How to Use a Drum Sander – Advantages and Peculiarities

Generally speaking, sanders are great tools for sanding. We sometimes imagine our fates sanding wood and general bodywork without these machines.

For one, the pace and quality of work these machines help us achieve are worth every cent on its purchase. However, they all are not engaged in the same manner. Considering the intent of their production, they are designed to carry out varying functions.

While some are for aggressive and rough sanding, some are about giving the best finish required for the job. Belt sanders, palm sanders, orbital sanders, and drum sanders, among others, are designed to be used in line with their peculiarities and intent for production.

While some such as the DA sander, can be maneuvered into performing a variety of roles; they are originally designed for a specific task.

Particularly, we like to think sanding hardwood floors and other floor inclined materials require using the right machines.

Concerning the varying delivery of these sanding machines, let us discuss how to use drum sanders. In passing, we will discuss safety precautions, as well as other sanders for similar jobs.

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About the Drum Sander

Used while you are on your feet, the drum sander is designed for floor sanding. Its importance as a major tool for sanding especially rough floors cannot be overemphasized. While there are a couple of machines used for floor sanding, in our opinion, drum sanders and the edger top the chart.

For the drum sander, this is considering how it ultimately leaves a surface that is smooth and even. The size and function of the drum sander would not allow it to work close to the walls. To deal with this inability, the edger is a great option. This is because it allows you to work close to the walls and items around it.

For the drum sander, the ability to intermittently replace the abrasive sheets makes the sanding process easier, timely, and effective.

In carrying out floor sanding, the peculiar feature of changing the abrasive sheet is very essential. This is as a result of the warmth and moisture the floor is constantly exposed to. This exposure can make hardwood floors extraordinarily hard.

On the contrary, when exposed to consistent spills and moisture at large, the floor can be usually soft. As a result of this impressive feature, this equipment is largely able to cope with these excesses.

However, even as powerful and aggressive as it can be, this machine is not wired to deal with metal screws, nails, among others. Considering this, you should evaluate the state of the room before drum sanding. As will be subsequently stressed, check out for unwanted items for the sanding procedure.

At every point where there is a joining or fastening, ensure that the screws or nails are placed aside.

If you prefer a visual explanation of this article, below is a detailed and helpful video.

Video: How to Use a Drum Sander (Advantages and Peculiarities)

Furthermore, as with other types of sanders, let us go over safeguarding measures while using this machine. You should understand that these rules protect you, as well as the drum sander.

How to Use a Drum Sander

Although, many tips shared are peculiar to other sanding equipment, however, there are still points of divergence in their use. On a larger scale, there is no one size fits all approach to using all sanders. 

How to Use a Drum Sander
Photo Credit: Nate Vack,

Let us examine some of the ideal ways to use drum sanders. Firstly, let us address the object to be worked on.

Video: How to use a drum sander

Below is a video briefly explaining how to use a drum sander

The Quality and State of the Wood

Largely, the type of floor wood should influence the kind of sander you should use. Furthermore, the state of the wood is as well important. If the surface of your wood is not too uneven, you might have to use a less aggressive sanding machine.

Equipment such as the orbital sander should pass for simple finish sanding. We only recommend drum sanders when you need something with a little more aggressiveness. Other than that, stick to less intense sanding equipment.

In light of the aforementioned, there is an appropriate sander for every kind and condition of a wood floor. As a result of this, let’s go over some kinds of floor wood in various homes and commercial spaces. This is due to how the wood is a major determinant in the choice of sander engaged.

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Types of Floors

Generally speaking, all of the floor varieties fall under any of the three categories: Solid Flooring, Engineered Flooring, and Prefinished Flooring. These categories are within various ranges of natural to synthetically produced floors.

Solid Tongue and Groove Wood

In contemporary time, the majority of wood used for flooring falls under the solid tongue and groove type. This is given its durability and ease at resolving problems such as shrinking, among others. This wood product comes in varying thicknesses. However, they never exceed about 1 inch.   

Asides from their long life span, they have an edge considering how they can be sanded lots of times. The thick wear layer of this wood is a major reason this is possible. In light of this, if the wood’s condition warrants it, you can use the drum sander conveniently on this kind of wood.

Factory Finished Wood

These wooden products are usually completed by the manufacturer. At the point of purchase, all that is required is room-sized installation. This is considering that they have been stained, as well as finished by the manufacturers.

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All this will have been synthetically resolved by the producers. This is one edge it has over the site produced floor wood.

One of the major benefits of this product is that ease and reliability is can guaranty. For instance, you do not need to wait for the period between the topcoat drying off.

Furthermore, some brands factor in the possibility of extreme humidity and moisture. As a result, the synthetic wear layers are designed to deal with these extreme conditions much better.

In addition, the cost of installation and intensive clean-ups associated with wood products finished at the site is less. Because almost all the work is done by the manufacturer, the major financial commitment is purchasing the wood.

However, many of these products do not have the wear layered thickness of the wood product finished at the site.

In the context of sanding, this floor wood option can be sanded. However, the frequency and intensity of sanding should be moderated. As a result of the thickness of the wear layer, you do not have the luxury of sanding as intense as you would handle the Solid Tongue and Groove Wood.

As a result, the use of drum sanders on this wood floor is very subjective. It should only be carried out when needed. This procedure might not be repeated more than twice given the quality of the wear layer.

Furthermore, using the adjustable features, you need to cut down on the aggressive ability of the drum sander. However, the less aggressive orbital sander is more suited for this type of wood. This is especially if the job is simply a light finish.

Engineered Wood

These types of wood are designed to look like very solid wood. However, they are very light and detachable. The engineered wood consists of a few layers of glued wood with a very thin wear layer. 

A major advantage of this product is the ability to deal effectively with moisture. Although the layer is very thin, its manmade constituents are designed to retain moisture much better. This is considering how it keeps liquid and other moisture in check without damaging the wooden portions beneath the wear layer.

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If you must carry out sanding on the product, we recommend you call it to quit after the first time. This wood type is not best suited for consistent sanding. You should sand mildly whenever you work on this sort of wood.

Except absolutely required, the drum sander is not the best-suited sander for this type of floor. We would rather you use a piece of less aggressive sanding equipment.

Vinyl Wood

This is absolutely a synthetic product. Unlike engineered wood that is made from real wood, the same does not apply to the vinyl floor.

As a result. They cannot undergo the sanding process. You should not consider them as having a wear layer. Because of this, rule out the option of sanding this product.

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Sometimes, this flooring is installed over real wood. For one, this is because of the beauty, water-resistance, among other qualities it affords users.

How to Determine Your Sort of Flooring

Taking cognizance of how the real estate market works, many people are not entirely involved in the construction process. They simply see the property, admire it, buy it, and you know what happens.

Many people are in the dark as to the type of wood floor they have. In light of this, you might need the services of a carpenter to get this right.

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Furthermore, the time that the property was constructed could help you figure out the type of wood. Before the late 1970s, the sole option for flooring was solid wood. If you still reside in such a property, the chances of having a solid hardwood floor are very likely.

You can also take a cue from certain areas in the house. For instance, the area around the heating vent is likely to expose the specific type of floor you have. Furthermore, you can observe if there are various joining, as this is a typical feature of solid wood and factory inclined wood.

However, if you are not certain of this information, simply consult a carpenter for this purpose. This is also because the wood could have been changed over the years.

In essence, the type, quality, as well as state of your wood is a major determinant of its sanding process. 

You Do Not Want Divot Marks

In using this machine, you should be cautious about leaving divot marks. These are sort of big scratches or ditches as a result of excessive sanding on a spot. They are also referred to as stop marks.

At around 130 pounds, the weight of the machine demands that you are well planned in movement. This is also because of the aggressiveness and pace of the equipment.

Furthermore, the appropriate positioning of the sanders to the ground is of the essence. At the very extreme, two things can happen while making use of this sander. 

It is either the sandpaper eats too deep into the ground causing a divot mark, or that you are not sanding at all. These scenarios are considering the proximity of the sandpaper to the ground.

At these extremes, you are either too deliberate about the machine carrying out its function or scared of the possibility of divot marks. These mindsets will likely end up overdoing or not doing the job.

When using this equipment, you must make sure you are not doing any of the two extremes. This will require the appropriate body positioning and the proper use of the lever, among others.

Sanding in Line with the Grain Pattern

Except for sanding machines such as the orbital sander, you need to factor in the grain patterns while sanding. Adherence to this will do two major things for you. First, it ensures you have a clean job. This is because alignment with the natural patterns would not give the finish an awkward look.

Furthermore, it is easier to sand in line with the grain patterns. This way you encounter less raised grains and waste. This is because the sanded pieces of wood will not be opposed to the direction of the drum sander or edger.

Get a Wide Range of Sandpaper Grit

The process of sanding the floor requires unusual sizes of grit. Depending on the condition of the wood, you might go as low as 40 grit. This is not usually the same as other kinds of sanding.

Taking this into consideration, make sure you have a wide range of sandpaper grits. This saves you the trouble of searching for them at an awkward period.

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For the records, the grit size is the major difference between sandpapers. The grit has to do with how coarse or fine the sandpaper’s abrasive surface is.

The lower the grit number, the more coarse the sandpaper’s abrasive surface will be. For instance, while 50-grit sandpaper is coarser than a 500-grit variance, the 500-grit sandpaper is finer than the 50-grit. 

The intent of any sanding process either on wood or general bodywork is to end up with a fine look and feel. However, fine grit sandpapers are not the only tools used in achieving this. You need to kick off the sanding procedure with coarse sandpapers, gradually working your way up to fine sandpapers.

In plain terms, you are to use smaller grits and progress to bigger grits. This is because the larger grits do not have enough friction between them to remove the uneven and protruding layers. This is the importance of starting the process with smaller sized grits.

If this is not adhered to, a couple of things can happen to the sandpaper and the job at large. For one, using fine-grit sandpaper on a very coarse surface will cause the abrasive surface to wear off easily. This will eventually render the sandpaper void.

Furthermore, this inappropriate use of sandpaper will be very stressful for you. This is considering how you will be scraping off wood layers with the inappropriate tool. That will be like digging a pit with a spoon. Well, maybe that illustration is exaggerated.

Depending on the state of the wood, you can start with the 40-grit and work your way up to the 150 and beyond. However, the decision to change grits should be appropriate. You must be certain the previous grit size is unable to do any better.

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In addition, the size of grit is important when changing from one sander to another. For instance, the drum sander is unable to do areas close to the wall. For such areas, an edger is an effective option. If you must switch to using an edger, you should start with the grit size last used on the drum sander.

For example, if you previously used a 50-grit size, you should start with that on the edger. This allows for consistency, as well as a uniform feel and looks on the wood.

In clear terms, you have a wide range of sandpaper grit available for use. If the need arises, never be short of the appropriate sandpaper.

Kickoff in the Right Manner

Thanks to technological advancement, these pieces of equipment come with a wide variety of useful features. One of these features is lever adjustment. With this feature, you can lower the sandpaper to the floor’s surface.

As with many other kinds of sanders, it is inappropriate to start the machine outside of your workpiece. As touching the drum sander, the equipment should be in motion before the lever is reduced to sanding the floor.

This is because of the adverse effects of having the lever at floor level before active use. If this happens, the chances of having the divot or stop mark are very likely. Depending on the intensity of the mark, some of them may be impossible to readdress. To avoid this possibility, ensure the lever is lowered until it is set for use.

In addition, do not switch on the machine before plugging it into the power source or socket. You should take one step at a time in this regard. First, connect the cords, afterward, plug the wire to the socket or power source; next, use the lever feature appropriately.

Take the Dust Bag Seriously

Compared to most sanders, these machines usually come with a large-sized dust bag. This is considering the large pile of scraped wood and dust that would be sanded in the process. You should pay attention to the state of the bag before use. This is majorly about your safety.

Check to see if the bag is not torn or worn out somewhere. Furthermore, depending on the way it is attached to the machine, make sure there are no loose ends.

While using the machine, do not allow any more dust than half the size of the dust bag. At that point, you should empty the bag and install again. This is great for you and your machine.

Safety Precautions

The entire process should not just be centered around the job. You should look out for yourself while carrying out this process. This implies that your adherence to safety precautions should be absolute. Some of the safety measures to be observed include the following.

Use Eye Protection

Although the dust bag does a great job trapping dust and scraped wood, do not leave out eye protection. You do not want flying particles of dust to get into your eye. To avoid this, eye protection is necessary and should not be left out.

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We have seen people use any type of sunshade for this purpose. This might do a great deal, nonetheless, it is not wired for this purpose. For that reason, you can have dust get behind the shade. Taking this into consideration, you should also use the appropriate google for the sanding process.

The Respirator

You should make use of the respirator while sanding. The amount of dust and scraped wood the drum sander deals with is enormous. Considering this, you should protect your nose from these dusty particles.

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This is very important as exposure to these woods and the chemicals used in processing them are highly toxic. To stay safe, do not leave out the respirator.

Ear Protector

Some of these machines can be loud. The motors and horsepowers required for effective performance may demand that they are beyond the safety range for humans.

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Taking this into account, do not use this equipment without an appropriate ear protector. Especially given the non-physical impact of violating this rule, some woodworkers are not particular about adhering to this. You should not act in that manner. Wear an ear protector before using the drum sander and every other sander.

Knee Protector

The drum sander walks exclusively on the floor. This implies that you will spend a great deal of time doing things on the floor. From picking off nails, emptying the dust bag, to other things, you will need to get on your knee.

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Considering this, getting an appropriate knee protector is a great thing to do.

On a Final Note

The sanding process is a strategic procedure. Furthermore, there are peculiarities with various kinds of sanders. In this article, we have addressed the use of drum sander.

Furthermore, you should realize the drum sander, edger, and orbital sander are the three main sanding equipment for sanding the floor.

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Also, do not take the use of the eye, ear, nose, and knee protection for granted. As trivial as these items may seem, they save you from paying medical bills.

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