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Practical Tips for Making and Marketing Your Woodwork

Drum Sanders for Easy Dolphin Sanding

Steve Bundred - Saturday, November 20, 2010

I've just received this question from Ron who's working on the dolphin bookends.
Dolphin Bookends Woodworkng Project
I have just cut out the Dolphin book ends, and can you or any of your colleagues tell me how other than wrapping sandpaper around my finger to try and get the dolphins to look rounded.
Yours Sincerely.
Ron


Good question, Ron. This is how I do it.

Fingers are good if a little slow. These cheap drum sanders that fit your bench grinder are much quicker.

Drum Sanders on a Bench Grinder

Bench Grinder with a Pneumatic Drum and a Solid Drum I set up this bench grinder with a pneumatic drum sander on the left hand end and a solid drum sander, with the white sand paper, on the right hand end.

I set it up this way because the pneumatic sanders I could buy locally, 100mm (4") diameter, came with a left hand thread and the solid sanders, 75mm (3") diameter, had a female right hand thread so screwed straight on to the 5/8" shaft of the 8"(200mm) bench grinder.

They wouldn't fit a 6" (150mm) grinder which have smaller shafts. About ½" dia. Also more recent imports into Australia had metric 16mm shafts. The imperial 5/8" thread starts to go on and then gets stuck.

Drum Sanders in a Drill

Drum Sanders in DrillThese smaller solid drum sanders that chuck into your drill are often sold in sets. Make sure you get the ones with a slot and a key so you can use plain sandpaper. You can see the slot in the image on the left.

This way you can cut up sheets of sandpaper to the right size when you need replacements. Which you will need to do quite often as the smaller sizes wear out quite quickly. Especially the ¾" diameter size which I use a lot to get into tight curves.

But even taking into account the time to change the sandpaper they are much quicker than using just your fingers.

The video below has footage of me using one of the small size drums to sand the edges of the dolphins.

Where can I buy these sanders?

It's worth looking in your local hardware store especially if you are after the smaller solid sanders for your drill. But make sure you buy the ones with the slit down their length to take plain sand paper. Some of these sanders require custom made sleeves which could get expensive.

You may have to look farther afield for the pneumatic drums. Sometimes called bladder sanders or inflatable sanders.

If you live in Australia you can buy them from Carba-Tec.

For the rest of the world there's always Google!

But if you want to take it slowly those five rubbery digits at the end of your arms are just fine. And cheap.

You might find these little flap sanders useful too although I much prefer the big ones. In fact I like them so much I not only built one for myself but for the boss too. Bless her little cotton socks. (You know who I'm talking about. She who must be obeyed.)

I'm using the large drum and the flap sander is the other one.
Flap Sanders
Now that's what I call a flap sander. But flap sanders are another subject for another time.