Best Drum Sander – From My Personal Experience!
The best woodworking results require the best tools and equipment, that’s for sure. One of the best equipment that you can use is the benchtop drum sander. To show you how the drum sander works, I’ll give you a sneak peak of my SuperMax 25-50 Drum Sander. Let’s dig in.
What’s a Drum Sander?
Before I get started on my review, let’s talk a little bit about what a drum sander is. The best drum sander is more like a thickness planer. But unlike a planer, it comes with no cutter head or blades. Instead, a sander has a drum on the head.
The drum is wrapped with a roll of sandpaper that sands the wooden planks, which pass through it. In simpler terms, this is the “big machine” version for sanding wooden projects. It can work on the largest planks and assembled wooden plates.
SuperMax 25-50 Drum Sander
No woodworking sander has quite swept me off my feet like the SuperMax 25-50 Drum Sander. This is one of the largest drum sanders for woodworking with an open-ended technology in the market. Funny enough, even I didn’t know that when I bought it.
The sander can sand up to 25″ in just a single pass and twice as much in a double pass. It can remove a lot of material superfast, but you’re going to do it very carefully. So with a highly figured lumber for example, you will be able to go through the sander and smooth it all down without tearing any grain at all.
This is quite useful in various projects such as an already assembled project and wide un-cut lumber plates. That’s why I have used it for sanding cabinet doors, large table tops, and also general wooden planks.
Just as I mentioned, the SuperMax 25-50 Drum Sander is large. It measures 46 inches long, 26 inches wide and 53 inches tall.
- Wide Drum
The sanding drum on this machine is an ejected piece of aluminum. The drum is also wide enough and measures 25 inches long and five inches in diameter.
It is driven by a one in three quarter horse power motor. The motor runs at 115 volts, and is powerful enough to sand pieces of up to 50 inches wide in a single pass. It works well with the machine’s cantilevered head and gives the best grades every time I use.
- Higher Limits
Generally speaking, I don’t always have a problem sanding my pieces because they are never too thick. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t be much of a bother so long as your pieces do not exceed the four inches thickness limit.
- Conveyor Belt
To make your sanding easy is an abrasive conveyor belt. The conveyor belt pulls for you the piece you’re sanding so that you don’t have to do it yourself.
The belt is powered by an independent DC motor. The DC motor has variable speeds of 1 to 10 feet per minute.
- Intelligent Technology
However, the one feature of the conveyor motor that I love is the intellisense. This is the latest technology designed to automatically adjust the machine’s feed rate in case something goes wrong. .
How the Intellisense Works
Before I move on, let me quickly explain how the intellisense works. Based on the load you have for this sander, you will also set the conveyor belt’s motor speed accordingly. However, you might not get a smooth “homerun” every day.
If your machine encounters any difficulty once you have fed in your stock, it automatically kicks on the intellisense. Once this happens, the intellisense slows down the sander to a better speed. The speed is indicated by the red light above the intellisense.
The result is a smooth plank that properly sanded.
- Mobile Stand
Next, the sander also has a Closed Mobile Base Stand. The closed stand has built-in flexible wheels that allow you to move the sander easily. The wheels are set in each corner and allow the sander to roll side to side.
- Large Wheels
When using these wheels to roll the sander, you will realize how smooth they are. But that’s not all. You are going to notice that the wheels can lock in place with their threaded knobs. The threaded knob keeps the wheels secure and prevents any wobbling or unexpected jerking.
- Storage Cabinet
In addition to that, the sander has a storage cabinet right under its worktable. The storage cabinet is very spacious. It is easy to access and will serve you well at keeping many woodworking accessories.
I use the storage space to keep wood varnish, tape measure, goggles, mouth dust covers, and even my gloves.
- Dust Hood
That’s not all. The SuperMax 25-50 Best Drum Sander is also designed to work with a dust collector. The dust collector that you choose should have a minimum of 600 CFM. This will allow the hose to attaches easily to the 4-inch dust port.
I use a small portable dust collector that I got from my local hardware and it works just fine. I have also incorporated a jet air filter that catches any dust that escapes.
Even so, it is how this sander stores that I love. You can easily tuck the sander against the wall when you are not using it. Tucking it against the wall ensures that only the width sticks out. The width measures 26 inches only and will be easy to maneuver.
- Digital Readout
Finally, another accessory that’s available for this machine is a DRO. This means a Digital Readout. It is a digital technology that tells you how high the sanding drum is. By doing that, it enables you to create repeatable accurate results.
- Digital Readout
- Powerful Motor
- Conveyor Belt
- Sanding Drum
- Intellisense Technology
- Mobile Stand
- Large Wheels
- Dust Hood
- Sanding Capacity: 50 Inches Maximum Width
- Sanding Thickness: 1/32 – 4 Inches Thickness
- Drum Speed (RPM): 1740
- Drum Size: 5 x 25 extruded aluminum
- Dust Hood: 1- 4″ vacuum port, 600 CFM
- Conveyor Motor: 43 in.-lb. torque
- Power: 110 V 20 amp
SuperMax 25-50 Drum Sander: $1,999
- Maximum width (in): 50 (two passes)
- Minimum length (in): 2-1/4
- Maximum thickness (in): 4
- Minimum thickness (in): 1/32
- Dimensions (in): 27D x 46W x 53H (on stand)
What Makes this Sander Unique?
This sander is one of kind and the features that we have seen says it all. However, there are many reasons why I love it. Let me break them down.
- Easy to Use
First, the SuperMax 25-50 drum sanders for woodworking are easy to use. The model comes with a number of features that make your work easy. The whole system is quite easy to learn and as a beginner, you won’t find any hard time at all.
- More Work
Since this sander is the largest model in the market among the open-ended designs, it does more work. The work is done in a short time and, therefore, saves you a lot of time. The sander’s conveyor belt also pulls the plank alone. This saves you so much energy.
- Very Portable
If you are using the sander on a hard surface like such as my basement floor, it will easily slide. You can easily roll it into space, lock it, and then use it. When the sander is not in use, you can roll it back along the wall or anywhere else and store it.
- More Capacity
I mentioned above that the sander can take up a tune of 50 inches wide planks in a single run. That’s superior to most regular sanders. However, it is the working height that’s incredible. The conveyor belt has a comfortable working height of 33 inches.
- Proper Support
Yes, the capacity of the sander comes in handy. But if you need some additional support extensions there are tables that you can buy. The tables will give you more room. My shop is small, so the space is limited. Because of this, I keep my extension tables in the next room.
How the Extension Tables Work
The extension tables are detachable. You can easily remove them when not in use or attach them if you need them. They can easily be popped on with two bolts in each table. When you attach the tables, you double the total area. This comes in handy when sanding larger objects like tabletops.
- More Freedom
You will realize this by how easy the cantilevered head is to use. The head provides an open end design that allows you to sand pieces of up to 50 inches wide comfortably. You only need to make a pass through one direction and then flip the piece.
How to Sand a 2-inch Thick Assembled Piece
I am going to use the example of a 2-inch thick assembled 12 inches wide plank to show you how a sander works.
- Step I – The first step is to just turn on the conveyor belt and adjust it to whatever speed you want. Make sure the speed you choose will give you better results. You don’t have to be rigid as the speed is automatically adjustable by the intellisense.
- Step II – Now adjust the head of the sander to just over the thickness of the assembled piece. In this case, the thickness is 2 inches. I will suggest starting out with about two and a sixteenth. You can then bring the head down until it begins to make contact with the piece.
- Step III – Flip the sander on once you do get down to where you are making contact with the wood. Then slowly start to take more and more off until you get down to that desired thickness. You can also go with the best surface finish.
NOTE: As the top side sands through, you should turn the bottom side to sand simultaneously. This will allow you to get a uniform result on both sides. It will also balance your work and leave you with a neat finish.
FAQs: Benchtop Drum Sanders
I want to highlight a few questions that I have met about the best drum sanders. These questions should make it easy for you to understand how sanders work.
- Why a Sander and Not a Planer?
On pieces where the grain is tied together a planer would want to tear some of that grain out. However, a sander does a really good job of just smoothing it all down. A sander won’t disturb the grain at all.
- What Else Can You Use a Sander For?
You can use a sander for pieces that are assembled. You can use it for face frames or cabinet doors. You can also use the sander for shelves.
- How Do I maintain Efficiency with the Sander?
To smooth your surfaces out and also flush all the parts up, your sanding paper must be clean. However, more work means more buildup in the sandpaper. What you should do is to clean your sandpaper using a sanding belt cleaner.
- What is a Sanding Belt Cleaner?
This is a “big eraser” that you use to clean the sanding paper that’s rolled out on the drum. You just turn on the sander and then run the cleaner across. It should leave you with a dustless sanding surface.
Additional Tips: How to Change Sandpaper on a Drum Sander
Another common challenge that people who own the SuperMax 25-50 Drum Sander is how to change the sandpaper. This will be vital when you want to change to a different grit for instance from 220 to 80 grit.
First, you undo the paper at the motor side. Then work your way across rolling it up and undo the clip on the opposite side of the drum.
Now take your new sandpaper and roll out. I prefer the pre-cut pieces where the tapers on both ends are already cut to length.
To roll your new sandpaper, put one end of that roll into the little clip on the opposite side. Make sure that the tapered cut is against the edge of the drum. Then roll the sandpaper around the drum.
Ensure that you keep the sandpaper tight and the edges of each spiral close together. On reaching the other side of the drum, insert the other tapered end into the other clip. This clip will hold both the paper and pulls it tight to prevent any slips.
My experience with the SuperMax 25-50 drum sanders for woodworking has been amazing. It works great for large capacity sanding. It’s relatively compact and provides quick paper changes. It is also easy to move around and to store.
If this is the sander that you have chosen, don’t worry. The choice is great. In my shop, this tool has become a great asset for the limited space that I have. It expands the scope of projects I’m able to complete, while increasing speed and consistency in which I’m able to do them!