How to Make a Portable Drum Sander Machine | Free Plans

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A while ago, I made my own DIY drum sander machine.
I built it by making a roll with sandpaper attached to it that I can clamp in my drill press machine.

If you have been following me for a while, you will have seen me using this drill drum sander a lot.
It is one of my favorite tools because it helps me to create finely finished pieces.

But by working with it for a long time now, I also experienced disadvantages with this type of drum sanders.

When larger pieces have to be sanded, this is sometimes inconvenient. However, the main disadvantage is that usually, the column of the drill press gets in the way.
As a result, the wood can no longer touch the drum and must be sanded by hand in those places.

This problem has been solved with the portable drum sander machine that you will learn to make in this article.

To make a portable drum sander, you need some kind of drill holder, in which you can place a cordless drill.
By attaching a sandpaper drum to it, you can use this as a portable drum sanding machine.

I know there are portable drum sanders available to buy, but why spending money on those portable drum sanders if you can build your own.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about the DIY drum sander machine and learn how to make a drum sander.

Thanks to the free drum sander plans that you can download in this blog, you have all the dimensions to make this tool for your workshop.
So be sure you don’t forget to download the free drum sander plans after reading the step-by-step instructions.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

What is a drum sander?

A drum sander machine is a power tool on which a roller (the drum) is placed. 
Sandpaper of different grains can be attached to this drum.

By rotating the drum at high speed, pieces of wood can be sanded by holding them against the roller.

The more pressure of the drum against the wood, the deeper the grit of the sandpaper will cut into the wood, and sand the wood.

What are the different types of drum sanders?

You can have a drum sander machine in different versions.
Each has different purposes, but the result is the same with each: they sand away wood to the point you want.

The different types of drum sander machines are:

  • (DIY) Drill press drum sander
  • Oscillating drum sander
  • Drum sander stand
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What is a drum sander used for?

Woodworkers use the drum sander machine often for touching up or finishing parts in wood.

Because of the rotating drum, you can use this tool to trim wood to a certain thickness or to a marking line.

What kind of sandpaper to use on a drum sander?

Basically, you can use any grit of sandpaper on a drum sander machine.

Do you have to sand off a thin layer of wood, or do you want an extra-fine finish?
Then you can use a finer grain such as a P220.
When a lot of wood has to be removed, it is better to start with a coarser grain, such as P80.

You just need to determine which grit is best suited for the project you are working on.

If you want to know more about determining which sandpaper to use, also for other sanding tasks, discover everything about sandpaper in this blog.
This is a must-see article and highly recommended!

Watch the video & see how to make a portable drum sander

Before you dive into this article on how to make a drum sander machine, check out this video.
In this video, I will show you I have built my DIY drum sander machine. 
After watching this video, you can discover all details and information to build your drum sander machine.

How to make a portable drum sander machine step by step

Step 1 | Preparation

I started by making the round wood for the handles of this portable drum sander machine.
I made this round wood with the dowel maker that fits on my crosscut sled.

By spinning the wood above the blade of the table saw, I can make very accurate and even dowels of any size.
For this Portable drum sander, I made 22 mm (0.866 Inch) round wood.
This is because the bicycle brake that I later use to drive the cordless drill has a 22 mm (0.866 Inch) tension ring.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

Step 2 | Making the base of the DIY drum sander machine

After I made the wood for the handles, I was able to make the base of the portable drum sander machine.

In this base, I drilled two holes for the handles and one hole through which the drum can be inserted.

The holes of the handles only need to be drilled for 1 cm (0.394 Inch) deep.
These shallow holes are because later the handles can be screwed into place via the bottom.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

The hole where the drum goes through is drilled with an 80 mm (3.150-Inch) hole saw.

This hole should not be drilled in the middle of the base.
For the right measurements, check out the free portable drum sander plans you can download on this page.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

After I drilled the holes, I attached the homemade handles to the base of this portable drum sander machine.

Before installing the handles, I drilled a small pilot hole in the bottom of the hole all the way through the base.

After applying wood glue to the holes, I tapped the handles into the holes and secured them with a screw through the bottom.

When placing a screw here, make sure you countersink the head of the screw.
Otherwise, the head of the screw will prevent the portable drum sander machine from sliding smoothly over the surface.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine


Don’t just use any wood glue for your projects!

To find out which different types exist and for which applications wood glue serve, check out my blog Understanding Wood Glue + 8 awesome tricks you should know.
Here you will discover everything you need to know about wood glue.

Step 3 | Height adjustment part

To ensure that different thicknesses of wood can be sanded, this portable drum sander machine can be adjusted in height.

To be able to do this, I made a vertical support consisting of 2 layers of wood that can slide over each other.

With a homemade knob, the sliding part can be fixed at the correct height.
In order to allow the two layers to slide over each other, I made a slot with a width of 10 mm (0.394 Inch) in one part.
I made the slot with a straight cutting bit on my palm router.
This is just a bit wider than the 8 mm (0.315 Inch) bolt that has to go through this, which makes moving up and down smooth.

Here, too, you can check the free portable drum sander plans for the correct dimensions.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

Step 4 | Assembling

Now that all the pieces were ready, I could start assembling.

I started by attaching the vertical support that has the slot with the triangular-shaped support pieces.
To connect these together, I used wood glue and brad nails.

The brad nails provide a temporary fixation that allows me to continue working immediately without having to wait for the wood glue to dry.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

Then, in the same way, I mounted the two guide parts that hold the moving part in place.

To make sure the moving part will not be clamped between these two pieces, I placed a piece of paper between the moving part and the guide.
When I had attached this part, the paper could be removed, allowing the moving part to move smoothly without too much slack.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

I placed an M8 insert nut in the sliding part to fix it in place at the desired height.

With a homemade knob, glued with epoxy glue to a piece of threaded rod, this part can be fixed at height through the slot of the vertical support.

If you also want to be able to make these buttons yourself, you can learn how to do this step by step in this blog.
In that blog, you can also download a free template to make the jig.
With that jig, you can make these buttons quickly and precisely.

When discovering other articles where I make woodworking jigs, you will notice that I use these homemade knobs a lot.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

To be able to attach the cordless drill to the portable drum sander machine, I used hose clamps.
The diameter I used was 60 mm (2.362 Inch), but the diameter will depend on the cordless drill you own.
So match this hose clamp to your tools.

I attached the hose clamp to the jig with a small screw after drilling a hole through the ring.

To drill the hole in the hose clamp, I clamped it in my drill press vise.
You need to do this in order to prevent the clamp from spinning and hurt yourself.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

The vertical support was now ready, and I was able to attach it to the base of the portable drum sander machine.

To attach this vertical support to the base, I fixed this part with wood glue and brad nails.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

On top of the moving part, I have placed a modified flat angle bracket.
It was shortened and provided with a narrow notch for the bicycle brake cable to pass through.
To see how you should build this part, you can view this part in detail below.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

The narrow notch in the flat corner bracket allows you to secure the bicycle brake cable by sliding the cable into the notch.

Now, the cable can slide through the hole, but the cable housing cannot.

So every time you pull the brake lever, the cable can pull the cordless drill’s trigger.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

Once the brake cable was in place, I placed a strong ribbon around the control knob of the cordless drill and attached it to the brake cable.

To do that, I used the parts that were already present on the brake cable.
That part looks like a small bolt with a hole in it for the brake cable to pass through.
When I tension the bolt, it will get stuck on the cable.

That was actually an easy system to set up.
I pulled that bolt over the cable to the point that the ribbon was tight around the trigger and the ribbon just couldn’t turn the cordless drill.
At that point, I tightened the bolt.

This ensures that with the slightest movement of the brake lever, the drum starts to rotate.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

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How to use the portable drum sander machine?

How you use this type of portable drum sanders is self-explanatory.

By pulling in the brake lever, you can remotely operate the button of the cordless drill.
You can determine the speed by pulling the brake lever deeper.

This form of operation gives you a good grip on the portable drum sanding machine and full control while operating.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine
How to make a portable Drum sander machine

Before you get started with this portable drum sanding machine, first set the correct depth so that the drum works the entire surface of the edge.

To do this, loosen the knob, lower or raise the portable drum sander machine, and tighten the knob again.

How to make a portable Drum sander machine

After some practice, you will notice that this DIY drum sander machine works as well as the portable drum sanders you can buy.
But building your own was just more fun!

How to build your workshop on a budget?

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I hope this information on how to make a drum sander machine was helpful, and that this blog and video inspires you.

Feel free to share this blog on Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media.
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It will be much appreciated.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in another blog or video.

Christophe, founder of
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

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