I am a new woodworker with a passion for expensive tools. I am considering purchasing a Delta X5 drum sander instead of a planer – based on a recent New Yankee Workshop episode. Is Norm Abram right … can I skip buying a planer? (Though I have to admit the DeWalt DW735 is pretty cool looking.)
Michael Dresdner: I did not see the episode you refer to, but I will tell you that while a drum sander is a wonderfully handy tool, it does not replace a planer. Each does different jobs, and you will be frustrated trying to make either do both. But Christmas is coming, so be good, and perhaps you will find yourself with everything your heart desires.
Lee Grindinger: A planer is the better choice. Sanders are meant to sand. While machines like drum sanders and wide belt sanders can be used as thicknessers, they are very slow, taking minute amounts with each pass. They are expensive to use as thicknessers because the sandpaper wears out and needs replacement far more often the planer knives. A better strategy would be a thickness planer and good sander like a random orbital.