Drum sanders are not a typical equipment in most households. These are usually heavy weights in the woodworking industry. Thus, it’s more frequently used in industrial sectors that mass produces sanded wood and the like.
However, if you’re planning to really invest in your woodworking, then buying one will make way for long-term benefits. A drum sander can get the job done in barely seconds, so stay tuned to find the best drum sander out there!
Last update on 2019-06-20 at 09:07 PST - Details
How Does a Drum Sander Work?
At first glance, a drum sander looks like a large table top. It’s actually reminiscent to a lot of other machines used in different industries. For one, some designs might look like a photocopying machine. Others, meanwhile, may look like a dovetail jig or an x-ray machine.
This boxed shape might look odd, but the way it works is simple. The machine has a wide mouth. This is where the wood planks will be slided into. It sort of “eats” the wood in order to sand it in one go.
So how does the drum sander sand wood? Basically, it has a pair of cylindrical heads lying inside the machine. These heads are located directly above the mouth of the machine. The cylinders have sanding belts wrapped all over it.
Thus, it works by rotating at a moderate speed. Once you feed the machine with a wood board, it gets shaved or trimmed due to the friction it receives with the belt. Remember, polishing or sanding is not the only function of this machine.
Benefits of a drum sander
It can also perform duties like reducing the thickness of the wood board. Instead of sawing the board, you can repeatedly shave off the flat surface through a drum sander. By doing so, you’ll be able to preserve the quality of the wood.
This is because the drum sander, unlike other tools, retain the grain of the wood as it shaves it.
This means that the natural design will still be intact. It’ll still look like as if it’s freshly cut from a tree, staying aesthetic and smooth at the same time. However, it’s important to consider that the drum sander has limitations.
There are many sanding machines out there that perform differently than the drum sander. Actually, these sanders are more geared to polish smaller and more complex wood sculptures. These target the nooks and crannies that an industrial machine can’t do.
Thus, it’s good to have a drum sander and a tool like a sanding bit because both compliments each other. The drum sander shapes the thickness of the wood board, while the sanding jig can finish up the edges and corners that the drum sander can’t reach.
Things to consider before buying a drum sander
Know the type
Drum sanders come in different varieties. There are three main distinctions of drum sanders. These are oscillating, open, and closed. These three are usually defined depending on the design of the drum sander.
As for the closed one, these are the ones that look like boxes. Meanwhile, oscillating drum sanders are rarer ones that look like weighing scales. These usually perform differently compared to the open or closed because of its limited frame.
Finally, the open drum sander is not boxed and has an opening on both ends. Other classifications of sanders are based on its specialization. This varies depending on the stage of your woodwork. These stages are sanding, detailing, and finishing.
Belt sander - The belt sander is the most common one. It basically handles raw wood and sands it to a smoother material for the next stage. Belt sanders are especially important if you’re planning to make top-notch furniture out of wood.
Detail sander - As the name suggests, this specializes on the next stage after raw sanding, and that’s detailing. The detail sander differs from the belt sander because it can reach areas that a belt sander can’t.
Since it’s designed for detailing, you can count on this sander to handle complex joints or corners that are hard to reach with a regular belt sander.
Finishing sander - The finishing sander is known to be a similar equipment with a buffer. It’s specifically used to smooth out the remaining wood shavings on your project. With this, you’re guaranteed with a shiny and wood dust-free project.
Get a good grasp of its operation
Drum Sanders are easy to operate. However, there can be crucial mistakes that might break this machine sooner than its shelf life. For instance, many owners tend to leave the machine plugged even when not in use.
That’s a big mistake given that it can damage the motor of the drum sander. More importantly, remember to slowly release the drum handle while pushing it gradually. The drum handle is tasked to adjust the drum away or towards the floor, so keep that in mind.
Always check the sanding paper
As previously mentioned, the drum sander comes with cylinder heads that are wrapped with sanding paper or sanding belts. These belts come in different grits, so be sure to buy one that is specifically designed for your sander.
You can check this with the manual of the machine. An incorrect grit will not only lead to a poor product, but it will also affect the efficiency and overall lifespan of your drum sander.
Maximum board limit on a single pass
The 5 Best Drum Sanders
The Jet 723520K has a 16” board and can sand a board up to 32”, but users say they have been able to adjust their drum sanders for larger boards. It weighs 156lbs and stands at 48”. Its drum sander abrasive has extra fine grit for a very smooth finish.
Features include a dust hood mirroring the drum for efficiently getting the chips and dust off, as well as an adjustable conveyor belt and speed dial. Overall, adjustments can be easily made with its tool-free adjustment features, and comes with a 5-year warranty.
- It has SandSmart technology.
- This monitors the load and regulates the speed to its highest possible speed without overloading the sander.
- It has an aluminum drum.
- Aluminum prevents the board from burn damage.
- It has an innovative parallelism system.
- Keep the board straight and parallel to the drum for a smooth finish.
- It has no room for secure storage.
- Its stand is a frame stand with one shelf, not a cabinet base.
- It does not include a vacuum system or extra abrasives.
The SuperMax 19-38 comes with a 19” drum wrapped in medium-grit sandpaper for. It’s on the heavier side, weighing in at 304.7lbs and stands at 57.6in long. You’ll be getting the steel grey tool with a black stand that has one shelf, though this is not portable.
It features a dust hood with a vacuum port, though a dust extraction is purchased separately. It does not have a warranty, but it has Inellisand technology to regulate the drum’s speed to prevent overheating and damage to the material.
- It has a medium-grit abrasive wrapped on the drum already.
- This is ideal for people needing more coarse finishes.
- Its Intellisand technology regulates the drum’s speed.
- This avoids overheating and causing jamming accidents in the sander.
- It has no warranty.
- You risk not getting a refund or replacement without warranty.
- It does not come with the infeed and outfeed table.
The Jet 649003K has a 22” self-cooling aluminum drum and its open style can sand up to 44”. You’ll be getting the sander, but the infeed and outfeed table as well as the stand are optional. The drum runs with a 1.75HP motor and can go up to 1,700rpm.
The drum’s lift can accommodate boards with a thickness of 4”, the entire machine 20” in height. At 254 lbs, it’s not a portable model, nor does it have a warranty, but it has Jet’s SandSmart technology to regulate the speed.
- It is easy to replace sandpaper.
- No need for tools to adjust the 649003K.
- Its infeed and outfeed table and stand are optional.
- This is a pro for those who already have these and want to save on costs.
- Its SandSmart prevents damage to the sander and to the board.
- It does not include an infeed/outfeed table.
- You need your own or purchase these separately.
- It has no way to fine tune the height of the drum.
- The drum’s lift does not have any measurements.
The Jet 629004K is relatively lighter at 164 lbs, including a 1.5HP motor and a 16” aluminum, self-cooling drum that can sand up to 32” on two passes. It includes a box of abrasives with medium and fine grits.
It comes with a five year warranty. On the safe side, it sports a safety on/off switch for emergencies, though it also has Jet’s SandSmart technology to prevent these emergencies as well, making it safe to use.
- It can hold boards flat.
- Its steel conveyor and adjustable lift can make sure the board stays flat when in use.
- Has multiple safety features.
- It has SandSmart technology and a reachable on/off switch in case of emergencies to stop the machine.
- Includes a box of abrasives.
- You do not have to buy extra abrasives.
- It is difficult to install the sandpaper.
- Several users have noted the difficulty in setting or changing the sandpaper.
- It does not have a dust vacuum system.
The Powermatic PM2244 weighs 418lbs, one of the heavier drum sanders on this list, but the drum sander is detachable from the stand, which provides casters for portability. Moreover, it stands 50” in height, runs on a 1 HP motor and a motor voltage of 115V.
It has a closed storage base where you can store your sanding tools. It comes with a 5-year warranty.
- It can be separated from its stand.
- If you prefer a different stand, simply remove the bolts connecting the stand to it.
- It includes the infeed and outfeed tables.
- This is not included in other drum sanders.
- It is set on casters, making it easy to move around.
- It comes with infeed and outfeed tables.
- This gives your work more support.
- The abrasives are sold separately.
- There is no mention of included abrasives that come with the drum sander.
- Its vacuum system is separate.
When looking for the best drum sander your money can buy, you need to take note of several features, depending on the type of project you’re planning. But to get your money’s worth, an all-around and durable drum sander is what you need.
All drum sanders claim to have some form of speed-regulating technology and adjustable drum height, which cancels those two out as competitive advantages. Therefore, the winner of this review is based on the one with more coverage.
The Powermatic PM2244 has the most features available, Feed Logic and drum height aside. It is the only one that provides infeed/outfeed tables for extra support, and has enough safety features and portability to make it convenient to use for all sanding jobs.
If size is not a problem for you, go for the Jet 723520K, the next best option. Its SandSmart is similar to the Feed Logic, has a more powerful motor, and has the same warranty. Just make sure your drum sander isn’t needed to be moved around a lot.
Thomas is a Pro himself, who has been in the business of home renovation & construction, working with various tools. He used to be the owner of 2 local construction companies with over 18 years experience. His works also include writing inspiring Do IT Yourself Tips & Tricks.