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So I got a great deal on a used 25" Performax drum sander this past weekend. It needs a little repair - specifically, one of the drums needs to be replaced. But it works fine as a single drum unit until I get around to it.

Anyway, I decided to try it out on a Ponderosa pine slab that I have around. About 15" wide by 3' long and maybe 2" thick. I've had this in my shop in bone-dry Colorado (summer humidity can reach the single digits) for about 9 months. Not sure how long the sawyer had it, but it was stored inside, stacked & stickered, when I bought it and was from timber dead at least 5 years (forest fire salvage). Felt dry then.

Anyway, I was taking light passes - about 1/8 of a turn. Don't know what that comes to in inches. And slow feeds. But the paper loaded up like crazy, particularly over knots. The 80 grit that was on it succumbed quickly. Swapped it for some new 60 grit Al oxide, and that only lasted for about 6-8 passes as well.

I tried using one of those rubber sand paper cleaning sticks between passes - and a wire brush when it started getting bad. I'm running dust collection on it.

Any ideas? Maybe a heavier grit for roughing it in? Or is this just what I should expect with a resin heavy wood like Ponderosa knots? enter image description here enter image description here

I ran a big walnut slab through several times yesterday, and no loading at all!

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    I suspect the right answer here is don't use it for ponderosa pine! Not what you want to hear but that's probably it. People use drum sanders for major flattening all the time now (i.e. in place of thicknessers) and within reason that's fine but there are some woods that simply aren't a good match for the method, just as there are some woods that aren't well suited to machine planing. – Graphus Mar 5 '19 at 18:33
  • Yep, definitely not what I want to hear! Have access to a lot of nice wood. But we'll see what I can make work. I read somewhere about floor refinishers putting kerosene down before sanding pine floors to help with this, but sounds sketchy & smelly. – CoAstroGeek Mar 5 '19 at 18:38
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As per the Wood Database:

Overall, Pond Pine works fairly well with most tools, though the resin can gum up tools and clog sandpaper. Pond Pine glues and finishes well.

They claim Ponderosa Pine is a related species. These softwoods are easy to work, but they are an excellent source of tool-gumming resin.

That being said, the same site claims:

Ponderosa pine works well with both hand and machine tools. Glues and finishes well.

Without any mention of resin. But these species are all pretty resinous, so my inclination is to assume they would work the same with respect to sandpaper.

Sounds like you want to try planing, or even hand-scraping.

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    Not much of an answer since I'm just referring to another site, but the first thing I assumed was that it was the resinous nature of most of these sorts of softwoods that was the issue. The fact that knots do worse cinches it, since knots are a major source of resin, at least in most of these species. – jdv Mar 7 '19 at 19:35
  • Thanks - hadn't seen that site before. They actually have an entry for Ponderosa pine: wood-database.com/ponderosa-pine Doesn't capture the color difference you can get in the heartwood though - I'll try and take some. – CoAstroGeek Mar 7 '19 at 22:01
  • I pulled in that ref too. Oddly, they don't mention resin, but this is almost certainly what is going on with the sandpaper. – jdv Mar 7 '19 at 22:06

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