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Drum Sanding Sides – Full Text

Today I would like to talk about thicknessing sides using a drum sander. I will be showing you how to correctly use this time-saving tool and how that sometimes only removing a thousandth of an inch more can make a huge difference in the elasticity of your sides. The information I present here will make bending the sides easier later on and reduce the risk of breakage. All the sides in this video have been rough thicknessed with a tool called a safety planer to approximately 2.5mm or .098”. Initially, I’m not worried about the thickness of the sides. I test each piece for flexibility and sand it until the safety planer marks disappear. I’m using a drum sander with 80 grit paper. It is important to take very small bites and it’s also necessary to make several small passes to arrive at your final thickness. Notice how I’m sending the pieces through at an angle. This helps keep the sanding belts from heating up. In this video, I’m using several sets of East Indian rosewood, a set of Bubinga, and a set of Palo Escrito. Each species has its own degree of stiffness. And even within the same species, each set varies widely in stiffness. Lightly flexing each piece as you send it through the sander will tell you how stiff each side set is. Keep removing the marks made by the planer tool by repeatedly sending the sets through the sander. As you sand, you will notice that the sides begin to relax a bit and become more flexible with each pass. As the safety planer marks begin to disappear, I start to keep an eye on the thickness of the sides by checking them with my calipers. One of the sets of Indian Rosewood has really started to relax. I think it’s ready to bend. The final thickness of this set of sides came in at about 2.2mm or around .086”. The Bubinga and Palo Escrito are still on the stiff side so let’s send those through again. This next set was the stiffest of all the Indian Rosewood sets that we thicknessed, so it needs to go through the sander again. One of the good things about being in a classroom situation is that you have the opportunity to test the flexibility of a lot of different sides. This will give you a basis of comparison. Well, one more pass is all it took for the set of Bubinga. I think it’s ready to go. But that piece of Indian Rosewood is still ornery. Let’s put it through one more time. It’s coming in at just about over 2mm or .078” so it’s almost there. I still have a couple of sets of East Indian Rosewood that are particularly ornery. I think a couple more passes through the sander should do it though. After just one more pass through the sander, we have another set of East Indian Rosewood ready to go. This one came in at about 2.1mm or around .082”. This is one of the stiffest sets of East Indian Rosewood and after one more pass through the sander, it really relaxed nicely, and also it came in just over 2mm or around .078”.  The Palo Escrito is probably the least flexible of all the sets that we ran through the sander today. We started sanding it at about 2.4mm or around .094”. We finished around 2mm or about .078”. Removing just a couple more thousandths can make a huge difference. When thicknessing your sides, you can follow your plans to get a target thickness but each species and piece of wood has its own degree of stiffness. If you listen to it, it will tell you how thin it wants to be. All of these sides are not thicknessed and ready to be bent. When you’re done, be sure to clean the belt. The guys coming along behind you will really appreciate it – especially if they are thicknessing cypress or another light-colored wood.