One of the most used tools in my shop is the drum sander. It’s saved me countless hours and I don’ think it’s too hyperbolic to say that I love it. There is one GLARING problem with it, however. That’s the cheap, pressed sheet metal, tool stand that it comes with. It’s dangerously underbuilt considering the 300lb curb weight of the machine.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through how I built a heavy-duty rolling tool stand, capable of supporting my behemoth drum sander. And along the way, I might even teach you a thing or two about cabinet making. Because this tool stand is essentially a reinforced cabinet with some wheels strapped to it.
Before we start this project I should let you know that there is a video version of this post available. All you have to do is click play on the video above. or you can go directly to you my YouTube Channel and check out this video along with all of my others.
The Old Stand, For Shame
Here’s the original stand that was included with my drum sander, tsk tsk.
As you can see the casters attached to the legs are starting to fold in on themselves, which has made the system completely unbalanced, and frankly, dangerous to use.
Also, I found this old stand to be desperately wanting in terms of storage. It’s got that lower shelf, but it could barely hold anything, and since it’s completely open it was always collecting dust.
In the construction of this new stand, I want to focus on 2 main points. Making it stronger and increasing the amount of functional storage in my shop. Because you can never have enough storage space in a workshop.
Alright, let’s get into it!
Breaking Down a Full Sheet of Plywood
I started this build by breaking down a full sheet of 3/4″ shop-grade maple plywood.
I cut all of my final dimensions on the table saw, but pushing a full sheet of plywood through the table saw is awkward and dangerous. To make things a little easier on myself I used my track saw to break the big sheet down into a few more manageable pieces.
I really wanted to limit this build to a single sheet of plywood, but unfortunately, I had to use about 1.5 sheets in the end to get the design I wanted. Luckily I had a bunch of plywood scraps around the shop, so I only actually had to buy 1 sheet.
Cutting the Main Box
Over on the table saw I cut the top, bottom, left, and right outside pieces of the main box.
The top and bottom pieces have the same footprint (38″x22″) as the original stand. I always felt that the original stand was stable and secure feeling (before it started to fold in on itself) so I didn’t see any need to increase its size. I opted to toss out the tapered design of the original stand in favor of a more boxing design because I wanted to maximize the interior storage room.
The two side pieces I cut were 23 3/4″ x 22″. I arrived at this dimension by measuring the height of my assembly tables and then subtracting the height of the drum sander’s bed, and the height of the new casters I was going to use. The reason I did it this way is that I like for all my tools and working surfaces in the shop to be the same height. It makes life a lot easier when you need to span larger pieces across multiple work surfaces.
Obviously, if you’re recreating this build at home, most of these dimensions will be different depending on your use case. So I’ll try wherever possible to focus on the logic of my decisions.
Rabbits! Errr…. Rabbets!
In order to get the corners of my box to “lock” together, I cut rabbets into each of the 4 panels I just cut. If you’re unfamiliar with the term rabbet, it’s just a fancy woodworking way of saying channel that runs along the outside edge of a piece of wood.
These interlocking rabbets help to add strength to the corner joints. They also make assembly a little easier.
Rabbets are actually a lot easier and faster to cut on a router table, but mine is currently out of commission, so I used the table saw for this as well.
The Center Strut
Since this drum sander is so heavy I wanted to add some reinforcement to the center of my box. Enter the center strut.
This little piece of plywood will go dead center of the box and help to keep it from sagging. It will also double as a supporting column for the interior shelves. I didn’t make it the full depth of the box because I wanted to be able to store full height stuff inside of the box when I’m done too. Instead, I made it 11″ x 22 3/4″, which is approx half the depth of the box.
In order to support the interior shelves, I decided to use a classic shelf pin system. I marked out lines at 2″ intervals and then drilled out the holes over on the drill press.
Quick tip: After drilling the first few holes I noticed I was getting really bad blowout on the backside of the plywood, so I grabbed a piece of 1/4″ scrap plywood and put it under the center strut as I drilled. This sacrificial piece prevented any further blowout.
Shelf Pin Holes on the Box Sides
Unfortunately, my drill press wasn’t deep enough to drill the shelf pin holes on the bigger side panels of the box. So instead I got a little crafty and clamped the center strut to the box sides and used it as a template to drill the shelf pin holes with a cordless drill.
This actually worked surprisingly well and took me no time at all.
When I was done I hammered in some nickel-plated shelf pin grommets into each hole. This is going to be some classy-ass shop furniture when I’m done 🙂
Assembling the Main Box
With the bulk of the cutting and drilling out of the way I could finally start on the assembly.
I raised 3 sides of the box up on my assembly table and temporarily taped the corners together.
On the 4th side of the box, I applied a thin bead of carpenters glue into the rabbets and then raised it up into position. Once it was properly seated, I clamped it in position using some big bar clamps.
Assembling cabinet boxes (which this tool stand basically is) is a bit tricky. It’s important that they go together nice and square, otherwise the doors and shelves won’t function properly. In order to keep this box square as I assembled it, I grabbed my corner jig, which is essentially just an L-shaped piece of plywood that I know is a perfect right angle. I clamped that in the corner using some smaller F clamps and that pulled the whole box into square.
P.s. the second photo in this gallery is a great example of the interlocking rabbets.
Once I was satisfied things were square I started tacking the corners together. I started with an 18 gauge brad nailer, but I wanted to make sure this box was really strong, so I followed that with a bunch screws as well.
This is partially for my own peace of mind. But also, secretly, I’m trying to shame the engineers that designed the original stand haha
Installing The Back Panel
Full disclosure, I kind of flubbed this step a bit.
I cut a back panel out of 3/4″ plywood (23 3/4″ x 38″) and the whole way around the perimeter I cut a 3/4″ x 1/2″ rabbet. The thinking here was that the sides of the box would slot into the back panel and create another layer of added reinforcement.
I neglected the old woodworking adage of “measure twice and cut once” and ended up making my rabbet something closer to 7/8″ x 1/2″. When I installed the back panel I ended up with a 1/8″ reveal the entire way around the inside of the box. Not a huge deal for shop furniture, but had I been making a kitchen box for a client or something like that, I definitely would’ve recut this piece.
To install the back panel, I glued and nailed it in place.
Installing the Center Strut
Making sure the center strut was exactly in the middle of the box was important to me, so to locate it, I cut 2 little spacers out of scrap that placed it precisely in the center of the box. Once I had it there, I clamped it down and screwed it in position.
Since this center strut is such an integral part of the box’s construction I made sure to really go overboard with the screws. I screwed it along the top, bottom, and back of the box at regular intervals.
Installing Some MUCH Better Casters
Good casters are seriously underrated when it comes to tool stands. The casters on the old stand were tiny, and that led to them always getting jammed up on every single little piece of scrap that fell on the shop floor. To add insult to injury, they also had brakes that were really hard to engage properly.
These new casters solve both of those issues. First off, they’re just way bigger, which should make for a much smoother rolling experience. And second, they have much bigger brake levers, which should be a lot easier to press down.
Before installing the casters I added some plywood reinforcements to the 4 corners of the box. These plywood triangles help to distribute the massive load of the drum sander across a wider surface area.
Once those were in I installed the casters in the corner of the box and I put them right up to the edge of the box. The thinking here was twofold. I figured that the majority of the weight of the drum sander would be translated down through the outside of the box, so I wanted the casters to be right at the point where the load was. And also, putting the casters right at the edge of the box meant that I would have easy access to the brakes.
Making The Shelves
Realistically, this box could probably support 2 or 3 shelves per side, but I opted for just 1 per side to start. I wanted to live with it for a bit before deciding exactly how many shelves I wanted to add to it. I still don’t know what exactly I’m going to put in it yet.
I ripped a single piece of 11″ x 48″ plywood, cut 2 shelves out of it, and then dropped them into position.
Adding a Front Strut/Brace/Apron
Not really sure what to call this part as you can probably tell from the title of this step haha.
Regardless of what you call it, I wanted to add some reinforcement to the open face of the box. I know I’ve been harping on it a lot, but that drum sander is heavy and I’d hate for my box to sag under the load of it. So I ripped a 3 1/2″ wide strip of plywood and cut it to fit in the front of the box. I clamped it in position and then screwed the crap out of it.
Cutting the Cabinet Doors
Alright, time to cut the doors. These doors will hopefully prevent the cabinet from collecting a ton of dust like the only one did.
It was right about this point that I ran out of my first sheet of plywood and had to start raiding my scrap pile. Luckily I had enough on hand to get the job done.
To start I cut a single piece that was the same size as the front of the box. Then I measured out the exact middle and cut it into two pieces. I was careful to keep track of which piece was the left and which was the right because once I installed them as the doors I wanted the grain pattern to be continuous across the front of the box.
I mean, I know I’m just building shop furniture, but I’m not an animal. I need my grain patterns to be consistent.
Ok so, installing hinges can be a bit nerve-racking, it’s precision work and if you don’t get them right your doors won’t really work. But as long as you take it slow, and double-check your work, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Marking the location of the hinges was my first step. I measured down from the top of the box and picked 2 locations (7″ and 19″) where I planned on installing the hinges. I marked the box first and then did the same on the doors. Whenever possible I like to work with nice round numbers because they’re easier to remember and you’re less likely to make a mistake when transcribing them. 7 13/32″ is a lot easier to mess up than 7″.
It’s also important to note that I’m marking the center of the hinge locations here. That’s the only measurement that’s consistent between the two halves of the hinges (hinges come in 2 parts, the actual hinge itself and a mounting plate).
Mortising the Hinges Into the Door
The actual hinge mechanism itself sits inside of the doors, so I had to mortise out some pockets for them. That meant it was back over to the drill press for me. Using a Forstner bit, I mortised out 2 holes on each door.
Figuring out how far from the edge of the door to mortise the hole is a bit of a thing. If I did this all the time, I’d probably have that measurement memorized, or a jig made, but I don’t. Instead, I used a piece of scrap and through the process of trial and error, I figured it out. I believe it was slightly more than 1 1/4″, but I’m going on memory as I write this.
Once my mortising was done, I secured the hinges in position using a couple of screws. One thing to note is that you want to make sure your hinges get installed perfectly perpendicular to the edge of the door. If you install them at a slight angle they may not function correctly.
Mounting the Hinge Plates
I attached the second half of the hinges, the mounting plates, to the inside of the box. You actually do get a little bit of adjustment in these plates, so it isn’t 100% necessary to get them in the exact right location, but you have to be within an 1/8″ or so.
I was disappointed with myself here. I actually have a little jig that I use for attaching these plates that lays them out perfectly, but of course, I forgot it on a job site. So I had to figure it out the old-fashioned way with a tape measure and square.
The vertical centerline of the plates was recessed from the front of the box 1 1/8″.
With the plates installed, the hinges on the door simply latch onto plates and give you a nice secure connection.
Adjusting the Hinges
I’ve installed my fair share of doors using hinges over the years, and I’m yet to have one door function perfectly on the first try. Lucky for me, these hinges all have some degree of adjustment to them. There are 1-3 little set screws on each hinge that allows you to adjust how the door sits against the box. More expensive hinges tend to have more, and easier adjustment.
I spent 5 minutes or so playing with the set screws until my doors were functioning smoothly and sat nicely against the box.
Drilling Mounting Holes
Trying to figure out how to mount the drum sander to the new tool stand was vexing me for a bit. I couldn’t exactly flip it over to measure the locations of its mounting points (4 holes thread for big chunky bolts) due to its weight. So instead I came up with the “genius” idea of just flipping the old stand upside down and using it as a template.
Once I had the old stand ontop of the new one I used a sharpy to trace out the mounting holes, which I then drilled out using a 1/2″ drill bit.
Mounting The Drumsander
The last step of this build was just awkwardly sliding the drumsander over onto the new tool stand and then bolting it into position from below.
You can tell I trust the strength of this box because I’m willing to lay down inside of it with a 300lb hunk of metal hanging directly over my head. If you can’t trust the strength of something you built yourself, what can you trust!? 🙂
And just like that, I was done!
Now my drum sander has a nice smooth rolling tool stand with a ton of dust-proof storage down below it. Perfect for all of its sanding accessories.
On top of that, because I got to build this tool stand to whatever height I wanted, I built it so that the bed of the drum sander was inline with my two large assembly tables. This allows me to use them as giant infeed and outfeed table for when I’m sanding large tabletops and pieces like that.
Alright, that’s it for this build everyone. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it, if you did you might want to check out my Instagram (Instagram.com/ZacBuilds/) and the aforementioned YouTube channel (youtube.com/zacbuilds) to see the rest of my builds.
If you REALLY liked this build and want to get early access to all my upcoming builds as well as behind-the-scenes content, consider becoming a supporter on my Patreon. I’m trying to get enough patreons together that I can afford to hire a video editor and create content faster. Editing is a big bottleneck for me.
Hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next build!