Sanding Narrow Stock on a Drum Sander

Drum sanders and wide-belts can handle narrow stock ganged together, but it's a little tricky to manage. May 23, 2007

I need to sand stock that is 1/2" x 5/8" x various lengths in both oak and Douglas fir on three faces. I have been looking at some of the less expensive Taiwanese wide belts, though they have min part widths in their specs. Can anyone offer any advice? Will a drum sander be a better option for such narrow parts? Or is there a type or brand of sander that would be appropriate?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor A:
If this is all you are doing and are going to buy a sander to do it, I would opt for the drum. There is a little cushion to widebelts, and this can cause the top edge of the wood to acquire a slight arc. Nothing major, but keep running the pieces through and it becomes more pronounced and your wood more difficult to keep square. In my shop I run several through at a time, but I also already own the widebelt. Drum sanders have very hard aluminum drums so the deformation isn't an issue. But if you do any quantity, definitely look into the belt sander and run multiple pieces. Nicer finish and faster. Plus the widebelt has more versatility, always a plus.

From contributor B:
I am considering the Grizzly wide belt sanders. Two of the 24" models are platen type. Will this yield better results for my narrow stock? I had originally planned on the open ended 15" model but Im willing to spend more for flexibility and finish quality for the parts as I could be making them regularly. Does anyone have experience with those or comparable entry/inexpensive wide belts worth considering?

From contributor A:
A platen will giving a better finish and will make the crowning problem even worse, unless as mentioned, you run several pieces at a time - although you can always remove the platen. If you are going belt, definitely get the platen. It is what helps to make belts some much more versatile. As far as brand, you should be able to find some good responses in the Knowledge Base.

From contributor T:
I would sand the wider stock to size before ripping and then run the pieces 6 to 8 at a time on the ripped edges through the wide belt with platen up taking care not to take off too much. Any more than .010 inch will be too much on a wide belt. You can ruin a wide belt contact roller in an instant with narrow sticks if trying to take off too much and that will cost you a bundle to have the roller repaired. By the way - the Speedsaver by Timesaver does not have a platen as far as I have seen. And I agree with Contributor A, but just leave the platen up on narrow sticks. Drum sanders leave too unpleasant a finish for me; I'd opt for the wide belt. The Ramco line is worth looking into for your application. They have an open type 16" with platen. 4300.00. Good machine, good price.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor C:
I own a 15HP 25" Ramco Wide Belt with air tracking and platen. I have run literally miles and miles of one-quarter inch by three-quarter inch alder stick through this machine with really great results with 320 grit. I ran as many as I could pick up in one hand at a time. The fellow who said you could ruin a good roll with small sticks is right. But it only happened to me once and that was with an inexperienced operator.