[James] Multiplies His Floor Sander By Four

Hackaday contributor and new homeowner [James Hobson] had a dilemma on his hands. He had rented a commercial drum sander to begin a floor refinishing project. Like many before him, James was a bit too aggressive with the drum sander in places. The uneven stripes didn’t show up until the sander was returned and the floor was stained. Renting the sander again would be an expensive prospect. There had to be a better answer…

That’s when [James] put on his [Hacksmith] cape and got to work. He built himself a DIY floor sander (YouTube Link) using four Ryobi orbital sanders, some scrap wood, and a bit of ingenuity. [James] screwed the four sanders to a plywood sub plate, then added a top plate with a handle. He even gave the sander its own outlet strip so he wouldn’t be dragging four power cords behind him.

[James] found that synthetic steel wool pads weren’t cutting through the floor very well, so he upgraded to 220 grit sandpaper. That did the trick, and the sander worked great. Now he won’t have to rent a drum sander when it comes time to refinish the first floor of his new house!

19 thoughts on “[James] Multiplies His Floor Sander By Four

  1. Sanding floors is a pig of a job. When I did the floors here about 10 years back, yeah there’s a few chatter marks from the drum, and scours at the edges, but screw it, I’m the only one who will actually notice them, just how often do you closely inspect the floor of other people’s houses.

  2. I feel for anyone trying to refinish wood floors,
    We recently bought a house and suddenly my wife decided we needed to have all wood floors. (She never mentioned that when we were looking.) So, I pulled up the carpet in the hall and bedrooms and “score”! They all had white oak flooring under the fairly new carpet.
    I found that old white oak floors are hard as stone. I went through two days of trying to use a rotary floor sander ( not the drum) two weeks of multiple passes with an orbital sander and finally gave up and hired someone to refinish the floors and was thankful to give him the money. He said old white oak floors are the hardest floors to finish and he had to bear down with a commercial drum sander.

  3. My uncle can up with a good idea to sand the floors an the two houses he’s built. He took a few sanding blocks and attached them to the blades of his lawnmower. While he got so strange looks from cars driving by, the sander worked quite well.

    1. Either he finished the floors before the walls went up during a drought, or he reinvented the gas powered concrete float for wood floors just too fast.
      However this goes against the grain, rotary sanding leaves swirl marks in wood unless fined to extra fine.

      1. Yeah, he did it before the frames went up. I thought the same thing about going against the grain but for some strange reason it just seems to work. We all thought it was similar to the concrete float too. But it did work and both the floors look lovely and no risk of big gouge marks in the timber like a drum sander.

    1. This is exactly what I was thinking! As someone who tried to use an orbital sander on wood floors before going the belt route, they just dont have the power to do anything more than take a bit of the shine off.

  4. Having done a lot of sanding on many things of wood, I can say sanding the finish off is 9 tenths of the work. Finish clogs the grit appropriate sandpaper in as little as 3 strokes. Yeah, before the motor is at full speed you have loaded the paper to max. When was the last time you saw a belt sander with variable speed, it’s normal in drills now but not sanders. Why? The grit used on most floor sanding operations is very coarse, so too much of the wood is taken off too fast when sanding to get thru the finish. This is an attempt to dig thru the finish quickly. If only you could wet sand slowly a wood floor with a garden hose. The next best thing is a dust raisin’ blast of air direct on the medium, at 120 psi.

  5. Maybe after the sanding is done you could replace the sand paper with bristle brushes and make some kind of motion platform for robotics. Kind of like a quadrotor with weight shift.

  6. He should have rotated the sanders each 90 degrees on the board. The exhaust from each unit is blowing straight into the vents of the unit beside it. Sanding dust will quickly wreak havoc on those motors.

  7. Hmm, when I rented a sander to redo the floors in my house they gave me the choice of a drum sander or a random orbit floor sander that had 4 heads on it. The drum sander is good for the first pass or when you want to remove a lot of material. The random orbit is great for final sanding. So they do exist commercially but good job making your own. It looks smaller and when you’re done you’ve got a new tool(s)!

    here’s a version found by Google that I used

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