Drum Sander Tips and Tricks

Advice on how to get good performance from a drum sander. October 13, 2008

I tried setting my 20" General drum sander on fire so that the rear drum wouldn't leave burn marks on my material. Needless to say, that won't solve anything, but I either get burn marks or the paper just tears. Getting expensive. Anyone that solved this problem, please help!

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor S:
I have had the same machine for about 5 years now. Had a few problems at first, especially with paper tearing. Am pretty happy with it now that I have learned how to use it.

Get heavier weight paper than the pre-cut wraps they sell. I found some 3 and 4 inch emery paper in various grits at a used tool store, and after trying it I went back and bought all they had. The lightweight backer comes loose from the clip that holds and tensions the free end of the wrap. If you can't get heavier backing, put some masking tape on the end of the wrap right where it goes into the "teeth" on the spring clip. What happens is the paper slips free of the clip, and as soon as it does, it overlaps the previous spiral wrap and the extra thickness burns the wood or tears the paper. Another alternative that works for me is to spray some spray glue (3M 7700) on the drum only (temp bond) and then wind on the paper. The glue holds the paper down so as not to get slack. When you change grits, the paper will come right off if only put on one surface. Any glue that sticks to the drum comes off quickly with a little lacquer thinner on a rag.

2. Wood glue! It builds up quickly on the paper due to the heat generated if it is left on the surface or you take too big a bite as you sand. I scrape all glue off before sanding with a scraper.

From the original questioner:
Thank you. I was going to try the spray contact but I would have sprayed both roller and paper and then I really would have been in trouble, so I didn't. Thanks very much - I will try this soon.

From contributor V:

I use one of the Woodmasters 52". Had some of those problems.

1. Be careful not to take too big of a bite. A drum sander and a big wide belt are different animals.

2. Make sure that there are no high (loose) spots on the paper.

3. A lot of times the burn marks are caused by glue that gets on the paper and makes a line. If this is happening, clean the glue off better or pre-sand just the glue with an orbital.

4. I use Velcro for my paper. Makes everything easier. You can order it from the guys at Woodmaster. It is self-stick. Then you can use the mirka heavy paper.

From contributor R:
I have a Woodmaster also and think the Velcro paper makes it easy to wrap the drum. I buy my paper from Klingspor or Supergrit Abrasives in 25 yard rolls and cut it to length.

From contributor J:
Something else is checking that the rear drum isn't taking off too much. It should be set to just "erase" the scratches from the coarser grit up front. I run 120/180 full time on my 36" Extrema. Most glued up panels take a single pass per side, and I don't scrape glue off. Another tip is to angle any part with glue showing to spread out the glue line over more drum area. This helps prevent loading and burning. The first drum takes care of glue; the second fine tunes the surface.

If you stop a board mid way through the sander, lower the bed to remove it, and put a caliper on it, you can measure what each drum is removing. This is a good time to make sure it is even side-to-side.