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View Full Version : Drum sanders--which?



John Wadsworth
04-13-2003, 9:53 AM
One of these days soon I may take the plunge and buy a drum sander. It'll mostly be used for finish sanding of panels and frame-and-panel doors, rather than for stock preparation, since I have an 8" jointer and a thickness planer (and a bunch of hand planes, too).

I have heard and read good things about the Performax 16-32 Plus and the Delta 31-250, either of which seems to me a good buy.

What's the experience of other Creek dwellers with these (or other) machines?

Chris Teenor
04-13-2003, 11:48 AM
John,

I've had the Performax 16-32 for about two months now and am really enjoying it. I keep finding a new use for it almost every time I work on a project.

It requires a bit of effort to set up, but once done it performs as advertised and expected. I had a small problem when I first took delivery, but that was easily fixed with a call to the CS people. They also gave me a setup tip that was not talked of in the manual.

The machine is not meant to be a thickness planer (although I've thickness "planed" a couple of short pieces) so don't be expecting to sand down thick stock to thin. Where it does shine (for me) is in its ability to accurately sand thin pieces that would be lost in trying to hand sand or plane.

I've also used it to sand inlays into a finished piece with excellent results.

I've yet to try sanding wider panels, but that is coming up and, having talked to several people that have done this, is no big problem.

I'm sure you would enjoy this machine.

Paul Kunkel
04-13-2003, 11:49 AM
Originally posted by John Wadsworth
One of these days soon I may take the plunge and buy a drum sander. It'll mostly be used for finish sanding of panels and frame-and-panel doors, rather than for stock preparation, since I have an 8" jointer and a thickness planer (and a bunch of hand planes, too).

I have heard and read good things about the Performax 16-32 Plus and the Delta 31-250, either of which seems to me a good buy.

What's the experience of other Creek dwellers with these (or other) machines?
You'll get lots of opinions on this subject.:) I used several different types before I decided to buy a dual drum. Then did a lot of questioning. I finally decided on the General 25". Couldn't be happier:D It's been 2+ years now and lots of sandpaper. One plus- my shop time rental for this machine went up considerably, so it virtually pays for itself and upkeep.:D :D

Kirk (KC) Constable
04-13-2003, 1:32 PM
I got th 16/32 specifically for sanding thin stock I use for bent laminations, but now I put pretty much everything through it, including wide stuff that requires the 'double width' feature occasionally. If I was going to need to use the double-pass on a regular basis, I'd look at something else. It works, but I've never been completely comfortable with it.

KC

Keith Outten
04-13-2003, 7:01 PM
John,

I would advise you to stay away from the Grizzly 24" dual drum sander. I could write a book on the many reasons why I have been unsatisfied with mine.

Here is a very small sample of problems I have with this machine.

- The guards are so cheaply made they really don't impress me as a safety feature.

- The fit and finish of the entire machine is extremely poor. A sander should be capable of precise machining, adjusting this machine to get it to produce acceptable results is time consuming since the overall machining is so poor.

- The dust collection is very poor. I discussed this with Grizzly tech support and their engineering staff when I purchased my machine. They actually suggested that I turn the drive motor around so that it would feed backwards. This is a major fix and would have been a significant amount of work to accomplish. Obviously I did not comply with the memo they sent me and left the machine as it was shipped, I must live with poor dust collection performance so I don't use the machine as much as I will my next sander which won't be a Grizzly.

- It takes two men, a two by four and two wrenches to tighten the motor mount and put the proper tension on the drive belts for the drums. Needless to say I just hate the design of the motor mount system.

- The clips for the sandpaper are crude and unreliable. When they fail, and they will, it can ruin the felt pad on the second drum when it destroys both sanding belts. Replacing the pad isn't a fun task and can take the better part of a whole day. My neighbor owns the same sander and has had to put hose clamps over the ends of the drums to hold the sandpaper tight. He also had to beat the sheetmetal body to make a huge dent so the clamps would clear when the drums rotate. I haven't made any changes to my sander, I'm so frustrated with the machine I just don't want to waste my time. I could easily fix every item myself but considering the cost of the sander I shouldn't have too rebuild the dang thing.

I would sell my sander but I would have to warn anyone who was interested in purchasing it and this would kill the deal. I will most likely scrap the sander and use the motors for a useful machine. I used to own a PerforMax single drum sander and it was a great machine...wish I had it back.

As I said above I could write a book but I'm going to leave it right here...you get the picture. I will say that my sander is probably ten years old and Grizzly has fixed some of the problems with the design but not one of them on my machine.

I have six Grizzly machines in my shop and I have been pleased with every machine except the sander. This is the only machine in thirty years of woodworking that I have judged so harshly, the good news is that it is very heavy and will probably bring ten bucks at the scrap yard.

Bruce Page
04-13-2003, 7:35 PM
John, I bought the Delta 31-250 right after they came out and have been happy with it. Occasionally I will push it too hard and blow a sanding belt, but other than that, it has done everything that Iíve asked of it. Dust collection is a must.


A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure. -- Segalís Law

Mike Evertsen
04-13-2003, 8:17 PM
I bought the Delta it is a good machine,,,when I was comparing the delta with performax I was told that movable head on the performax could flex and cause uneven sanding,,,

Kevin Post
04-14-2003, 9:14 AM
I purchased the Delta 31-250 over the Performax 16/32. If my budget were bigger, I would have purchased one of the larger Performax models. In that price range, however, I thought the Delta was the best. Comparing side-by-side, the small Performax just didn't seem like it was built as well. The Delta is also 2" wider than the comparable Performax. Who knows when that extra 2" will come in handy?

Many people own and use the Performax and have been 100% satisifed. I don't think you can go wrong with either.

After using the Delta for a while, my only complaint would be that it's a bit under-powered. If you attempt to remove too much material, the drum will stop. I learned quickly (well not all that quickly :rolleyes: ) that this is a sander and not a planer.

-Kevin

Other factors:
I got an inflatable sander attachment with it at no extra charge because of some promo Delta was running.

The local dealer had a unit already assembled which saved me the trouble of assembly and adjustment.

ray clargo
04-14-2003, 9:35 AM
john, i agree with paul, i have the general 25" dual drum sander and it works fine. it makes the delta and performax look like toys, 463 lbs. i'm not saying they don't work good they just seem a little on the light side. ray