Adapting Shop Machines for Wire-Brushing

      Thoughts on converting a drum sander or table saw to do high-volume wire-brushing of wood. October 1, 2010

Does anyone out there have any knowledge of converting a Performax 36" sander into a wirebrushing machine? We'd like to change the drum to a wirebrush head for doing larger quantities of cerused oak finishes. Wirebrushing with a drill and head or by hand never seems to accomplish a nice look for us.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Sounds interesting. Can you post some pictures of what you have now and what you would like to have? If you doing a lot of this type of work, doing it by hand can be quite tedious, as well as costly. Have you tried a wide brass BBQ brush? That seems to open the pores of the wood up pretty good. I would think the wire wheel on the drill is only about 1/2"wide and you have to make quite a few passes to get any kind of consistency. What species of wood are you using for the cerus finish? Its normally done on oak but Iíve seen it on other woods that have a heavy pronounced grain pattern to them.

From contributor M:
How wide are you trying to wire brush in a single pass? I have had good luck using wire wheels stacked on a horizontal spindle on a sander (4" wide) wire wheels similar to paint stripping units. To go wider, send piece through reversed, just watch overlap. Play around with pressure, feed speed and number of passes to get a desired uniform finish. Once you get the right combination, you can get consistent results.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the responses. I don't have any pictures because the machine is in storage. I like the idea of stacking on a sander, but I'd like to get 24" plus in width. I've heard of others using the Performax sander and rigging it up with wire wheels. I suppose I could make a custom spindle and add wire wheels. Thanks for your ideas, I'll keep working on it.

From contributor K:
We have a couple old machines which we retrofitted for just this purpose, (an old drum sander and an old table saw which we converted into a 12" wide brush head on both). It works well on soft wood such as fir, pine, ect. but for hard wood the brushes create a slight dip in the centers of each one of the brushes centerlines so you may want to consider a light sand blast instead, plus there are always steel strands flying out everywhere so you have to be careful. We also use a wire brush head on the shaper at it works great for the edges. If you want some photo's of the machines let me know.

From contributor R:
Do you have any pictures of what the wire brushed wood looks like?

From the original questioner:
I don't currently have any pictures. We have sandblasted before to achieve a similar look. It's just so messy and time consuming. It's hard to keep the cost down when sandblasting.

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