Drum Sander vs Planer — Which is the Better Power Tool? (2022)

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Simply put, both a drum sander and a planer make surfaces smooth, but they do harbor some key differences. If you don’t understand the distinction, your workpiece won’t turn out right. Our construction experts have created an easy comparison between the two to help you choose the right woodworking equipment for your needs.

Drum Sander or Planer?

Best Drum Sander
SUPERMAX TOOLS SUPMX-71938-D
Best Wood Planer
WEN PL1303
SUPERMAX TOOLS SUPMX-71938-D
WEN PL1303
• Heavy duty
• Quiet operation
• Adjustable speed control
• Cast iron and steel
• 15A motor
• 3 reversible blades
• Planes 6-inch thick boards
• 30,000 cuts per minute
Best Drum Sander
SUPERMAX TOOLS SUPMX-71938-D
SUPERMAX TOOLS SUPMX-71938-D
• Heavy duty
• Quiet operation
• Adjustable speed control
• Cast iron and steel
Best Wood Planer
WEN PL1303
WEN PL1303
• 15A motor
• 3 reversible blades
• Planes 6-inch thick boards
• 30,000 cuts per minute

Features of Drum Sanders and Planers

Functions

If we look at the name of the drum sander and planer alone, you can distinguish that the drum sander sands and the thickness planer adjusts the size of wood pieces to the desired thickness.

A drum sander is basically a machine that powers sandpaper on a sanding drum to smooth rough lumber so you have a more refined finished product. You would need to attach the sandpaper yourself, so make sure you keep some with varying grit in your workshop. Our woodworking experts say different grit works on varying wood surfaces.

The lower the grit, the more abrasive it is and better for rougher surfaces. The drum sander can touch up and smooth the surface of workpieces, but it can also take a bit off the thickness. The first pass is where users adjust the height, and it’s also where you can set it to thin out your piece in a single pass.

As for planers, it can do wonders on misshapen wood with its primary purpose to reshape and cut wood to a better thickness to work with. They usually run on a higher motor power compared to a drum sander, and they take off more wood with one pass. 

There are benchtop, full-size, or handheld models of the planer machines. Our woodworking team suggests at least the benchtop option for beginners because it is more automated.

Purpose

The drum sander vs planer operate differently, and a big reason for that is the difference in purpose. Drum sanders are ideal for sanding wood and smoothing out large areas, and typically remove less wood in one pass. On the other hand, planers are used to even out surfaces on your woodworking projects and remove more wood in one go.

As far as bigger jobs go such as building new furniture, planers are the ones our team recommends. If you are looking to create a smoother finish when putting the finishing touches on new pieces, then our experts say the drum sander with excellent sandpaper is what you need. 

So far, there has been no winner in the category of purpose and function because the two tools are meant for contrasting purposes.  

Size and Build

As far as the sizes go, our team feels that the planer holds the title. This is because they come in more size. They have benchtop planers, full-sized models, and handheld options. As for sanders, these tools are typically larger, either benchtop or full-sized and you can rarely find handheld options if at all. If you’re looking for a handheld model, our team suggests the spindle sander.

Handheld options are infinitely easier for portability, and full-sized models require more space. It isn’t a problem if you work mainly out of your workshop, but if you’re a contractor on the job, then there is no question that you should go for the planer vs drum sander. 

Power

The planer is meant for taking the top off of your home reno or DIY projects to get to the desired depth and thickness while the sander is for sanding. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that the planer is a more powerful tool running on a higher horsepower [1] and faster speeds.

Speed and Efficiency

As said, sanders are used for fine surfacing and are generally sanding tools, which needs to be done at slow speeds. They require more patience to operate in comparison to planers. Planers go in on your workpiece in a heavier-handed manner to move large amounts of wood, which is why they are faster and more efficient because they take off more material.

As such, the drum sander vs planer are used for different purposes that require distinctive speeds.

Safety

Drum sanders generate a lot of heat because they use friction to refine surfaces. The drums and sandpaper can run very hot, which is why our construction team suggests a woodworker wear protective gear such as gloves when operating a drum sander. Although drum sanders aren’t as fast as planers, they still get up to a good speed, which is another safety concern.

Any machine going at high speeds in a rotating manner, such as saw blades as well, can wrap loose clothing, long hair, or hanging jewelry into it. Always make sure you wear tight clothing, secure your hair away from your face, and do not wear any jewelry when handling drum sanders. 

Wearing protective eyewear is also a good idea because you don’t want to get anything in your eyes and since sanders sand wood, there will be lots of dust, which is why wearing a face mask is also another recommended safety precaution.

When you’re operating planers, you have to keep your body parts, loose clothing, and the hair on your head away from the machine. Aside from protecting yourself, you also have to make sure that the wood boards you’re using are free of nails, screws, or staples because the blade can catch and stick on them.

Compared to sanders, planers are much louder, which is why aside from protective eye gear you should also wear ear protection. 

Versatility

There is a difference in versatility as well when we look at the planer vs drum sander. A planer can cut old furniture into new pieces of wood to create something even better. A woodworker generally uses sanders to remove smaller amounts of material, and smooth surfaces, which is what makes them great surfacing and finishing tools. 

Planers are tools that don’t sand, but instead remove inches off boards to become an even thinner board and better suited for your projects. You can use board foot calculator to find the board size. Sanders have more precision compared to a planer, but planers are fast tools that get the job done much quicker.

Cost

There is more diversity in the machine options when we look at planers. There are different sizes, which results in many cost options. Of course, larger units cost more, and handheld ones can be as affordable as $20. As far as the sander machine goes, they are much higher in price. Not only is the tool itself pricier, but the replacement of sandpaper is also an additional expense. 

Other Top-Rated Products

Best Drum Sander for Basic Functions
JET 723540OSK
Best Handheld Planer
Aoben AB2102
JET 723540OSK
Aoben AB2102
• Speed regulation
• Stable build
• Dust collection
• Tool-less adjustment
• Handheld planer
• Dual dust outlets
• 18,000 cuts per minute
• 9-amp motor
Best Drum Sander for Basic Functions
JET 723540OSK
JET 723540OSK
• Speed regulation
• Stable build
• Dust collection
• Tool-less adjustment
Best Handheld Planer
Aoben AB2102
Aoben AB2102
• Handheld planer
• Dual dust outlets
• 18,000 cuts per minute
• 9-amp motor

FAQ

Can you use a drum sander as a planer?

No, you can’t use a drum sander as a planer. The drum sander is a tool to sand surfaces rather than remove larger amounts of wood off of your wood piece. It’s ideal for more refined and precise jobs rather than more rigorous and strenuous tasks such as thinning wood.

Conclusion

Sanders and planers because the two tools are meant for different things. Our team members say it’s not necessary to choose between the two because having both will be highly beneficial in your workspace. When you’re done with reshaping the wood with planers, you can go in and put the finishing touches on the project with sanders.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson

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