A sanding drum is a handy addition to any drill press. Here I show you how I built my easy to use drum sanding table with dust extraction and thickness sanding feature. Like so many other things I believe this has been done before, but maybe the way I did it - as simple and easy as possible - will be helpful to you.
Sanding - after "watching paint dry" the favorit pastime of virtually, well, nobody. Sure, sanding is necessary for that silky smooth finish, but it is not something I personally would chose to do simply for the joy of doing it. But luckily, there are power tools that can make it at least a little easier, but most only work for flat surfaces. There are solutions for curves, like the spindle sander, but as a dedicated tool it takes up space (and costs money). So a cheaper solution would be a drum sander - basically a cylinder wrapped in sandpaper.
You can make your own sanding drums, but for the sake of this Instructable I will go with the one I bought. Make sure to check out step 4 for a number of ideas and considerations for what you could include in your design to make it as versatile as you need it to be.
- Wood -You need pieces the size of your drill press table plus a little extra on one side and that length plus enough room to attach your vacuum or dust collection hose to. Of these dimensions, you need two at least 3/4"/18 mm thick, and one that serves as the bottom, which can be thinner. The actual material does not matter much as long as the top surface is flat and stable. Plywood or MDF is what I would recommend.
- Wood glue - to make the pieces stick together.
- Drum Sander - the core of this jig, although it will not be attached to it. No point in making this without one.
- Drill Press - mandatory, because this is an accessory for that tool. It would not make much sense without one.
- Jigsaw - to connect the holes. Also, to make the holes if you do not have holesaw or forstner bit mentioned below.
- Forstner bit - the size of your dust extraction hose.
- Hole saw - for a hole that fits your drum sander.
Step 1: The Basic Idea
Since I already have mine glued up I have sketched out the design for you. You need three pieces of board - no matter what kind, whatever you have goes as long as two pieces are about 3/4" or 18mm thick. If you want to use thinner material you will need to stack more together to build up the height. For the bottom, a thin piece is enough.
Now, every layer gets a hole. The bottom gets a small hole for dust collection (assuming a shopvac hole, but you can also add a larger dust port underneath). The top layer gets a hole slightly larger than the sanding drum. The middle layer gets both these holes and has the space between, the connection, cut out to facilitate airflow right from where the dust is being made to the hose.
It really is as simple as that. In the next step I will show you how I made mine (with the usual alternative solutions).
Step 2: How I Built Mine
I had two pieces of plywood in the right size and used a thinner piece of particle board as the bottom.What size? You need to cover your drill press' table, and a little wider is recommended to have enough room for clamps later. You also want it to extend over one side of the table far enough to attach a duct collection hose to it (see picture).
I drilled the hole for my shopvac hose using a matching forstner bit, and I did so through the bottom and the middle layer at the same time, keeping them aligned with a clamp. Make sure to add a sacrificial piece underneath while you are drilling - not only does it keep you from drilling into your drill press table, but also prevents tearout.
Since I have a holesaw the size of the drum sander plus a little extra I used it to make that hole. Here, in order to align both holes on the two top pieces, I clamped them together to drill the hole for the holesaw's center bit through both, then cut the larger holes separately.
On the center layer I then use a ruler to find the connections between both holes, mark them and cut along these lines with the jigsaw.
Then, all that is left to do is to glue the pieces together. I spread woodglue on both sides of the center piece. Since it has the largest hole of the three, I can avoid wasting glue. Also, to prevent making more of a mess than nexessary, I do this in two steps, first gluing the bottom to the middle, making sure that the holes are aligned, then doing the same for the top, and clamping the whole thing down.
As you can see, I did not really bother with cleaning up the glue squeezeout, nor with the general looks of the table. If you want, you can run it through the table saw or use a circular saw in order to clean up these edges.
Step 3: Thickness Sanding
One interresting feature of this set-up is that you can use it for rudimentary thickness sanding. It is by no means very accurate, and it is hard to set the thickness to a particular value, but it serves well to sand a number of pieces to roughly equal thickness.
To do that, you need a fence. I picked a piece of 2x4 that seemed flat enough, but something more sturdy made from plywood would work better. Then, I drilled a hole for a dowel into the table, making sure to put it off to the side. Not only is there more material and no risk of drilling into the air channel, but it will also be less likely to get in the way.
The 2x4 then gets a hole drilled into it with the same size drill bit. Put the dowel into the table and plug the 2x4 on top - and that is it. You can pivot it to give you the distance to the drum that you need, and then clamp it down in place.
There is one thing that you need to remember when using this - but you will get a quick reminder every time you forget. Push the pieces in against the spin of the drum. Otherwise, it will rip the workpiece from your grasp and shoot it halfway through your shop.
Again, there are more complex - and arguably more precise - ways of doing this. It all depends on what you need. The most use this set-up saw was when I made about 50 wooden table cards, and it worked rather well for that purpose.
Another caveat when it comes to precision is, of course, the drill press itself. Depending on how sturdy and accurate it runs, you might get deflection if you push the piece too hard, or try to sand too much at once.
Step 4: Further Considerations (Or "how You Can Build Yours")
I am aware that my design is pretty simplistic, and can be improves upon in several ways. Here are some of the ideas I have considered but then discarded because I did not think I would actually use them - or at least use them often enough to make them worth adding for me.
For starters, you could embed t-nuts in the top or the second layer with a through-hole to the bottom and substitute the clamps with wingbolts (bolts with a wingnut at the top, basically). This would make it a lot easier to mount quickly and without having to arrange clamps so that they are not in the way. To avoid problems with the t-nuts on top I would actually recommend to embed them in the piece between the top and center layer.
I only have one sanding drum. There is a benefit to having different sizes, especially smaller ones for sanding tighter curves. Using a smaller drum on the table the way I made it is possible if your workpiece is large enough, but will be a deal breaker for smaller pieces. To remedy that I would add insert plates. Make the table as described but cut out the a larger hole in the top piece. Now use material of the same thickness to cut out plates to fit that larger hole, and drill a hole to match your sanding drum in the center. This way, you can have plates to fit every size of drum you have, and even make new sizes in the future. I would recommend using one or two small screws to leep the plate in place just to be on the safe side.
With the set-up as is the dust collection works pretty well, but it can still happen that dust gets thrown to the sides if you hold a piece at the right - or wrong - angle. A fix here would be make a dust cover for the back half of the sander. You can use a piece of cut-up platic pipe if you can find one slightly larger than the drum, or you can use the same holesaw you used for building the table to cut a number of holes into scrap material, saw them in half and stack them on top of each other to make a half-pipe. To attach it, I would recommend taking a long thin piece to mount it to with screws, then use that piece to clamp it to the table wherever you need it.
The table I made is meant to work with a shopvac with a hose about 1.5" or 35mm in diameter. Depending on your shop set-up, you can add an adapter for a 4" dust collector hose if you have enough room left - or planned for that from the start. You can use a pre-made connector fitting to screw against the underside of the table, or you can cut a number of rings to stack and glue together to make the adapter. If you plan to do this from the start I would recommend making the dust collection hole larger to begin with. Some kind of quick hook-up and release system would come in handy, but to keep things simple I would use a quick clamp to keep the hose in place.
To make the thickness sanding option more versatile, on top of creating a more stable fence from plywood you could also add a micro-adjustment feature to it. While I do not have any kind of plan for this, I would use a piece of threaded rod, held by a t-nut at the back of the fence, that pushes the front of the fence forward as needed. Check out this video by Jack Houweling on the method I am referring to. Since the fence does not have to be parallel, you can get away with a single adjustment knob.
Most spindle sanders come with an oscilating feature to keep the sandpaper from wearing down too much in a single spot. You can add this feature to your drill press if you have another drill or a motor, and I once again recommend a video by Jack on how you can do that. Since you might need a deeper hole to accommodate the movement of the drum, you might have to add another layer to this table design. I would recommend adding a copy of the top, thus leaving the air channel as it is. And while we are at it, Jack also built his own version of a drum sander table which you should check out before building either one.
And of course you can include storage to your table, and there are many other, more complex designs out there. I would recommend that you check them out if you are after something more intricate than what I made, and feel that you need the complexity for your shop.
Step 5: Sand Away!
Thank you for checking out my Instructable. I hope you found it useful, and if you build your own Drum Sander Table please share it with us using the "I made it!" feature in the comments below. Also, let me know what you think, and what else could be included in such a jig.
And as always, remember to be Inspired!