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Drum Sander VS Planer: Which is Right for You?

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The drum sander and the planer are two different tools for woodworking. They are both standard tools in a woodworker’s tool kit, but which one should you choose?

If you’re a novice, it’s difficult to say which is better suited to your needs because both can be used effectively in various situations.

There are several factors you should consider before making your decision. Still, we will cover some general guidelines that will help make your decision more straightforward in the drum sander vs planer debate.

What is a Drum Sander?

What is a Drum Sander

A drum sander is a machine with two rotating drums that are used to sand wood. The drums sand the surface of your workpiece by rolling over it and creating an even, smooth finish. Drum sanders come in different sizes, but most have six or twelve-inch drums.

How Does a Drum Sander Work?

Drum sanders work, bypassing the wood over two rotating drums. The drum on the top is stationary while the one on the bottom rotates around it, creating a fine surface finish that can’t be achieved with any other type of sander.

Types of Drum Sander

Types of Drum Sander

According to the general belt and usage, there are many types of a drum sander. Some of them are described below.

Belt-driven Drum Sander

A belt-driven drum sander or belt sander is a sanding machine that uses a flexible wide belt to spread wood particles evenly over the surface.

Drum sanders are typically used for fast and rough stock removal, such as removing paint or varnish from the furniture.

Wide Belt Sander

A wide belt sander is used for finishing work. It can be both manual and electric, but it does not have the versatility that a power planer has because its only function is to finish wood surfaces.

Direct Drive Drum Sander

Direct drive drum sanders are belt-driven and not a chain, so they can’t jump a tooth.

The high torque nature of direct drive drums means that less power is lost in transmission, resulting in more efficient use.

Stationary Drum Sander

A stationary drum sander oscillates as it passes over your workpiece. This process removes minuscule and detailed imperfections, ensuring a smooth finish ready for finishing with varnish or paint.

Plunge Drum Sander

A plunge drum sander moves in a linear motion from side to side rather than oscillating. It can only be used for smaller pieces because the machine must always return to the starting point at the end of every pass.

It means that it can’t be used for large pieces but does provide a more detailed finish because it moves in an oscillating pattern.

Thickness Sander

Thickness sanders are typically seen in carpentry or furniture construction settings and can be found at hardware stores, home improvement retailers, specialty shops, and rental centers.

Thickness sanders are used to smooth out rough surfaces or edges on wood. The main difference between a wide sander and other sanders is that it has two drums, one for the motor and another in front of the abrasive particles. This double-sided design allows users to adjust their position while sanding.

Orbital Sander

An orbital sander is another hand tool that uses a spinning sanding disc to smooth and shape wood.

This machine can be used for shaping, smoothing, or removing material from any surface of the board. It does not have an adjustable cutting depth like power planers do, limiting its ability to work with shapes.

Why Use a Drum Sander in the Shop?

Why Use a Drum Sander in the Shop

Drum sanders are best suited for furniture, carvings, and intricate finishes. Drum sanders can be used on any type of wood, making them good for those working with veneer or laminate materials.

The drum sander is most commonly found in a workshop where the user needs to do detailed work that requires an excellent finish.

Advantages of Using a Drum Sander in the Shop

When using a benchtop drum sander, it’s easy to get into corners and tight spaces.

Drum sanders are perfect on furniture and carvings because they can be used without the chance of marring the surface with deep scratches or gouges that would occur if you’re not careful when working with other types of power tools like the planer.

Drum sanders are designed to get into nooks and crannies that other power tools can’t reach, making them a good choice for trimming wood edges or inlays on cabinets or furniture pieces.

Disadvantages of Using a Drum Sander in the Shop

-The drum sander is the loudest of all power tools.

-Drum sanders are not suitable for thicker stock because they may bind up on edges or cause excessive vibration and chatter, which can make your surface worse than it was before you started using the tool.

What is a Planer?

What is a Planer

A wood planer is a machine that smooths wood by removing high and low areas, leveling them off to the desired thickness. Planers are used for dimensional lumber, but they can also be used on smaller pieces of stock.

How Does a Planer Work?

A planer consists of a table with the cutting blade on top that moves in an “up and down” motion. The lower end of the edge is fitted with a cutter head that can be adjusted in height. When the machine moves down, it removes the excess wood from the top of the board and leaves an even surface ready for finishing.

Types of Planer

Types of Planer

There are various types of Planer according to their usage or Construction. They are mentioned below.

Bench-top Planer

Bench-top planers are designed to be stationary and have a built-in feed table for the workpiece. This feature makes them easier to use than “stand-alone” models, but they can only handle small projects because of their limited cutting capacity.

Stand-alone Planer

The “stand-alone” machines offer more versatility because you can move them from place to place. The disadvantage is that they are more expensive and have a smaller cutting capacity because of the design.

Also, there are two other types of planers: power and hand. Power planers have electric motors to drive the blades, while a hand plane uses muscle power to push it through the wood grain.

Power planer

Power planer blades are typically made of metal, while a hand plane has wooden blades.

A power planer can be used on large pieces and is more efficient at removing stock from the workpiece than a hand plane. A person using a power planer needs to follow the grain direction when cutting wood to avoid leaving marks on the wood surface.

Hand Planer

Woodworkers use hand planers to finish and smoothing workpieces that are too large or awkward to handle by a power planer.

Handplanes can also flatten surfaces with curves, while power planers cannot handle these shapes.

Thickness planer

A thickness planer is used to remove excess wood from any board and produce boards of uniform thickness.

This machine can be either manual or electric, but it does not have the versatility that a power planer has because its only function is to make uniform-thick boards.

Why Use a Planer in the Shop?

Planers are suitable for quickly removing excess material from a board to create flat and smooth surfaces.

They work well with thicker stock, making them ideal when you’re doing projects like building furniture or trimming the edges of wood pieces.

Advantages of Using a Planer in the Shop

Advantages of Using a Planner in the Shop
  • The planer is the least noisy of all power tools.
  • Planers are more versatile than drum sanders because they can handle multiple projects, including furniture pieces and molding thicker stock.
  • Planers are good for removing high and low areas on a board, making it easier to bring them back to their desired thickness.

Disadvantages of Using a Planer in the Shop

  • The planer is slower than other power tools because you have to wait while each piece passes through the machine before you can use it again.
  • Planers can produce a higher level of cuttings, meaning it will leave more sawdust in your work area.

How to Choose Between Drum Sander vs Planer?

The benefits of using a planer in the shop are that it is quieter and more versatile than drum sanders. The drawbacks, however, include being slower and not pushing as much material out while cutting like with drum sanders.

Overall, choosing between these two tools comes down to your needs: if you need something for large projects or faster work times, then go with a drum sander, but if you need a power tool for smaller projects, the planer is perfect.


In the contest of drum sander vs planer, The planer is a quieter and more versatile power tool than a drum sander, producing less sawdust. If you need something for larger projects or faster work times, go with the drum sander, but if you need to do a smaller project, definitely invest in a planer.

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