How to make a machine-flat hardwood tabletop
“My wife and I own and operate an architectural salvage business. We buy the salvage rights to pre-WWII buildings like 1920’s schools, old churches, factories, hospitals, homes, and other buildings. Then my crew and I salvage and sell antique architectural parts including old windows, doors, wood flooring, fences, trim, sinks, tubs, fixtures, beams, lumber, hardware, and much more.
Driven by customer demand, we’ve branched out into more exotic products. We go on buying trips to places like Costa Rica, Indonesia, India, and Europe and ship back 40’ containers of very unusual old and antique items. For example, we recently imported a British phone booth, a Thai tuk-tuk, a life-size wooden horse-on-wheels, Hindu sculptures, unusual furniture, and a whole lot more. It’s taken us decades to develop the systems and connections to make all this possible but everything’s working great now.
Sustainably-harvested hardwood slab
Another part of our business is built around hardwood flats, or slabs. In Costa Rica, we buy and ship back slabs (we call them ‘flats’) of sustainably-harvested tropical hardwoods like parota, monkeypod, jatoba, purple heart, and others. These big, heavy flats come to us rough-sawn, straight off the mill, and we process them further with our 50” Woodmaster Drum Sander. We sell them as-is and also turn them into unique furniture.
At first, we hand-sanded the flats. It would take our guys almost a whole day to do one tabletop. We’d plane the wood, glue it up with clamps, then spend six hours or more sanding each one by hand. When I got the Woodmaster, we could do the sanding in 10% or 20% of that time. And we get better results.
Hand sanding leaves dips and voids
Here’s what I mean about results. Sanding by hand, you’ll never get a truly ‘machine flat’ surface. You cannot get that absolutely flat surface with hand sanding. It’s impossible. You can hand-sand for hours by hand, then run your hand over the surface, and you’ll still feel dips and voids.
When you send a slab through the Woodmaster, it comes out absolutely flat. I call that ‘machine flat.’ It’s completely flat, ‘machine flat,’ and better quality than hand sanding in less than a quarter of the time.
If you use it properly, this drum sander can work wonders. You have to have realistic expectations – it takes off maybe a 32nd of an inch each pass. It’s not a magic wand. We work up two or three flats a day from start to finish, from rough-cut to machine flat. The flats range from 36” to 48” wide. That’s why I got the 50” Woodmaster.
Paid for itself in 30 to 60 days — best machine I ever bought
Woodmaster sells a great product and this is the best machine I ever bought. It has saved us a lot of time and money. You can do the math: would you rather pay someone X-dollars an hour to hand-sand for 6 hours, or pay them that rate for 1 or 1-1/2 hours to sand with the Woodmaster? My Woodmaster paid for itself in 30 to 60 days.
I looked at wide-belt sanders online. They’re huge and cost upwards of $25,000. I wanted one but didn’t have the space and certainly not the budget. If you want a realistic product that most small businesses can afford, Woodmaster is by far the way to go.
I looked at other drum sanders, too. They topped out at 36” and we make tables a lot wider than 36”, and up to 20’ long, though that’s unusual. Most are 4 or 6’ long. If you’re making tabletops, you’ve got to have a sander wider than 36”. There really are only a couple alternatives: a wide-belt sander, a giant planer, or a Woodmaster Drum Sander. For 5 or 6 grand, you can have this great machine that saves you time and money.
“For the money and value, Woodmaster’s hard to beat”
Really, Woodmaster was the only machine that could do what I wanted. There was nothing else available in the price range. Everything else was just untouchable. For the money and the value, Woodmaster’s hard to beat.
With a 50” drum sander, you can do any tabletop you want to. We’ve easily done over 500 tabletops and finished slabs. Our next machine may be a double-drum Woodmaster Drum Sander. It’s more money than a single-drum machine but it’s twice the speed.
We sell nationwide. For advertising, we’re real big on social media and pump a lot of energy into our website. We do a lot on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and a lot of business comes from word of mouth.
Right for any shop – weekend woodworker, mid-size shop, large shop
If somebody’s interested in saving time and money, especially if you’re making tables, benches, and things like that, I’d say absolutely go for it. In my opinion, if someone’s on the fence, they’d be foolish not to do it. Woodmaster gives you three major advantages: a better finished product, quicker production, and money-savings. And that goes for anybody from a D-I-Y weekend woodworker, to medium-size shops, to even large shops.
And I’ve been very pleased with Woodmaster’s customer service. Their machines are made in the USA and I like to buy USA products when I can. Woodmaster’s not a huge company; there are real people over there, always willing to talk with me. When I need a replacement part, they’re right on it. They’re easy to deal with, they ship right away. They’re good people – I have nothing negative to say at all.”
— Joshua White, Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner, Tampa Bay Salvage, Palm Harbor & Dade City FL
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