EC-150/5 to the RO for that type of task... (?)