Down-Draft Sanding Table: Buy or Build?

There are good units you can buy off the shelf, but people have also had good luck building their own sanding tables. July 11, 2007

I've noticed that the R/O sanding operation is the dirtiest operation in my shop. I have considered buying a sanding table, but I have a question for those who have used one. I also do quite a bit of hand held routing at the bench where I sand. Are down draft tables any good at picking up sawdust from routing? Just looking for some experience before I purchase.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor J:
My boss did some research on this and found it is a lot cheaper to just build one yourself.

From contributor A:
I built one and hooked it up to the central dust collection. Works fairly well. We keep plastic around so we can make the work area smaller when we sand small parts.

From contributor B:
I went through the "buy or build" debate about 5 years ago. When I saw an article on Sandman downdraft tables in a magazine I ordered one. The price was low enough to make buying instead of building a no-brainer. After using this for these past several years, I can tell you it has become one of the tools I would no want to be without in a shop.

From contributor G:
I agree with contributor B. We have three Sandman tables and love them. Simple, efficient, and very reasonably priced. Buy a downdraft table and take the time you would have spent reinventing the wheel by building it to work on something that makes you money.

From contributor T:
Thanks for the info on Sandman. These look like a pretty good value. Their website says they use an ABS plastic top that is only 1/4 inch thick. They say this top is covered with a "rubberized polymer." How durable is this polymer stuff? Does it provide resistance so your product does not vibrate off the table when being sanded with a RO sander?

From contributor B:
My table predates the current top. However, I have seen it and have wondered about the durability. It looks like it will do a good job of preventing vibration caused by power sander. Give them a call... they might have a sample to send out.

From contributor G:
We have used the tables daily for over a year in my 8 man shop. The tops show some minor wear. I am impressed with the durability. Small parts do move around some but not really a problem. Sandman includes a simple plywood piece that looks like a framing square that pegs into the top to provide a stop for small parts. The tops are easily replaceable and cost around $200, I think.

From contributor V:
I built my own down draft table for under 200 dollars. I went to a furnace dealer and bought a furnace blower and some high quality furnace filters and it has been working great for over 5 years! I also use my router on the table and it works great.