Lathe Disc Sander, Part 3

12 27 2020

At the end of the last blog post, we cut a disc from 3/4" MDF, trued the edge and flattened the face to make a platen that spun true on our lathe. We had also attached the large cloth sanding disc of the appropriate size. Now all we need is a table to hold parts as we sand them. This table is a pretty simple open box that can be almost any size you wish.

A man applies an adhesive-baked sanding disc to the platen

The set up shown is a Midi lathe and is using a 12” diameter sanding disc , so this table top will be 12 inches wide, a bit extra is fine if you want a little table past the edges of the disc. I made the overall depth of the top 10” from disc to back or table, and the box 6” deep. The frame of this lathe is 4” wide so I made the base plate 6” wide to keep the uprights as far apart as possible. The uprights are sized to hold the table top at, or just above the horizontal center line of the platen. As with the platen, the top can be laminated to provide a smooth working surface.

Diagram of the lathe stand

A clamping plate inside the frame of the lathe will hold the table in place. This requires two holes drilled through the table base. The lathe frame is already designed to hold the tail stock and tool rest this way, so it is easy to make our own clamping plate. A piece of 1/2" Baltic birch was cut to fit inside the frame, and two T-nuts added to match the holes in the table base.

I glued and pocket screwed the uprights to the base and the table top, completing the actual assembly. Being able to sand angles using a miter gauge is very handy, so a groove was milled into the table top to accept a miter slot extrusion. I happened to have a section that includes both the 3/4" miter slot as well as a parallel T-track section, so I used that. This extrusion was bonded in place with epoxy and sanded flush to the edges once cured.

Milling the groove for the extrusion

To mount the table for use, the clamping plate is attached loosely using a pair of threaded knobs. The clamping plate slides into the existing groove in the lathe frame with the base of the table on top of the frame. The entire unit can then be slid along the frame until it touches the disc on the platen. Back it off from the sanding disc surface so there is a small but visible gap and adjust as needed to keep it parallel. For many sanding tasks, setting the gap by eye is perfectly fine, but to use a miter gauge for sanding precise angles, you may want to use a pair of wood spacers to set the sanding table parallel to the sanding disc surface.

The lathe stand is mounted to the lathe

Having dedicated tools for specific tasks is usually the most efficient option because time is not spent breaking down one task set up only to build another. But the space all these dedicated tools require also costs money, so it may pay to be able to use a tool for more than one type of task. Being able to use your lathe as a large disc sander, a custom drum sander, or even to power a disc attached to a soft interface, all within the same foot print, will certainly be the proper solution for many shop. Whatever way you need to work, the Team at are ready and able to help you find sanding solutions. All you need to do is reach out and let us know what you need.

A craftsman uses a lathe sanding disc to sand a round object