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View Full Version : Luthiery on a shoestring - thickness sander



Pete Howlett
08-18-2016, 12:00 PM
Based on a description in an article about John Gilbert I read in 1996 I developed a Safe-T Sander that would chuck into a pillar drill and help me accurately thickness my wood. I had one made from aluminium for me, 5" in diameter but here is a simple version that can be made in most workshops. I have not given dimensions - if you have got this far you should really be able to work out the simple engineering required to make this happen. In use it throws up loads of dust so extraction and respiratory protection is required. It is also helpful to have a rise and fall table on your drill and some means of locking the spindle.


https://youtu.be/lFfL1c5MJPc

DPO
08-18-2016, 07:36 PM
Looks like a great idea, simple but effective. Thanks for sharing it Pete.

tobinsuke
08-19-2016, 06:29 AM
Great video, Pete. Looking good. And a great concept as well. I used to thickness with a safe-t-planer (until the shop fire ate it), but I may go with your contraption instead of replacing it with a similar tool. Thank you for posting this.

cml
08-19-2016, 06:37 AM
Thank you so much for taking the time to film and share this Pete. If you ever come to the west coast of Sweden, I'll buy you a beer!

A few additional questions popped up:
You said 80grit to keep friction down, would 60 be better or is that too coarse?
Roughly how much depth do you reckon it can take in one pass?
Is there some clever way to change paper on it when worn out, or do you make a new one?

I'll see if I can get one done tomorrow :)!

Thanks,
Carl-Michael

Edit:
Work in progress, using left over laminate flooring!
The sander and a simple table for the drill press:
935059350493503

spongeuke
08-19-2016, 10:26 AM
looks like I can retire the Drum thickness sander.

Pete Howlett
08-19-2016, 10:34 AM
Don't - this tool wrks with very coarse grit sand-paper. Use your drum to get rid of the swirly scratches :)

lauburu
08-19-2016, 12:22 PM
Very simple but so effective. Thanks
Miguel

spongeuke
08-19-2016, 01:47 PM
Thanks for the heads up

cml
08-20-2016, 01:42 AM
Here's mine! Just need to finish the table now. Going to add two jigs, one straight guide for sides and tops etc, and one with a cut out like the stew mac table, for bindings and small stuff!
93538

EDIT:
There we go! Sander, table, and interchangeable guides.
93540

Thanks again Pete! I'll try this setup this evening or perhaps tomorrow...now we're going on a barbecue =)!

Pete Howlett
08-20-2016, 02:33 AM
That will work nicely. The trick is to use really good quality paper and to have some sort of controllable rise and fall mechanism to gauge stock removal. A simple dial gauge mounted off the drill column will help you with accuracy - this tool can be made to work very accurately. You will also find yourself using it for lots of thicknessing tasks...

Rrgramps
08-20-2016, 02:53 AM
Here's mine! Just need to finish the table now. Going to add two jigs, one straight guide for sides and tops etc, and one with a cut out like the stew mac table, for bindings and small stuff!

EDIT:
There we go! Sander, table, and interchangeable guides.

Thanks again Pete! I'll try this setup this evening or perhaps tomorrow...now we're going on a barbecue =)!

Good job, CML! Please write up a 90-page report on how this works for you. (LOL) if you could though, drop by again, after you've used it, and let us know how it does. If it's going good, I may make one too.

Shoestring budget or not, the concept of doing more with less is really appealing to me. It "could" also buy us time to delay purchasing a large, machine sander. If so, count me in. This sander just might be the go-to tool as an intermediary step towards prepping the sides, and quite possibly the tops and backs too. If a lot of wood has to be taken off, then maybe the hand plane or safety planer would be first, then on to this 80-grit safety planer that Pete showed us how to make.

It looks like scraping or finish sanding would be easier too, in order to take swirls out and get those bits ready for assembly. Although I'm still tooling up, albeit slowly, I'm getting closer to process stage.

Thanks Pete, for sharing this with us.

DPO
08-20-2016, 04:09 PM
Went into the shed this morning to make Pete's safety sander, I was looking through the scrap pile for some suitable ply but alas nothing. Then on the shelf over the bench was my old black and Decker cheep orbital sander which I hardly ever use. So I took off the plate and found a suitable bolt and hey presto instant thickness sander. The beauty of it is you can use your normal sanding discs fastened by velcro and work your way through the grits. Just thicknessed a piece of Kaihikatea with 60 grit and finished it off with 120. Works a charm.
Sorry about the upside down photos but you get the picture

cml
08-20-2016, 09:43 PM
Went into the shed this morning to make Pete's safety sander, I was looking through the scrap pile for some suitable ply but alas nothing. Then on the shelf over the bench was my old black and Decker cheep orbital sander which I hardly ever use. So I took off the plate and found a suitable bolt and hey presto instant thickness sander. The beauty of it is you can use your normal sanding discs fastened by velcro and work your way through the grits. Just thicknessed a piece of Kaihikatea with 60 grit and finished it off with 120. Works a charm.
Sorry about the upside down photos but you get the picture
Great idea Dennis, if this works well for me I might go your route as well. Very convenient!

Pete Howlett
08-20-2016, 10:08 PM
2 things - you must take out the centre of the sandpaper to create an annulus or you will get annoying snail trails from the centrifugal build up of dust created by a 'pip' in the centre of the plate. A rubber backed disc is not going to retain its accuracy... Velcro works well if you are simply hogging off but you will get 'rounding' because of the give in the pad. So on quick runs, this works OK. Fort prolonged use - greater than 5 minutes you need a 'hard' pad. Also, this tool builds up quite a bit of heat and all sorts of things can happen with velcro tools in this environment. Believe me folks, I have done the R&D on this and if you want a really durable tool that you can even do guitar backs and fronts (yep, produced even Weissenborn parts using one of these) you have to eventually upgrade to a 5" or 6" aluminium plate.... I also use paper that is designed for stone cutting - very durable and heavyweight. Cloth backed is the best tho...

Timbuck
08-21-2016, 12:36 AM
I notice that LMI used to sell a "sanding add on" to the Safe T planer ...But they didn't have the important relief cut out...here is the OBrien Guitars version demo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l98KobHZ0rk

Titchtheclown
08-21-2016, 01:25 AM
As it happened - Aldi had a drill press on special for $99 of our Australian dollars - Pete Howlett puts out a video on a really good use for a drill press.

I have been using a cheap drill stand lever type press a hand drill gets bolted into type and because the proper drill press works so much better I have spent large chunks of my afternoon cutting dots out of abalone shells.

My other drill press trick is to take a solid hole saw - the type where each diameter is a separate steel circle, and remove the pilot drill bit. This works a treat for removing large depths of wood at a time though is much rougher with the wood surface than the sanding disks. I used it to do one of my hollowed out ukes (this one will be a Hoot-owl-ele).The proper drill press was also significantly better for doing this than my old setup.

I already have a few foam backed sanding disk things for the drill.

I tried my bottom clearing router bit and it was not a resounding success (translation: fail).

Wasn't I supposed to be making a thickness sanding attachment? - Never mind - plenty of time next week.

cml
08-21-2016, 01:47 AM
Good job, CML! Please write up a 90-page report on how this works for you. (LOL) if you could though, drop by again, after you've used it, and let us know how it does. If it's going good, I may make one too.

Shoestring budget or not, the concept of doing more with less is really appealing to me. It "could" also buy us time to delay purchasing a large, machine sander. If so, count me in. This sander just might be the go-to tool as an intermediary step towards prepping the sides, and quite possibly the tops and backs too. If a lot of wood has to be taken off, then maybe the hand plane or safety planer would be first, then on to this 80-grit safety planer that Pete showed us how to make.

It looks like scraping or finish sanding would be easier too, in order to take swirls out and get those bits ready for assembly. Although I'm still tooling up, albeit slowly, I'm getting closer to process stage.

Thanks Pete, for sharing this with us.
Rrgramps, I've posted a video of this in use in my build-along thread:
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?121930-Build-along-my-first-build!&p=1881818#post1881818

DPO
08-21-2016, 06:36 PM
2 things - you must take out the centre of the sandpaper to create an annulus or you will get annoying snail trails from the centrifugal build up of dust created by a 'pip' in the centre of the plate. A rubber backed disc is not going to retain its accuracy... Velcro works well if you are simply hogging off but you will get 'rounding' because of the give in the pad. So on quick runs, this works OK. Fort prolonged use - greater than 5 minutes you need a 'hard' pad. Also, this tool builds up quite a bit of heat and all sorts of things can happen with velcro tools in this environment. Believe me folks, I have done the R&D on this and if you want a really durable tool that you can even do guitar backs and fronts (yep, produced even Weissenborn parts using one of these) you have to eventually upgrade to a 5" or 6" aluminium plate.... I also use paper that is designed for stone cutting - very durable and heavyweight. Cloth backed is the best tho...

I went back over everything you said and this pm had another go at building one to your design, still no ply, but, I had some 3/4 inch treated pine left over from building the new workshop so I used some of that. Well I have to say the difference was amazing. The hard pad is definitely the way to go. I was so impressed with it's performance on a piece of NZ Matai (hard wood frequently used for flooring) that I made a second one and used some 120 grit paper on it and could hardly see the swirl marks. Thicknessing fretboard will be a breeze from now on.
Thanks Pete, you're " The Man".

Pete Howlett
08-22-2016, 11:33 AM
As I said... I have done the research. Following instructions usually saves time and disappointment. Improve the wheel, don't try and re-invent it. I took a rather crude idea I read in an old GAL publication and applied my engineering brain to it. My production thicknesses saw me through 400 instruments before I got a drum sander! And I still use it for tapering the backs of necks, accurately sanding the heel depth and quick sanding jobs... honestly folks, I have been doing this long enough to actually know what I am doing some of the time. I post stuff like this not to challenge you but to help you get to a point of success much faster than it took me :)

lauburu
08-22-2016, 12:03 PM
I post stuff like this not to challenge you but to help you get to a point of success much faster than it took me
And we're very appreciative that you share your experience so generously. Thanks, and long may it continue.

The members of this forum seem to be both adventurous and divergent. I don't think that people feel challenged by you but I do think they challenge themselves. They see an idea and ask "Mmmm, I wonder if..........". Then they share their experiences, positive and negative, with the group.

I learn a great deal from the knowledge that you, Ken, Beau, Allen .....(and lots of others) are willing to contribute to the forum. However, I also learn quite a bit from mere mortals, like myself, who try something new and are brave enough to share the results. If all contributions are well-intentioned and good-humoured (which, largely, they are) this forum will continue to be a great place to visit
Miguel

DPO
08-22-2016, 01:04 PM
As I said... I have done the research. Following instructions usually saves time and disappointment. Improve the wheel, don't try and re-invent it. I took a rather crude idea I read in an old GAL publication and applied my engineering brain to it. My production thicknesses saw me through 400 instruments before I got a drum sander! And I still use it for tapering the backs of necks, accurately sanding the heel depth and quick sanding jobs... honestly folks, I have been doing this long enough to actually know what I am doing some of the time. I post stuff like this not to challenge you but to help you get to a point of success much faster than it took me :)

And as I said, I tried something different, then tried your method and yours was best. Sorry if trying something different upset you.