Picture of Sanding Drum for a Thickness Sander

I decided that I wanted to build a Thickness Sander so that I can sand boards that have been glued together for segmented wood turnings. When you have multiple species of wood at different angles, you can't run them through a planner anymore.

I found a set of plans at for a thickness sander, bought them, and embarked on the task of building this project.

It is a lot of fun -- and a reasonable amount of work. Since I am making this at Tech Shop, I have all of the space and tools necessary to make the job easy.

So far, I have the sanding drum and four conveyor supports done. It has taken me about 20 hours to get this far.

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Step 1: Cut out the MDF disks

Picture of Cut out the MDF disks
The plans call for 38 5 1/2" MDF disks and 128 2 1/2" MDF disks.   

I made these on a CNC shopbot using vCarve Pro.  The MDF is 3/4" thick.

Click here to see the ShoBot do it's stuff:

Step 2: Prepare blocks for use as rams for the glue-up process

Picture of Prepare blocks for use as rams for the glue-up process
I purchased 1" cold rolled steel rods and cut them to length using a metal lathe at Tech Shop.

I then cut 2" square blocks of pine and drilled 1 1/8 holes in them.  I built a jig to allow me to quickly and safely drill the large holes.  I used a forstner bit,

When I was done, I had about 35 blocks.

Step 3: Glue the MDF Disks to 1" Steel Shafts

Picture of Glue the MDF Disks to 1
The steel shafts are 1" in diameter and the ID of the disks is also 1".  This makes for a tight fit.

I drilled a hole in a 4x4 and placed the shaft in the hole.  I then placed the disks over the rod and used a 10 Ton arbor press to force the MDF disks down the shaft. 

I used Original Titebond PVA glue and liberally applied glue to the disks.  I then used the wooden squares and the arbor press to ram the disks together on the steel shaft.

This took a while , but I was able to apply pressure.  Note the glue squeeze-out.

I used long clamps to apply pressure while the glue dried.
lafnbear1 year ago
Forgive my ignorance... you're making this sander to thickness sand wood for turning; why didn't you just turn the rollers from a hardwood instead of gluing them up from mdf disks?
CWKr (author)  lafnbear1 year ago
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ― Mark Twain

Lafnbear -- Good Question -- I was going to go that route until I realized that the drum and rollers are affixed to a 1" and 3/4" shaft respectively.  The drum needs to turn at 1725 RPM.  There is no way to glue the shaft to a 38" hole that would have had to have been bored through solid wood.

The MDF ( it could have been plywood too) is glued at every point along the set of MDF disks.  There is also a great deal of friction holding each disk on to the shafts.  It was very difficult to press a 3/4" thick disk onto a shaft when I was ramming more than 2.  More than five was a "tactical error" -- I actually had to cut some of them off and start again.

I can't imagine how many tons of pressure I would have needed to get a tight fit if I had turned a 38"+ length of wood. bored a hole, then added glue and tried to push a 1" steel rod through it.