How to Use a Drum Sander

If you want to make your hardwood floor look new, a drum sander can be a powerful tool to use. A drum sander is a machine that uses an abrasive paper wrapped around a drum to smooth out and remove the top layer of a wooden surface. By using a drum sander, you can eliminate scratches, stains, and any other damage that may have occurred over time on your hardwood floor.

However, if you have never used a drum sander before, it can be intimidating. It is important to understand how to properly use the machine to achieve the best results while ensuring your safety. Learning how to use a drum sander requires some patience and practice, but the end result is well worth it.

In this article, we will discuss the basics of how to use a drum sander to sand your hardwood floor. We’ll walk you through the necessary steps, tools, and safety measures to take before starting your project. Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional, this guide will help you achieve a smooth and flawless hardwood floor surface.

Write the Definition Of Drum Sander

A drum sander is a power tool used for sanding and smoothing wooden surfaces, typically hardwood floors. It consists of a cylindrical drum covered with abrasive paper that rotates rapidly to remove the top layer of the wood. Drum sanders are commonly used to eliminate scratches, stains, and other imperfections on wooden surfaces.

They are available in various sizes, from small handheld models to large industrial machines, and can be operated manually or with the help of automated controls. Drum sanders are often used in woodworking shops, furniture production, and home renovation projects to achieve a smooth and polished finish on wooden surfaces.

How to Use a Drum Sander: Step by Step  Guide

How to Use a Drum Sander: Step by Step  Guide

If you’re planning to refinish your hardwood floors, using a drum sander can be an efficient and effective way to remove old finishes and prepare the surface for a new coat. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use your drum sander for floor sanding:

Things You Will Need

Before you can start using your drum sander, it’s important to have the right tools and equipment on hand. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  1. Nail set and hammer (if needed)
  2. Small pry bar (if needed)
  3. Broom
  4. Shop vacuum
  5. Drum sander
  6. Dust mask
  7. Hearing protection
  8. Safety goggles
  9. Sandpaper (40- or 60-grit, 100-grit, 120-grit)
  10. Sheet plastic
  11. Tape

Step 1: Check the Floor

The first step in using a drum sander for floor sanding is to carefully check the entire floor surface. Look for loose or damaged boards and nail heads that are exposed. You can use your hand to feel for nail heads and countersink them using a nail set and hammer. Loose boards should be carefully nailed down before beginning the sanding project.

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If board replacements are necessary, it’s best to do this before sanding. Sanding new boards along with adjoining old boards will help blend the repair area and create a seamless finish. By addressing these issues before sanding, you can ensure that your floor is in good condition and ready for the sanding process.

Step 2: Clean & Prepare the Room, Floor

Once you have checked the floor, the next step is to clean and prepare the room and floor. Thoroughly sweep the floor to remove any loose debris and dust. Then, vacuum the floor to ensure that all dust and debris are removed. Follow this up by mopping the floor with a barely damp cloth. It’s essential to ensure that the floor is clean and dry before sanding to achieve the best results.

Step 3: Wear Safety Gear

When using a drum sander, it’s crucial to wear safety gear such as a dust mask, safety goggles, and hearing protection. These items will protect your eyes, lungs, and ears from the dust and noise created during the sanding process.

Step 4: Select the Right Sandpaper

Selecting the right sandpaper for your drum sander is crucial for achieving the desired finish. The type of sandpaper you choose will depend on the condition of your floor and the level of sanding required. For initial sanding or removing deep scratches and stains, you’ll need to start with a coarse-grit sandpaper, such as 36 or 60 grit. As you progress, you can switch to finer grits, such as 80, 100, or 120, to achieve a smoother finish.

It’s important to note that sandpaper comes in two types: open-coat and closed-coat. Open-coat sandpaper has larger gaps between the grit, making it ideal for removing large amounts of material. Closed-coat sandpaper has a higher grit concentration and smaller gaps, making it better for finishing and smoothing the surface. It’s also important to choose sandpaper with a backing that’s compatible with your machine’s drum.

Step 5: Set up the Drum Sander

After selecting the right sandpaper, the next step is to set up the drum sander. Start by adjusting the drum height according to the thickness of the wood. Set the drum height low enough to remove the old finish and imperfections but not so low as to damage the wood. Next, attach the sandpaper to the drum sander and adjust the tension on the sandpaper.

READ MORE: Drum Sander Vs Planer: Which is Best For You

Before you start sanding, make sure that the dust-collection bag is properly attached and in good condition. If necessary, replace the bag or empty it if it’s already full. Check the power cord for any signs of damage, and ensure that it’s properly grounded. Finally, turn on the drum sander and let it run for a few seconds to ensure that it’s running smoothly and without any unusual noises.

Step 6: Practice Sander Movement

Before starting to sand, it’s essential to practice your movements with the drum sander. Turn on the sander and practice moving it back and forth in a straight line, overlapping each pass by a few inches. This technique ensures that you cover the entire surface area evenly.

Step 7: Start First Sanding

Now that you have practiced the sander movement, it’s time to start the first sanding pass. Begin in the corner of the room farthest from the door and move in the direction of the grain. Use a coarse grit sandpaper, such as 36 or 60, for the first pass to remove the old finish and level the floor.

Start the sander with the drum off the floor, and then lower it gently. Once the drum is in contact with the floor, move the sander forward in a smooth and controlled motion. Keep the sander moving at a steady pace, and make sure to overlap each pass slightly to avoid leaving visible sanding marks. Avoid tilting the sander or applying too much pressure, as this can create uneven sanding.

Step 8: Sand the Edges

Use an edger sander to sand the edges of the room, where the drum sander cannot reach. Move the edger sander in a circular motion, overlapping each pass by a few inches. Be careful not to damage the baseboard or molding.

Step 9: Change Sandpaper

After completing the initial sanding with the coarsest grit sandpaper, it’s time to switch to a finer grit to achieve a smoother surface. To change the sandpaper, turn off the drum sander and unplug it from the power source. Use the wrench provided to loosen the bolts on the drum cover and remove the old sandpaper. Then, cut a new strip of sandpaper to the appropriate size for your drum sander and carefully place it onto the drum. Make sure to align the sandpaper with the drum correctly and tighten the bolts securely.

Once the new sandpaper is in place, plug in the sander and continue sanding with the finer grit until the desired smoothness is achieved. Remember to repeat this process with progressively finer grits until you reach the desired level of smoothness.

Step 10: Complete Final Sanding

After changing the sandpaper, you can proceed to do the final sanding. This is the stage where you need to pay close attention to detail and ensure that all the rough spots and scratches have been eliminated. Start by using a coarse grit sandpaper and work your way up to a fine grit sandpaper until you achieve a smooth and even finish.

When doing the final sanding, ensure that you keep the sander moving at all times to prevent any uneven sanding marks. Remember to sand in the direction of the wood grain for a smooth and even finish. Pay attention to the edges, corners, and hard-to-reach areas to ensure that they are smooth and even.

Step 11: Finish and Cleaning

Once you have completed the final sanding, you can proceed to finish the surface of the wood. The type of finish you use depends on your preference and the intended use of the wood. Some popular options include staining, painting, or applying a clear finish.

Before applying the finish, make sure to thoroughly clean the surface of the wood. Any dust or debris left behind can ruin the finish. Use a vacuum or tack cloth to remove any leftover sawdust.

FAQ About Using Drum Sander

Is A Drum Sander Hard To Use?

Using a drum sander can be challenging for beginners, as it requires some practice to achieve the desired results. However, with proper instruction and practice, it is possible to learn how to use a drum sander effectively.

How much material can a drum sander remove?

A drum sander can remove about 0.005″ to 0.007″ (five to seven thousandths of an inch) of material per pass. In comparison, a small 12″ portable planer can remove 0.125″ to . 250″ (one hundred twenty-five thousandths, or one eighth of an inch to one quarter of an inch) of material per pass, which is significantly more than a drum sander.

Will a drum sander remove paint?

Yes, a drum sander is capable of removing paint from wood floors, but it should be used as a last resort as it can also strip off much of the wood from the floor or gouge it. It’s important to exercise caution and use appropriate techniques when using a drum sander to remove paint from a wood floor to avoid damaging the surface.


To use a drum sander for floor sanding, one should select the right sandpaper and set up the drum sander properly. Practicing the sander movement and starting the first sanding with the correct grit are important steps to achieve a smooth surface. Sanding the edges and changing sandpaper regularly can help in achieving an even finish.

However, it is important to note that a drum sander can be hard to use, and incorrect usage can cause damage to the flooring. It is also important to wear protective gear and keep the work area clean. With these tips and proper care, one can achieve a professional-looking floor sanding job using a drum sander.

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