Whether you’re a professional woodworker or an avid hobbyist, it’s crucial that you have all of the tools and equipment at your disposal to get the job done. There are many pieces necessary for woodworking, but one of the most powerful and versatile is the drum sander.
These machines are designed to provide a smooth, even finish for any piece you’re working on, which is why they are so reliable. Rather than trying to sand your work by hand or with a smaller, handheld unit, drum sanders provide the speed and efficiency you deserve.
As such, we’re going to be looking at the top drum sander models on the market today to see which ones are ideal for your woodworking needs. With the best drum sander in your workshop, you can ensure that you make the highest-quality materials.
Table of Contents
- 3 Best Drum Sanders – Comparison
- How to Choose a Drum Sander
- 5 Best Drum Sanders – Review
3 Best Drum Sanders – Comparison
|Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 16-32 Plus|
|Grizzly G0459 Baby Drum Sander|
|Walter Surface Technologies 30A268 Line|
How to Choose a Drum Sander
When picking out the best drum sander, you will notice that they can vary widely in both size and power. Thus, it’s imperative that you choose the model that’s right for your needs. In some cases, you may want a smaller unit that doesn’t take up too much room in your workshop. If you can’t reserve dedicated space for your drum sander, then you want a semi-portable model that can be stored when necessary.
On the other hand, if you process a lot of large pieces (such as tabletops), then having a bigger drum sander may be necessary. Not only will you be able to sand more surface area in a single pass, but you will likely have a stronger motor that can handle a more significant load.
No matter what kind of drum sander you get, it’s critical that you get a model that allows you to adjust the speed as necessary. Since you will probably be working on a variety of woods, having this customization available ensures that you get the right results for each project.
That being said, if you’re sure that you won’t be changing your wood stock or its thickness, then you might not need a variable speed sander. However, since that’s quite rare, you should buy one with adjustable features just to be safe.
Another thing to consider is that some high-tech models will come with smart sensors that adjust the speed automatically based on the load you’re putting into it. These machines are much easier to manage and allow you to save time and effort. However, not all sensors are created equal, so be sure that you can manually override the system if it starts acting up.
Larger drum sanders generate a lot of power, which means that they can be prone to vibrations. When that happens, it will both increase the level of fatigue you experience (since you have to work harder to keep the wood in place), and it will leave marks on the piece.
Some high-end models have anti-vibration technology that minimizes this issue, and lighter sanders will have less of a problem overall. When picking out the right sander for your needs, be sure to see what other people are saying to see whether it’s a significant problem or not.
Whenever you’re doing any kind of sanding, you’re going to create a mess as dust and particles are spewed everywhere. To avoid this issue, you want to buy a drum sander that comes with a dust collection port above the machine. This way, you can keep your shop clean and ensure that you won’t get covered in a blanket of wood chips by the end of the day.
That being said, there are two elements that you have to remember. First, you need to check to see if your vacuum system is rated highly enough to match the sander. Some models require a certain amount of CFM (cubic feet per minute) to capture everything.
Second, you want to verify that the connector is the right size for your system. If the opening is too wide or too narrow, you will have to buy an adapter to make it fit.
Since drum sanders are made for high-speed operations, you have to be sure that you’re getting a model that can handle the kind of load you’ll be working with the most. While the size of the unit and the motor it comes with can help you make this decision, it’s also imperative that you check the construction.
In many cases, lighter and more portable sanders will be made of aluminum and other similar materials. While these are much easier to move around your shop, they can’t take as much abuse or wear and tear. Heavier drum sanders will be constructed out of stainless steel and other heavy-duty materials, making them last longer overall.
Since we’re looking for the best drum sander, we want to be sure that we’re getting all of the benefits that we deserve. So, with that in mind, here are a few extras that can make your work even better.
- Cantilever Hood: many heavy-duty sanders are enclosed, meaning that you have a strict limit regarding the width of materials. Smaller models, however, usually have an opening on one side so that you can work with pieces that are larger than the feed area.
- Wheels: if you have to move your drum sander around the shop on a regular basis, it helps to have wheels on the bottom. Just be sure that they lock into place while you’re working.
- Digital Height Reader: when trying to produce repeatable results, it helps to have a digital readout (DRO) to get precise measurements.
5 Best Drum Sanders – Review
1. Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 16-32 Plus
If you have a small workshop, then you can’t afford to buy a full-size drum sander that will take over half of your space. Instead, you want to get a more compact and (relatively) lightweight model like this one from Jet. This brand is highly recognized for making consumer-grade tools and equipment, and this sander is a perfect example.
Durable Steel Construction
Just because this unit is lighter than other machinery doesn’t mean that it’s weak. It comes with heavy-duty stainless steel rollers and a die-cast steel frame that can take a beating. However, because it’s not super heavy, you get less vibration from your work. Overall, this sander is built to last without being too big or cumbersome.
A smaller size can limit your work capacity, but having an open-ended hood allows you to sand larger pieces without problems. Thus, whether you’re working on 2×4 beams or a full-size tabletop, you can handle it all without requiring a massive machine.
Even if you’re a pro at woodworking, you can sometimes forget to adjust the sander to the right speed. Fortunately, this unit from Jet does the hard work for you by automatically customizing the controls based on the load. Thus, smaller pieces won’t get destroyed, and larger projects can get enough power to deliver the results you want.
Both the height and the speed of this drum sander are adjustable to meet your needs. There is a crank handle on top for the height, and each revolution is 1/16th of an inch. On the front, there is a knob that allows you to increase or decrease the speed of the conveyor. Although it doesn’t have precise measurements, the Sandsmart sensors will ensure that you get the right setting every time.
- Compact design fits in most shops
- Easy to use machine
- No tools required for adjustment
- High-performance design
- Precision measuring and control
- Relatively lightweight compared to other models
- Limited storage space for accessories
- Some parts are not as durable as others
- Cantilever hood for bigger projects
- Four-inch dust hood for cleaning
- Rubber feet for stability
- Bottom shelf for holding accessories
- Variable speed adjustment
- Hand-cranked height adjustment
- Stainless steel rollers for durability
- Easy to change sandpaper
- Automatic speed adjustment based on load
Overall, this drum sander from Jet is designed for hobbyists or woodworkers that have limited works pace available. It’s smaller size doesn’t diminish your capacity, however, thanks to the high-powered motor and cantilever hood. We really appreciate the quality of the craftsmanship and the customization that it offers.
2. SHOP FOX W1772 10 HP 37-Inch Drum Sander
With the Jet Drum Sander above, we looked at a model that was perfect for hobbyists or small woodworking shops. If you’re a professional, however, then you need something that can handle almost any kind of wood that you can throw at it.
In that case, you will want something like this 37-inch Drum Sander from Shop Fox. This is an industrial-grade machine that will provide you with the right finish, no matter the size or complexity of your next woodworking project.
Computer-Balanced Dual Sanding Drums
With most drum sanders, you get a single roll that handles all of your work. However, this means that you have to make multiple passes to get the right finish for your piece. With this machine, though, you have two rollers so that you can cut your time down substantially.
With this kind of operation, you can either set both drums to have the same grit sandpaper to reduce the number of passes necessary. Also, you can install different grits so that you can get a smoother finish in less time. Since the drums are calibrated by highly sensitive sensors, you never have to worry about them being off-kilter and creating an uneven finish.
Digital Height and Speed Adjustment
When precision matters, you want to have a drum sander that can measure the height of your work digitally. This allows you to create repeatable and salable projects that don’t have any discrepancies between pieces.
The other benefit of having a digital control panel is that it’s much easier to customize your settings and get the results you want. However, there are hand cranks on the machine to give you complete control over the device.
Powerful 10-Horsepower Motor
Since this is an industrial-grade sander, you want to have a motor that can process a lot of wood in a short period. With 10 horses available, as well as a max speed of 18 feet per minute, you can get the right finish in half the time. Not only that, but it’s built with heavy-duty materials, ensuring that it will last for years to come.
- High-capacity design
- Built for professionals
- Handles small or large projects
- Faster and more efficient
- Easy to use controls
- Tool-free adjustment
- Precise measurements
- High-powered motor
- Requires a dedicated workspace due to size and mass
- No storage space for accessories
- Limited width available
- Dual drums for faster sanding
- Computer-balanced rollers ensure even finish
- Accepts pieces up to 36.5 inches wide
- Rotating handle for height adjustment
- Computer terminal for precise measurements
- Robust 10-horsepower motor
- Variable speed from six to 18 feet per minute
- Industrial-grade components are built to last
Although this sander is somewhat limited in the size of pieces you can work with, we like the power and precision it offers. As long as you aren’t working on materials that are wider than it can accept, this drum sander will provide high-quality results every time. Also, we appreciate having two drums instead of one since it allows for even more customization.
3. Powermatic PM2244 1-3/4 hp Drum Sander
If you’re looking for a relatively compact sander that has a bit more power and durability than the Jet, you will probably want something like this unit from Powermatic. It’s a bit heavier and more expertly constructed, but it doesn’t take up as much room as the Shop Fox, and it costs a lot less than a professional-grade sander. Let’s see what it has to offer.
LED Control Panel
As we mentioned, having precision while working is crucial to ensure that you get the right finish on all of your projects. Thus, having an LED screen on the sander allows you to get the accuracy you need while also making adjustments so much easier. You can see the speed, height, and readout of your material while you’re working.
Feed Logic Sensors
One risk that’s inherent to drum sanders is that you can overload the system. This is either done by putting too much pressure on the belt or loading a piece that is too thick for the drum. No matter what material you’re using, the machine will automatically sense its size and adjust the speed accordingly. Never worry about overloading either since the system will shut down immediately.
Steel Cantilever Hood
When it comes to versatility, having an open-ended hood design is crucial. This allows you to work on a wider variety of pieces since you can have any excess material hanging off the edge. Not only that, but this machine also comes with extension tables on the front and back, providing even more leverage for your larger pieces.
Assuming that you don’t have a dedicated space in which to put this sander, you will want to move it around your shop when it’s not in use. The built-in casters on the bottom make it easy to maneuver around your space and put it wherever you need it. Also, the wheels lock in place so that they don’t shift while you’re working.
- Durable construction
- Compact design
- Adjustable settings
- Easy to use digital controls
- High-speed application
- Easy to maneuver as needed
- Wide surface area
- More expensive than other similar models
- Short power cord
- Steel construction
- Four-inch dust hood for cleaning
- Cantilever design for versatility
- Built-in locking wheels for maneuvering
- Table extensions for larger pieces
- LED digital control for precision
- Tool-free adjustments
- Automatic speed adjustment to avoid overload
Overall, we like the durability and versatility of this drum sander. It’s more robust than the Jet but has more agility than the Shop Fox, making it an ideal choice for those in the middle.
4. Grizzly G0459 Baby Drum Sander
When comparing different consumer-grade machinery, Grizzly is one of the top brands out there. The teal-colored products are instantly recognizable, and the high-quality components make them both versatile and reliable. This is one of the smallest drum sanders we’re going to look at, and it comes with some remarkable features.
Compact 12-Inch Design
Although most drum sanders are built to stand on their own, small units like this one are made to attach to a workbench or table. This is ideal if you have limited space, or if you don’t need a full-size machine. With a 12-inch feeder capacity, this sander is perfect for 2×4 boards and other small projects.
Powerful 1 ½ Horsepower Motor
Just because the Baby Sander is small doesn’t mean that it’s weak. The robust motor allows you to pump out your pieces quickly and efficiently without breaking down. No matter what kind of project you’re working on, this machine is built to handle it.
Manual Tool-Free Adjustment
Although we do prefer a digital readout on our drum sanders, we like having a manual method of height and speed adjustment. In this case, you have a turning wheel that provides precise measurements without needing a display. Also, there is a variable speed knob that allows you to get the right input without a lot of guesswork.
- Compact design fits in most workshops
- Ideal for smaller projects
- High-capacity motor
- Durable construction
- Easy to use controls
- Variable speed adjustment
- Limited size options
- Only works on a table or workbench
- 12-inch feeder design
- Durable steel construction
- Manual hand-crank adjustment
- 1.5-horsepower motor
- 2.5-17.3 feet per minute
- Max thickness of 3.5 inches
- 2.5-inch dust collection port
In the end, if you don’t need a massive drum sander for your work, then this model from Grizzly will be a perfect accessory for your workshop. It’s not made for processing a ton of material, so it’s best for hobbyists or woodworkers who don’t use a drum sander all the time. Nonetheless, it’s well-built and has the power and precision you need.
5. Walter Surface Technologies 30A268 Line
Our final drum sander is a handheld model from Walter Surface Technologies. So far, we’ve been looking at machines that are built to sand and finish wood, but this unit is made for metal finishes instead. Whether you’re working on aluminum, steel, or iron, this drum sander can give you the results you want.
Compact Handheld Design
At only 13 pounds, this is one of the most agile drum sanders on the market. Its slim profile allows you to work in a variety of environments, and it comes with a 120-volt motor to give you more significant results. It has a soft grip handle on the bottom and a top handle for stability. There is also a metal shield to protect your hand from both sparks and the drum itself.
Variable Speed Adjustment
To make your job easier, there is a speed control knob by the bottom handle. This way, you can customize your settings with your thumb, making it easier and more efficient to get the job done. It can go from 1,000 to 3,000 rpm in seconds, allowing you to get the finish and the results you want.
Designed for Metal Finishes
Unlike the other sanders we’ve been looking at, this handheld model is built for metalwork. Thus, if you’re trying to sand wood with it, you will have a hard time. Instead, you want to buy either a belt or an orbital sander. This unit accepts drums between 3.5 and five inches wide, and you can buy a variety of grits to get a smoother or rougher finish.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Works on most metals
- Easy to use
- Safe and protective
- High-speed operation
- Robust motor
- Durable construction
- Not made for high-capacity jobs
- Limited protection for driving hand
- Variable speed between 1000-3000 rpm
- Top handle for stability while working
- Lightweight design works in almost any position
- Uses 3.5-5 inch drums
- Protective shield to keep hands safe
- Soft grip handle for comfort
When it comes to sanding and finishing metal surfaces, this machine is both versatile and easy to master. As long as your projects fit the parameters of what this sander can offer, then it is a fantastic tool to have at your disposal.
Since we’ve looked at a wide variety of sanders that are built for different purposes, it’s difficult to say that one stands out above the rest. Thus, we’ll break it down based on your potential needs.
- For High-Powered Jobs: the Shop Fox is by far the most robust and efficient model out there. With two sanding drums and a killer 10-horsepower motor, there’s not much you can’t do with it. However, it is limited by the 36.5-inch width capacity, which can hinder your abilities.
- For Hobbyists: you can’t get much better than the Jet Drum Sander. It’s relatively lightweight design, and durable components make it a perfect choice for most small workshops. Although we would prefer for it to have wheels, it’s easy enough to move (as long as you have someone helping you). Also, we like that it comes with a shelf for storage since most other sanders don’t have that.