The debate of drum sander vs wide belt sander is an old one that is still going strong. If you are a woodwork buff and you are looking to increase the tools in your arsenal, you probably already have come across this question.
As sanding is a vital part of any wood related project, the importance of having the proper sanding tools is also a necessity. And when it comes to sanding hardwood floor planes, drum sanders and wide belt sanders are your best options.
Here we will discuss some of the critical factors that should go into your decision making process about which one of the devices you should get to serve your sanding needs the best.
Drum Sander Vs Wide Belt Sander
While there are numerous differences between a drum sander and a wide belt sander, not every point of dissimilarity holds the same weight to everyone. We will give you a detailed overview down below.
Drum sanders are made with hobbyists, amateur, and semi-professional use in mind. They will easily fit into a home workshop or a small business outlet.
Wide belt sanders are more massive, industrial-grade contraptions. Even the smallest models take up vast amounts of space. It most likely won’t fit into your home workshop or even a small professional shop.
Drum sanders generally fall into the affordable category for most woodworking enthusiasts. They tend to be available around the $500 price point, while fancier models can run significantly higher.
Wide belt sanders will cost you way north of any drum sander. Even for the cheaper models, you should expect a price tag that is around $5000-$6000.
Most drum sanders are made for home use. So they have a lower power consumption. They mostly require single phase power so that they can be used in a home workshop.
You will require a three-phase power supply to run a wide belt sander. As most homes only have a single-phase power supply, you won’t be able to use them at the house. Keep in mind that a phase converter most probably won’t work for a wide belt sander.
While neither of the contraptions is portable by the commonly used meaning of the word, drum sander has an advantage.
The drum sander is small enough to be moved around the floor space of your garage or your shop without causing too many problems for you.
Moreover, the wide belt sander, on the other hand, is massive and weighty. It has quite a complicated setup that takes time. So once you install it in place, you probably won’t be moving it without requiring a lot of help.
Air Compressor Requirement
After purchasing an expensive tool like either of these sanders, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to spend more money getting accessories to get them to work.
Unfortunately, you will need to purchase a capable air compressor to get your wide belt sander to work. The portable air compressor will not work as they do not pump out an adequate amount of air.
If you are going for a drum sander, you will not require compressed air.
A platen is a polishing pad made of a sturdy metal bar with padding around it made of foam or felt and with graphite material on the outermost layer as abrasive.
While all of them do not, many of the wide belt sander models will come with a platen. The platen is used to give your wooden stock the final finish before using a random orbit sander or putting on the stain.
The drum sanders don’t come with a platen, and from the opinions of many professional woodworkers – it severely limits the functionality of the drum sander.
Abrasive Material Changing
Drum sanders use sandpaper as the abrasive material for sanding. The sandpaper is rolled around the cylinder very tightly, without leaving any gaps between them.
However, it can be quite tedious and time-consuming to change the sandpaper multiple times during the sanding process because you have to use progressively finer gritted sandpaper.
Wide belt sanders use abrasive belts, which are much easier to remove and change, especially with the open-sided models.
From an efficiency standpoint, wide belt sanders blow drum sanders out of the park. Wide belt sanders can go through many times the wooden panels as a drum sander can.
With a drum sander, you will need multiple sandpaper changes to get the required finish on your panels. They are also slower to churn out a single panel than a wide belt sander.
The drum sanders are much simpler machines compared to the wide belt sanders. They have fewer moving parts and pieces, which makes maintaining them much more comfortable.
Wide belt sanders need to be taken extra care to increase their lifespan. They are intricate machines with delicate parts like the abrasive belt or the platen. Each of the components is harder to maintain.
Both types of sander will scratch the wood from time to time, though there is a difference.
The scratches from the drum sander will be shorter in length but much more in-depth. It will require a hefty amount of random orbital sanding to get the wood in a workable condition again.
Wide belt sanders will leave longer but shallower scratches. Repairing these scratches will be much more comfortable with a random orbit sander and require much less work.
In a drum sander, the actual sanding surface is a thin line where the cylinder meets the wood. As a result, it runs much hotter. This causes the burning of the sandpaper and might also leave burn marks on the wood.
Wide belt sanders have a much more even and wider sanding surface. These machines run cooler and cleaner.
Dust Collection Requirement
The wide belt sander has a more significant dust collection requirement than a drum sander. They go through a higher volume of wood and sand a lot of material off on every go through.
Moreover, internal components of wide belt sanders are more sensitive to dust particles, requiring industrial-grade dust collection.
From this discussion, your questions about the differences between drum sander vs wide belt sander should have been answered to a decent extent. With these points in mind, go ahead and make your choice for the tool that’s right for you.