If you could only have one right now, drum sander or planer?

Roxy13

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As the title says, which would you choose and why?

I almost think maybe a drum sander is the better choice since I keep reading planers will tear out curly maple. And I could plane with my router using that router box I made following (I think) Peter's design?

Ideally I'd like both, and I'm sure it's just a matter of time.
 

pshupe

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It depends on whether you want to use rough cut lumber. I would go with a planer if you want to cut your own rough lumber but a sander if you can buy already planed thicknessed material.

There are a lot of caveats, as with any other "what should I buy" question. If you have the funds and want to spend it on a large jointer / planer combo that would be great. I have a 16" jointer / planer combo but it was very expensive. If you do not want to spend that kind of $$, you could use a router sled to flatten and thickness rough material. In which case the sander makes more sense. I also have a thickness sander and it is one of my most used tools but I do a lot of surface sanding.

So I would vote for thickness sander and using a router sled for thicknessing rough material now. If down the road you have the $$$ you can get a jointer. For joining tops etc, I would recommend a good hand plane and possibly a shooting board.

Cheers Peter.
 

failsafe306

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I got my used 13” Rigid planer for 1/5 the price of a used drum sander, so it wasn’t even a question for me. I’m still planning on buying a drum sander though.
 
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fatdaddypreacher

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given the assumption you are primarily concerned with guitar building only, i think i'd opt for a planer. yes, figured wood is prone to the tearout issue, but most other woods you would use for a back or neck should be more user friendly. as far as maple is concerned, slow steady pass with sharp knives minimize tear out and i've never had a tearout so bad i couldn't work around it. they are generally so minimal that if they are on the bottom to be glued they are not a factor, and virtually all of the times they occur on the top they end up getting milled away in the carve......now thin flat pieces are another matter, as the thinner the stock, the more prone they are to chipping due to vibration. another rule is, never plan on using something that is planed that is sanded first....generally speaking
 

pshupe

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Also depends what other tools you have. Do you have a table saw and/ or a bandsaw? I can cut rip neck blanks and head stock angles on both without a need to use a thickness planer for long stock. So that leaves body blanks. A reasonably priced thickness planer is usually around 13", which is just barely wide enough. If you use a router sled you can thickness any width, pretty much, and then just use a thickness sander to cleanup the cut.

Are you looking at just a planer or a jointer / planer combo? Do you already have a jointer? Still lots of questions. ;-)

Cheers Peter.
 

Roxy13

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I actually bought a jointer. It's something I've wanted for a long time. I don't just want it for guitar building. I sometimes build furniture or other things too. When I wanted to make an amp cab I had to pay a cabinet shop to joint and plane the lumber for me. Not that jointers and planers are cheap to buy though lol. I could take in lumber over and over before I got to where what I paid a shop for and what I spent on the tools equaled out. But, I sure would like to have my own. Especially since it's not like cabinet shops are around the corner here.
 

Roxy13

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Yes, I have a table saw and bandsaw now as well.
 

Roxy13

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Now I have a neighbor who cuts down trees and has a firewood business. He says he has a lot of nice maple but neither of us had a jointer or planer. I now have the jointer though.
 

cmjohnson

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If you have a vendor that provides stock planed to spec for you, you don't need your own planer.

But if I were to set up a complete luthier workshop for serious production, the planer would be in the first batch of equipment I'd buy. As would be the drum sander.
 

DaveR

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Since you said you build things besides guitars, I would absolutely buy a planer before a drum sander. A drum sander is a luxury and a straight knife planer can make mincemeat out of figured wood. If you're preparing any amount of rough lumber (especially for non-guitar tasks) a planer is essential even if it’s just a little lunchbox style. I do a lot of things that aren't guitars and aren't made of curly wood, so the table saw, jointer and planer all get a lot of miles in my shop.

My planer is only 12", so if I have something wider or figured I turn to my router planing sled. A router sled also doesn't tend to tearout on figured wood (but it's still possible) A planing sled is a tremendous PITA if you need to thickness a bunch of material, but is a reasonable compromise to use a couple times a year to do a single guitar body. I own a drum sander and use it for certain jobs, but my planer routinely gets a workout.

Many people think a "thickness sander" can do the same job as a planer but it can't. Removing 1/16" with even my little lunchbox can be done in one pass. With my drum sander it's going to take a LONG time and many passes to accomplish the same thing. With highly figured wood, that's what I do, but everything else goes through the planer.

As has been previously mentioned, most budget planers are barely wide enough (or likely a bit too narrow) for a guitar. Which is why my next planer purchase will be 15-18" and have a spiral head. But those tend to be big $$$.

Do you have decent dust collection? You can run a planer without (although you'll be ankle deep in hamster bedding real quick and I wouldn't recommend it), but running a drum sander without dust collection will lead to a choking cloud of fine, lung damaging dust really really fast.
 

cmjohnson

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If some company were to just make a tabletop planer with a 15" blade, everybody who ever wanted to build a guitar would go out and buy one right now.

My 12" planer is useful for everything but bodies. And even for bodies if they're 2 piece.

For a few years I had a floor standing Grizzly 15" planer which was awesome, but honestly I bought far more than I needed it for. My guitar production was not enough to justify it. I was able to sell it for about what I had in it.
 

Roxy13

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So far I hook up all my tools to my shop vac. No idea when I could make a shop system.
 

LtDave32

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A tough decision for me.

Classically, a joiner and a planer are used together to straighten and thickness wood.

-But with the help of some cleverly place wedges, a planer can straighten when normally it does not.

(When a planer gets wood fed to it, it clamps down and will follow the contours, so you will end up with the same contours, only thinner wood. Wedges placed in certain areas will take up the slack)

But since I don't have a planer that covers a full 13" of width, I sort of look longingly at drum sanders.. Especially when I have to reduce 8/4 body blanks to 6/4 body blanks for an SG or other slim-bodied build by using a box jig and routing it down over an 8th of an inch.

Of course, If I had wider planer, I wouldn't be looking so hard at drum sanders.

So for those starting out, I'd have to say that they should concentrate on a wide enough planer, and consider a drum sander when they've really got the need for one.

The reason I bought this DeWalt planer that I have, the pastor of the church across the street who's a good friend of mine offered it to me, almost zero use, for $250. I could not turn it down. He almost sold it to someone else.

Really, I should have held out for a wider planer.

Seriously, if one is into making slim-line guitars, were are you going to get 6/4 one-piece lumber in 13" length?

I've tried, and it's not very easy. Unless I make them out of two pieces, I have to use 8/4. Now, 6/4 is out there, but we don't run across it very often.
 

LtDave32

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Grizzly has a 13" planer for the same price as the DeWalt 734 12 inch planer:

Grizzly planer

*IF*

IF it were a true 13" of planing surface. My 12 inch planer falls a bit short of 12" , actually.

But if it were true to planing 13" material, that's all you would need for most solid-body applications. They really don't get wider than that for one-piece construction. Everything else would be a 2 or more piece glue up.
 

Roxy13

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That is another question. I thought I could get by with a 13" planer, but is that enough for 1p LP and SG bodies?
 

LtDave32

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That is another question. I thought I could get by with a 13" planer, but is that enough for 1p LP and SG bodies?
I'd say yes.

LP's are 12 3/4 at their widest portion of the lower bout. I've got Victor's R8 right here, and it's 12 3/4".

I also have a 2013 SG here, it measures 13" on the nose. Now, I've seen some SG's at 12 3/4, some at 13. So that's going to vary.

But if that planer cuts a true 13", then I'd say you're in bidness.
 

LtDave32

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The ad for the Griz states that it will plane to a width of 13". I'd say that they would have to stand behind that and refund you if it fell short of that width.
 

Roxy13

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I should start measuring a bunch of them and seeing what I come up with.

And straight knives or spiral cutterhead? I was leaning toward spiral.
 

LtDave32

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From what I hear, spiral or helical are the best. Multiple knives second, single knife at the bottom.

But you can replace knives easily. I don't know about spherical cutter heads.

My DeWalt has three knives, and a pack of three new knives are like 35 bucks..
 


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