Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Questions about tools and jigs you want to buy/build/modify.

Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Matthew Lau » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:44 pm

Hey MIMF,

Recently, I found that I really want a thickness sander.
While some guys can be fine with handplanes or a safety planer/gilbert disk on a drill press, I'm too much of a clutz.

Would you recommend buying or building a thickness sander?

-Matt
Matthew Lau
 
Posts: 390
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:03 am

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby David King » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:03 pm

Look for a used Performax 16-32 or the 18" Delta. These can sell for about what the parts for a home built would cost you.
David King
 
Posts: 2328
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Peter Wilcox » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:06 pm

You're a dentist in the Bay area, so you can certainly afford one. If you build one it will take time away from other endeavors, like building guitars, and will probably never work right anyway. I bought a used one several years ago (Performax 16-32) - what a time saver - one of the best tool purchases I've ever made.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it
User avatar
Peter Wilcox
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:19 pm

I'm not sure about a used one costing what the parts cost. A used 16-32 often lists on San Diego Craigslist for near new prices. That said, $1800 is about what dinner out in SF costs, right? At least that is what it seemed like to me on my last trip.

I built one, and have a huge tool that takes up space and is only barely useful. There are some master jig builders that can take two sheets of baltic ply and make a lunar orbiter for you. They can build a sander that outperforms a Perfomax all day long. That aint me. Sheet goods are foreign to me, and my shop isn't set up to cut anything that is much more than 24" long or 12" wide.

I don't actually use them much anymore, but for 99.99% of builders it is an absolutely essential tool. If I were looking into build/buy today I wouldn't hesitate to buy.
User avatar
Randolph Rhett
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:19 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Bob Gramann » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:33 pm

I built one and used it for years. Eventually, I got tired of not having an automatic feed. I bought the Delta 18". I am very happy with it. It was worth the money.
User avatar
Bob Gramann
 
Posts: 724
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:08 am
Location: Fredericksburg, VA

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Matthew Lau » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:19 pm

Randolph Rhett wrote:I'm not sure about a used one costing what the parts cost. A used 16-32 often lists on San Diego Craigslist for near new prices. That said, $1800 is about what dinner out in SF costs, right? At least that is what it seemed like to me on my last trip.

I built one, and have a huge tool that takes up space and is only barely useful. There are some master jig builders that can take two sheets of baltic ply and make a lunar orbiter for you. They can build a sander that outperforms a Perfomax all day long. That aint me. Sheet goods are foreign to me, and my shop isn't set up to cut anything that is much more than 24" long or 12" wide.

I don't actually use them much anymore, but for 99.99% of builders it is an absolutely essential tool. If I were looking into build/buy today I wouldn't hesitate to buy.



Thanks guys! I guess that I'll be saving up for a used (or new) performax.

As for making tons of money--dentists are pretty second or third tier in terms of income in the SF Bay Area.
The guys that makes lots of money are the techies, people at Google, and startup people.
After that, you get a lot of union workers like police and firefighters.
Of course, maybe I make less money because I don't like drilling health teeth? Or maybe I'm too honest?

Randy, what do you use now? hand planes? Just buying pre-thicknessed wood?

As for meals, I know some good cheap eats. However, most of the good stuff isn't in San Francisco.
Daly City has great Filipino food (greasy, but tasty). San Jose/Silicon valley has better Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian food.

If you want some good reasonably priced food, I recommend (Mission district for latino/mexican food); (Northbeach for Italian); Clement Street and Outer Richmond district for Chinese food. Feel free to PM me for recommendations.
Matthew Lau
 
Posts: 390
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:03 am

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:17 pm

I don’t use the thickness sander because I build archtops almost exclusively. My bodies are mostly carbon fiber and maple composites or carved out of thick wood. I don’t need to have precisely thinned plates anymore.
User avatar
Randolph Rhett
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:19 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:24 pm

Another rabbit hole to run down is using veneer to "build up" the thickness. Then you only need a good hand plane to plane down straight grained spruce - much easier than squirrelly grained hardwoods.
Clay Schaeffer
 
Posts: 1080
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Bryan Bear » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:05 am

Back in the old days here on the MIMF, there was a lot of talk about making thickness sanders. I read all the threads in the library so making one just seemed like the thing to do. I made mine out of mostly junk that was already lying around. I still use it to this day. It is a perfectly serviceable option for me because I am not trying to turn out a ton of production. A purchased sander would certainly be faster and probably less tedious/frustrating. But, I wouldn’t be able to afford a 25” wide drum and be able to run plates through sideways to get them down faster. It sure sounds like I am recommending building one; I’m not. I’m really glad I have mine but wish I had invested the time I spent making it into but losing up my chops thicknessing with hand planes. Now that I am more comfortable with hand planes, I could probably take that next step but I don’t. I can’t bring myself to thickness with them because the sander seems more convenient. In truth, the time would probably be about the same but the planes would be more relaxing and less messy.
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.
User avatar
Bryan Bear
 
Posts: 959
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:05 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Arnt Rian » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 am

Build one if you can't afford to buy one, you like tinkering with stuff, or you have ideas for improvements on the commercial models. I built a basic one when I was starting out many years ago, because of those things (at least the first two), and its still going strong. I wouldn't mind a powered feed, or best of all, a wide belt sander though. You have to decide if you like building guitars or machines ;-)
Arnt Rian
 
Posts: 215
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:41 am
Location: Trondheim, Norway

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Michael Lazar » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:33 am

I built mine 25 years ago at a cost of under $250. I've made over 100 guitars with it. I find it incredibly useful. Each 1/2 turn of the screws changes the thickness by .05mm. It doesn't have an automatic feed and I prefer the additional control this provides.

Sander~01.jpg
Sander~02.jpg


Sander~03.jpg
Sander~04.jpg
User avatar
Michael Lazar
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:32 am
Location: St. Albert, Alberta

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Eric Knapp » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:55 am

I will never have the space for a thickness sander. I have wonderful handplanes and can sharpen well. I’m in the process of learning to thickness by hand and it’s coming along. I think whatever approach you choose will take some time to assemble and perfect. It’s possible that the time it takes to get to point where you can do this consistently might be the same for all approaches. There’s an expression in my field that is probably appropriate here, “Pick a horse and ride it.”

-Eric
User avatar
Eric Knapp
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 2:01 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Bryan Bear » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:15 am

That's a good point about the control offered by not having a manual feed. I like that too on mine but it is tedious when you need to do a lot of passes. I remembered one thing I use mine for that I would have a hard time doing by hand (and can't be done with a power feed) is thicknessing the back of the peghead and shaping the curve of my volute with the drum.

I really like my shop made sander, I suppose I just don't like the task of thicknessing itself. . .
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.
User avatar
Bryan Bear
 
Posts: 959
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:05 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:28 am

I also didn't appreciate power feed, until I got one. It makes thicknessing much more even. To do volutes I just turn the power feed off.
MIMF Staff
Barry Daniels
 
Posts: 1819
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:50 am

I bought my Delta 18/36 before I ever read anything about building one.
I use it all the time. It is one of my "go to" tools.

While I don't have the satisfaction of saying I built it, I think the time it would take may be better used in bettering my guitar building chops.
In my case it is money well spent.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
Posts: 984
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Simon Magennis » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:46 pm

Neither.

Find a wood work place in a reasonable distance which is willing either to rent you time on their machine or run the stuff through for you at a reasonable price. I am thinking of the kind of machines they can run doors or bigger stuff through and electronic push button controls for the thickness.
Simon Magennis
 
Posts: 390
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:51 am
Location: Würzburg. Germany.

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Craig Bumgarner » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:26 pm

I built mine a couple years ago, I've been very happy with it. Steady hand feed is just a matter of a little practice.
Craig Bumgarner
 
Posts: 368
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:03 pm
Location: Drayden, Maryland

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby John Clifford » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:20 pm

I bought a Supermax 19-38 drum sander about a year ago, and I'm absolutely delighted with it. This is a really solid, well-made machine:

https://www.woodcraft.com/products/supe ... rum-sander

The Supermax company is owned by the same people who used to be Performax, before JET bought them out. In my opinion, the quality of the Supermax machines far surpasses the current JET/Performax models.

I build mostly archtops too, but I use the thickness sander for all sorts of things: sides, fretboards, bridge blanks, body blanks, neck blanks, braces, veneer, you name it. Best machine I ever bought. The whole point of a thickness sander is to be precise and consistent, so unless you are WAY better at building machines than I am, you should buy one rather than trying to make it.
John Clifford
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:08 pm

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Bob Hammond » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:27 am

Hmm, weren't you the guy who was wondering if it would be possible to build without a shop? These machines do take up space. Where would you use it and store it?
Bob Hammond
 
Posts: 564
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:13 pm

Re: Thickness sander-- build or buy?

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:08 pm

I have a Ryobi 16/32 drum sander. One thing I like about it is it's compact design. It sits on top of a Med cart (2'X2' top) someone gave me and I can wheel it out of the shop and use it outside where the dust can blow away in the breeze. It is on the low end of drum sanders so if you can find one used they are usually reasonably priced.
Clay Schaeffer
 
Posts: 1080
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Next

Return to Tools and Jigs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Your purchase from these sites helps support the MIMForum, but only if you start at the links below!!!
Amazon music     Amazon books     Amazon tools     Rockler tools     Office Depot    

The MIMF is a member-supported forum, please consider supporting us with a donation, thanks!
 • Book store • Tool store • Links •