Drum Sander Vs Planer-Choose The Right One For Your Woodshop

The planer and the drum sander are two of the most famous stationery tools in every woodworker’s shop. They both are standard tools that can handle long hours of big jobs without any hassle. If you are new to this, it would be difficult to decide which to take as they serve some specific needs. This Drum Sander Vs Planer article has tried to cover all the guidelines you need to know before investing in these professional woodworking tools. By the end of the article, you are sure to know every minor detail about these two tools. 

As these two tools look relatively similar, we have discussed all the details about them and compared them face to face to see the similarities and the differences between them.

What is a Planer?

A wood planer is a machine that helps level any uneven parts of a wooden piece by cutting the high and low areas. It uses blades to cut down the thickness so that the surface is all leveled. This machine is easily available in different sizes for various uses like small projects and industrial uses.

Functions of a Planer

The job of a planer is to cut the wooden surfaces into desired thickness which makes them even and smooth. A planer comes in handy for its high horsepower motor and super fast speed, making any surface smooth and level quickly. It is user-friendly and has an adjustable knob to help it adjust the thickness you need. Most planers have a table underneath that has rollers that help pull in the wood to the blades. However, if you are new to this, make sure you start with shallow passes to avoid cut marks or scratches. 

Different Types of Planers

There are various types of planers available in the market. They vary according to their construction or their usage. Here is a small guideline about them.

Stand Alone Planer

The stand-alone planer is quite useful as you can move them from one place to another. But they have a small cutting capacity compared to other planers. They were a bit expensive too because of the out-of-the-box design. 

Bench Top Planer

These planers are stationary and have a stable base like a feed table for their work. The benchtop planers are better than the stand-alone planers because they are more convenient and have a better cutting space than the previous one.

Power Planer

The power planer uses metal blades which are more effective in removing materials than wooden blades. However, make sure to use the planer following the grain direction to avoid scratches or leaving marks on the surface of the wood.

Hand Planer

This kind of planer uses wooden blades to remove materials from the wood. The hand planer helps to smoothen any surface that is too large and inappropriate to handle by the power planer. Also, the hand planer is good with curves, while it is quite tough for the power planer. 

Thickness Planer

A thickness planer can either be electric or manual. Its only job is to create uniform-shaped boards by removing extra wood from them. So, it does not come with any other functions like other sanders.

We have also added some advantages and disadvantages as well in our Drum Sander Vs Planer comparison article so that you can make your decision. 

Advantages Of Planers

  • Creates fewer noises than any other power tool
  • Planers remove the high and low areas to make the wooden piece even
  • It can handle multiple projects at once
  • The quick rate of cutting
  • Cutting depth is adjustable
  • Easy to use


  • The planer is slower compared to other power tools
  • It is unable to remove defects from the wood surface

What is a Drum Sander?

A drum sander like Supermax 16-32, Powermatic, or Jet 16-32 is a large stationary sander that uses a rotating sanding drum. It works best with slightly warped or misshaped wood and gives them an even shape. It works as a finisher as it smoothens the surface well after sanding it. Some drum sanders are good at working with curves too. They usually have different sizes available, but the twelve-inch drums are the most common among them. 

Functions of A Drum Sander

The name describes it all as it is a drum sander that uses drums to sand down any wooden object. The sandpapers are attached to the drums, and the user can choose the appropriate grit sandpaper according to his needs. Choosing a lower grit may end up taking a lot of material from the wood. The height of the machine is adjustable, so you can choose the thickness you need for your wood by adjusting the machine accordingly. Depending on the project, the user can choose to remove material from the wooden surface or smoothen it. 

Different Types of Drum Sanders

Depending on the belt and its uses, different varieties of drum sanders are available in the market. We have discussed some examples below. 

Direct Drive Drum Sander

The direct drive drum sanders are quite famous for their power. As belts and not chains drive these sanders, and the direct-drive wastes less power in transmission, it is suitable for heavy-duty jobs. You might also be curious about knowing the difference between Drum & Orbital sanders. You can check our next article for that.

Plunge Drum Sander

This drum sander is a bit different from other sanders as it goes in a linear motion from side to side. However, it is suitable for smaller objects as it needs time to get to the starting point after every pass. So it is not appropriate for large pieces, but it is perfect for some detailed finishing. 

Stationary Drum Sander

The stationary drum sander works well in removing imperfections and prepping the surface with a smooth finish to be ready for any varnish or paintwork.  This sander works as the sanding drums oscillate while it passes over the wooden object.

Thickness Sander

These sanders help smooth out any rough edges, making them perfect to use for carpentry or furniture making, hardware stores, and other retailers’ shops. The specialty of this sander is its dual drum system. There is a drum for the motor and another one for the abrasive particles. These drums help the users to adjust their position while sanding. 

Belt Driven Drum Sander

The belt-driven drum sander uses a flexible wide belt that spreads evenly over the wood particles on the surface. These sanders are perfect for rough uses like removing paint or varnish from the wooden surface. 

Advantages of A Drum Sander

  • Benchtop drum sanders can reach the tight corners and edges easily
  • Perfect for furniture making and carvings
  • It does not leave scratches
  • Good for trimming wood edges 
  • It gives a clean finish
  • Adjustable height and speed
  • Works efficiently with large projects


  • It is loud
  • Changing the sanding belt can be difficult 

Similarities of Drum Sanders and Planers

Let’s look at the two sanders and look at their similarities before moving on to the differences. 

Big Sizes and Stationary- When you see them, you will notice how big in size and heavy stationery they are. It is impossible to move the machines from one place to another. They are specially designed to stay in the workshop, so you need to bring the workpieces to the machine every time you need them. However, there are plenty of other machines that are small in size but not these two. 

Requires Electricity- Both of the machines are corded and need electricity as a power source to turn on. They cannot have a battery operating option as they both need high power to function, which is impossible to get from batteries. If you need to use them, make sure you have access to electricity to power them up. 

Designed For Wood- The main material they work with is wood. However, the drum sander might also work on other materials, but the planer only works for wood. Different types of wood can go through these machines and turn into the shape you want it to. 

Comparison Between Drum Sander VS Planer

Let’s look at some of the differences we found between a drum sander and a planer.

Sandpaper or Blades

One of the most significant differences between them lies in the sanding drums. While the drum sander uses sandpaper of various grits, the planer uses sharp blades that can take off materials from the surfaces of a workpiece. The drum sander uses a special kind of sandpaper meant to make any wooden surfaces smooth on the surface. 

The Size of The Workpiece

Another difference between the planer and the drum sander lies in the size of the workpiece. You might think that these big size machines can take large size wooden objects and sand them easily. But that is not the case. However, the planer can handle large pieces of wood at once and make it thinner by cutting off materials from the top. But the drum sander is not meant for that. For best results, you can use smaller pieces of wood to go through them. While the planer can handle wide and longboard, the drum sander can only take small pieces to do the job well. 


By the movement, it means that it will need the help of the user or not to get the workpiece inside the machine. The planer has a large table with rollers that can automatically pull the wooden workpiece to its blades. As it happens automatically, it can also take on large and heavy objects easily and sand them. However, when you use the drum sander, you will notice that it does not have any table or roller that can help. So, you will have to hold the workpiece against the sanding drum for it to work. As you will have to hold the workpiece by hand, it is impossible to hold large pieces that can be heavy. Because of this, the planer planes the wood while the drum sander takes care of the details and finishes the project off.

Starter and Finisher  

Both of these machines come to work at different stages of the work. Depending on their work, they help at various stages of the woodworking process. It is better to use a planer at the primary stage when the wood needs some straightening or smoothing to be of the same thickness. This is one necessary step that you cannot avoid. So starting out with a planer to get the wooden pieces the same thickness and straight edges is an important task for the woodworkers. 

On the contrary, the drum sander comes into the play at the end. After the straightening and cutting, the only thing left is to sand it down to make it smooth and attractive. So, the bottom line is that the planer is something that you will use as a starter and the drum sander at the end as a finisher. 

Planer vs. Drum Sander? Final Recommendation

The planer and the drum both sanders work on wood. They work to level them and give them an equal depth. While the planer only shapes the wood in size, the drum sander sands the wood. Whether you should go for the planer or the drum sander depends completely on the type of work. If you need to change the depth of thick wood, you will need a planer. However, if your plain wood needs to be smooth, then go for the drum sander. Both of the machines are a must-have tool for any woodworker. But if you are on a low budget, see what you need first and then invest in it. 


Are planer and sander the same?

The planer and the sander basically do the same job, but the planer has spinning metal knives, which take off a significant amount of wood from the workpiece in one go. At the same time, the sander has a spinning drum covered in sandpaper. 

Can a planer make wood smooth?

If you use the planer in a certain way that planes the surface and makes it smooth, then it is possible to avoid a sander. The plain surface makes it easier to sand and get a smooth finish. However, if you do not have a sander, a Planer can do its job.

Can a planer remove the old finish?

Yes, you can. But removing the old finish by a planer is not recommended. Because it can ruin the blades by melting the finish with friction, however, you can use a belt sander to remove any old finish easily at a cheaper rate. 

Is it necessary to sand after using a planer?

It is not necessary but helpful if you sand it after cutting it on a planer as sometimes the machine leaves marks that need removing. You can sand if you are planning to put a finish on it afterward, and if you choose to put on thick paint, you can skip the sanding.  


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