Sanding Door and Frame Stock Edges

      Thoughts on a practical way to sand MDF edges using a shaper, drum sander, or table saw with a sanding disk. June 18, 2009

When I make cabinet doors or frames from MDF I gang sand the edges with a random orbital. It works but I have to mark where the joints will be and not sand these areas in order to keep a square edge. Not ideal. Does anyone use a sanding drum on their shaper to do the same thing? I'm looking at getting a 5" drum. The max rpm for this is 3000. My spindle moulder only goes down to 3500. Would that be a problem?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor K:
Why not get an edge sander?

From the original questioner:
An edge sander takes up more space and money than a drum for the shaper. Also, this may be a silly question, but how do you sand an 8' edge on a machine with less than 3' of table? We make wardrobe doors. The models I see have guards at each end that prevent you running long lengths. I haven't used one myself.

From contributor F:
I can't answer your original question but I'll make a couple other suggestions that may or may not be of any use. You could gang your parts up and run them through a drum sander. This would keep your square edges and be much faster than the technique you describe. If you only wanted to do several parts at a time you could look into Virutex as I believe they have a handheld sander (not your typical belt sander) that may work well for your application. You could pick up a used industrial edge sander who's tables are much longer than the one's you may be looking at.

Lastly you could just do a little work in making your shaper work better for the task. If it's 3 phase you can get an electronic control which allows you to reduce the rpm's of the machine. If it's single phase you could look into replacing the pulleys with a new set allowing you to drop the speed even lower.

From contributor K:
Now I have a better idea of your need and concerns. It's common that the tables on edge sanders are smaller than many work pieces. The so called table on my small edge sander is only20" long x 9" deep, very small machine besides. I screw as large of a piece of melamine board to it as I need to properly support a work piece. As for the cost and available space, well, I get that. I would not be thrilled about the idea of having abrasives around the table of my shaper. I'm also not too sure about the quality of sanding you're going to get from a drum.

From contributor R:
I have a table saw setup for sanding edges like these. It works well as long as the parts don't have a bow along the length. I have a small shop and we go through a disk per week - maybe 500-800 lineal feet. Unlike regular disk sanders, the face on this is tapered so that you don't catch the edge when feeding into it. You have to tilt the tablesaw over a couple of degrees to compensate.

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