If you’re looking for perfectly flat and silky smooth project parts up to a width of 17″ then you need look no further than the SandX CWI-S1701 17″ single drum, drum sander because this drum sander delivers on both those counts and much more.
CWI Woodworking Technologies has recently released its “SandX” brand of abrasive machinery that includes, single drum; drum sanders in 13″, 17″ and 25″ widths and dual drum sanders in 25″ and 38″ widths. The SandX brand also includes wide belt sanders in 25″ and 37″ widths that come powered by either single or 3 phase voltage in horsepower ranging up to a 20HP behemoth 37″er. In other words, the SandX brand of abrasive machinery has your sanding needs covered.
The single drum, drum sander in the SandX line that is of particular interest to me is the CWI-S1701 and I was fortunate enough to be able use and to review this sander. The CWI-S1701 with its 17″ width capacity seems to me to be the perfect fit for most small working shops or for the average woodworker, where price, performance, reliability and ease of use are concerned.
Before I get into the particulars of the review, I would like to clear up some misconceptions regarding what a drum sander is and frankly, what a drum sander is not.
DRUM SANDERS VS. THICKNESS PLANERS:
Some woodworkers have a tendency to compare drum sanders to thickness planers because both machines essentially do the same thing, remove stock but that is where the similarities between these two machines end.
Thickness planers can remove a lot of material quickly, usually 1/16″ to 1/8″ in a single pass. A drum sander will remove material at a much slower rate, usually a few thousands of an inch (depending on the sanding grit used) in a single pass. This slower material removal rate using abrasive paper as opposed to planer knives leaves an exceptional, tear-out free finish on materials like highly figured woods (birdseye , curly & quilted maple, sapele, lacewood, burls etc.) including end grain projects like cutting boards. Drum sanders are ideally suited for sanding cabinet doors where a misaligned stile and rail joint or a raised panel, slightly proud of the stile and rail, would cause untold headaches if you attempt to rectify these issues using other methods. Drum sanders also excel at sanding shorter, thinner or fragile materials that would be disastrous if you attempted to run them through a thickness planer. Drum sanders are also ideal for leveling glued up panels for doors, tabletops etc. and work as an abrasive thicknesser (36 grit for rapid stock removal) and surface finisher on stock that you simply could not or should not run through a thickness planer. The benefits of a drum sander are quickly realized the first time you use one.
THE SANDX CWI-S1701:
The SandX CWI-S1701 arrived well crated and CWI had taken the time to fasten the drum sander to the bottom of skid via 4 bolts that provided secure transport. Uncrating the drum sander was a simple task.
For the most part, the drum sander is completely assembled except for having to assemble the heavy duty steel base, install the 4″ dust port and bolt the sander to the base (which I enlisted the help of a couple of friends for) the whole assembly took less than an hour. This is the fourth CWI product I’ve reviewed and I have to say that the fit and finish on all these machines are the same……outstanding!
With the drum sander securely fastened to the heavy-duty steel stand and resting on the supplied, thick rubber feet, I wanted to mention some of the “notable features” of this well designed and constructed piece of machinery so I have removed the side covers and the hinged hood to facilitate just that.
UNDER THE HOOD:
The actual drum on the SANDX CWI-S1701 is the first thing that caught my eye. The perfectly machined and balanced 5″ diameter, 18″ long aluminum webbed drum, turns on large bearings resulting in vibration free rotation at 2260 RPM. This 18″ sanding drum provides a full 17″ of sanding capacity and uses standard 3″ wide abrasives.
The horizontal adjustment screws, used to adjust the drum parallel to the drum sander’s bed are located at the left end of the drum along with the spring-loaded cap screws used for adjusting the in-feed and out-feed hold down rollers. Both of these adjustments are easily made and are easily accessible.
Tucked away and difficult to see but an essential part of the SANDX CWI-S1701’s drum are the very simple but effective spring loaded sandpaper clips located at each end of the drum. These easy to operate clips do an excellent job of holding the ends of the sandpaper tight on the sanding drum but easily release the sandpaper when a sandpaper change is required.
Calling the 17” industrial style rubber conveyer belt or as some call it feed belt, a “notable feature” is definitely an understatement on my part. Unlike feed belts made from sandpaper or flimsy rubberized belts, this feed belt has been manufactured to last. It is the same feed belt that SandX uses on their monster 20HP, 37″ wide industrial belt sander and this belt really grips the work piece being fed into the machine.
And when it comes time to adjust the tension or alignment of the feed belt SandX makes it easy with the two (one on either end of the feed belt) easy to use, heavy duty belt adjusters. Loosen the locking nut on the adjustment bolts, rotate the adjustment bolts in or out for proper tension and alignment and tighten the locking nuts in place…that’s all there is to it.
This is a heavy-duty belt and tensioning/alignment system that rides smoothly over a robust, durable and flat, cast iron table… there are no flimsy parts here. The variable speed control knob on the front of the machine controls the speed of the feed belt from zero to 22 feet per minute allowing the user to “dial in” feed belt speeds for various applications.
The cast iron feed table and conveyor belt assembly travels smoothly up and down by way of a chromed gear crank handle on (located on top of the sander). The chain feed sprocket system is connected to four vertical, fine-threaded rods for a smooth, stable and accurate positioning of the feed table. The adjustable table will accommodate work pieces ranging in thickness from 1/8” to 4” thick with a minimum of 7″ work piece length.
The SANDX CWI-S1701’s power is provided through a TEFC 1.5HP, 110volt/12 amp motor that plugs into a standard household receptacle. This motor provides the necessary power to drive the sanding drum and feed belt even when the maximum capacity of 17″ is fed through the machine. The belt that drives the drum is a standard, readily available “V” belt and adjusting the belt’s tension is simply done through an access slot in the rear of the machine with a 14mm wrench.
Finally, all of the electrical controls including the feed belt speed, OFF/ON switch and the circuit breaker rest button are located on the front, lower left of the machine. I would have preferred to have the all of these controls up a little higher but I quickly got used to their location.
SANDPAPER ROLL INSTALLATION:
Although the SANDX CWI-S1701’s owner’s manual covers the topic of sandpaper installation, I feel that it could have been done with a little more attention detail. To dispel any confusion when it comes to the installation of the sand paper roll, here is my take on it.
As I’ve said before, this machine uses standard 3″, cloth backed abrasive rolls which are generally purchased in bulk size, usually 25 yards or more of a given grit. Grits range from 36grit for aggressive stock removal up to 220grit for fine finishing. The majority of cloth backed sanding rolls have two important items printed on the back of the roll. One is the grit number (36, 60, 80grit etc.) and the other is directional arrows. These arrows indicate the correct direction that the abrasive must travel for optimum efficiency.
If you purchase your 3″ sanding rolls in bulk (25 yards or more) and for a precise fit onto the sander’s drum, it is advantageous to create a template for cutting the angled ends of the sandpaper roll. The SANDX CWI-S1701 requires a roll of 3″ wide sandpaper, 109 1/2″ in length and cut on an angle on both ends to fit the sander’s drum perfectly.
Referring to the drawing below, I cut a 3″ wide roll of sandpaper, grit side down to a length of 109 1/2″. Keeping the grit side down with the paper’s directional arrows pointing to the left, I measure back from each end 15 1/2″ and cut the sandpaper as shown in the drawing below.
The quickest way to cut the sandpaper roll accurately and with consistent results is to make a template out of 1/4″ thick, 3″ x 24″plywood with the drawing below drawn onto the template and with one end of the template cut to the same angle as below. Simply cut the sandpaper to 109 1/2″ lengths, use the template to trace the correct angle on one end of the sandpaper and then the other end and then cut the sandpaper using a utility knife. That’s all it takes to obtain perfect fitting sandpaper every time you need it.
In the photos below, pay particular attention to the way in which the sandpaper is installed onto the sanding drum once the end of the sandpaper is engaged into the drum’s sandpaper clip.
With the sandpaper securely fastened into the drum’s sandpaper clip and ensuring that the sandpaper is being installed in the right direction, I proceed by winding the sandpaper around the drum in a slow spiral by turning the drum towards the back of the machine with my right hand as the sandpaper feeds onto the drum. I’m careful to make sure that I not only keep the sandpaper tight on the drum, I check to make sure that the sandpaper edges butts up tight to itself with no overlapping of the sandpaper.
When I reach the end of the drum, I depress the sandpaper clip in the end of the drum and insert the end of the sandpaper. I then go back and make sure the sandpaper is tight on the drum with no overlapping paper and no gaps between the sandpaper. Once everything is secure it’s time to sand.
Drum sanding is a slow but steady process and it’s a process where experience is the best teacher. For instance, how fast should you run the feed belt is dependent on several factors, the width and species of material being sanded, the grit that is being used in the sander and how much material you’re taking off in a pass are several of the factors that determine how efficient the drum sander will run. If you run the feed belt too slow and you’re sanding a resinous wood like pine, it’s easy to clog the paper (see picture below).
There is more to using a drum sander than a thickness planer so my advice would be to go slow and get a feel for the drum sanding operation. You will soon get a sense of how much of a bite you can take in a single pass and how fast or slow to set the feed belt for a particular sanding job. For the most part it’s a trial and error thing and the more you use the machine, the more proficient you get…. believe me, this process doesn’t take very long to become good at. The manual does help with this, it covers a number of useful tips on how to get the most out of this drum sander and it is well worth the read.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The SANDX CWI-S1701’s smooth running, powerful and quiet 1.5HP motor delivered all that I could have hoped for in a 17″ wide, single drum, drum sander. It easily handled all of my sanding needs including this 17″ wide pine cabinet gable. And when it came time to thickness sand some 8″ wide, highly figured Australian Lacewood for a current project, it was more than equal to the task, unlike my thickness planer that rips this wood to shreds.
The SANDX CWI-S1701 is definitely a feature packed, robust drum sander with all of the features a woodworker could ask for and more. Everywhere I looked on this machine, there is attention to detail, from the welded steel frame, the heavy-duty stand, and extremely durable feed belt and the cast iron feed table to all the easy to use adjustments, SandX has left nothing to chance. Simply put, SandX has covered it all and they’ve done it extremely well.
If you’re in the market for a drum sander I encourage you to take a good long look at the SANDX CWI-S1701 and see if you don’t agree that it is everything a woodworker could ask for in a 17″ single drum, drum sander. It is without a doubt, a sweet machine.
For more information on the SANDX CWI-S1701 click here.
- 17” Sanding Width Capacity
- 5” x 18” Machined Aluminum Sanding Head (3” Wide Abrasives)
- Spring Loaded Abrasive Strip Clips
- Industrial Quality Rubber Feed Belt
- 1/8” to 4” Sanding Height
- 7” Minimum Work Piece Length
- Cast Iron Sanding Table
- Easy Adjust Conveyer Tracking
- Variable Speed Conveyer Zero-22’/Min
- 1.5 HP 110/1/60 Motor 12 Amp
- Four Post Table Support
- Chain Sprocket Height Adjustment
- Floor Space 36” x 18” x 46”
- Shipping Dimensions (28” x 33.5” x 29”)
- Shipping Weight 279 LBS