Think of a thickness sander as a planer that has a drum covered in sandpaper instead of knifes. The difference between a planer and a thickness sander is that you can run planks that have been glued up in different grain orientations on the sander and it will not be destroyed.
I did not design this -- BUT -- I made it at Tech Shop.
The plans are available for purchase here Because the plans are for sale, I'm going to show how I made it, but not give measurements or sourcing of parts.
This is an video example of how this functions.
I spent a lot of time on this and I learned a lot that I did not know. I spent about $500 on this. To buy one this size would have been about $2,500.
Step 1: Build the Sanding Drum and Rollers
I have a detailed instructable on how to make the drum and rollers
Once you have this complete, you can cut the plywood for the frame.
Step 2: Glue the Platten
Step 3: Make the Holder for the Acme Nuts
Step 4: Modify the Acme Screws to Accept Bushings
I have a detailed instructable on how to do this task
Step 5: Cut the Main Supports From Plywood
Step 6: Mill the Drum Supports
The measurements on this is critical. You really need to follow the plans well.
Step 7: Grind the Bearings and Assemble the Bearing / Drum Supports
You want to make sure that you have the bearings moving freely. Also, make sure that you don't use large springs like I did in this photo. I purchased a spring assortment from Home Depot and these were too strong. I had to take the springs out once again to correct this mistake on my part
Step 8: Complete the Drum / Pressure Roller Assembly
You need to make sure at this point that the bearings move up and down smoothly.
Failure to do so will result in you taking the machine apart to fix it.
Step 9: Assemble the Platen
In these photos, the acme nut supports are being affixed to the platen sides. The MDF has been covered with formica to make it slick.
The measurements on the nuts are critical. After you affix the nut holders to the sides, you screw the sides to the MDF.
Before you screw the 2nd side on, you need to place the conveyor ( a big sanding belt ) over the platen.
Once this has been done and before the second side it on, you need to add the rollers and the bearings. This was a challenging part to have everything work right.
Step 10: Insert the Acme Screws and Cross Members
There are a lot of places where I had to do metal work -- for example -- I had to cut keyways on the drum and the conveyor drive shaft.
To learn how to do this operation, click here.
I used an arbor press to insert the bushing into the oak cross supports. I held everything together temporarily with plastic moving film
Step 11: Put the Chain on the Sprockets
It made installing the chain that raises and lowers the platen a walk in the park.
Step 12: Install the Sides
This was a good feeling to get it this far!
Step 13: Tighten the Chains - Install the Sanding Drum
Step 14: Wire and Install the Motor
This was fun because I started the motor and the drum spun ;-)
Step 15: Build the Dust Port
You MUST use a dust collector when you use the sander.
Step 16: Install the Control Panel, Motor, and Drive Chain
Step 17: Install the Velcro and the Sandpaper
Wrap the drum with the adhesive backed velcro and then put the sandpaper on. The sandpaper is loop, the white is hook.
That's all there is to this. All you have to do is hook it up to a dust vacuum and you are ready to sand!
This is an example video of how this works
I made it at Tech Shop!