Tool Review: 16-32 Drum Sander by SuperMax
Drum sander is a smooth operator
When I need to sand and level veneered plywood, cabinet doors, highly figured wood, or thin panels, a drum sander is my tool of choice. The new 16-32 Drum Sander from SuperMax excelled at all these tasks. In my tests, the finished stock only varied in thickness by 0.010 in., certainly good enough for my purposes, and both faces were parallel.
The drum head is cantilevered out above the work and accepts specially shaped sandpaper wound onto it. The conveyor belt, a roll of 100-grit sandpaper that reduces slippage, feeds the stock from below. One of the best features of this sander is that the head and conveyor work in conjunction, meaning the tool monitors the load the drum puts on the motor. SuperMax calls this Intellisand. If you set the sander to take too deep a pass and bog down the motor, the feed rate automatically slows. When I tested this, the sander’s feed rate slowed to a crawl to handle the extra load. The sandpaper didn’t slip or burn, and though a few times the drum left a slight snipe in the stock, I was able to remove the defect with a couple of normal passes.
Dust collection was solid. If you’re using a vacuum, like I did, a 12-oz. plastic coffee can is just the right size to use as an adapter between the dust port and vacuum hose.
I did find some discrepancy between the digital readout and the stock that was sanded, but I fixed the problem by recalibrating the readout using stock of known thickness. Also, changing the sandpaper took a couple of attempts before I got the hang of it. Last, the sander really would benefit from infeed and outfeed tables to reduce snipe. Short add-on tables are available from the manufacturer ($120). I also highly recommend casters for the included stand, $90 from SuperMax, as the sander and stand together weigh around 150 lb.
—Charles Bickford is a woodworker and former senior editor for Fine Homebuilding.
From Fine Woodworking #274