Easy DIY Drum Sander for Lathe or ShopSmith


This is a quick and cheap drum sander that I dreamed up to run on my ShopSmith in my Az shop. I have neither the budget nor the space here for the luxuries that my shop at home in B.C. has so I had to be a little creative.

The concept is to use as much of the existing machine as possible and duplicate as little as possible. The machine, in this case a ShopSmith Mark V 510, already has a variable speed motor and bearings and a solid chassis so I didn’t duplicate them. I simply made a drum to fit in the existing lathe and an accurately adjustable table to mount under it.

The table mounts rigidly to the lathe chassis or way tubes on a SS and pivots at one end. The other end is raised and lowered by either one central or two side elevators, depending on the accuracy required. To assure that nothing moves due for instance to the piece being fed through off center, There are locks right and left of the body to lock the table when making really critical cuts.

The dust collection is made from PVC pipe fittings and 1/2 of a 24" piece of 4" pipe. I was going to install rare earth magnets to hold it in place but the suction from the DC makes it almost un-removable when it’s turned on.
There is no dust escapement at all even when sanding MDF.

The fact that the drum and the body / table assembly are totally separate and independent means that if you have another surplus faceplate to dedicate, you can make a second drum for another grade of sandpaper. Changing grade then is as easy as switching drums.

The photos show:
1) The setup on my SS with the headstock helping support the DC hose.
2) The locking bolt shown from under the reinforced table.
3) The extra drum and the unit off the SS.
4) Some quick marquetry I did to test the accuracy. These are before sanding and are commercial 1/32" veneer.
5) The same pieces after sanding with the 220 grit drum. They were put through five incremental cuts to completely level and clean them and they are not sanded through or even close anywhere.
(Please don’t critique the marquetry, It is just some quick pieces that I made up to test the sander and to practice my sand shading. I know they are rough.)

This is a very easy sander to build and it costs only about $100, give or take, depending on what usable bits and pieces you have around the shop.

Grizzly Hook and Loop Conversion Kit: http://www.grizzly.com/products/Hook-Loop-Conversion-Kit-for-Model-G1066/H5037
Thanks for looking. Questions, comments and critiques are always welcome.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I saw all your blogs and like it. Well done, nice build. I hope you wil have a lot of profit of it.

I re-read the blogs again Paul. I am always fascinated to see an expensive machine done for much less with ordinary component.

You have done that many times over.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Great build Paul. The SS is sure versatile together with great accessories, even if you have to make them yourself.

Mike, an American living in Norway

Excellent solution that fits a need perfectly. Great work Paul.

CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

Wow very cool.

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

Excellent tool creation from next to nothing and the shop smith you can do almost anything you put your mind to. Great tool and even better blog on the build. Thanks Paul for taking the time to post and photo it.

CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

I just aquired a SS Mark 5 not too long ago. This is a great idea. I will definitely have to give this a try. Thank you for sharing.

Great Tool. I will definitely make one. Thanks!


Nice Paul! Very space and budget friendly! Looks like a few thou per pass is good for hand propelling the project under the drum. Are you relying on the air cushion that is created by centrifugal force between the drum and back of sandpaper like the V-Sander?

Wonderful build Paul,a project that will serve you well for years to come.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker