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7 Tips for Better Drum Sanding Gorham ME

The type of material you sand and how much you want to remove with each pass determines the best speed. If your machine has speed control on the conveyor belt, start at 50 percent and then adjust it according to the results you get.

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7 Tips for Better Drum Sanding

7 Tips for Better Drum Sanding

If you hate sanding (and who doesn’t?), a drum sander can be a godsend. Just feed in your boards, or even completed doors and other projects, and out they come, perfectly sanded, flat and smooth. And for a modern cabinetmaker looking for speed, precision and efficiency, a drum sander is hard to beat, unless you step up to a wide belt sander, but they can cost the price of a small car. Drum sanders start under $1,000. A 22-in. open-sided drum sander, like the one show here, costs about $1,500. It can sand a panel as wide as 44 in. when done in two passes.

Operating a drum sander is not as easy as it looks, though, and you can ruin many rolls of expensive abrasive paper before figuring out the right techniques. Here are  some tips for improving your results and making your sandpaper last longer.

Start at the Right Height

Before making your first pass, slide your workpiece under the sanding drum and adjust its height so the drum touches the workpiece but can still rotate with light hand pressure. Make your first pass or two at this setting. This approach takes off the highest spots on the board but reduces the chance of taking too big a bite, which could gouge your workpiece and burn or tear the sandpaper’s abrasive material. A good rule of thumb is to take two passes at each height setting. You will get better results and your paper will last longer.


Use the Correct Grit

Match your abrasive grit to the job. The most common mistake people make is to start too fine. It will not only take longer but the tendency to try to take too much off will lead to poor results and damaged paper. 

Grits can be divided into three groups: coarse, medium and fine. Coarse 24- to 60-grit papers are used for abrasive planing, which involves smoothing roughsawn lumber, for dimensioning lumber thickness or for removing squeeze-out on glued-up panels. Medium 80- to 120-grit papers are for leveling previously planed material or glued-up doors and face frames. Fine grits, 150 and higher, are for your final sanding. Always progress through the grits in order; it’s best not to skip a number. You should turn the drum sander’s thickness adjustment wheel no more than one-quarter of a turn for coarse grits and one-eighth of a turn for fine grits each time you reduce the height.


Find the Right Feed Rate

The type of material you sand and how much you want to remove with each pass determines the best speed. If your machine has speed control on the conveyor belt, start at 50 percent and then adjust it according to the results you get. If your machine doesn’t have speed control, take lighter passes until you develop a feel for your machine’s capabilities. 

Some species, such as hard maple and cherry, are prone to burning, as is end grain (see photo at left).

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