How to Use a Drum Sander — A Step-by-Step Guide

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If you want to give your hardwood a new look, you’ll need to sand it off with a tool that guarantees a dazzling finish with uniform thickness. Our experts recommend the drum sander. 

Using this can be hard due to its large size. Plus, it requires some technical expertise. Luckily, our team will discuss how to use this powerful tool to refinish your wood with ease in this guide. 

What is a Drum Sander and How Does it Work?

A drum sander is a big and powerful tool for sanding a wood floor to achieve a smooth and exquisite finish. It’s a type of floor sander that comes with a replaceable abrasive sheet that rips off the wood. Unlike an orbital sander, a drum sander works in a loop form, where the sandpaper continually rotates around the drum while removing the wood. 

The best drum sander is robust enough to rip wood off in two separate directions. It can create unrepairable grooves or sand out those streaks and imperfections that make your floor look old and worn out. It’s excellent for large floor areas. 

This sander is a beast, so you’ll need help from someone to lift it into your vehicle in case you want to purchase it. It’s costly, and unless you have the funds, our technical experts suggest that you rent it. After all, you may only use the machine once in a while. 

JET JWDS-2244 in a workshop

Okay! That’s how a drum sander works. Our technical experts will explain how to use a drum sander to refinish your wood surface. 

How to Use Your Drum Sander

Let’s get started with how you can remove those paint streaks from your lovely hardwood

Step #1: Equip the Sander With Your Preferred Sandpaper

Sandpaper is the part that removes the wood. Its roughness is determined by grit. The rougher the grit, the more wood the sander removes. You can choose between 80, 120, 180, or 220-grit sandpaper. 

Ensure to equip your high-quality wood sander with the correct sandpaper grit to avoid removing more wood than you actually planned for. To add the sandpaper, tilt the machine backward and open the front guard, tuck one end of the grit beneath the metal plate and push it down. 

person holding the hood of JET JWDS-1632

Tighten the screws and wrap the grit around the drum. Loosen the screws again to tuck the other end underneath the metal plate tightly and smoothly. Tighten the screws, and you are one step from sanding.

Read recommended products: 

Reliable orbital sandpaper 

Step #2: Check the Height Adjustments on Your Sander

To ensure a smooth and efficient sanding process, it is important to adjust the height of your sander properly. Avoid bending or struggling by setting the size comfortably, allowing easy maneuverability. Doing so will allow you to complete your sanding job more efficiently and finish within your desired timeframe.

Step #3: Don Proper Eye and Ear Protection

If you typically work with safety gear, avoid that with a drum sander. It can create sparks when it hits a nail, and this act can shoot up particles that can penetrate the eyes. Additionally, the noise it generates can impact hearing if not careful. For these reasons, you should don proper eye and ear protection. 

Step #4: Plug and Start the Sander

Before plugging in the sander, ensure you use the appropriate extension cord. A drum sander draws so much power and can melt any inferior or short extension cords, leading to an electrical fire. Sanders usually comes with an electrical cord. If it’s missing in your package, purchase the appropriate one according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

drum sander switch button

Plug the extension cord to the power outlet, tilt the machine to prevent the sander from touching the floor, and switch on the equipment. 

Step #5: Feed the Board to the Sander

Next is to mount the sander on the board. You should only do this when the drum is rotating. If it’s stationary, and you mount it on your hard floor, it would create streaks. 

Step #6: Sand Both Sides

  • Sand along the grain of the wood. With a sander, you are not pushing but pulling. Pull it in straight lines, and sand uniformly or in a pattern. 

When sanding, you are pulling the sander in the opposite direction of the drum’s motion [1]. Remember to rest your arms after some time and empty the dust bag when full or near full. 

Feed the board back to the machine if it needs further refinement.

See also: 


Is a drum sander hard to use?

A drum sander isn’t hard to use, but it takes longer to give your surface a smooth finish. Drum sanding is an effective way of preparing the surface for finishing while achieving consistent thickness and levelness. 


Using a drum sander can be tough at first, but it takes getting used to it. During subsequent use, you will find it much easier handling it. 

Reviving that old floor of yours and restoring it to its former glory is possible with a drum sander. With this step-by-step guide by our wood experts, we’re certain that you now know how to use a drum sander. 

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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