Due to hard economic times I had to get rid of my 37 inch wide belt sander to get out from under the lease payments. Now things are starting to pick back up so I have been looking around for another sander. Iím seeing a lot of drum sanders and widebelts at a good price but of course the drum sanders are still less expensive.
Would I be setting myself up for disappointment with a drum sander? Is the quality that much better with a widebelt? I know a lot of drum sanders Iím seeing have 5 to 71/2 motors vs. my widebelt that had a 30 hp motor. A machinery dealer told me buying the sander would be the fastest payback in the shop and Iím now finding that to be true. I didnít realize how much truth to that statement there was. Iím now using a pc belt sander to do the things I used to doing with the widebelt. Iím not building my doors anymore but would like to be able to do few at times.
From contributor B:
If you have had a belt sander a drum sander will drive you insane. What a widebelt does in one pass takes a drum several.
Low power requirements, belts are not expensive, and because of the mistaken notion of being obsolete the machines are often very inexpensive. Iíve been working with sanding machines for 40 years and drum sanders are on the bottom of my list.
The sanding belts on the wide belt last a lot longer than the strips on a drum - that's pretty obvious if you just think about the surface area of paper.
Changing out grits on the wide belt is less necessary as you can skip grits - much easier than the drum sander. I normally leave 150 grit on the wide belt to handle 80% of my needs. If I make an extra two passes or so it's still much faster than swapping belts, which would be much faster than changing the paper on the drum sander.
Finally in my case the wide belt cost much less than the drum sander. I paid about $4k for my Powermatic roughly eight years ago or so. I paid less than $1k for my wide belt. It has paid for itself many times over and I'd never look back. Generally speaking a wide belt will cost more than a drum sander, but there's a lot of good used equipment on the market right now.
Drum sanders are a great way to get started out, and I made money with mine for a good six years or so before upgrading. You just can't compare them with wide belts, similar to comparing a router table to a shaper!