So a short time ago I talked about getting some gap plates for my oscillating drum sander 3D printed that would allow me to do “pattern sanding”. Take a look at that post here if you want to see what started this little project.

Fortunately, instead of taking a month, Shapeways got my item printed and shipped quickly and I received it on Friday!

3D printed in a kind of weird, grainy plastic, but it works!

I made sure to take some really good measurements and my precision paid off, as the thing fit perfectly!

Looks good, right! But does it fit?
With the sanding drum in place. Very, very snug and I am very happy with it!

So the way this is supposed to work is that with the template on the bottom of the piece I want to shape I I can move the combined pair into the sanding drum with the template sitting against the lip I added to the printed plate. By doing this the template never touches the drum while the work piece does. As I move the template around the work piece will begin to take on the shape of the template.

Close up of how this is supposed to work.

And the entire process was successful! The finished piece was a little bit larger than the template because unlike the router bit, the template and the work piece don’t both sit flush against the router bit/sanding drum. This resulted in the work piece being about a quarter inch larger than the template all the way around, which isn’t a problem if I either don’t care about the finished piece being bigger (I don’t), or if I just shrink my template down by a quarter inch before I make it. Again, the advantages here are that I not only can I still use my templates, but I can work on thin, often fragile parts without the danger of the router snapping the pieces. Unlike a router bit the sander won’t grab the work piece if you feed it wrong or if the grain shifts.

Also I should now be able to make finished weapons from plywood, which I COULD have done with the router, but the router tends to make sharp edges or curves in plywood chip, which is a pain in the butt to recover from.

“Finished” result. The dark pencil line is traced from the template, and the work piece is slightly larger, but not so much that its a problem.

This plate cost me about 13$ to print, and with shipping the whole deal cost me about 18$. Not bad at all! I will design and print the other plates for the smaller sanding drums in the coming months. The smaller the drum the greater the detail, as I can get into the little nooks and crannies of the template, like that little “hook” you see in the blade, right above the handle.

Keep an eye out for more details as I work with all of this more!