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Double Drum Sander10/14
Just wondering how these things work. Are the drums 1 up 1 down or are they side by side. If they are side by side could you just put 100 grit on one and 150 on the other to have a finished side. I know a widebelt sander is the way to go but they are over my budget at this time.
As you assume, the general consensus is to run a coarser grit on the first and a finish grit on the second allowing you to coarse and fine sand in a single pass.
Most people will tell you that the drum is a waste of time and just make the investment in a wide belt but it can be a costly jump in machine cost as well as dust collection, power supply, shipping/moving, as well as footage consumed in your shop.
We have had good luck with a double drum. I had read a lot about them being problematic, leaving marks that still required extensive hand sanding, and so on. I have simply not found this to be true.
Would I love a widebelt, absolutely. Especially one with programmable presets for thicknesses commonly used. Cranking a handwheel is extremely time consuming when making large changes in thickness which we do very often throughout the day. Our sander moves only .02" per rev. of the handle. That said, we simply dont have the dust collection or space to accommodate a wide belt so its a good solution all around. At 1k total investment it will get us through for the time being.
If your going to go with the double drum sander DONT buy the General brand. Lotsof posts that I can agree with from experience. Paper is a ..... to get on and tears very easily. Took me about 6 mos to get a gep down here. He fiddled with the adjustments to no avail. I got nowhere when I told them I didnt want it. They danced around until I got disgusted. I take miniscule passes with it and still tear the paper. Gets expensive and annoying. Lightly spray contacted the paper on and it was better but tore before the papers time to be changed. One of these guys will have a good brand to get. Good luck.
I was able to bridge the gap in power and DC capacity for a couple of years with a dual drum Extrema sander. It had a steel drum up front, and a rubber drum in back. I have heard good things about the Woodmaster with velcro drums. If you take light passes and spread out parts to even out the wear, it works pretty well. Changing paper is a bit of a hassle, as is burning a streak down a door in the middle of a run. But in general, it was better than no sander by far. Be sure to train employees thoroughly if anyone will be using it other than you. It is easy to mess things up if you don't get the paper loaded properly and make sure that it stays tight on the drums. Now that I have a 2-head widebelt, I don't know that I could go back to the drum sander though!
I ran a Powermatic dual drum for several years also before making the jump. Most of the problems you'll read about come from guys not knowing how to use the machine. Drum sanders can do a decent job, but they're not wide belts. You have to take small bites and make sure you stock is all the same thickness and you'll be fine.
We have a woodmaster drum sander.
I have a 24" double drum by General and it works great! Huge jump in productivity from the hand held porter cable belt sander! Takes a bit of getting used to and watching feed rates etc. faster and less off per pass helps keep things cooler and avoid burning. I run 120/150 exclusively. Go from planer to glueup to drum sander. Angle panels that have glue lines to avoid wearing down groves in the paper. Also remove slack from new belts after running half dozen panels through. Very happy with my general double drum. Don't trust Velcro drums but haven't tried them.