Our shop processes a lot of live edge slabs for other cabinetmakers. We flatten them with an overhead router setup and then send them out to a large commercial shop where they go through a 48" Timesaver. Works OK, but I'd like to bring the sanding work in house. The Grizzly 1066Z is a 24" variable speed drum sander with a 5 hp motor. Will it do the job running 3-4hrs/day a couple of times a week. Anybody have one that they use heavily?
If that is your only option for a sander, I would continue to outsource it to the wide belt. Doesn't matter how many horsepower on a drum sander, it can't be hurried. The abrasive can only take so much heat before it starts to gum up or break down. The abrasive gets back around to the wood so much faster than in a wide belt. Running full capacity in width would really be a painful experience. Part of that pain would be changing abrasive every 15 minutes or less. No experience behind that machine, but behind a vintage drum sander and a small Performax. The small Performax is only used for oval shaker box stock at home.
I have a 16-32, 1 1/2 hp, Performax and it is a toy compared to a wide belt sander.
We have run 15-20" wide material on the Performax and it is very slow. With a 36 grit belt it does get the job done, but not cost effectively, The G1066Z is a 6" drum, not a 3 or 4" like the Performax and there are two drums. My idea was to use a 36 grit on the first drum, followed by a 50 or 60 grit on the 2nd drum.
Even on the 48" Timesaver that I've been purchasing time on, it takes a number of passes to remove the router marks on already flat surfaces.
The difference between almost any drum sander and a wide belt is like an electic golf cart vs a Maserati.
Yes, they both can do the job, but once you have used one, you can never use the other.
Used basic single combination head wide belt sanders can be had for not a whole lot more than drum sanders. Check the Woodweb database for more info on application and use and opinions.
"3-4hrs/day a couple of times a week" - Yes, it will take about that much time to clean up a slab. A single slab. One a week. One that can be done in 2-4 passes on a wide belt. You also can easily change the belt and sand to 120 grit if you like, and then life is sweet indeed.
10 years ago I made the mistake of buying a 5 hp Woodmaster drum sander (which is a well made sander) and 8 months later found a used 37" wide belt, it was like night and day, 5hp verses 20hp.
If you do go with the Grizzly with 2 heads I do not think that running 60x on the second head will take out the 36x scratches, you also may have to run 36x on both heads than switch to 60x on both heads. You will find that it will take 3-5 passes just to get rid of the router marks. Find a find a shop that uses the Grizzley that you are looking at and ask if they will run one of your slabs.
Thanks for the input.
Never doubted that a wide belt would be much better. Problem is that I don't have 3 phase. A rotary converter that can handle a 20 hp, or even 10 hp, motor wouldn't be cheap.
Allan - Not to be argumentative, but a simple cost analysis can help you determine if the equipment will pay for itself, and how long it may take.
Let's say you determine that a drum sander will take 3 hrs per day, 3 times a week, and your shop rate is 80 per man hour. Lets say it takes 2 men to run the slabs. That's 72 hrs a month, at $80.00 per hour, or $5,760 per month of work (excluding belts, maintenance and electricity - that should be in the shop rate anyway).
Now lets say the wide belt with a rotary converter will do the work in half the time. This is simple to see that you can still charge $5760 for the work, but your costs are half what they would be for the drum sander. That generates $2800 per month in clear profit used to pay for the converter and wide belt.
That is, the converter will pay for itself in one month. That is an excellent ROI - most shops think about a ROI in terms of years, with 5 being the maximum in most cases.
Even if the wide belt / RPC will save you one hour per week, you will recoup over #00 per month. Then the converter will pay for itself (and install, wiring, etc) in less than a year. It is still a bargain.
None of the above takes into account that drum sanders are hobby equipment that cannot stand the rigors of industrial life and are designed as a stepping block to wide belts for those that are unfamiliar with the real thing.
After you pay for that RPC and wide belt - in short time, you will bag all the additional profit from that point out, and use that machine to upgrade other equipment, pay employees living wages, go to Hawaii, or whatever.
i do very large natural edge slab tops a few times a year. my rule is if the work is bigger than the tool move tool over work. if work smaller than tool move work over tool. after routing i sand with a 17 inch floor sander. 36 to 60 grit than up to 150. then a da. keeps them flat, no dips no snipe , lots of control. done up to 5 ft wide with happy customers. can pick up a used floor machine for a few hundred bucks.
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