Monday, May 24, 2010

Dirt Cheap, Super-Simple Thickness Sander

Wouldn't it be nice to own one of those big wide belt thickness sanders? My tiny shop just doesn't have the space. Maybe one day.....

With the number of lute ribs I'm preparing these days, hand planing was becoming less and less efficient. I thought about putting a sanding drum on my drill press but so much axial pressure that would cause an inordinate amount of wear on the bearings. Building a traditional sander with adjustable table seemed costly, time consuming and again - there was the space issue.

I was in my local building center and spotted this little oscillating spindle sander on sale for $120. It's a Rockwell Shop Series. The sander comes with a variety of spindles. It's light enough to move around easily for storage.

I installed the largest spindle, popped on an 80 grit sleeve, planed a length of pine square and straight, and put it to work.

One nice thing about this machine is a dust port which is the correct diameter for my little 6 gallon Shopvac. I don't even have to take the wand off - it just slips in place. The vacuum is perfectly adequate and this means I don't have to find room for a large dust collector.

I feed the stock against the rotation which presses it firmly against the fence. I suppose one could set up some feather boards on either side of the drum but I haven't found it necessary. The 2" staves come out uniform and there isn't any propensity to kick back.

I stand on the fence side and use both hands to feed, one on each side of the drum wearing some grip tape on my index fingers for safety and comfort. In the photo you can see a second board clamped against the back of the fence. This allows me to accurately increase the sanding depth. To do this I loosen the fence clamps, insert two business cards, re-clamp, and finally move the rear positioning block back into place.
Works great!

1 comment:

  1. I have been needing a thickness sander to make planks for model boat building. I have a spindle sander just like this and was wondering if I could adapt it to be a thickness sander. I did a Google search for ideas and found your blog. It's brilliant! Thank you! :)