In a hurry and just want to know what is the best drum sander? Jet 723520K is your best choice. Keep reading to find out why.
I remember certain tools mystified me as a kid when I would visit my late grandfather’s workshop. One power tool I remember was the drum sander. It was big, loud, and smoothed out wood quickly.
Fortunately, today’s market showcases these tools on a scale that many woodworkers can justify, with a price that they can afford. Let’s take a look at what they can do as well as some of the best drum sander models available for purchase.
The 5 best drum sanders Compared:
Drumming Up A Smooth Finish
A drum sander is designed to make the sanding process efficient and quick. They are able to present a large amount of abrasive surface to wood projects at one time. They can also generate lots of speed as the drum rotates.
This combination makes quick work when removing layers of wood. But, are they right for everyone?
Who needs a drum sander?
While anyone can enjoy the results gained from these power tools, I feel these sanders are best suited for more advanced work.
Novice woodworkers will usually handle smaller projects that can be sanded using a disc or orbital sander. Intermediate woodworking projects may be larger, but the volume of wood can usually be handled by the same tools, or perhaps a belt sander in more extreme cases.
Drum sanders, on the other hand, excel with large projects as well as jobs that contain lots of pieces that require smoothing. Such projects are usually tackled by woodworkers with more experience.
These power tools are ideal for those who find themselves spending a lot of time on the sanding process.
Drum sander vs thickness planer: what’s the difference?
A major difference between the two is the amount of material they can remove in a single pass. A planer is designed to take larger amounts of wood off with each pass. The drum sander is built to take a smaller amount of material each time.
That makes a drum sander great for doing fine woodworking. Taking a minimal amount of material at each pass also allows the drum sander to be used on materials that may chip in a thickness planer, such as plywood.
Another feature that you will notice with a drum sander is that it is able to handle wider boards than a thickness planer can fit.
Drum Sander Features To Consider
When it comes to the overall design, two elements stand out.
First off, a drum sander can be defined as “open” or “closed.” Open designs have an open end on the drum that will allow you to fit pieces of wood that are wider than the drum head itself. This allows you to work with boards wider than the length of the drum at the expense of possible flexing during sanding.
Closed drum sanders have drums that are supported on both ends, a feature that provides support on both ends of the drum. This will eliminate the flexing while limiting the board width to the length of your drum.
Your next design option to consider will be single or double drum designs. A single drum has one drum head. This keeps the operating simple and this style is still the most popular of the two.
Double drum designs place one drum head behind the other. While this can make operation and maintenance more complicated, you can run two different grits on the drums. This will allow you to complete two sanding steps with one pass through the drum sander.
Size & Power
The length of the sanding drum will determine the maximum board width you can work with on a closed model. The drum size will determine how much you sand on an oversized board placed in an open drum sander. This is often referred to as the capacity that the machine can handle.
Keep in mind that many drum sanders will run on 240-volt instead of the 120-volts found in a normal house outlet. Electric motor sizes vary, but the range is usually between one to five HP. You will pay more for the larger motors, but they will handle the workloads faster and with greater efficiency.
Sanding generates dust. Sanding with power tools creates a lot of dust. Drum sanders smoothing out wide boards generate a mess.
You will want a drum sander that provides a wide opening for dust collection hoses. If you need to go to a smaller outlet you should be able to find adaptors. Dust can be dangerous, so make sure not to overlook this feature.
Having the ability to adjust the speed of the motor offers you more versatility with your sander. This will help prevent damage to your boards as you sand them.
Finally, keep in mind the portability you will need. Small shop space may require a sander that can be moved easily. A shop with dedicated space may not need a mobile unit.
Top 5 Drum Sanders: The Reviews
1. Jet 723520K
- MONITORING: Sandsmart control continuously monitors the load on the drum motor and automatically regulates the speed of the conveyor.
- PROTECTION: Precision-machined extruded-aluminum drum is designed to dissipate heat and protect the work surface from heat-damage.
- OPTIMIZATION: Separate feed and drum motors provide independent control.
This model is more compact than other offerings reviewed here. That compact design would prove ideal for shops with limited space. You will find this drum sander to be more easy to move around than larger units that are far heavier.
- The stand out feature is the comparatively small size. This drum sander will not take up a lot of room, allowing this to fit in smaller workspaces without issue.
- It comes with SandSmart Control that helps to control the speed of the conveyer belt. This will allow the user to feed boards at the best speed without causing jams at the drum.
- A five-year warranty provides consumer confidence with your potential purchase. I wish all of my power tools would come with this length of warranty.
- This compact unit is powered by a smaller 1.5-volt motor. An upgrade here would improve both speed and performance.
- A 16-inch drum length keeps the sander small, but the length is a bit short for an open-end design. That limits the overall size of board width, keeping the maximum dimensions at about 31-inches.
2. SUPERMAX TOOLS Model 19-38
The steel used throughout the construction of this drum sander makes it very rigid. Its bed is supported with additional cross-sections that help to keep the surface steady. You will find no flex from below when running this unit. A wide stance is presented with the stand legs, offering you a stable platform to work from.
- The conveyer belt has an abrasive texture feel to it. This should prove to be useful when gripping boards to hold them in place.
- This drum sander makes use of a patented abrasive attachment system. It is designed to negate loose fits and overlapping.
- Its access point into the drum cover provides you with plenty of room to work. It is one of the easiest to open and the room eliminates the need for special tools to reach certain areas.
- The rigid construction that supplies durability also adds to the weight. You will find that this drum sander is heavy for its size and power.
- It has a drum made from extruded aluminum. This material will wear down before other parts on this sander.
3. Grizzly Industrial G0459 12-Inch Baby Drum Sander
- Sanding motor: 1-1/2 HP, 115V, single-phase, 13A
- Conveyor motor: 1/8 HP, 115V, single-phase, variable speed 5-55 RPM, 0.3A
- Drum surface speed: 2127 FPM
This model is referred to as the baby drum sander due to the 12-inch long sanding drum as well as the 1.5-HP electric motor. As a closed-end design, theG0459 can accommodate a 12-inch wide piece of stock at most.
- The closed-end design of the drum sander provides a stable drum head that will not flex. A shorter length of 12-inches also helps to prevent movement during operation.
- A tacky rubber material is used on the feed belt. This should help to prevent project movement without damaging the surface of your wood as it passes under the drum.
- A lower capacity on this model plays into working with thinner material. That includes veneer sheets as well as marquetry projects.
- The 12-inch limit on timber width does limit what you can work on with this drum sander. You would have to sand down individual boards before gluing them on a wider project.
- You will find the threads on the adjustments to be very fine, which will take twice the amount of work to make adjustments to the sander.
4. Powermatic PM2244
- CAPACITY: Included infeed/outfeed tables provide 37-1/2 inches of support for the workpiece.
- AUTO ADJUSTMENTS: Feed logic system monitors the drum motor and regulates the speed of the conveyor motor.
- STORAGE: Closed stand with storage for keeping your abrasives organized.
This model represents a step up from other products on this list in size and power. The Powermatic makes use of a longer drum and bigger table to help you work on those larger projects. This drum sander is large and heavy and will require dedicated space in your workshop.
- A 22-inch drum length and open-end design make this a great choice for woodworkers who handle larger projects. You can reasonably sand boards as wide as 43-inches.
- Another nice feature is the easy to read LED control panel. This panel displays an array of readings and is bright enough that you will not strain to read it.
- It does offer closed storage under the table. This area can help hold those accessories that you may need but want to keep out of the way while you work.
- The size and weight of this power tool make it necessary to have a dedicated spot in your shop, as it is simply not convenient to move it around. Its size also makes this drum sander heavy.
- A larger drum sander will naturally come at a higher price. This drum sander has the highest price point among the products reviewed here.
5. JET JWDS-1020 – Best Benchtop Drum Sander
- CONSISTENCY: Heavy-duty die-cast aluminum and steel body provides rigidity.
- OPTIMAL FEED RATE: Infinitely-variable speed control allows the user to choose the perfect feed rate.
- QUICK ABRASIVE CHANGES: Toolless abrasive take-up fasteners make changes quick and easy.
This table top model is made for small work. It is highly portable, a feature that will appeal to those who work in areas with limited space. It is also comparatively budget-friendly, giving a hobbyist on a budget an entry point into drum sanders.
- A cast aluminum and steel construction make this drum sander lighter than most. It will be easier to move at 82-pounds.
- It comes with a four-inch dust port. This will make an easy connection point for a shop dust collector. This will also present a standard size for most adaptor kits on the market for smaller hoses.
- A self-cooling system is incorporated into the drum. This will help keep the aluminum from overheating during extended sanding sessions with multiple pieces of wood.
- A 10-inch long roller means you won’t be sanding anything wider than 20-inches. This limits this product to thinner boards that may require additional assembly after sanding is complete.
- You will find that the table is no larger than the length of the drum. That means less support for boards wider than 10-inches.
Drumming Up A Winner
All of the drum sanders reviewed above will produce fine results. I do feel that the Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 Drum Sander represents the best drum sander of the five, however. It provides users with what a drum sander is designed for, without costing as much as the larger units reviewed.
The open-ended design with a 16-inch long drum will provide you with plenty of sanding capability with board widths that most woodworkers handle in their shops.
It is designed to limit the flexing that you find with some open-ended designs thanks to the support sections under the table itself.
The size of the table and stand allow it to be moved around if needed, so this can serve as a stationary or mobile platform if needed.
Finally, variable speed and auto-feed controls backed by a five-year warranty make this a great first drum sander!