Powermatic recently released their new drum sander, the PM2244, and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it. A drum sander is a huge investment so it pays to do your research and make sure you get the right unit for your shop.
Alan Parham wrote in recently asking the following question:
I think you recently got the new Powermatic 2244 Drum Sander. My real long term goal is to build guitars and I like the precision (digital) the PM2244 seems to offer along with a decent price compared to other large drum sanders like Woodmaster. My initial concern with the PM2244 is what I will call its “one arm” design. I can’t help but think that over time some “play” (unevenness) may develop since the drum is not supported on both ends especially when it comes to something as thin/precise as a guitar back or sound board. Any thoughts? Is my concern unfounded?
In the video, I address Alan’s question while giving a mini-review of the PM2244. I have only used it on one project so far but I can give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. Below is my direct email response to Alan in case you’re interested:
You’re right to be concerned about the cantilevered arm design. By its very nature, you’d have to imagine the drum will go out of alignment at some point or another. Fortunately, the better sanders are REALLY good about holding their settings for a long time. That said, a day will come when you have to make a slight adjustment. And what sets one sander apart from the rest is how easy it is to adjust. Without a doubt, the PM2244 has the simplest adjustment mechanism I have ever encountered: a simple dial under the table. That one feature alone is a game-changer! Doing a panel wider than the drum? Give it a slight turn to open the outboard side a bit and run the piece through twice. When you’re finished, turn the dial back to the previous setting for a perfect parallel run. And if the drum ever does go out of calibration, it wouldn’t take very long to calibrate with some test pieces and you’re back in business.
Now the digital display is nice but I’m not really in the habit of using it often. The way drum sanders work, you can send a piece in multiple times at the same setting and each time you’ll remove wood. So it can be very tricky to know what that number actually represents. So what I like about the digital display on this unit is it’s simply a relative number. Want to move the drum down exactly 1/64″? Zero it out after your last pass and then move the drum to that decimal equivalent. Of course what happens to the workpiece in reality is a little less predictable because of what I mentioned above.