Supermax 16-32 Drum Sander

This is my first drum sander so I’m slowly figuring it out project-by-project.  I initially assumed that it would act like a thickness planer that operates with sandpaper instead of cutters – so wrong!  The drum sander, well at least one in this class, is a finesse instrument.  it will only take light bites.  The machine will continue to remove material for multiple passes at the same height setting – this affected my assumptions about how the digital readout would function.

Initial Observations

Dust control is excellent.  Nary a speck floats out while it’s in use, quite impressive.

The Digital Read Out (DRO) is not very useful because you can’t calibrate it to a known thickness.  Ideally you could thickness a piece of wood, measure it with a digital calipers, and then enter that value into the sander.  Nope – all you can do is zero it out.  All it’s good for is returning to a previous setting and for a very coarse indication of how thick your part is.  Yes, you can bottom out the drum to zero out the readout but what is “bottom”?  When the drum first scrapes the belt?  Medium scrape?  Wedged tight?  There’s a lot of ambiguity.

The quick action lever is pretty sweet, glad to have it.

Tips for New Owners

As this was my first drum sander I really didn’t know what to look for when doing the initial calibrations.   I leveled the bed with the drum but everything else seemed OK; well not really.  Here are other things I’ve had to tune up.

Belt tension was good but not tracking; it arrived not tracking well at all and was totally wedged to one side.  So now one side of my belt is prematurely beat up from rubbing against the white plastic guide.  So for new owners, be sure that the belt is centered, you should be able to see equal amounts of the rollers off to each side of the belt.

The outfeed roller wasn’t even touching the work which lead to “sander snipe”.  See the section in the manual for how to lower the roller bars.

While you’re assembling the stand, make a storage platform for it.  Mine is just a piece of 1/2″ plywood.  Due to how the legs are all angled to the inside you have to put the platform into place before you attach the rails; do all this with the legs upside-down to make it less awkward (but only less so!).

Figure out a dust hose support; not only will you get better airflow by avoiding a sharp elbow it’s also much easier to work inside the drum with the hose off.  You can see that I’m using a red quick-clamp to facilitate that.