Drum Sander vs Planer: Which One Should You Buy?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

When I first worked in a carpentry workshop, the standard power tool was the planer. I noted something was amiss and asked my boss to consider buying a drum sander. For him, a drum sander and planer had the same roles, but he agreed anyway, and the results were super — every smoothing looked more professional.

Planers and sanders work in pretty similar ways, but they are different. So if you feel a little confused about the two and what to buy, you are not alone. But you will no longer need to worry about the two after reading this drum sander vs planer comparison. Join me on this path of discovery as we learn the differences between drum sanders and planers.

The Powermatic PM2244 Drum Sander is our top pick in the drum sander category, with its powerful motor and state-of-the-art features, this could be an invaluable power tool for your workshop.

Our Top Drum Sanders Are:

ProductDetails
1. Powermatic PM2244 Drum Sander

  • 418 pounds
  • 45.6 x 23 x 50.2 inches
  • Corded-electric
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2. JET 649003K Drum Sander

  • 254 pounds
  • 32 x 14 x 14 inches
  • Corded-electric
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3. Jet 723544 Jwds-2550

  • 270 pounds
  • 51.8 x 27 x 54.3 inches
  • Corded-electric
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1. Powermatic PM2244 Drum Sander — Top Pick

The Powermatic PM2244 is one of the most powerful drum sanders out there. The sander is designed with an easy to use control panel and features that make sanding tasks easy and professional. Well, this is the best option, especially if you target sanding large boards.

This sander is run by a 1.75 HP motor that drives its 22-inch drums. Using the sander, you can smooth blocks of up to 44 inches. This is broad enough to handle blocks even for the most demanding projects.

Another important aspect of this drum sander is its digital control system. The machine uses a digital depth display that helps you to make precision measurements. So effective is the digital control system that you are able to make adjustments up to a thousandth of an inch.

Weighing about 400 pounds, this sander is really heavy, and firm. This firmness is crucial when sanding workpieces for a smooth outlook.

Specs

  • 418 pounds
  • 45.6 x 23 x 50.2 inches
  • Corded-electric

Pros

  • Designed with a Feed Logic system for easy control
  • Made with cast iron that helps to make it strong and durable
  • Can sand very broad workpieces

Cons

  • Pricey

Rating: 4.1/ 5.0

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2. JET 649003K Drum Sander

The JET 649003K Drum Sander is another top drum sander that has become a top recommendation for most workshops. We were impressed by the sander because it allows you to work on diverse projects, both small and major sanding.

This drum sander runs on a powerful 1.75 HP motor and can handle wide boards of 44 inches in width and 4 inches in thickness. This design has made this machine the first preference for workshops dealing with diverse sanding projects. But we recommend it for professionals who have a lot of work that needs to be completed fast.

When working with sanders, one of the dangers that people face is the risk of overloading, which can damage the machine and workpieces. But not with this sander. The sander uses SanSmart technology that helps to monitor the load automatically. Then, it adjusts the federate so that the sander will never suffer from overload.

Specs

  • 254 pounds
  • 32 x 14 x 14 inches
  • Corded-electric

Pros

  • Good for sanding both thin and broad blocks
  • Designed to last
  • Easy to use even for newbies

Cons

  • The in/out feed tables setup is taxing

Rating: 4.3/5

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3. Jet 723544 Jwds-2550

For woodworkers who want to have high-performance drum sanders that are relatively lighter and easy to move from one site to another, one of the top options is this Jet 723544 Jwds-2550. It weighs 270 pounds and comes with a unique design that makes sanding easy and fast.

One of the likeable things about the Jet 723544 Jwds-2550 is its unique control model. The sander uses an advanced sandsmart control system for regulating the conveyor speed. Using the technology, it progressively notes the weight exerted on the motor and then adjusts the speed of the conveyor. This helps to guarantee smooth sanding by overloading.

Another conspicuous feature of the drum sander is its conveyor bed parallelism. Today, many drum sander users complain about the difficulties of returning conveyors to flat positions. But the Jet 723544 Jwds-255 sander is different. Here, returning the conveyor is very easy: simply turn the dial. Again, you do not need any specialized tools.

Specs

  • 270 pounds
  • 51.8 x 27 x 54.3 inches
  • Corded-electric

Pros

  • Compact design
  • A high-efficiency dust collection system
  • Easy to move around

Cons

  • Expensive

Rating: 4.4/5.0

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When we turn to planers, the DEWALT DW735X Thickness Wood Planer has no equal. It is constructed with the user in mind, and its features will make planing even the toughest planks simple.

Our Top Planers Are:

ProductDetails
1. DEWALT DW735X Thickness Wood Planer

  • 105 pounds
  • 24 x 22 x 18 inches
  • Corded electric
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2. The Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Portable Planer

  • 61.9 pounds
  • 30.4 x 19 x 15.8 inches
  • Corded electric
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3. Cutech 40200H-CT 13″ Spiral Cutterhead Planer

  • 88 pounds
  • 26 x 16 x 23 inches
  • Corded electric
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1. DEWALT DW735X Thickness Wood Planer — Top Pick

The DEWALT DW735X is our first choice, with its unique features and powerful motor, this planer will make thinning even the tough wood blanks simple. Well, you can never go wrong with this planer.

If you want to sand very tough plants, and fast too, you need a lot of power, right? DeWalt engineers knew this and installed a 15 AMP motor that generates breath-taking 20,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). The planer also comes with three knife-cutter heads and uses a two-speed gearbox that makes it easy to change the feed speed. It is very effective even if you want to plane very hard and broad workpiece.

The planer uses three knife-cutter heads that help to reduce stress on each knife for two reasons: delivering finer finish and extending the knives lifespan. Using the planer, you can make cuts of 1/8 inches on planks with a width of 16 inches and a thickness of 6 inches.

Specs

  • 105 pounds
  • 24 x 22 x 18 inches
  • Corded electric

Pros

  • Three-knife cutter head for enhanced performance
  • Comes with Bluetooth and WiFi compatibility
  • Portable
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Heavy

Rating: 4.6/5.0

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2. The Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Portable Planer

The goal of Makita when designing this 2012NB was to make a planer that guarantees high-performance, durability, and stability. They did not disappoint. The planer runs on a 15 AMP motor that delivers a maximum of 8,500 RPM. Even with its awesome power rating, this machine is really quiet.

Another outstanding thing about this planer is that it is engineered to deliver top-notch finishing on wood blocks. First, it has a large table extension for supporting workpieces. Also, it allows you to adjust the depth stops, which is very useful when making repeat cuts. Well, no matter the nature of the planing work that you target, you will find this planer pretty easy to use.

This planer is remarkably fast. Capable of planing up to 28 feet per minute, this planer is one of the fastest out there. This makes it a great addition, especially for commercial workshops that have a lot of blocks to plane.

Specs

  • 61.9 pounds
  • 30.4 x 19 x 15.8 inches
  • Corded electric

Pros

  • Easily adjustable depth stops for repeat cuts
  • Can be used to plane a wide range of wooden blocks
  • Easy to use even for newbies

Cons

  • Expensive

Rating: 4.5/5.0

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3. Cutech 40200H-CT 13″ Spiral Cutterhead Planer

This planer is advertised as a power tool for pros, and it is easy to see why — futuristic design. Instead of using the common multi-knife cutterheads, this planer has spiral cutterheads. They are better because they last longer and also produce finer finishes.

When using planers, dust can be a major problem. In this planer, the designer thought of this and added a built-in dust port that helps to remove most of the dust for a mess-free workplace. We found this crucial because it also prevents dust from getting into the sensitive parts such as the motor and switches.

To reduce distractions, especially due to downtime when planing wood, this planer’s cutter tips can be rotated and changed pretty easily. Indeed, it is not just the cutter tips; even other parts of this planer can be changed pretty fast. This is the main reason why it is becoming the new must-have power tool in many workshops.

Specs

  • 88 pounds
  • 26 x 16 x 23 inches
  • Corded electric

Pros

  • Long-lasting blades
  • Long warranty of two years
  • Easy to change different parts

Cons

  • Heavy

Rating: 4.5/5.0

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Drum Sander vs Planer: A Brief Look at Their Differences

A planer, also referred to as thicknesser, is a woodworking tool designed to help reduce the thickness of a woodwork piece. It works by shaving off thin layers as the wood is passed through.

It uses multiple cutter heads to remove thin layers from a workpiece. You feed the board horizontally, and the cutter-heads slices off some layers as it passes through.

A drum sander works like a planer in most aspects, but the goal is not to reduce the thickness of a workpiece. Rather, the aim  is to smoothen it. Drum sanders, as the name suggests, use sandpapers wound in one or several drums.

The sander rotates the drum/s that move the sandpaper to remove some materials from your workpiece. Depending on the type of drum sander you buy, it might be possible to adjust the thickness width of the workpieces that you can work on.

Buying Guide

After looking at the key differences between drum sanders and planers, the above reviews are eye-openers on the best models on the market.

You are now only a step away from identifying the ideal tool. In this last section, we provide you with a buying guide outlining the things to consider.

Brand

When it comes to heavy-duty power tools such as planers and drum sanders, you can only be sure of picking the best by sticking with the top brands.

These are brands that past users, especially professionals, can attest to their commitment to customer value. Some of the top brands to consider buying their products include Makita, Jet, and Powermatic.

Sturdy Construction and Durability

Well, top drum sanders and planers are not cheap. Indeed, they could be some of the most expensive power tools in your workshop.

Therefore, you want to buy a planer or drum sander that will last for years to come. To know this, here are the things to look for:

  • The planer should come with a long warranty
  • It should be designed with durable materials such as cast aluminum, steel or iron
  • Replacement parts should be readily available

Dust Collection System

Sanding and planing generate a lot of dust. Therefore, you should go for the planer or drum sander that has a good system of collecting and removing the dust.

This will not only help to make your workplace mess-free, but also prevent different parts of the machine from getting damaged by dust cake.

Noise Dampening System

If you buy a very noisy drum sander or planer, you might start developing hearing problems. The ideal machine should have a vibration dampening and noise reduction system to protect workers and reduce the wearing and tearing of the machine.

Portability

Are you a professional who gets planing or sanding contracts to work on different sites? If the answer is yes, you need to think about a portable model.

So go for a compact model that is relatively light, and that has parts you can disassemble and assemble on site.

Final Thoughts

Now, onto the main question of drum sander vs planer — which one do you buy? Here, you need to gauge the comparative benefits of each. If you are in a very busy workshop with a lot of work, we recommend that you go for both. That is right. A planer to promptly reduce the thickness of workpieces and a drum sander for smoothing them up professionally.

However, if you have a standard workshop, or want a DIY power tool to use occasionally, consider going for a drum sander. A powerful drum sander such as Powermatic PM2244 Drum Sander can help to reduce the thickness of your pieces with a small margin and also smoothen them up. It is rugged, powerful, and comes with features every woodworker would want in his workshop.

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