Best Drum Sanders 2018 - Top 5 Reviewed & Compared

Best Drum Sanders

Best Drum Sanders 2018: Top 5 Compared & Reviewed

At my last count, there’s 53 drum sanders on the market to choose from…

They’re complex tools with many features, and come in several different types.

These are expensive tools, and choosing at random could be a very costly mistake indeed.

Lucky for you, I’ve got your back.

This article has everything you need to choose the best drum sander for you: top picks, feature guide, and more.

If this is your first drum sander, it’ll be a great shop upgrade. Let’s get to it.

Speaking of sanders… You might also want to check out our review of the best orbital sanders.

See Top Picks

Choosing the Right Drum Sander for Your Needs

 As I mentioned earlier drum sanders use a drum with sanding strips wound around them to remove material. That’s very simplistic in description, as there’s more involved.

Unlike a belt sander that a user moves back and forth over the material, drum sanders requir that the material be fed through them.

This is were things get complicated.

Drum sanders, at least commercially made drum sanders, use a belt to feed the material through. They also utilize a roller in front and behind the drum, or drums. These hold the wood down against the belt so that it will grip the material.

The drum rotates against the direction of the feed, so there has to beenough pressure to keep the drum from spitting the board out.

Accommodation for the thickness of the material, and to adjust how much material is removed, is provided by a height adjustment mechanism.

Drum sanders use either an open or closed frame to contain the mechanisms and handle the material to finish.

Now that we’ve talked generally about drum sanders let’s get into the nitty gritty. No pun intended, although grit is involved when talking about the sanding strips.

Uses for Drum Sanders

As I mentioned earlier wood comes in smooth/standard thickness and rough standard thicknesses. Sometimes a woodworker needs thinner material, or wants to buy rough lumber, as it’s cheaper than surfaced on both sides.

In both cases, the woodworker needs a way to make the material thinner and/or smoother. In the early days, this was done with hand planes, powered by the woodworker. Oh, it got the job done, but took time and toll on the woodworker.

Early on, man learned of ways to make jobs faster and easier. So is the case with the surface planer and the drum sander.

If you want to remove material quickly and are willing to live with grain tear out, then the surface planer is the tool for you. It will hog off material, but at the expense of chewed up boards.

If you’re willing to go slower at the benefit of smoother stock then the drum sander is your machine.

  • Have 3/4” Pine, but want some 1/2” stock? Plug in your drum sander, fire it up, feed your stock through and you’re good to go.
  • Have 4/4” rough cut Walnut and want 3/4” smooth on both sides? Once again, fire up your drum sander and let it do the job for you.

That’s the gist of what a drum sander does. It removes material to smooth stock and make it thinner.

Do I Need a Drum Sander?

That’s a good question. Do you even need a drum sander?

You do if you want to thin and smooth stock without tearing out against the grain.

The next question to ask would be, “What kind of drum sander do I need?”

We’ll get to that in a bit, after we talk more in depth about drum sanders.

Types of Drum Sander

There are two basic types of drum sanders and two sub-types. All will get the job done, but in different manners. Let’s start off with the basic types.

Per earlier discussion, each sander has a framework that houses the mechanisms that allow them to perform their jobs. Based upon their structure, drum sanders are either open-ended or closed-ended.

Let’s look at the difference.

Open-Ended Drum Sanders

Open-ended drum sanders have a structure that supports the feed belt, the sanding drum, and the pressure rollers that is open on one end.This allows boards to be sanded that are wider than the drum’s length. If you have a 12” open-ended drum sander, then you can sand a board up to 24” wide.

Now, this is pushing it, as you’re expecting the board to run true enough through the machine so that that the board is sanded evenly across. This is not always the case.

Realistically, a 20” board can be effectively sanded by a 24” open-ended drum sander.

There’s one major problem with open-ended sanders.

The open end can flex under pressure, causing uneven side-to-side sanding. Taking very shallow passes, reducing the pressure between the upper and lower mechanisms will lessen the chance of flexing.

  • Pro – Can sand boards wider than the sanding drum’s length
  • Con – Structure can flex, causing uneven sanding across the width of the material

If you’re looking to sand stock wider than the width of your sander, and are willing to accept a bit of flex, then the open-ended drum sander will do for you.

Closed-Ended Drum Sanders

Closed-ended drum sanders have a structure that supports the feed belt, the sanding drum, and the pressure rollers that is closed on both ends. This prevents boards from being sanded that are wider than the drum’s length.

If you have a 12” closed-ended drum sander, then you are limited to sanding boards up to 12” wide.

You won’t be able to sand anything wider than 12” but you can sand 2 sections 12” wide and then edge glue them together. If you’re like me, you don’t do any projects that need a sander wider than 12”. So, no big thing.

Although you’re giving up sanding width with a close-ended drum sander, you’re gaining stability, as close-ended sanders won’t flex open, since both ends are constrained.

  • Pro – Rollers will not flex apart, as both ends are constrained by the structure of the drum sander
  • Con – Close-ended drum sanders limit the width of stock than can be run through them.

If you don’t need a sander that can sand stock wider then the drum and you want stability between the upper and lower mechanisms, then the closed-ended drum sander is for you.

Now that we’ve talked about the two main types of drum sanders, let’s talk about the sub-types: single-drum sanders and two-drum sanders.

Single-Drum Sanders

As the name says, single-drum sanders have one sanding drum. You’re limited to one grit when sanding, so if you want to start with 80 grit and follow with 120 or 150, then you’ll have to change sanding strip on your drum.

The pay off in the inconvenience is a simpler machine and usually lower cost.

  • Pros – Simpler machine and usually comes at lower cost
  • Con – Limited to one grit of sanding strip requiring changing grits between passes

Two-Drum Sanders

Two-drum sanders have two drums, as the name says, one behind the other.

You can run two different grits of sanding strip on the drums, with rougher grit on the first and finer grit on the second. Running two different grits reduces sanding time.

You can spit out your stock with a nice finish after one pass through a two-drum sander.

  • Pro – One pass will produce a nice finish, instead of two passes
  • Cons – More complicated, more costly

What to Look for When Choosing a Drum Sander

Now that we’ve covered the basics on drum sanders, let’s look at what to consider when choosing one.

  • Budget – How much you can afford to spend on a drum sander might be your first consideration. Drum sanders are not inexpensive and the larger the capacity, as well as going for two drums, will push the price up.
  • Capacity – How wide of material do you want to be able to sand? Are you willing to go with an open-ended sander for the extra width? If you’re planning to glue up table tops and such, then you’ll appreciate the extra width when you need it.
  • Power – Are you limited to 120 volts, or do you have the option of running 240 volts? The higher the voltage the greater power at a more efficient power draw.
  • Single drum vs two drums – A two-drum sander will speed up your sanding, as you can run two different grits and get more sanding done in one pass. If you’re not in a hurry and don’t mind changing grits, then single-drum sander will be easier on your pocketbook and less fussy to mess with.
  • Open-ended vs close-ended – If you’re okay with being limited to the maximum width that a close-ended sander provides, in exchange for the stability, then the closed-ended sander will suit you. If you want the flexibility of flipping a board to sand widths greater than the sanding drum, and you’re willing to sand at reduced pressures to prevent flexing, the the open-ended sander will be a good choice.
  • Quality – When spending hard earned money on power tools, it pays to buy quality tools. We won’t recommend anything with less than 4.0 review rating, so you’re on your own if you look elsewhere.

Okay, now we’ve covered the basics about drum sanders, as well as what you might look for when choosing one. Let’s take a look at our Fav Five.

5 Best Drum Sanders

 

Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 16-32

 Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 16-32 Plus 20 Amp Service with 608003 Stand in Woodworking, Sanders, Drum Sanders

Jet’s offering is the smallest of the sanders featured but it will still do a great job in cutting down your sanding time. It features Sandsmart™ technology which continuously monitors the load on the drum motor to prevent it from becoming overloaded.

  • Style-Open-ended
  • Number of drums– 1, providing for simplicity and reduced cost at the expense of some sanding speed
  • Drum length – 16 inches, allows for sanding boards up to 32” wideDrum speed- 1720 rpm
  • Drum Diameter – 5 inches
  • Conveyor motor – 43 inch pounds torque, direct drive DC voltage
  • Conveyor speed – 0 – 10 Feet per minute
  • Conveyor tracking adjustment – Tool-less
  • Maximum board thickness – 3 inches
  • Minimum board thickness – 1/32 inch
  • Maximum board width – 32 inches in two passes
  • Minimum board length – 2-3/8 inches
  • Dust collector – 4 inch port, requires the use of a dedicated dust collector
  • Sander motor power – 1-1/2 HP
  • Sander motor voltage – 120 volts AC
  • Sander motor amperage – 14 amps
  • Stand – Included
  • Warranty – 5-year
PROS
  • Reasonably priced for the quality and capacity
  • Uses a self-tightening abrasive attachment system, making the common task of changing abrasives fast, simple and tool free
  • Handles up to 32” wide stock
CONS
  • Cost of shipping
  • Frame can possibly flex if overloaded, preventing perfectly flat sanding

The Jet 723520K is reasonably priced for its sanding capacity. This sander will definitely get the job done, without costing an arm and a leg.

Click here to read user reviews on Amazon.

SuperMax Tools 19-38

SUPERMAX TOOLS Drum Sander with Flatness Guarantee, Intellisand Technology and Patented Abrasive Attachment System. Model 19-38 (SUPMX-71938-D)

The SuperMax 19-38 is the next step up in size but not much in price, as it’s priced similarly to the Jet reviewed above. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth with this sander.

The SuperMax 19-38 is the next step up in size but not much in price, as it’s priced similarly to the Jet reviewed above. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth with this sander.

  • Style – Open-ended
  • Number of drums – 1, providing for simplicity and reduced cost at the expense of some sanding speed
  • Drum length – 19 inches, allows for sanding boards up to 38 inches wide
  • Drum speed – 1740 rpm
  • Drum diameter – 5 inches
  • Conveyor motor – 43 inch pounds torque, direct drive DC voltage
  • Conveyor speed – 0 – 10 feet per minute
  • Conveyor tracking adjustment – requires the use of tools
  • Maximum board thickness – 4 inches
  • Minimum board thickness – 1/32 inch
  • Maximum board width – 38 inches in two passes
  • Minimum board length – 2-1/4 inches
  • Dust collector – 4 inch port, requires the use of a dedicated dust collector
  • Sander motor power – 1-3/4 HP
  • Sander motor voltage – 120 volts AC
  • Sander motor amperage – 15 amps
  • Stand – Included
  • Warranty – 2-year limited
PROS
  • Reasonably priced for the quality and capacity
  • Uses a self-tightening abrasive attachment system, making the common task of changing abrasives fast, simple and tool free
  • Free shipping
  • Handles up to 38” wide stock
CONS
  • Frame can possibly flex if overloaded, preventing perfectly flat sanding

Although the SuperMax 19-38 is the only sander without free shipping, the purchase price and shipping don’t make it any less a value than the Jet noted above, especially since it can sand a bit more width.

Click here to read user reviews on Amazon.

SuperMax Tools 25-50

SUPERMAX TOOLS 19-38 Drum Sander with Open Stand

The SuperMax 25-50 offers the greatest capacity in drum sanding. If you’re wanting to sand some wide material, then this is the sander for you.

  • Style – Open-ended
  • Number of drums – 1, providing for simplicity and reduced cost at the expense of some sanding speed
  • Drum length – 25 inches, allows for sanding stock up to 50” wide
  • Drum speed – 1740 rpm
  • Drum diameter – 5 inches
  • Conveyor motor – 43 inch pounds torque, direct drive DC voltage
  • Conveyor speed – 0 – 10 Feet per minute
  • Conveyor tracking adjustment – tool-less
  • Maximum board thickness – 4 inches
  • Minimum board thickness – 1/32 inch
  • Maximum board width – 50 inches in two passes
  • Minimum board length – 2-1/4 inches
  • Dust collector – 4 inch port, requires the use of a dedicated dust collector
  • Sander motor power – 1-3/4 HP
  • Sander motor voltage – 120 volts AC
  • Sander motor amperage – 15 amps
  • Stand – Included
  • Warranty – 2-year limited
PROS
  • Reasonably priced for the quality and capacity
  • Uses a self-tightening abrasive attachment system, making the common task of changing abrasives fast, simple and tool free
  • Free shipping
  • Handles up to 50” wide stock
CONS
  • Frame can possibly flex if overloaded, preventing perfectly flat sanding

For the cost, being able to sand 50” wide stock is quite an attribute. The is the mid-priced of the 5 sanders featured, but it has the greatest capacity in sanding width.

Click here to read user reviews on Amazon.

Powermatic PM2244 1-3/4 hp

Powermatic PM2244 1-3/4 hp Drum Sander

Powermatic’s offering is the last of the open-ended sanders. Also known for quality tools, Powermatic’s PM2244 is no exception.

The Powermatic PM2244 will definitely serve the average woodworker well over the years.

  • Style – Open-ended
  • Number of drums – 1, providing for simplicity and reduced cost at the expense of some sanding speed
  • Drum speed – 1720 rpm
  • Drum diameter – 5 inches
  • Conveyor speed – 0-10 feet per minute
  • Conveyor tracking adjustment – tool-less
  • Maximum board thickness – 4 inches
  • Minimum board thickness – 1/32 inch
  • Maximum board width – 44 inches in two passes
  • Minimum board length – 2-3/8 inches
  • Dust collector – 4 inch port, requires the use of a dedicated dust collector
  • Sander motor power – 1-3/4 HP
  • Sander motor voltage – 120 volts AC
  • Sander motor amperage – 14 amps
  • Warranty – 5 years
PROS
  • Uses a self-tightening abrasive attachment system, making the common task of changing abrasives fast, simple and tool free
  • Free shipping
  • Handles up to 44” wide stock
CONS
  • Frame can possibly flex if overloaded, preventing perfectly flat sanding
  • Cost might be a bit much for most woodworkers

Capable of sanding up to 44” wide stock, the Powermatic PM2244 will be overkill for many a woodworker, but for those that regularly work with wide stock, the PM2244 will get the job done nicely, if the price tag isn’t a hinderence.

Click here to read user reviews on Amazon.

SHOP FOX W1772 37-Inch

SHOP FOX W1772 10 HP 37-Inch Drum Sander

Shop Fox’s W1772 is the only close-ended and two-drum sander featured. As you might guess, it’s the most expensive of the 5 reviewed, but with two sanding drums and a 37 inch wide capacity, it will do some serious sanding.

If you’re moving from hobby woodworking to production work, then this sander will definitely do the job.

  • Style – Closed-ended
  • Number of drums – 2, which allows running two successive grits to speed up sanding
  • Drums lengths – 37 inches, allows for sanding up to 36-1/2” wide stock
  • Drums speeds – 1725 rpm
  • Drums diameters – 6 inches
  • Conveyor motor – 1/4 HP
  • Conveyor speed – 6-18 feet per minute
  • Conveyor tracking adjustment – tool-less
  • Maximum board thickness – 4 inches
  • Minimum board thickness – 1/32 inch
  • Maximum board width – 36-1/2 inches
  • Minimum board length – 9 inches
  • Dust collector – 4 inch port
  • Sander motor power – 10 HP
  • Sander motor voltage – 220 volts AC, single phase
  • Sander motor amperage – 43 amps
  • Stand – Included
  • Warranty – 2 years
PROS
  • Two drums speeds up sanding time by allowing use of two successive grits
  • Uses a self-tightening abrasive attachment system, making the common task of changing abrasives fast, simple and tool free
  • Free shipping
  • Handles up to 36-1/2” wide stock
CONS
  • Cost might be prohibitive for the average woodworker
  • Heavy

Click here to read user reviews on Amazon.

Conclusion

If you frequently require precision sanding or are simply looking for a shop upgrade, a drum sander is a great choice.

This article should have everything you need to choose the best one, based on your situation and needs.

Good luck with your choice, and don’t forget to check woodworkboss.com regularly for product guides, inspiration, projects, and plans.

Summary
Best Drum Sanders 2018 - Top 5 Reviewed & Compared
Article Name
Best Drum Sanders 2018 - Top 5 Reviewed & Compared
Description
Drum sander reviews 2018 - detailed breakdown. Top 5 choices. Learn about important features, what to consider, and which is the best drum sander for you.
Author
Publisher Name
Woodwork Boss
Publisher Logo