Introduction: 3$ Disk Sander

Picture of 3$ Disk Sander

This tutorial will show you how to make a disk sander for practically free. I creat mine only with salvage parts.
It's for 125mm sand disk and I find it very useful for small woodworking and 3D printing.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The main part is a cheap cordless drill with a dead battery that a friend gave me. For the base I use some mdf wood. I power the drill with an ATX power supply from an old PC. The rest of the parts are a switch, some copper wires, washers and some screws.
You will just need to buy some round sand paper with a sticky face (3$).

Step 2: Cut the Drill

Picture of Cut the Drill

A friend gave me this drill because the battery was dead. I didn't want to change it because it doesn't worth it: the drill cost 15$ new. In the dead battery some accumulators were dead but 5 of them were not so I take them for a future project.
First disassemble the drill and take off the motor and the switch. Reassemble the 2 plastics parts and cut the handle. Cut the wires of the motor and solder 2 longer wires to it. Put back the motor into the plastics parts and drill 2 holes to pass the wires. Screw back the plastics parts and then remove the chuck.

Step 3: Make the Holder for the Drill

Picture of Make the Holder for the Drill

To raise the drill I use a big piece of wood. To hold the drill in place on it I use a large piece of aluminum, I cut it, and screw it at the end of the drill. I then screw the piece of aluminum on the wood piece with 3 screws. I screw 2 more screws on each side and attach a copper wire around the drill to avoid any movement.

Step 4: Make the Base

Picture of Make the Base

For the base I use only small pieces of mdf wood. I first cut the bottom part. I cut 3 more little boards for the stand, glue them on the bottom piece (use some clamps to hold them tight).

Step 5: Make the Disk

Picture of Make the Disk

This disk is where the sand disk will be stick. It has to be attached to the shaft of the drill. I cut it with my dremel. Because it wasn't perfectly round, I turn on the drill and sand the edges of the disk while turning. This makes the disk round and creates less vibrations.

Step 6: Finish the Base

Picture of Finish the Base

Drill 4 holes under the base for fixing the holder of the drill. Then cut the stand and glue it in place. The end of the stand must be as close as possible with the sand disk. It has to be perpendicular too.

Step 7: Connect the Motor

Picture of Connect the Motor

The last step is to connect the motor with a switch. Make a hole for the switch on left side of the stand. Connect to it one of the motor wires. Connect the other motor wires and the switch wires to a screw terminal. It makes the connection with a power supply easy.
The drill works at 12v and 3 amps but the start peak current is about 10 amps. So I power it with an atx power supply. If you want to change the direction of rotation, inverse the polarity.

Step 8: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

You have now your own disk sander! Just need to buy extra round sand paper. You can easily sand wood, plastics parts and even aluminum with it. And I hope you like it!


gcai_fwb (author)2016-05-29

Great instructable!

Gave me an idea to use my ancient 120V drill as a disc sander

build a cradle for it similar to your design; chuck a disc sander paper holder into the drill

clamp it in the cradle and bob's your uncle - can even use the variable speed feature of the drill

thanks for the idea

oursgrognon (author)gcai_fwb2017-08-28

great idea.

I have one that I never use anymore (cordless is more usefull).

Do you glue your paper to the holder or do you use velcro disk?

gcai_fwb (author)oursgrognon2017-08-28

I use glue - old school :)

Korzer (author)2016-09-17

that's a brilliant idea. I was always mad, cause those machines are damn expensive and I always used my drill too, bit this stand is just a great idea

Workshopman (author)2016-07-19

I have just been having another look at the peak load problem with this sander. The solution (for me at least) was to use the viable speed trigger from the drill. Just place in the wiring as it was originally i.e. atx power supply - trigger - motor. Apply gentle pressure at first then all the way. Hope this helps.

Further it would be necessary to make some kind of screw in/out control to push the trigger so you would not have to keep a hold of it while using the sander. Have not done this myself yet.

Romain7333 (author)Workshopman2016-07-24

Thank you I didn't try this.
I had the solution by making a power supply from a microwave transformer. I changed the secondary winding to get 12v, add a bridge rectifier and a capacitor. Those transformers are very powerful and I had no problem. The drill start even when blocking the chuck.

DavidW371 (author)2016-06-04

I like the look of this! As I'm not very experienced with the electrics side, could you give a bit if detail on connecting to the atx power unit? Any pictures would be a massive help.

Romain7333 made it! (author)DavidW3712016-06-04

to connect the atx power supply you need to turn it on by shorting a wire (PS-ON it's green normally) to ground (black). The you just have to connect the motor to the yellow and black wire (12v).

Mihsin (author)2016-06-04

Very good idea. I'll make a sanding rest for my orbital sander.

Mihsin (author)2016-06-04

Very good idea. I'll make a sanding rest for my orbital sander.

MichaelAtOz (author)2016-05-29

Great idea.

You may want to mention the screw in the chuck is reverse threaded.

How did you get the chuck off (after removing the screw), that always gives me trouble. I don't have a skinny spanner to fit in the gap.

bodger-bill (author)MichaelAtOz2016-06-01

Apparently the professional way to remove the chuck is to undo the (left hand) screw, easier if you have two people to hold the drill, clamp the short end of a 3/8" or thicker allen key in the chuck jaws and smack the long end sideways with a hammer, bearing in mind the actual chuck thread is (right handed)

P.s if you've already chewed up the Phillips screw head, (these are very soft material) the head can be drilled out, to remove the chuck, you can then use the main thread to hold the backing plate on, the vast majority of DIY drills have one of two different threads, I.E. 1/2" x 20 tpi or 3/8" x 24 tpi

Hope this helps !

boesh (author)2016-05-30

Nice instructable and it overwhelmes me with a "I want that too".

Question: how does the sandpaper stick to the wood? (I think i'm overseeing something very simple...)

shripadlale (author)boesh2016-05-31

When I made my disk sander, I used spray glue. Spray it on the disk, and stick a regular sandpaper. Works great.

boesh (author)shripadlale2016-05-31


Romain7333 (author)boesh2016-05-30

Thanks! I use sandpaper with a sticky face (not easy to find). You can also use double face tape or some glue.

richardhaven (author)2016-05-29

Very nice, but you can't really say it's free to make just because someone gave you parts. Perhaps you can price out the cost for someone without a generous friend.

Romain7333 (author)richardhaven2016-05-30

Thank you for your comment , I think that if you bought the pieces it doesn't worth it. I made this tutorial to give an idea about what to do with a dead drill.

richardhaven (author)Romain73332016-05-30

Oh, yes, that would have made it clear.

Thanks again for the nice tutorial.


MidnightMaker (author)2016-05-25

This is a great idea and will be very handy for projects.

Added to my list of projects that will need another lifetime to complete!

MR_Huns (author)MidnightMaker2016-05-30

Added to my bucket list

PeterTheUnGreat (author)2016-05-30

Nice instructable. Definitly captures the spirit of the site. I think the three dollars is fair. Cordless drills with clapped out batteries are abundant. I often see them at the tip and usually have one or two lurking around at home. Could always adapt a 12v motor from a car and run on the pc supply.

yopauly (author)2016-05-30

Thanks for the idea. I don't have a old cordless but I do have a corded 1/2 inch Rigid that is ridiculous powerful that sits most of the time. I'll build a metal chassis and steal many of your ideas. Thank you!

3967 (author)2016-05-29

i tried the pc power supply as power source for an electric drill, but it is so unrealiable because the pc power supply switches off when too much current is demanded. This happens very often since a powerdrill can exseed 30A for a small period of time at the start or under load. So i switched back to good old halogen transformers.

0_Nvd_0 (author)39672016-05-29

Add a 1 ohm resistor in series with the power supply so that the peak current is limited. This will make the drill start slower but will not "trip" the power supply. To handle inrush current better, you can add a huge capacitor (4700 uF or more) after the series resistor. If 1 ohm still trips the power supply, keep up moving up by 1 ohm. The maximum "non-trip" resistance should be less than 5 ohm. Watch out for the power rating of the resistor as well. It is I^2*R. Better to use 5W or 10W resistors and check how hot they get in normal operation without smoking.

3967 (author)0_Nvd_02016-05-30

i already tried 0,1ohm up to 0,5ohm (20w Resistors+cheatsink they stayed cool) in series withh a 15A rated power supply, but it doesn't makes practical sense since the drill gets slower and weaker (at 0,1ohm it was acceptable but still slow). The capacitor idea might work i did tried since my drill is a 18V type , but the rule of thumbs is 1000µ-F per Ampere so you should use 10000µF - 12000µF depending on the Drill rating (ampere stands on the side of the mosfet controller inside of the drill case). I guess my main problem in the first Place is my drill is stronger 18V type. Maybe i will try again a 500w when i find it cheap on ebay (20A on 12V is the goal)

0_Nvd_0 (author)39672016-05-30

You can use a switch in parallel with the limiting resistor. Once the drill gains speed, turn on the switch to bypass the resistor. Or use a PWM speed controller and start from slow to high speed. To limit inrush current, you can also use an inductor with low internal resistance.

Romain7333 (author)39672016-05-29

I had the same problem with a 350w atx power supply (12v10a). Then I try with a 500w one (12v18a) and works perfect. Good idea the halogen transformers!

blue LED (author)2016-05-29

Well Done Instructable.

The repurposing of a junk drill and some extra parts is impressive. where is that....Ah here it is .... off to the work bench

Boat Rocker (author)2016-05-26

*Face palm* Duh.

You, sir, are brilliant.

I've three dead driver/drills and two old desktop computers laying around.

So, in a few hours, I'll have a stationary disk sander and... a spindle sander. Yeah. An oscillating spindle sander...

Anyone interested in how to pull that off?

Just brilliant. Thank you.

Romain7333 (author)Boat Rocker2016-05-29

Thank you! I have the idea to make other tools with drill like belt sander, rooter...

deluges (author)Boat Rocker2016-05-29

I'm interested ! Please share

outlawrallyrob (author)2016-05-29

dam good one mate i will keep that one

deluges (author)2016-05-29

Great idea

bjkayani (author)2016-05-24

Awesome idea. You could use pipe clamps instead of wire to hold the drill in place.

Romain7333 (author)bjkayani2016-05-24

Thank you! Yes of course but I wanted to make it as simple as possible.

henryd19 (author)Romain73332016-05-28

pipe clamps are actually probably easier and better than wire.

zencuke (author)2016-05-25

Thank you. Nice Instructable. People forget that motors are easily re-purposed and often are not the part that dies. However It is a bit misleading to say this costs $3. Most people don't have a handy 12V cordless drill with a dead battery. Most of the ones that do would rather buy a new battery and still have a working drill. I have an 18V dead portable drill but it wasn't the battery that died. It was the trigger and direction buttons. No replacements available and a rticky design hard to fix. I'm not sure the ATX 12V will be enough for the 18V motor but I can probably use it for this if I power with the working battery. Also many people won't have an available ATX power supply. This is really a $50 design that can be made for $3 if you already have the expensive parts from salvage. You are not alone. Lots of Instructables do the same thing. A lot of Instructables have catchy but misleading titles. It is not technically dishonest because the Instructable contents are usually clear about it and often are the best very useful Instructables but is annoying to see the $3 title on a search then find out it probably won't be so cheap for you.

tutdude98 (author)zencuke2016-05-27

18v motor should be fine on 12v
I have 16.8v motor from drill that almost everything died, gears were broken, trigger was probably good but mosfet burned and battery couldnt hold charge
Only thing good was motor so i made something similar to dremel and it works fine on 12v

Jonathanmontoya (author)zencuke2016-05-26

Agreed. I find this to be more common than anything on here. I suppose if someone gave you a sanding disk it would be free except for all of the time spent searching and collectting parts and then the time spent putting them together. Many people on here don't think of their "time" as a cost but in reality it is the one that costs the MOST. Just a reminder. It was a pretty neat way to think outside the box kudos.

Romain7333 (author)zencuke2016-05-25

Thank you for your comment. I made this tutorial for people who already have a drill with a dead battery and don't now what to do with it (in most of the case the battery is dead and the motor is intact). For powering it if you don't have an atx power supply you can use a power supply board from a large dead tv. It has often approximately 5v5a 12v6a and sometimes 24v5a.

Of course every one can't do it for 3$ and if they bought everything it will be 50$. in the material step I set out the material you need and if you have them you can do for less than 5$.

zelko (author)Romain73332016-05-26

Valid points brought up just now, however the OP had the parts lying around and it only cost him $3 for the sanding discs. I have all the parts in my garage to make a couple of these so I guess I could build them for free.

What I am trying to say is that these instructables are meant to get people thinking creatively, out in the workshop and turning ideas into realities.

So well done the the OP for coming up with a clever recycled procedure to create a tool that will get plenty of use in any workshop.

Again I say what a top effort, in idea, your time and patience in documenting the build process to give us all a new instructable.

You have created a top example of an instrucatble that should be applauded, not brought down.

rcsmith (author)Romain73332016-05-26

Don't let the negative comment(s) get you down. I personally have several drills that have had the batteries die on me (General Contractor). Usually the cost of a new battery to replace a dead one is almost as much as a new drill (with a charger and TWO batteries!). There are many more of these dead-battery drills around than you think; just check out thrift stores or yard sales....they are everywhere! Now that you have taken the time to design a useful tool from one, you have helped a LOT of people! Great work!.

snelgrave101 (author)2016-05-26

Thanks for the great idea but to save even more money i stuck 3 old LPs together with contact adhesive , smeared the front with PVA and stuck heavy duty sandpaper on them when the glue dried i trimmed it off round the edge stuck a long bolt through the hole with washers and nut , stuck in the drill and off it went .GREAT.

NamV11 (author)2016-05-26

Excellent idea, I know a scrap store where they sell all kinds of drills with dead battery for $4 a pop. It's a 2-hour drive away though so I'll save this project for the weekend. Thanks

NamV11 (author)2016-05-26

Excellent idea, I know a scrap store where they sell all kinds of drills with dead battery for $4 a pop. It's a 2-hour drive away though so I'll save this project for the weekend. Thanks

Big62John (author)2016-05-25

I made something similar, using an old sewing machine motor, a few years ago. I have also found it very useful, however if I had to make it again I would include some form of vacuum dust collection port. After 10 min it tends to have thrown up enough fine dust to coat me and the workshop.

diamondemb (author)2016-05-25

Love it. Great job.
I'll be making one of these too.

Workshopman (author)2016-05-25

I've wanted a disc sander for nearly 10 years, but could never justify the cost. Turns out I have all the components on hand. Definitely will be making this one. One of the simplest most useful tool Indestructibles I have seen. Thankyou

Romain7333 (author)Workshopman2016-05-25

thank you, I'm happy to give you inspiration!

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