Drum Sander VS Wide Belt Sander- What is the Difference

Published on: December 29, 2021
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by David Rowan

Are you looking for a drum sander or a wide belt sander? If so, then you need to know the differences between drum sander and a wide belt sander. Also, you should know the uses of these. Drum and wide belt sander are two different tools used for refinishing wood or plastic. 

drum sander vs wide belt sander

There are many differences between them. One is a manual sander and another is automatically operated through electric power. Also, the working material & place is different. We can understand that you have many doubts about them and we are here to help you by giving all the answers to your doubts.

Drum Sander VS Wide Belt Sander

To find out the differences between drum sander vs wide belt sander, you need to know about them individually first. Then you should find out the differences & choose the right one for your work.

The Drum Sander

A drum sander can be a powerful handheld machine or a large-sized tool. It is used in various woodworks or for plastic forming. It can sand out major imperfections to make your floor look spectacular. Sometimes, we need to remove slopes of the floor for a uniform appearance; it just makes the process quicker.

A power drill is attached in the drum sander which is used to sand any object. A large drum sander can be driven like a bench machine using different drums and sandpaper grits. A loop of sandpaper constantly moves around the drum, tearing the surface as far as you want to go.

Changing of Sandpaper

The versatility of the drum sander is evident in the ease of changing the paper. Drum sanders with detachable paper usually have clamp properties that enable them to quickly change the required paper based on the grit or grade of paper.

This allows the operator to quickly change the grade of the paper to get different results on the same piece of wood, or to change the paper according to the need for sanding another piece of wood.

Method of Using a Drum Sander

A drum sander is a powerful tool with replaceable polishing sheets that sands the wood floor to a smooth, glossy finish. However, you need to set the stage before you start the machine. Inspect the floor for any stretched nails and cracks or gaps that need to be repaired. Then you should sweep the floor.

The Drum sander is a great tool to get used to. Start in a part of the room that is less visible, such as where it has furniture usually until you feel like you can control the sander’s movement. There are two methods to use a drum sander.

One way is to go from side by side along with the length of the floorboards. Before turning the machine on and off, you need to tilt it. If you keep standing it in one place, the sanding belt can easily ruin the floor. You should choose the sanding belt according to the condition of your surface. Because sandpaper comes in various types of sharpness.

The Perfect Drum Sanders

A drum sander should be the most efficient, reliable and must have power tool for any DIY hobbyist or professional nut. However, they did not get as much attention as drills, power saws, or even other types of sanders.

The reason may be that they are somewhat more complex equipment and quite expensive than others, so no one wants to make any costly mistakes. Many types of sander & polishing papers are available in the market. You need to choose the right one according to your needs.

The Wide Belt Sander

The wide belt sander is a highly versatile machine that works well for a variety of woodworking applications. This powerful industrial tool uses combinations of contact drums and platens to finish wooden surfaces. You should keep patience while delivering an exceptional product.

The wide belt sander is used to machine stock flat and to fixed thicknesses. It can be used on hardwood and attached boards such as plywood and MDF. A rubber conveyor carries your stock through the machine while a wide polishing belt removes material from the top surface.

It is often used in combination with a jointer to create squares and true stock. The wide belt sander is electrically driven but relies on air pressure to control the corrosive belt. Thus, the user must make sure that the air valve of the machine is open before the operation.

Platen & It’s Maintenance

Most wide belt sanders have graphite covered polishing platen (polishing pad) which is made up of a steel or aluminum bar with a felt or foam padding, followed by graphite material. The polishing platen is used to create the final finish of wide belt sanders and to prepare your material for orbital sanding or finish coat.

It is very important that the graphite pad is free from any grooves, low frustration, or worn out areas. You should remove this polishing pad from the sander weekly and check for any defects.

This will also ensure that the mounting bar does not collect dust, allowing the polishing platen to be easily removed and placed. If a defect is found and it is shallow enough, hand sanding can be used to create a flat surface in the affected area.

After hand sanding is done, use an air hose to blow off any loose graphite so as not to damage the inside of the belt or the surface of the rollers used on the head of the polishing platen. If the felt or foam components are damaged, we recommend replacing it prior to applying new graphite.

Method of Using a Wide Belt Sander

First, you need to open the air valve (right) located behind the machine and check the pressure setting. The pressure must be 80 psi. Then you should determine the thickness of stock based on the thickest area, then set the machine with thickness dial to that measurement. Now you need to turn on the sanding belt and wait until it comes to speed.

Then turn on the feeding belt. Never hold your fingers under the material whenever you feed it. Set the stock of the conveyor, let the machine pull the stock in. Walk around back once the stock is halfway into the machine and wait for it to fully exit the machine on the conveyor.

After recovering the stock from the back, turn the density dial 1-3 clockwise rotations and repeat the process again until the desired thickness is reached. It is a good idea to check the actual thickness of the stock with a measuring device during the process. Turn off both power switches and turn off the air valve when you are done.

The Perfect Wide Belt Sander

However, it comes in a range of various sizes and designs to give you better results in specific types of projects. That’s making it difficult to determine which specific sanding machine will work perfectly for your unique production needs. 

You must check some important things such as fast charging, digital readout, portability & safety before buying a wide belt sander. However, you need to choose yours according to the work pattern of your industry or shop.


We hope that you got all your answers through this article by reading all the details about these two sanders. The main difference between drum sander vs wide belt sander is the drum sander is for the light refinishing of home or shop & the wide belt sander is for heavy industrial use.

However, you need to take all the safety precautions like wearing safety goggles, dust mask, hearing protection, and other protection as needed before using any kind of sanders.

You Might Also Like:

Rate this post

About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Leave a Comment