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Thread: Thickness planer vs thickness sander

  1. #1

    Thickness planer vs thickness sander

    Do these two machines do the same job? Are they interchangeable as far as results?
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  2. #2
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    The way I see it they are not interchangeable.

    The sander is going to take off thousands of an inch at a time and the planer will take off fractions of an inch at a time.

    It is no different then using sand paper and using a plan, the sand paper will take off a little bit but with the plan it will take off a lot more.

    I have a planner and of the 2, sander and planner to me the planner is the most useful for my work because I have the time to do the sanding myself but to take a 4/4 board down to 3/4 of an inch is a different thing.

  3. #3
    Yes and no.

    They both do the same job essentially. But they do it in different ways. A planer will take off large amounts of stock in a short amount of time. A sander will take off small amounts, but leave the surface free of milling marks. Unless you get a very powerful sander you will need both machines. A three head sander will almost eliminate the need for a planer. That is, of course, if you are willing to part with $50K+.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Graywacz View Post
    Yes and no.

    They both do the same job essentially. But they do it in different ways. A planer will take off large amounts of stock in a short amount of time. A sander will take off small amounts, but leave the surface free of milling marks. Unless you get a very powerful sander you will need both machines. A three head sander will almost eliminate the need for a planer. That is, of course, if you are willing to part with $50K+.
    In time would the 3 headed sander take longer to cut that 4/4 down to 3/4" or are they about the same.

  5. #5
    Depends on the HP of the machine. 25HP front head with 36 grit belt, 20 HP middle head with 100 grit and 20 HP last head with 150 on it would make for a pretty quick sand. You should be able to do about 3/32" per pass at about 20 ft/min

    That would put out a product that would need a light sanding to be finish ready. If you were strictly hogging stock off you could run the 36 grit belt on all three heads.
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  6. #6
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    They are doing "essentially" the same thing, it's more a matter of scale. As Bill said above the planer can take off quite a bit more per pass..... but, if that is not the goal, the sander can be more delicate. The sander (drum or belt) will not have the tear-out issues that are possible in more figured wood. Plus the sander can deal with much thinner pieces of wood. I use my drum sander to smooth shop made veneer after resawing, a planer can't do that.
    So, they really aren't interchangable, but they are "sort-of" doing the same thing.

    I have a drum sander in my home shop, but no planer. If I need that, I can take the stuff to work. For what I do, most of the time, the sander works for me.

  7. #7
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    And I can got one for only around 50k

    I think I will have to stay with my $300 planner.....

    Thanks.

  8. #8
    You'll very quickly see the difference when you're working with a wood like Bubinga. Sanding bubbinga makes sanding hard maple seem like grating cheese. The thickness sander really shines with thin items, glue lines, etc. It no way replaces a planer. Not even close. Given a choice, I'd take the planer for general wood working. For instrument building, I'll take the sander.

    ...all this assuming of course that you're not talking about the huge, industrial sanders like a wide belt, or something like that. Those could conceivably act as a planer. I'm assuming you're talking about the dinky little drum sanders most of us are using, and even the 3 and 5HP models.

    All that said, if you combine that plane you're kissing in your avatar with a drum sander, you really can make an excellent case the the planer is no longer necessary but a mere convenience.

  9. #9
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    Even with the 36" Timesaver thickness sander they have in the Millwork Shop near my old shop,we only took off very small amounts of wood at each pass.

  10. #10
    Which timesaver? They have a 7 1/2HP model up to 25 HP
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Huber View Post
    The way I see it they are not interchangeable.

    The sander is going to take off thousands of an inch at a time and the planer will take off fractions of an inch at a time.
    They aren't really interchangeable, I agree with that.

    But even with the cheap piece of junk widebelt that I've got, I can take a 1/8" off in one pass with the right belt.


    And a widebelt, or drum sander does leave plenty of machining marks. Neither produces a finished product, even with the finest of grits.

  12. #12
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    IMHO, the planer is more essential than a thickness sander for furniture building. I have both but if I had to part with one it would have to be my Woodmaster.
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  13. #13
    I have access to a 36" 15HP widebelt sander. There are so many things you can do with it that you can't do with a planer. 36" WB is the standard smaller sander. It is pretty much underpowered but is still a great machine. The accuracy is phenomial. If you wanted you could sand and finish. A drum sander is not in the same class as a widebelt. But a widebelt is also not a hobbyist machine, it is a production machine meant for a money making business. Of course, if you are wealthy......
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  14. #14
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    I have an SCM 12hp x 25" Wide Belt sander and a Planer.. They are not interchangeable.

    Some of the big multi head wide belt sanders can be fitted with a helical head.

    Even if you use a 36 grit belt to remove material fast, its not as fast as a planer, and that 36 grit belt will cost $30.00 - $60.00 depending on width, and will have a short lifespan compared to the knives of a planer.

    I use the planer about 20% more than the sander. The Sander is awesome for eliminating hours of sanding, and making panels very flat. I have also used it to clean up tear out on figured woods, its a slow process requiring many passes..

    All wood that goes into the sander should be coming from the planer. Your using a fragile belt inside the machine, which will burn if abused.

  15. #15
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    I'd say they are not interchangeable. Yes you can get those monster sanders, and a monster planer, but the bottom line IMO, is the small shop drum sander can dimension highly figured woods, and if set properly, can take wood down to less than 1/8" without a problem. As John said, if you're building instruments, a drum sander is very handy. It's also great if you planning to do inlays. If you've ever run curly koa through a planer....... It's very costly.

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