Introduction: Making a 28 Inch Wide Sander/Planer

Picture of Making a 28 Inch Wide Sander/Planer

In this instructable we will cover the steps and materials necessary to build the 28" Sander-Planer.

Background: While driving across the USA on a vacation we happened across a small warehouse in California that sells rough cut redwood burl slabs. I really liked the piece in the second photo but it had a problem - it had been rough cut using a chain saw and the two faces were not parallel.

At 26" wide and close to 36" long it was too big for my 12 1/2" planer, and a hand plane just gouged it - I needed a planer that would handle something at least 26" wide. If I had $2500 to $7500 I could have purchased a commercial unit, but that was too much for the budget. I wanted something functional for less than $250 - so I set out to design and build a sander-planer.

I will start with little discussion on requirements and trades that were made before settling on the design presented in this instructable.

  • I had originally thought to build a 36" wide Sander-Planer but realized the center shaft would need to be at least 48" long and would also need to be at least 1" in diameter to minimize flex and wobble in the center of sanding drum.
  • I wanted to keep the total price below $250 and that included the 1/2 hp motor, shaft, bearing pillow blocks, pulleys, etc.
  • I wanted to use commonly available materials as much as possible - using leftover materials from other projects was highly desired.
  • Wanted to be able to sand other wide rough cut lumber that I was picking up at other locations - some as thick as 4 1/2". The desire was to be able to make some other unique coffee tables or other types of furniture from raw timbers.
  • Must be able to be moved around the woodshop to save space - must be mounted on heavy duty casters.
  • Sanding table height must be adjustable from each of the 4 corners.

This instructable is broken down into the following major steps:

  1. What materials need to be purchased and how much
  2. What parts need to be made and how to make them
  3. Assembly of the various parts
  4. Final results
  5. Lessons learned - what I would do differently next time.

Additional Notes:

* This is my first instructable and now that I'm half-way through it, I'm realizing I can't label some of the photos or change the numbering scheme and photo labels for some of the photos I'm including - apologies for any confusion.

* I have tried to be as clear as possible regarding the construction of this project. If a step isn't clear or there is something confusing about the project please comment and I will address it.

Step 1: What Parts Need to Be Purchased

Picture of  What Parts Need to Be Purchased

The following parts are necessary for the creation of the 28" Sander-Planer. If you can substitute the part for something else, I will identify the substitution and how to do it. For the US readers - many of the parts were purchased from Tractor Supply,, Harbor Freight, Home Depot or Lowes.

My apologies to the international readers who use the metric system - I didn't do any conversions regarding sizes.

  1. 1 each - Steel Rod for main sanding shaft. 36" long, 3/4" diameter - I purchased the National Hardware4005BC 3/4" x 36" Plated Steel Smooth Rod
  2. 2 each - Pillow Block (see the photo above) - UCP204-12 Pillow Block Mounted Bearing, 2 Bolt, 3/4" Inside Diameter, Set screw Lock, Cast Iron, Inch
  3. 1 each - V belt pulley - 3/4" shaft diameter, 4" pulley diameter
  4. 1 each - 1/2 HP electric motor, 1725 RPM, 110/220 VAC wired for 110 VAC which draws 8 amps. A larger motor would be nice but they cost more and draw higher amperes.
  5. 1 each - V belt pulley - I used a stepped pulley that fits the motor shaft diameter.
  6. 1 each - V belt - Accu-Link® Adjustable Link V-Belt, 3L Profile, 3/8" Width, 5ft Length
  7. 8 each - 4" x 1/4" lag bolts with washers
  8. 8 each - 5" x 1/4" carriage bolts with washers, lock washers, and 2 nuts for each bolt. These carriage bolts are part of the upper assembly and you don't want it to vibrate a single nut loose so using 2 nuts on each carriage bolt prevents this.
  9. 4 each - 6" x 3/8" carriage bolts with washers, lock washers, and 2 nuts for each bolt. These carriage bolts are used to hold the pillow blocks in place.
  10. 4 each - 1" x 1" by 32" pieces of angle iron or equivalent. I used some heavy duty shelving that I had to save some $$.
  11. 4 each - 2" x 4" x 8' pine boards
  12. 2 each - 3" x 4" x 30" oak boards - I wanted some rigidity and strength to mount the Pillow Blocks into. These could be substituted with regular 2" x 4" lumber glued up to achieve the necessary width.
  13. 1 each - 3/4" 4' x 8' plywood
  14. 1 each - 1/4" 4" x 8' plywood
  15. 1 each - 3/8" x 4' threaded rod with 12 washers, 4 lock washers, 20 nuts
  16. 1 each - tube of 5 minute epoxy
  17. 6 each - 1" x 6" x 8' pine boards
  18. 4 each - 2 1/2" caster wheels
  19. 1 each - 16" x 38" - 28 gauge sheeting (steel or aluminum)
  20. 8 each - 1/4" x 3" carriage bolts
  21. 40 each - #8 or #10 - 3" wood screws (I used square head to minimize stripping the heads)
  22. 50 each - #8 - 1 1/2" round washer head wood screws (I used square head to minimize stripping the heads)
  23. 2 each - 1" x 4" x 4' oak boards (I used oak for strength other wood could be used)
  24. 30 inches in length of 6 1/8" diameter circular blocks. I used a variety of scrap wood that was wider than 6 1/8 in diameter to make these
  25. 10 yards of 4 1/2 inch adhesive backed sanding roll - 40, 60, or 80 grit. 40 grit sands/planes the fastest.
  26. 1 each - 80# bag of cement
  27. 1 each - 16oz container of wood glue

Step 2: Building the Base

Picture of Building the Base

I started with the base first to make sure it was sturdy to support the rest of the project.

The motor will be mounted on the base and connects to the sanding head via the v-belt. I knew there would be a lot of momentum and torque created by the spinning sanding head, which will cause a lot of vibration if the entire unit isn't constructed to prevent twisting between the base and the sanding head.

To mitigate some of this, I used glue and screws for much of the assembly.

  1. Start constructing the base by cutting the 2"x4"s.
  2. Cut 2 each - 28 1/4", 2 each 37", 2 each 34 1/4", 3 each 25 1/4"
  3. Using the PPT drawing as a guide lay out the boards, drill the holes indicated with a 1/8" bit to minimize splitting
  4. The 28 1/4" boards are the right and left sides of the frame.
  5. The 34 1/4" boards are the front and rear portion of the frame
  6. The 25 1/4" boards are mounted in the frame for additional support and rigidity.
  7. Once all the holes are drilled and everything is dry fit correctly, apply glue and screw the base together.
  8. Make sure the base is flat and square as it is being glues and screwed together - if it is warped or out of square you will have problems later. Use a framing square (if you have one) or you could measure out a 3-4-5 triangle (for example a 15" x 20" x 25" triangle) to get the boards square.
  9. Now decide on the top and bottom of the frame - either side works at this stage and lay the 37" boards on the bottom of the frame, dry fit, drill holes as shown in the first photo above, add a thin coat of glue where the boards overlap and screw the bottom boards onto the base frame
  10. Now cut a 37" x 28 1/4" sheet from your 4x8 x 1/4" plywood sheet. (I used scrap plywood in the photo above)
  11. Dry fit the 1/4" plywood on the base, cover the tops of all the 2x4's with a thin line of glue and use 8 to 12 of the #8 - 1 1/2" round washer head screws to fix the plywood to the base.
  12. If you want to make the rest of the assembly more difficult, mount the casters now, otherwise wait until just before you mount the motor. :) I'll come back to installing them later.

Step 3: Building the Middle Deck

Picture of Building the Middle Deck

Building the middle deck to support the adjustable sanding deck is the next step.

This deck was built out of 1" x 6" pine boards - glued and screwed - just like the base.

The first photo of this step is the top side of the deck and the second photo is looking at the bottom of the deck. The middle deck is where the 12" threaded rod is used to adjust the height of the sanding deck.

  1. Using the powerpoint drawings as a reference, begin construction of the middle deck by cutting 2 - 37" long 1" x 6" boards.
  2. Next cut 2 - 28 1/4" long 1"x6" boards and overlap them on the 37" boards.
  3. Use a framing square (if you have one) or you could measure out a 3-4-5 triangle (for example a 15" x 20" x 25" triangle) to get the boards square.
  4. Once you have the 4 boards making a nice rectangle like in drawing 1, glue and screw them together.
  5. Now cut 6 additional 28 1/4" long boards and lay them out as shown in drawing 2. Note: alternate mounting the boards onto the deck. The final board - near the center - will need to be ripped to fit correctly.
  6. Once the middle deck is complete, it's time to install it. Start by cutting 4 - 1" x 1" angle iron supports 32" long.
  7. Since I used pre-drilled angle iron I didn't have to drill holes for my mounting screws. If you decide to use shelving angle like I did, don't use the cheap 28 gauge supports - the steel needs to be at least 1/8" thick or the entire unit will wobble really badly.
  8. If you are using angle iron (re: photo taken from internet) - decide on what will be the top and bottom of your angle iron pieces. On the bottom of all 4 pieces, drill 2 holes - one about 1/2" up and the second about 4" from the bottom on different sides. Once these holes are drilled, then measure 23 1/2" from the bottom of the angle iron and drill another series of holes to support the middle deck (See images 3, 3a, 3b). These holes should be drilled with a 3/16" bit and use the 1 1/2" washer head wood screws to screw everything together.
  9. Start by mounting the angle iron to the bottom deck. Don't torque the screws down to tight yet - leave them with about 1/32" of space. The angle iron supports need to be a perpendicular from the base as possible - use a square and before screwing anything together. See image 3.
  10. Next we mount the middle deck. I used some C clamps on the angle iron to support the middle deck (see images 3d,e,f,g) until I had everything in place and was ready to screw it down tightly.
  11. Once the middle deck is mounted, but before torquing all the screws on both decks down tightly, check for squareness with the bottom deck - use a square and twist the middle deck until it is as square as possible.
  12. The next step is to install the height adjustment rods for the adjustable deck.
  13. Start by marking 4 locations on the deck (shown by the blue dots in the PowerPoint Drawing 3) 8" x 1 1/2" in from the front and back of the deck. IF one of the mounting screws is in the way, move it.
  14. Using a 3/4" Fostner or spade drill bit, drill a hole ~3/8" deep (Image 4) - make sure one of the nuts for the 3/8" threaded rod fits into the hole flush with the top of the deck. DO NOT drill the entire way through the deck with this drill bit!
  15. Once the hole for nut is done, use a 7/16" drill bit to drill the rest of the way through the deck (Image 5 and 6).
  16. The next thing to do is to cut the 3/8" threaded rod into 12" pieces and thread a nut and washer down the rod approximately 1 1/2 inches ( as shown in Image cc).
  17. Now comes a tricky part - mounting the height adjustment nut with epoxy.
  18. Take the rod from Image CC, feed it up from the bottom of the middle deck. Now take a dab of Vaseline or grease and coat the rod - not too much, but the threads need to be well coated (Image 7).
  19. Wipe your hands well and thread the nut onto the threaded rod until the top of the threaded rod is barely sticking through the surface of the nut. Now carefully snug the nut that is on the underside of the middle deck to the middle deck. The goal here is to position the top nut and hold it in place tightly until the epoxy sets. Check the top nut closely to ensure no grease contaminates the sides of the nut (Images 8 & 9).
  20. Repeat step 19 for the remaining 3 adjustment holes.
  21. Once all the rods and nuts are in place, mix up some 5 minute epoxy (or whatever curing time you want to use) and carefully fill in the remaining space around each nut with epoxy and let it cure (Image 10 & 11).
  22. While the epoxy was curing, I cut out 4 small handles for the threaded rod (Image CC). Take your pick on the design - a circle 2" in diameter or even a 1" x 2" rectangle of wood with a 7/16" hole in the center would work just as well.
  23. After the epoxy has cured, remove the rod from the adjustment nut and add the handles - thread on a nut about 1 1/2" up the rod, add a washer, add the handle, add another washer, and tighten the entire assembly with another nut (Image CC).
  24. The middle deck step should be complete now.

Step 4: Building the Upper Deck

Picture of Building the Upper Deck

The upper deck is where all the motion is so it needs to be the strongest part of the unit. I used oak lumber here, but other woods could be substituted.

    1. The PowerPoint drawing 1 of the upper deck is provided as a reference. The first pieces to make are the right and left side horizontal support beams.
    2. Make 2 beams - 3" x 3 1/2" by 28 1/4" long. I used solid oak but glueing a couple 2x4s together could be used as a substitute.
    3. On the beam that will be used, label them Right and Left.
    4. A notch needs to be cut into the right side beam. Referencing PowerPoint drawing 1 and Image 6, measure 12" from the front of the beam and draw a straight line across the beam. Repeat this at 17 1/2" from the front of the beam. Now draw a line 1" in from the side of the beam. This notch will provide clearance for your upper pulley. Cut the notch out with your favorite bandsaw, jigsaw, or handsaw.
    5. If you are using angle iron, you need to drill two holes in the front of each of the 4 pieces of angle. If you are using 4" x 1/4" lag bolts use a 3/8" drill bit for the holes. Using the C clamps like you did with the middle deck, position the right and left horizontal beams against the angle iron.
    6. Now before doing any drilling into the support beams, make certain they are parallel to each other and are also not slightly out of alignment from the front to back (i.e. forming a parallelogram rather than a rectangle)
    7. Now drill 3/16" pilot holes into each beam where the lag bolts are to be located. You must pre-drill the holes for the lag bolts or you run the risk of snapping the heads off the bolts as you tighten them.
    8. Place a washer on each lag bolt and use a wrench or ratchet w/ a socket to tighten the bolts down (Image 5).
    9. Once the right and left support beams are fixed in place, the 4" wide x 37" front and rear supports can be added. As in drawing 1, drill holes holes in these boards 1" in and 1 1/2" in from each edge. You will be using 5" x 1/4" carriage bolts, so drill the holes with a 1/4" bit. These will be a little tight but you want that.
    10. Once the holes on the boards are drilled, it's time to place them on the right and left support beams. Once again, refer to drawing 1, the front board is mounted 7 1/2" from the front and the rear board is 6" from the rear. Position the boards and use clamps to hold them in place - don't mount them yet!!!
    11. Grab the pillow blocks, sanding head shaft, and the pulley you plan to use and dry fit them now to make sure everything is going to fit correctly (Use Images 2 and 6 for references). Slide the shaft into each pillow block and add the pulley to the end of the shaft, place them between the front and rear boards and adjust the pillow blocks until the are centered between them.
    12. Now measure from the center of the shaft to the edge of the front and rear boards - verify you have between 3 1/4" and 3 1/2". If you don't have that much clearance, then your 6" in diameter sanding head is going to give you a problem later on. If you look at image 6, you can see blue marker where I outlined the pillow block the first time I dry fitted it, then realized later I would have to move it to provide additional spacing for the pulley notch.
    13. Once everything looks like it will fit, then drill the holes for the front and rear boards through the right and left support beams. Install the carriage bolts, washers, lock washers, and nuts to hold the boards in place (Images 2 & 3).
    14. Work on the upper deck is complete for now.

    Step 5: Building the Sanding Head

    Picture of  Building the Sanding Head

    Now we come to the tedious part of the project - we need to make the 6 1/8" discs used for the sanding drum. I used a mix of leftover wood so save some money - if you have stock that is greater than 6 1/8" then use it. If not, you could get several 2" x 8" x 8' pine boards or several 8" to 10" wide MDF boards used for shelves. The key thing is to get sufficient material that you can stack sufficient disks on top of each otter to make a tower of disks 30" high I actually made a couple of extras in case I screwed up the cutting or drilling steps.

    1. Start this step by setting a compass to 3 1/16" (this will give a 6 1/8" circle) - Image 3.
    2. Lay out the wood you will be using for the disks and using an Awl, nail punch, or ice pick, mark the center of each planned circle (Image 4). Make sure this is a good mark because this center point is where you have to drill a hole later and messing this up will cause you to drill the hole off center (not a good thing to do).
    3. Using the compass, start making circles on the wood and cuts the circles out (Image 5). While cutting, stay to the center or to the outside of the line - don't go inside the line (Image 5,6).
    4. Once you can make a stack of disks 30" tall you have completed this step.
    5. Before you begin drilling each hole, make certain the drill/drill bit is perpendicular (i.e. |_ ) to the disks. A slightly angled hole will result in the disk being crooked on the shaft and will affect the disks on either side of it. This is particularly important if using a hand drill to drill the center holes.
    6. Using a 3/4" drill bit (Fostner, spade, or twist drill) drill a hole in each disk (Image 7). If you are using a spade bit make sure to place a piece of wood under the disk that is thicker than the tip of the spade bit. Also, if you are using a spade bit, you might want to clamp the disk down before you start drilling - spade bits had a tendency to catch the wood and spin it just as the hole is being completed.
    7. Once all the disks have been drilled, begin sliding them onto the shaft for a dry fit. If the disks fit pretty tightly onto the shaft skip steps 8 through 19, if they are somewhat loose then you need to do steps 8 through 19.
    8. I don't have a photos of the next steps - please use the PowerPoint Drawing 1 as a reference
    9. Measure1 ¾” from the left side of the shaft and mark it
    10. Slide the first disk on and using the C clamp technique again, stop the disk at the mark.
    11. Take a second disk and cut a groove completely across the center of the disk ½” wide and ½” deep
    12. Slide the cut disk onto the shaft and mark the shaft 3/16” of an inch up from the bottom of the groove you just cut - represented by the Orange dot in the drawing side view.
    13. Take all the disks off the shaft and drill a 1/8” hole through the shaft.
    14. Find a piece of metal 1/8” diameter about 4” long and use that as a shaft pin (Orange line in the drawing top view). I actually used the 1/8” drill bit I had used to drill the hole.
    15. Put the C clamp back on the shaft, slide the first disk on followed by the second disk.
    16. Slide the pin into the hole in the shaft.
    17. Using wood putty, fill the entire groove and let dry.
    18. Once the putty is dry, sand the face of the disk flat.
    19. Remove the C Clamp and loose disk, coat the back side of the remaining disk with wood glue and slide disk you just removed back on and use a couple of C clamps to clamp the two disks together. In about half an hour remove the C clamps from the wood.
    20. To make the glueing and stacking of the disks easier, I made a stacking jig (Drawing 2) I took a couple pieces of 2"x4" lumber about 12" long and drilled a 7/8" hole through both and slid the left side of the shaft onto the jig (as shown in the drawing).
    21. Coat the top side of the exposed disk on the shaft and slide the next disk down the shaft. Repeat this step until you only have one disk left - DON'T put glue on the final disk.
    22. Slide it on and using wood clamps - at least 3 if not 4 of them, clamp the entire assembly and let sit overnight (Image 10 is an example).
    23. Construction of the sanding head is done, you will still need to true the head up but that can't be done until after the head has been mounted on the sander/planer.

    Step 6: Mounting the Sanding Head

    Picture of Mounting the Sanding Head

    Getting close to having the hard part done.

    1. Start by sliding the pillow blocks onto the shaft and positioning the entire assembly on the upper support deck like you did back in Step 4-10 - represented in Drawing 1
    2. The pillow blocks I purchased each had a set screw with an Hex (Allen) head on them.
    3. I set the left side flush with the shaft (Image 1) and then carefully positioned the side of the pillow block to be parallel with the left support beam. I then took 2 of the 1 1/2" wood screws I had been using, added a washer to each, and carefully tightened them down to hold the pillow block in place.
    4. Then move to the right side and position the right side pillow block (Image 2), repeat the wood screw process and give the sanding head a spin by hand to see how much alignment still needs to be done. Assuming everything is pretty well centered and aligned then move to step 6, otherwise do step 5.
    5. If the alignment is off, carefully bump the right shaft forward or backward using a small hammer and wood block. Don't hit the shaft with the hammer - use the wood block between the hammer and shaft. You are attempting to make very fine alignments now, so hit lightly - 1/64" may be all the adjustment necessary to bring it to decent alignment. Also note, the unit will wobble pretty badly until the head is sanded down so don't spin it to quickly or the wobble will cause alignment problems.
    6. Once the sanding head is in place and you are happy with the locations of the pillow blocks, tighten the set screws on the pillow blocks
    7. Remove a single wood screw and using a hand drill, drill a 3/8" hole through the support beam. Insert the 6" x 3/8" carriage bolt, place a washer, lock washer, and nut on the underside of the beam and tighten the nut. Add a second nut and tighten it against the first nut to prevent vibration from shaking the first nut loose.
    8. Repeat step 7 for the remaining three pillow block locations.
    9. Mount the upper pulley on the shaft and tighten the set screw (Image 3).

    Step 7: Building the Adjustable Sanding Deck

    Picture of Building the Adjustable Sanding Deck

    It's all downhill from here!

    The adjustable sanding deck rides on top of the middle deck and is what the wood rests on as it is pushed through the sanding/planer. This deck was built of a couple layers of plywood glued and screwed together.

    1. Start by cutting a panel 30 3/4" x 27 3/4" from the 3/4" plywood.
    2. Cut a second panel of the same size from the 1/4" plywood.
    3. Cut two - 5" x 27 3/4" side boards
    4. Coat the top of the 3/4" plywood with glue and lay the 1/4" panel on top and screw the two panels together with #6 - 1/2" square head wood screws - you will need to countersink each screw head.
    5. Sandwich the two 5" side boards, mark the locations for the front and rear supports and mark a circle with a 3 1/2" radius, leaving 1 1/2" from the bottom of one side of the board. Once the marks are done, cut the notches out. Images 7, 8 & 9.
    6. Next create two L brackets. Start with 2 1/2" x 5" pieces of wood and mark 1" in on both pieces. Then mark 1" up and cut inside of the bracket out to form a couple L shaped pieces of wood. The L brackets serve two purposes - to provide support for the side boards and to provide a surface that prevents the adjustable sanding deck from being pushed through the sander with the boards that are being surfaced.
    7. Align the side boards on along the 27 3/4" sides of the plywood. Draw a line on the interior of the plywood to provide reference for the next step.
    8. Reference Image 5 - drill a total of 5 holes - using a 3/16" diameter drill centered between the edge of the table and the marked line.
    9. These holes need to be spaced to the provide maximum support for the side board but will not let the tips of the screws come out the top of the side boards.
    10. Countersink each hole - three inch #8 or #10 screws will be used to secure the sides to the plywood.
    11. Drill 1/8" pilot holes in the sideboards to prevent splitting the sideboards or snapping the heads of the screws. If you look closely in Image 6 you can see where one of the screw heads snapped while I was attaching it. If you use wood other than oak or maple for the sideboards the chances of snapping the heads will be less.
    12. Mount the L brackets as shown in Images 10, 11, & 12

    Step 8: Building the Dust Shield

    Picture of Building the Dust Shield

    The dust shield is essential!

    The sanding/planer removes a lot of wood and creates a tremendous amount of saw dust in a few short minutes. The really fine saw dust is a health hazard, so wearing a mask while using this as well as using the shop vac attached to the dust shield greatly reduces the health hazard.

    Note: I couldn't get the labels onto the images - they are in order 1 through 8.

    On to the dust shield.....

    1. I used a sheet of left over 28 gauge steel roofing. You could use steel or aluminum - both are available from Home Depot or Lowes.
    2. Cut the sheet to 16" wide by 37 1/4" long.
    3. Once you have this, mark 1" in along the entire 37 1/4" length and bend a 90 degree angle. I accomplished this by sandwiching the sheet metal between two boards running the entire length and using C clamps to hold the boards and metal together. I then put the entire assembly in my vice and bent the steel sheeting to get my 90 degree angle - see Image 1 & 2 - side view of the final result.
    4. The next step was to mark a circle in the center of the dust shield for the shop vac hose to fit into.
    5. Once the circle was marked, I drilled a series of 1/2" holes just inside the marked circle and used a pair of aviation snips to cut the circle out (Image 3).
    6. The next step was to cut 2 wood strips - 3/4" x 1" x 37 1/4". These strips were used to sandwich the un-bent end of the dust shield.
    7. Use C-Clamps again to hold the wood and metal together and drill a series of 6 equally spaced holes though the wood and metal assembly (Look closely at Image 3 & 4). The diameter of the holes need to be 9/64". Then use 6 - 2" long #10 machine screws with washers and nuts to keep the entire assembly together once the C clamps are removed (Image 5).
    8. Next cut 2 - 3/4" x 3/4" x 15" long boards. These boards will be mount the dust shield to the upper deck.
    9. Drill three holes in each board and through the dust shield with a 3/16" drill bit. Using 1 1/2" round head wood screws mount the dust shield to the back of the upper deck frame (Image 1 & 2).
    10. Next drill 4 holes on the front of the dust shield wood frame for 4 - 1/4" x 3" carriage bolts. These bolts are used to hold the front of the dust shield down to the front of the upper deck. See photos for examples (Images 4,6,7 & 8).
    11. The dust shield fabrication is complete. It is somewhat difficult to position the carriage bolts into the upper deck - bending 28 gauge steel in a tight radius causes it to want to spring back (Image 8). I chose this tight radius because I didn't know how effective the shop vac would be at sucking up the sanding dust and I wanted to minimize the total volume under the hood it would have to suck the dust from.

    Step 9: Installing the Motor and Truing the Sanding Head

    Picture of Installing the Motor and Truing the Sanding Head

    Installation of the motor is necessary before you can true the sanding head. Truing the sanding head in essence is making the entire width of the head a smooth cylinder rather than the rough cut almost cylinder it is presently.

    1. So starting with the installation of the motor.
    2. The belt may be a little short depending on the distance and size of pulleys that are being used. It this is the case, you can cut squares of 3/4" plywood and stack them up until the pulley belt, motor, and motor pulley all fit correctly. Image 1 shows were I used a single additional piece of plywood.
    3. Mount the motor with the selected pulley and connect to the sanding head with the pulley belt (Image 2 & 3).
    4. Turn the motor on and observe the sanding head - the entire unit will shake and wobble because it isn't circular and balanced - just a a car tire that isn't balanced. Turn it off.
    5. Grab a marker and slowly turn the sanding head by hand with the tip of the marker held away from the sanding head about 1/8". Mark all the high points on the sanding head.
    6. As an option before using the sand paper, if you have wood lathe tools, you can use them to take some of the high spots down. If you don't have lathe tools, skip to step 7.
    7. Next take a board a little longer than the sanding head and mount 40 to 80 grit sandpaper across the entire face of the board. This board is going to be used to sand the high points down (Images 4).
    8. This next step takes some time - you want to hold the board steady and only sand the high spots - don't ride the sanding head. When I started out, I actually clamped the sanding board to the front support board and then would slowly adjust the sanding board in 1/32" to 1/16" at a time.
    9. As the sanding head is slowly trued, the amount of wobbling and shaking by the entire sanding/planer diminishes significantly.

    Step 10: Building the V Belt Shield

    Picture of  Building the V Belt Shield

    The biggest safety hazard of the project is getting something caught in the V-belt and being pulled into a pulley. To mitigate this, a couple 1" wide pieces of wood were used to create a support frame from the top deck to the bottom deck. These were pre-drilled and then screwed to the top and bottom decks about 1/2" wider than the width of the V-belt. A piece of 1/4" plywood was cut to cover the V-belt from the motor pulley to the upper pulley.

    If I was to re-do the project, I would extend the top of the plywood to be similar to the cover on the left side of the dust shield (Image 4)

    Once the dust shield is in place, I added a cover on the left side of the dust shield. This was made by holding a spare piece of 1/4" plywood against the side of the upper deck and dust shield and drawing the outline on the plywood. Once the outline is captured, I cut it out on the band saw (a jigsaw would work equally well) and used a couple of wood screws to mount it. There is still a small gap between it and the dust shield but very little dust comes out of the gap. The shop vac does a pretty good job collecting all the fine dust.

    Step 11: Odds & Ends

    Picture of  Odds & Ends

    This step is where a variety of odds and ends need to be covered. I tried to label each photo but couldn't get the editor application to work for this step - the images are in order though.

    1. Time to mount the casters. Get some help and turn the sander/planer on it's side and mount the 4 casters - Image 1 above.
    2. Install a stop block on the back of the sanding/planer to prevent the adjustment table from being pushed out the back of the sander/planer when feeding the wood through - Images 2 & 3 above.
    3. Sand paper retainer - Image 4 above. This doesn't work as well as I had hoped but for sake of completeness I put it in and I do use it.
    4. Adjustable table - 90 degree support -Image 5. Added to provide some rigidity to the sides.
    5. Wrapping the sand paper on the sanding head. Must use a spiral - one continuous piece. Getting this right is usually trial and error. Once you get a good wrap, use a permanent marker to scribe the spiral that works to help when replacing the sandpaper in the future (Image 6, 7, 8). Something else to note about the sandpaper - the ends need to be cut as the paper gets to the edge of the sanding drum - the cut is parallel to the edge of the sanding drum. See the powerpoint drawing for an example- this is a real pain to accomplish when using self adhesive sandpaper. Keeping the edge of the sandpaper from ripping has been a problem and the best solution I have found is to use a 1" strip of duct tape on either side of the sanding drum.
    6. Weight.. Sander is top heavy. Surprise! Need to add some serious weight on the bottom deck - 1 - 80# bag of concrete works pretty good. I split the 80# into two - 4 gallon buckets lined (Image 9) with plastic garbage bags, added enough water on top and let it harden up for a couple of days. The buckets are easy to move around and add enough weight to the bottom of the sander to keep it from tipping over.
    7. Setting the adjustable deck height - use the threaded rod to adjust the height, then use the nut on the bottom of the middle deck to lock the height of the rod (Image 10). If you don't lock all the rods, they will vibrate loose and the adjustable table will jump up and down as it's being used.

    Step 12: Lessons Learned

    Picture of Lessons Learned

    Lessons Learned - The eternal question - "What would you do different if you had to do this again?" or "What would you do to make this better?"

    1. I'd add a power switch - right now I'm just plugging the motor into the wall outlet.
    2. I started out trying to use velcro on the sanding head with velcro backed sand paper - expensive and didn't work out really well.
    3. Then tried a regular roll of sand paper and the threaded rod on a nut (see the photos above) to hold the sand paper in place - it worked for a little while then I got a little rip in the sand paper and it was all over.
    4. Ended up using self adhesive sand paper - seems to work best. Need to use a heat gun to remove it though, but it doesn't tear itself apart nearly as badly as other methods seem to.
    5. Adjustment of the height - I use a machinist rule that enables me to adjust to 1/64" - don't try to take more than 1/16" of wood off for each pass - the wood will jam the sanding head.
    6. Be patient feeding the wood through the unit.
    7. If the slab of wood you are attempting to plane is really warped, cut very wavy, or has one side thicker than another and you want to get a single flat side to start out with, cut some thin strips of wood and hot glue them on the bottom side of the slab to provide a more sturdy face to rest the wood on as it's fed through the sander. Once you have a decently flat face, flip the slab, pry off the strips of wood and work on getting the next parallel face.
    8. Wrapping the sand paper onto the sanding drum is a pain! There is no way around it - you have to wrap a tight spiral and keep the paper tight as you are taping the ends down.
    9. If I had to redo the project, I would re-design the adjustable table so that it is permanently attached to the threaded rod. To do this, I would drill a recessed hole in the 3/4" plywood (similar to the hole in the middle deck for the epoxied nut) big enough for a washer and nut to sit in and spin around in, I would then drill a 1/8" hole through the nut and threaded rod and insert a cotter pin to keep the nut in place but let it spin in the hole. Then I would add the 1/4" thick plywood top, trapping the table. Just a thought.

    Step 13: Step 11: Final Product

    Picture of Step 11: Final Product

    In conclusion, I'm hoping the instructions presented in the instructable are sufficiently detailed that a fairly mechanically inclined person could recreate and improve upon the sander/planer as presented.

    Images 3,4, & 5 are the two examples of projects that have been completed with the sander/planer

    The final image is of the quality assurance supervisor who monitors all the work accomplished in the shop.

    Questions / comments / ideas appreciated.


    Yonatan24 (author)2016-08-11

    Hi, I've added your project to "The Ultimate Collection of DIY Workshop Tools" Collection

    Here is the link If you are interested:

    Engineer_Allen (author)Yonatan242016-08-11


    JGDean (author)2015-12-18

    Depending on the availability of self-stick roll sandpaper in the grit you want, you might want to try some double-sided carpet tape to hold on your regular sandpaper It generally comes in 1-1/2" to 2" wide rolls of at least 10 yards and is VERY sticky. It is available from Amazon, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.It comes with a removable backing, so you cut off a piece of however long you want, apply it, then peel off the backing. Then you put your carpet (or sandpaper) on. Warning: It is NOT re-positionable!

    Engineer_Allen (author)JGDean2015-12-21

    Great idea - I will definitely incorporate this in the future when using the sander. Thanks!

    Richafix (author)2015-03-30

    Here is a real good start to your feed table...

    Engineer_Allen (author)Richafix2015-03-31


    sparus (author)2015-03-28

    deserves a vote ;)

    ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-03-28

    I love your project!! You have my vote

    lithics (author)2015-03-19

    Thats nice looking. Ill be making one but needs to be 38" wide. Ill end up using a 1-1/4" shaft

    Engineer_Allen (author)lithics2015-03-24

    That will be impressive - you may want to get a bigger motor than the 1/2hp that I used. Good luck with your project and post some pictures when you are done.

    lithics (author)Engineer_Allen2015-03-24

    Yes ill prob use a 1 HP motor. Not sure how u attached wood discs to shaft but I may use an alum flange coupling on both ends n run all thread thru the length. Coupling has a key way n set screws to hold in place which opens up more ideas to use same machine for maybe a gang saw or molder maker. Still workin on tht end

    Engineer_Allen (author)lithics2015-03-25

    I like your idea about using couplings on each end and then being able to use it to make custom moulding - especially given how much 6" wide hardwood moulding costs per linear foot.

    NathanSellers (author)2015-03-21

    You know, if you need to sand something that large and have it stay really level, this is absolutely brilliant. The table looks super awesome!

    VicenteH (author)2015-03-21

    Hi Engineer_Allen. I think your 28 inch sander is a very good project. I read all the instruction, but sincerely it is a little complicated to follow. I can make a detail drawing of your project for free. I only need more information or a hand draw with all measurements and I´ll make a good drawing for you. I repeat at no cost. I'm a DIY enthusiast, and please, sorry but I don't speak English very well. I only do my best. If you are interesting, please contact me: Best regards.

    jankeifer (author)2015-03-19

    upload a video!! :D

    dave367 (author)2015-03-19

    This is a cool project, but a couple of comments; If cost containment is important, perhaps consider starting with a used wood lathe (~$50), or ShopSmith (~$300-500). The first would still need a table added with height adjustment, but the motor, bearings and bed are less than cheap. The ShopSmith has everything but the drum and dust collector--a few bucks. ShopSmiths were a rare value even as recently as 2-3 years ago (I got mine while driving through the neighborhood--sign said "Free; knock on door for accessories.") I'm now seeing a floor on these around $3-400 un-rebuilt and if perfect, upwards of $1000. OTOH, when you're finished with the drum sanding project you still have the ShopSmith, so perhaps worth breaking your budget a little bit?

    The other comment I'd make is at the size of this build, you're going to be pretty limited in your depth of "cut" with an unpowered feed. You just can't push hard enough, even with the whole thing bolted to the floor. I would suggest 16-18" wide to be a practical limit without feed rollers.

    Nice instructable. Nice project!

    datkinson3 (author)2015-03-17

    What a great idea, does the machine go through alot of sandpaper ?

    No. 40, 60, 80 grit is pretty tough stuff - feed the wood through slowly and only take off a little on each pass.

    iaincwil (author)2015-03-19

    I have a plan for a small version which lays on its side on a pillar drill using a drum sander, I use it for making planks an small scale timber for model ship building,

    dont have the room for big piece of equipment like this but would sure love to have one

    twofeetdown (author)2015-03-18

    Nice job!

    Here are some photos of mine (took me 7 years to finish it :) Paste the link into your browser to see them. They are not intended to be an instructable but are more for my own documentation of how I constructed it.

    I used an old treadmill for the power feed. You might be able to pick one up along the street. It seem nearly everyone bought one but lots of them did not get used. It is not as wide as the sander (which is 24") but I think it will be OK even for wide boards as long as I help the boards along to keep things moving. I originally tried hand feeding but was never happy with the results.

    I used hose clamps on the ends to fasten the sandpaper which works pretty well but sometimes the paper has to be adjusted after being used to tighten it.

    herman.zoltan.9 (author)2015-03-17

    Try out with 2 sided sticker tape it work well

    I'll do that - thanks for the suggestion!

    Ryan MacKenzie (author)2015-03-18

    Very well documented. If you find the bearing housing collecting too much dust you can build a housing around it and use positive pressure ( blow in clean air).

    payst (author)2015-03-17

    I've been interested in making a sanding station for my 40" lathe.. It would have different tapers and diameters the length of the piece.. I might make several for different sanding grits.. Mostly used for roughing out a piece .. Reading your post gave me better ideas on how to get this done..

    kjlpdx (author)2015-03-17

    just drove thru Cave Junction, OR today and stopped at the Burl Museum, which also has a huge lumberyard of burl lumber for sale.

    Engineer_Allen (author)kjlpdx2015-03-17

    Envious... would like to pick up a couple more for table tops - coast to coast shipping costs are pretty high, guess I'll just have to wait until my next cross country trip - kids are ready to go again.

    fran=1 (author)2015-03-17

    did you buy the shaft keyed or did you have the shaft keyed some place?

    Engineer_Allen (author)fran=12015-03-17

    Drilled a 1/8" hole through the middle and used the drill bit for the key for the sanding drum. Used the set screw for the pulley - didn't need a key. The belt slips before the torque on the shaft gets to high to strip the pulley set screw and the individual disks are a pretty tight fit on the shaft. Hope this answers your question.

    Richafix (author)2015-03-15

    This is a tool no woodworker should be without. I own a Jet 16/32 drum sander and there are a few things that you should look at on that, that would improve your tool. One is the way the sandpaper attaches to the drum. It is just wrapped around with sort of a slot that allows the sandpaper to tighten itself as it spins. The nice thing about that idea is that you can change grit of sandpaper easily and reuse it. THE DUST COLLECTION IS NOT JUST FOR SAFETY, it is absolutely essential in the life of your sandpaper. Without dust collection on, the paper will load up and be garbage after a very short time, the more sawdust you can suck out of there, the longer your sandpaper will last. You should also look at the way the feed table is built. It is very simple but the variable speed is critical. Very well detailed instructable, great job!!!!

    adenda2 (author)Richafix2015-03-16

    seems like you have experience with variable speed... It sounds like the gravite Idea would work....if you found the right weight for how thich you were taking off... what do you think about thormj's Idea?

    Richafix (author)adenda22015-03-16

    The conveyor system is very simple, a big wide belt with a spindle on each end, one of those spindles has a variable speed control. The hardest part would be to make the big wide belt with no seams (although they aren't horrible expensive, www_highlandwoodworking_com/drum-sander-conveyor-belt.aspx). The belt also has grit on it (and in my opinion that grit is very important to keep the material from slipping). The feed table/speed is the most critical part in getting a good clean finish. Too fast/too much of cut and the motor will stop/slow down and it gives me grooves in the wood. I get the best finish when I feed fast (the fastest speed/maybe about 1" a second?) with a very light amount sanded off. I get a near perfect finish/accurate to .01 (as accurate as my micrometer gets) across the entire board. The beauty of a conveyor belt is that you are not limited by the length of the table. I have feed 12' boards through mine, I can also continuously feed small items (I once had about 300 pieces of wood about 7" long that I just put a box at the end to catch them as they came out and ran them through butting them up against each other). If you are getting this to work and getting a good finish by pushing the wood through by hand then you must have done something really right. If you get your feed set up right the finish is darn near perfect on hard wood to plane. Mine does have a separate motor for the feed/drive belt but I don't see why it has to be anything too expensive, I certainly don't think you need a stepper motor (but I am far from an engineer), just something with a fair amount of torque.

    This tool will do things that a planer will not do, it will remove a cup from a board, it will also help straighten a slightly warped board. I think this is because it feeds on the bottom and cuts on the top vs. a planer that feeds on the top and planes on the top. It is super awesome on wood that doesn't plane well, like a hard figured maple that tends to get small tear out when planed. Let me know if you need any specific photos of any part of mine, I'd be glad to help.

    sWillyPs (author)Richafix2015-03-17

    Check here:

    Not sure if these would be suitible as a conveyor, but at a fraction of the cost might be worth a try.

    florin_gtrst (author)2015-03-17

    That's a really good project and the tables turned out great, but you have to be honest and acknowledge that it wouldn't have turned out half as good without the Supervisor. If building tables and machines is one of those things that literally put hair on your chest, look at his years of experience.

    Bettybstt (author)2015-03-17

    Wow! I am so impressed! My solution would have involved my local cabinet shop running it through his 40+ double drum sander and paying the shop cost, but yours is so much more elegant. I have a 16/32 Performax drum sander and can't even keep that drum trued up (end to end) - if I had room in my shop I would definitely build this!

    marcintosh (author)2015-03-17

    This is brilliant - and for me, timely. Thanks so very much for your work and effort to make this Instructable


    MSawyer (author)2015-03-17

    For cutting discs for drum I would sugest fitting a piviot pin on saw table or on a aux. table clamped to saw. Jusrt drill blank and spin around piviot to cut disc.

    spark master (author)2015-03-17


    rlrsk8r (author)2015-03-17

    I made a large format belt sander from a treadmill someone had no use for. Belts are available online for about $50

    Pkranger88 (author)2015-03-17

    Well done man. I love it. I've been thinking of building one for a while now. I may just have to knock this out!

    fadingroar (author)2015-03-17

    loved ur project supervisor. This is one amazing Ible, cheers for it and when I have time again, i might make myself one of these! keep rocking!

    mariosk8s (author)2015-03-17

    Awesome instructable

    rcharles47 (author)2015-03-17

    Splendid - just what I need! I look forward to your next one!

    FN64 (author)2015-03-17

    Great 'ible!! I've been up against the "Big chunk of wood vs Small planer" on many occasions. My work-around is to use a router sled & a good flute bit..

    There's several videos on these so I just grabbed one as an example..

    Lynn Livingston (author)2015-03-17

    I built one of these following a Shop Notes guide several years ago. It used a large sanding belt for a conveyor feed. It is still manual but I have all the parts to make it motorized someday. I can appreciate all the work for designing and building the sander and also all the effort to document it (just as difficult). Thanks.

    To ar_caver: To the question about using an erasure type belt cleaner; by all means it works.

    ar_caver (author)2015-03-16

    This is a great Instructable! I have got to build one of these things so i can use a few of the cedars that I need to cut on my place. For those of you who have one of these wondrous machines, do you ever use an erasure type sanding belt cleaner to extend the life of the paper?

    adenda2 (author)2015-03-15

    Always wanted one of these. Do you find it hard to push the wood through? Is there a way to set up an automatic feed table?

    Engineer_Allen (author)adenda22015-03-15

    Pushing the wood through is a slow process, not really hard. I have given a lot of though to an automated feed table - I have a couple of ideas, just haven't settled on a solution that I like that will enable me to auto-feed and adjust the height.

    thormj (author)Engineer_Allen2015-03-16

    Could do like the bandsaw we have at work -- it has a gravity pendulum that moves the table into the blade. A simplistic way of trying this would be to make a sling/strap for your work piece (assuming you don't want to put a screw eye in it), have the ropes for that go under the sander, add a couple of pulleys, and add a bucket of weight to provide tension on the string. Might need an infeed piece of metal that holds the work piece against the table.

    Engineer_Allen (author)thormj2015-03-16

    I like your idea - much simpler than my stepper motor idea.

    buck2217 (author)2015-03-16

    Just an idea, but you could possibly cut the circles for the sanding drum with a large hole saw (6.25 ins), then use a 3/4 hole saw for the centres, may be a lot less tedious and all will be exactly the smne size with minimum refinishing needed.

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