How to Find the Best Drum Sander and Which to Buy

How to Find the Best Drum Sander and Which to Buy

Sanding a large wooden panel manually is a strenuous process that takes hours if not days to complete. Getting some of the best drum sanders can save you a lot of time and enable you to get a fine finish on every piece of lumber you process.

These machines are commonly utilized in the home furnishing industry due to their ability to make a rough surface smooth, but drum sanders are also used by string instrument manufacturers to create high-quality surfaces.

A drum sander is an irreplaceable woodworking tool, but it is aimed mostly at professionals since its cost can be overwhelming for most recreational woodworkers.

In this article, we will provide you with the information that will help you find the model that best fits your needs and take you through some of the best drum sanders on the market.


Top 5 Drum Sanders in 2021

Best Overall: Supermax Tools 19-38 Check price
Most Durable: Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 Check price
Powermatic PM2244: Powermatic PM2244 Check price
Most Affordable: Grizzly Industrial G8749 Check price
Best Industrial Level: Shop Fox W1678 Check price

What is a drum sander?

A drum sander is a power tool that is utilized during the finishing stages of stock processing. These machines shouldn’t be confused with wood planners, even though they can remove parts of stock they are fed.

However, they are mainly used for surfacing while wood planners don’t have the sanding capacity as they only even out pieces of wood to the same thickness.

The design of drum sanders features a dual drum that is mounted onto a moving belt which makes these woodworking tools ill-suited for removal of large quantities of wood.

Although drum sanders are usually large and heavy tools that best fit in the industrial context, a number of manufacturers offer lightweight versions of these machines that are suited for home-based workshops.

Pairing a drum sander with Milwaukee’s band saws and a Triton router will enable you to create pieces of furniture on your own.

Differentiating between drum sander types

There are two types of drum sanders you can choose from. A closed drum sander is designed for use in industrial settings due to its ability to process large wooden panels.

You can create finishes on pieces that are wider than 25 inches which enables you to sand table tops, doors, or cabinet components. Unlike the closed models, open drum sanders let you double the width of the stock you are working with.

So, for instance, if you opt for a model that has a 16-inch width capacity you will be able to process pieces with widths up to 32 inches. These tools have drums that are suspended onto a belt that moves and enables the machine to sand the stock.

It is also important to keep in mind that both types of drum sanders come in a variety of sizes so that you can choose the one that best fits the demands of projects you’re working on.

The most common applications of drum sanders

These tools are usually used during the final stages of stock processing since they cannot cut wooden boards in a conventional way.

Drum sanders remove sanding strips from the surface with the aim of making it flat or smooth, but you can’t utilize them to saw off pieces of wood.

A drum sander can remove between 0.005 to 0.007 inches of the stock in a single pass depending on the model so that you can get a fine finish on the piece you’re creating.

Consequently, these machines are highly efficient at smoothening table tops with epoxy or intricate parts of musical instruments.

Wood burning can occur if you are feeding the wood too quickly to the machine or if you are trying to remove too much wood in one pass, and you need to make sure that a drum sander is operated properly to avoid damaging the stock you’re working with.

The advantages of drum sanders

  • Professional-grade sanding – Even the low-end models make the process of flattening and smoothening rough surfaces much simpler than if you would go through this process manually. Drum sanders allow you to control how much wood you’re removing from the surface so that you can create a finish that matches your expectations.
  • Compatibility with different types of sandpaper – Most drum sanders are compatible with different types of sandpaper, which enables you to adapt to the demands of a project you’re currently working on.
  • Great for high-volume production – By reducing the amount of time you have to spend on sanding an individual piece, drum sanders enable you to process large quantities of stock quickly, which makes them a perfect fit for industrial settings.

The disadvantages of drum sanders

  • Low portability – Even the tabletop drum sanders that are considerably smaller than conventional drum sanders weigh several hundred pounds, and they cannot be moved easily. You may also need assistance to operate these woodworking machines as it may be difficult to use them on your own.

Factors worth considering while choosing a drum sander

Despite the fact that all drum sanders serve the same purpose, there are quite a few differences between these tools, since their maximum power output or width and thickness capacity vary from model to model.

The set of features a drum sander offers ultimately determines its performance capabilities, so here are some of the factors that can help you determine if a particular model is a right choice for you.

Motor power

Drum sanders are usually equipped with motors that have more than 1HP and that are capable of producing a significant amount of torque. The motor’s power ultimately determines the maximum speed at which the machine’s drum can operate.

Models that don’t have a high power output are unable to handle hardwood or any tough materials, which is the reason why it is important to choose a model that can sand materials you want to work with.

Stock width and thickness

Drum sanders cannot process stock of all sizes, and you need to check the maximum thickness and width capacity a particular model can handle before you purchase it.

For instance, a drum sander that can operate at the height of 1/32-inch is a perfect choice if you want to produce extra thin pieces, but it may not be well suited for lumber that is thicker than two inches.

The machine’s width limitations can vary from just 12 inches to more than 30 inches and you should choose the model that best matches the width of the materials you want to sand.

Feed rate and sandpaper replacement process

The rate at which the sanding process occurs depends on the depth of the cut. Hence the feed rate for deep cuts is lower than for shallow cuts. In addition, the feed rate also affects the amount of time that is required to complete a pass.

Recent models adjust the feed rate to the depth of a cut automatically, while on older drum sanders you have to control the speed at which the drum roller is operating manually.

Changing sandpaper is not a simple process on all drum sanders, as some models may require the use of additional tools to install a new sheet of sandpaper. Opting for a drum sander that allows you to change sandpaper quickly will save you a lot of hustle down the line.

Dust collection features

Although they can be connected to an external dust collector via a hose, most drum sanders don’t have built-in dust collection features. These machines produce an enormous amount of dust, which makes a dust collector a must-have accessory if you are planning on using a drum sander frequently.

Portability and cost

Drum sanders are heavy and bulky machines that can’t be moved easily. Chances are that once you install them you won’t be moving them around a lot.

That’s why you need to make sure that you have sufficient space to store a drum sander in your workshop. These tools are by no means inexpensive and you have to spend a considerable amount of money to get a model with modest performance capabilities.

Hence, your budget can affect your choice of a drum sander since high-end models can be too expensive for DIY woodworkers.

SuperMax Tools 19-38 – The best drum sander

A brief look at the SuperMax Tools 19-38’s will reveal why this is the best drum sander for commercial and private use. This 1-3/4HP drum sander has a TEFC driver motor that requires 15 Amps and 110V of power.

The machine’s conveyor motor has 0-10 ranged variable and it can supply you with 43 inches/lbs of torque. The SuperMax Tools 19-38 can operate at the maximum speed of 1740 RPM and it features a 5×19 inch extruded aluminum drum.

The drum sander enables you to process 38-inch pieces in two passes, while the minimum stock thickness is set to 1/32 inch. The maximum width of lumber cannot exceed four inches.

The INTELLISAND™ technology adjusts the conveyor speed to the current load, which prevents burning or otherwise damaging the material. This drum sander comes with a flatness guarantee that ensures all pieces your process with it, are perfectly smooth and even.

You should also check out our SuperMax 16-32 drum sander review to compare its features to the SuperMax Tools 19-38 model.

Best Overall
Supermax Tools 19-38 Drum Sander | Amazon

SuperMax 19-38 Drum Sander reduces the tedium of hand sanding, speeds up the sanding process, and produces more consistent results.

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  • The powerful motor develops speeds up to 1740 RPM
  • Suitable for work with thin stock
  • INTELLISAND™ technology matches the conveyor speed to the load
  • Less expensive than similar models


  • The long and difficult setup process
  • 2-year warranty

Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 – The most durable drum sander

In case you are searching for a drum sander that can withstand heavy-duty usage for years, then you should take a closer look at the Jet 723520K JWDS-1632.

The machine features separate feed and drum motors that can be controlled independently, which allows you to adjust their power output to the material you’re sanding.

Moreover, all speed adjustments are made automatically via the Sandsmart™ technology that monitors the load the drum motor is taking and adjusts the conveyor motor’s power output accordingly.

Also, the extruded aluminum drum is designed to prevent any damage to the work surface that results from overheating. This drum motor is equipped with a 4-inch dust collector port and it features a dust hood that has an integrated channel for efficient debris disposal.

The Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 lets you sand stock that has widths in the range between 1/32 to 3 inches, while the minimum length of a board you can process with this drum sander is limited to 2-3/8 inches.

Most Durable
Jet 723520K JWDS-1632 Drum Sander with Stand | Amazon

The innovative tool-less parallelism system keeps adjustments simple. The worktable is easily positioned by a turn of the parallelism dial. The variable-speed rate permits you to choose the optimal feed rate for a full range of projects, while the Sandsmart feature continuously monitors the load on the drum motor to prevent an overload situation.

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02/14/2023 07:25 pm GMT


  • Effortless speed adjustments
  • Extruded aluminum drum eliminates the effects of overheating
  • Efficient dust collections system
  • 5-year warranty period


  • The motor has just 1 ½ HP
  • This drum sander makes a lot of noise

Powermatic PM2244 – The most powerful drum sander

The 22-inch drum length and a 1.75 HP motor make the Powermatic PM2244 one of the most versatile and powerful drum sanders on the market. This means that you can sand 44-inch stock that is up to 4-inch thick, while you can also use this machine to process pieces that are 1/32-inch thick.

The LED control panel allows you to monitor the sander’s power output and belt speed, and the feed logic system adjusts the speed of the conveyor motor based on the load the drum motor is taking. You can easily adjust the drum’s height using the chrome wheel that is located at the top of this tool.

A dial next to the conveyor bed lets you adjust the table parallelism so that you don’t have to readjust the drum carriage. Moreover, the belt tracking system reduces manual adjustments to the minimum.


  • Suitable for pieces that are up to 44 inches wide
  • Control panel displays power and belt speed values
  • Easy drum height adjustment
  • The Powermatic PM2244 features an emergency power shutoff button


  • Pricy
  • High power consumption

Grizzly Industrial G8749 – The most affordable drum sander


Woodworkers in need of an affordable and yet powerful drum sander should consider getting the Grizzly Industrial G8749. This model comes with a 1HP motor that can operate at speeds up to 1725 RPM, which ensures that you can sand effortlessly even hardwood lumber.

However, the Grizzly Industrial’s drum sander features a pair of 3-1/4-inch and 7-7/8-inch drums that are ill-suited for larger stock. The diameter of the tool’s flap sander is 10-1/2 inches while the long flap bristle brush has a 7-3/4 inch diameter.

The flap sander comes with 120 grit sandpaper, although you can switch to the finer grit sandpaper quickly if you want to use the machine for light sanding. The G8749 features an ON/OFF switch that is equipped with a Locking Tab which prevents accidental shutdowns.

Even so, you have to control the feed rate on this drum sander manually, and there are no features that prevent overheating.

Most Affordable
Grizzly Industrial G8749 Drum Sander | Amazon

This sander is a great addition to any shop needing to shape and finish contours. On one side, choose between the included 3-1/4" diameter or 4-3/4" diameter inflatable sanding drums.

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  • Cost less than most drum sanders
  • Features a 1HP motor
  • This drum sander has a 22mm arbor
  • Great for shape and finish contours


  • Built from nondurable materials
  • One-year warranty period

Shop Fox W1678 – The best industrial drum sander

The Shop Fox W1678 drum sander is stacked with features that enable you to sand stock at a professional level. The machine has a 5HP, 25 Amp motor that can run at the maximum speed of 3450 RPM.

What’s more, you can adjust the feed rate within the 0 to 20 FPM radius so that you can adapt to the demands of the task you’re performing. The W1678 also has a 1/3 HP conveyor motor, while the maximum surface speed of drums in 2300FPM.

You cannot sand boards that are shorter than 9 inches, but this drum sander enables you to work with stock that is 26 inches wide and 4-1/4 inches thick. Shop Fox’s drum sander features a pair of 4-inch dust sanders that collect nearly all debris produced during the sanding process.

The machine enables you to perform rough and finished sanding in a single pass since the front and rear drums feature different types of sandpaper.

Best Industrial Level
SHOP FOX W1678 Drum Sander | Amazon

The W1678 performs like a champ in even the most demanding shops. The hood is constructed with internal baffles for efficient collection of wood dust close to the source of production, this also decreasing dust cake formation on your rollers to keep production rolling.

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  • Easily adjustable feed rate
  • 5HP motor that can operate at 3450RPM
  • The efficient dust collection system
  • Multi-function control panel


  • This drum sander weight more than 500 pounds
  • Minimum board thickness is limited to 1/8-inch


Question: Are drum sanders difficult to use?

Answer: Most recent models are extremely easy to use since all speed and feed rate adjustments are made automatically. Even so, you will still need some previous woodworking experience to get the most out of these machines.

Question: How long can a drum sander last?

Answer: Drum sanders are durable machines that can withstand years of heavy usage, and with proper care, they can last for more than five years.

Question: Can I use a drum sander without a dust collector?

Answer: Yes, you can, but the amount of dust and debris these machines produce can make it difficult to sand stock efficiently.

Question: Which types of wood can I sand with a drum sander?

Answer: Drum sanders can process most types of lumber, but you should check if the model you have is capable of handling hardwood pieces.

Our Verdict: What is the Best Drum Sander for Woodworking Workshops?

Creating a string instrument or a wooden piece of furniture is a process that takes place in several stages. Drum sanders are among the last tools you will have to utilize before you can start using the object you created.

The SuperMax Tools 19-38 drum sander is a great choice for professionals and seasoned hobbyists because it is powerful enough to sand thick and thin pieces of wood. Also, the machine adjusts the feed rate automatically based on the load so that you don’t have to tinker with its settings.

Opting for the Shop Fox W1678 is only a good idea if you want to process stock on an industrial level since this drum sander is too powerful for most home-based woodworking workshops.

Which of the best drum sanders are you going to choose? Leave a comment and share your opinions with us or continue reading about the best sanders for furniture.

Best Overall
Supermax Tools 19-38 Drum Sander | Amazon

SuperMax 19-38 Drum Sander reduces the tedium of hand sanding, speeds up the sanding process, and produces more consistent results.

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We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.


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