We have a fairly new (2 yrs) Supermax 2X25 drum sander that we've just never really been all that thrilled with, and I'm asking around to see what experience you guys are having with it. It is set up well (parallel platen/drums, rear drums are offset tighter just a touch, both drums make good contact).
Our planer has carbide cutters which we keep rotated properly to ensure good cuts. Even with that, we end up having to make multiple passes with the Supermax (100/120, or 120/150) to get full sanding across boards that are wider than 4-5".
If we try any more aggressive than that, we get burn marks and you can tell the machine is distinctly unhappy with the aggressive cut based on the way the paper/drums growl.
Dust collection is excellent, it's plumbed in to a 7.5hp bag-style and we only usually have two or three blast gates open at a time.
What is your experience with it?
I have to admit that I'm jaded. I used to lead a team that had a Powermatic 2X25 but that's a much beefier machine (and quite a bit more expensive). We used 100/120 on it, and one pass was all that was needed even on boards up to 8" wide. It even had far worse dust collection (small portable dust collector).
I know the ultimate would be a wide belt, but that's not an option at the moment. Our needs would be quite satisfactorily met if we were able to sand with the Supermax in one single pass.
We are sanding the basic maple, cherry, walnut, and oak for the most part.
Maybe you could convert the drums to velcro attachment for the abrasive. The extra cushioning might be what it takes.
I used to have a 2x36" Extrema drum sander that was a big upgrade from the Performax that I started with. Could run it 2x as fast and the rear drum was rubber for a better finish. Still had issues with the abrasive stretching and burning from time to time.
The Supermax and Performax machines are subtle. 'Aggressive' is not a word that could ever be used with the lightweight drum sanders. If there was anything that even resembled agression, the wide belt sanders would go out of business.
Add up the time for the additional multiple passes and multiply that out for year's worth of labor at your shop rate. Chances are you are already paying for the wide belt, you just don't have it.
Thanks guys, I'll see about some sort of cushioning option on the drums.
David, I know you're right about the cost of labor and multiple passes. We don't currently have a "huge" need for the drum sander, there are weeks that it doesn't even get touched.
I remember the 2X25 Powermatic, and it honestly almost had the aggression of a wide belt.... at least, compared to the old 50" wide belt that I have run before (again, years ago). Not quite that aggressive, I don't want to overstate it, but the Powermatic was surprisingly capable.
I understand that you may not use it all the time.
Let's do the math:
30 mins of labor saving every week at a shop rate of $80/hr = $40 per week
$40 x 52w = $2,080 per year
x 5 years payback = $10,400
The unknowns: How many other things will you use the sander for, if it is fast and efficient? How much will your business grow, making the sander a necessity? The 10,400 is in today's dollars. 5 years from now with avg inflation, that will be $12,050.
David's advice as usual is pretty spot on. I bought a Performax brand new about 15 years or so ago. I think I kept it for 8 months before tossing it out the door. Replaced with a new Powermatic dual drum which I will say was a very nice sander, probably the best of the drum sanders. Then I moved into a larger shop with 3 phase and bought an old beat up wide belt at auction....win!!!
If you really don't think you'll ever need a wide belt then at least get yourself a real drum sander. Right now your just wasting time trying to make money while fighting with a hobby machine. Any tweaks are going to provide marginal improvements at best. Sometimes....well most times, it's better to just bite the bullet and make the change than to continue down the same road over and over.
I know you guys are right, ultimately the decision is not in my hands to make. I know one of the reasons we have not yet upgraded to a wide belt is that our current dust collector likely wouldn't cut it, so we'd be forking out the dough to upgrade both.
It would be a slam-dunk if we did hardwood more than a couple hours a week, we just have a few other higher priority machinery items we want to focus on first.
However, I am thankful for your help on here, you've helped confirm for me that this Supermax machine isn't really a good fit. I understand the limits of this sander better. This has been very helpful.
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