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What is the big differences between a drum sander and a thickness planer? The only thing I know is that the drum sander does not remove much material, but can do more area at a time. But the planer can remove a lot of material but lots of money would have to be invested to get a 24 inch. What are other big differences with them and Pros and cons for each other. That would be extremely useful!

  • What do you need a 24 inch planer for? Look into build a router sled if you need to flatten/thin boards that size. – Jordan Bentley Oct 7 '16 at 20:25
  • I did not mean that I needed one. I was more or less referring that it would be cheaper to get a drum sander that can do a 24" board. I have a router sled. It worked fine till the base warped, for whatever reason. – Ljk2000 Oct 10 '16 at 20:38
  • I took a shot at editing the title to make it a little more clear what you're asking. Feel free to revert if I've gone too far. – FreeMan Oct 13 '16 at 20:05
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You're correct that the planer can remove much more material at a time. With the planer, it is also simple to adjust the depth for removing more material in a pass. With the drum sander, you can change the grit of the paper to take off more material (nowhere near as much as the planer) but that is a more painstaking process.

That said, I own a drum sander but no planer. I used to make acoustic guitars and work with figured wood. In this case the planer is of little use since it will take out chips where the grain angles up. The drum sander does not chip-out the stock and allows smooth and uniform surfacing of wood down to 2 mm thickness, even thinner if required.

So, preference rather depends on what you're doing. I've also used my drum sander to fashion oak window jambs and trim. It required more passes than a planer would have but I would have wanted the drumb sander for finishing anyway, I was happy with my choice of tools.

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I own both. The comments made so far seem right on from my experience. The one major advantage of a drum sander is: because of the open end, it can surface a workpiece that is about twice as wide as the planer. Just rotate the piece 180 degrees and send it through again.

If your wood contains resin, you may face two problems: 1) the resin can clog the sandpaper (use saw blade resin cleaner to clean it), and 2) resin buildup on the paper can actually ignite burning a "nice" black line on your workpiece. The dust can ignite also. In general a drum sander is trickier to use and requires patience.

My wood (Guanacaste) is very susceptible to tear out and even the sander will leave many tiny tear outs. Fortunately, the flaps lay down during finishing.

  • I like your answer. I would not have thought of that happening on the sander. I knew it clogged and stuff but I never thought that far. – Ljk2000 Oct 14 '16 at 2:01
  • @Ljk2000 It's true about the potential to clog. You can minimize this by not trying to take off too much in one pass or by changing to a coarser grit. Of course this leads to more time spent either changing paper or making multiple passes. I haven't had the issue lately, working with oak, maple, conifers and a few exotics. I am, however, less aggressive [more passes] when feeding the exotics. – bpedit Oct 14 '16 at 2:22
  • @bpedit As a side question. How can you easily remove. I have heard you can take something (like the heel of a shoe?) and it is supposed to remove the clogged up sand. Is this a true thing or something else is used. I am not sure I am remembering this correctly... – Ljk2000 Oct 15 '16 at 2:01
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    @Ljk2000 Search "sd-belt cleaner. This is like a giant, hard-rubber eraser. It will clean out most clogging in the belt under normal usage. It won't be as useful in the extreme cases Carl refers to when aggressively sanding resinous wood. – bpedit Oct 15 '16 at 2:34

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