How to Make a DIY Drum Sander — A Step-by-Step Overview

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Drum sanders are power machines for refinishing wood. The debate about whether making your drum sander is more cost-effective than buying an already made one has left people confused and unable to decide. To be honest, purchasing a drum sander can be a bit on the pricey side.

So, if you’re wondering why you’d spend that much when there’s an affordable way to make one yourself, you’re not alone. Let me guide you through the steps to craft your own portable drum sander.

Tools and Materials

When building a do-it-yourself drum sander, you have the option to get a DIY kit that has all the materials and specific instructions. Generally, here are the essential tools and materials you will need for the project:

How to Build Your Own Drum Sander

Step #1: Plan and Measure the Size of Drum Rounds and Table

The first thing to do is to get the correct measurement of drum rounds and the table. There are many plans available online that have templates for the dimensions. But, if you don’t want to opt for this, you can create your dimensions according to your liking.

material required

Step #2: Cut Uniform Pieces for Your Drum Rounds

Having taken the measurements, I carefully cut out the pieces for the drum rounds on the MDF. I personally recommend using tools like the Inventables X-Carve, but honestly, any reliable cutting tool will do the trick. From my experience, it’s crucial to create rounds that comfortably accommodate your shaft and key.

Once you have successfully made these cutouts, you should glue them together. First, put the collar, the melamine board, the pillow block, and the pulley onto the shaft and key. Make a mark on where each material is positioned, take them off, and glue all of them together so that they can stay straight. To avoid making them fall apart, glue them in halves. 

You might want to read: Making Wooden Chess Pieces Without Lathe Tools

Step #3: Trim the Pieces for the Table

For the table of your DIY drum sander, you should use melamine sheets. Trim the sheets to length with a circular or table saw so that all sides are accurately cut out to fit the bolts that will hold the pillow blocks. 

trim the pieces

Step #4: Collect and Attach the Pieces Together

When I’m working with the melamine board, I start by drilling holes for the screws and then applying PVC edge banding to all its sides. Afterward, I integrate a piano hinge at the back and tabletop, which allows for adjustable positioning from all sides.

Next is to drill a hole in the board’s front to fit the switch. Doing this will allow the wire to pass through the motor conveniently to the switch on the front. 

Now that you are done with the switch, next is to add the drum. You’ll need to take off one side of the table to integrate the drum and fit in the screws. Before doing that, attach the pillow blocks from the outside using bolts and ⅝ wrenches to tighten them [1]. Then slide the drum in place. 

Screw the side back and tighten the collar. Now, slide the pulley in and tap it against the collar. Lock the pulley outwards. 

Step #5: Place the Motor Inside

The next step I recommend is positioning the motor inside the box using the hinge.

Step #6: Add the Drums and Belt

The motor and the belt should be aligned so that the motor can pull down on the belt. It will make putting and removing the belt easier. 

Step #7: Assemble the Covers

Create the drum and belt covers using MDF (medium-density fiberboard), ensuring they do not come in direct contact with the sandpaper. Instead, these covers should rest on the pillow block bolts for proper placement and protection.

drum sander piece

Step #8: Wrap the Drum Rounds with Sandpaper of Your Choice

You can use any sandpaper-grit on the drum, be it 80-grit, 120-grit, or 2020-grit. Place the sandpaper into the drum’s grove and screw-down small wood pieces to hold both ends of the sandpaper in place. 

Also read: 


Creating a DIY drum sander can be challenging, I won’t deny it. This is why I’ve streamlined the process to make each step as clear as possible. 

Crafting your own drum sander isn’t just about saving money; it’s also about tailoring the tool to your specific needs and preferences. So, once you’ve got all your materials ready, follow the steps I’ve outlined here and you’ll be on your way.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson
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