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JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander
Unique capabilities in a well-built machine
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 6-21-2008
Drum sanders have quickly become popular with woodworkers because of their width capacity and the fine surface they are capable of putting on woods of all types. The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander takes those traits to new heights with super-tough construction, proprietary SandSmart(tm) technology and the ultra-precision of a DRO (Digital Read Out). JET also saw fit to include typical aftermarket pieces like extension tables and high-quality casters. The result is a very capable, easy to use drum sander that is built to be used for many years.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander is only 52"-tall by 41"-long but can sand material up to 4"-thick and 44"-wide (in 2 passes). The drum and conveyor concept also means that it can handle material as short as 2 1/4"-long and as thin as 1/32"! Those capacity specs give the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander a lot of capabilities other sanding machines only dream of.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander is based on a pair of 3"-diameter, thick walled steel posts that provide the backbone for this 385 LB machine. The motor, table and other components use heavy gauge steel mounts. The true-running aluminum sanding drum is mounted in an engineered cast iron arm that keeps the drum remarkably steady to insure smooth sanding.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander stands on cast aluminum legs, each tipped with surprisingly high quality full swivel casters. This wide stance and quality wheels keep the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander remarkably stable when in use but very easy to move from one place to another. The casters have high-end, non-marring polyurethane tires and simple foot-operated locks that really lock both the tire and swivel functions. That dual locking means that the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander is very stable when the casters are locked.
Efficient sanding machines generate lots of dust. The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander has a full-width hinged shroud surrounding the drum. The outfeed side of the shroud has a 4"-diameter port that makes it easy to connect a real dust collector. During the evaluation I connected my POWERMATIC PM1300 dust collector and the shop stayed remarkably clean. The shroud looks kind of typical but works very well.
Power and Control
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander has two motors. A 3 HP TEFC (totally enclosed fan cooled) 1 phase, 230V (only) motor drives the sanding drum. Keep in mind that JET rates their motors using a continuous duty cycle rather than the always suspicious "peak" or "maximum developed" figures some companies continue to float around. Aside from true power ratings, this continuous duty cycle design means the motor labors less and lives way longer even under heavy wood shop usage.
The conveyor belt is powered separately by a 1/30 HP Dc variable speed motor. Using style motor made it possible for JET to incorporate their patented SandSmart( technology that will be addressed later in this review.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander features a true industrial style magnetic switch. This style switch is primarily intended to protect the motor from harmful power fluctuations. However, it also functions as a safety device when the power goes out because it prevents the machine from restarting on its own when the power comes back on. Once the power is interrupted, the operator has to push the On button to get the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander to start again.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander uses a specially designed 5"-diameter by 22"-long aluminum drum that has been given the whole precision machining treatment to be sure it is straight and balanced. That is important because the drum spins at 1600 RPM. To further insure a perfect surface on the wood, the drum is adjustable in height and downward pressure.
The sanding drum has high quality sealed and permanently lubricated ball bearings at either end. The drum mechanism is mounted in a super rigid, cast iron truss-like carriage arm. This arm and mounting system makes aligning the drum to the table surface and then keeping it aligned easy.
The drum is equipped with patented abrasive take-up fasteners that make changing the abrasive strips fast and easy. JET includes their Tuff Tool( that makes operating the take-up fasteners much easier for those of us without super-strong fingers.
Table Surface and Feed
The conveyor table is 23"-wide by 30 3/4"-long. Add to that the included 10"-deep by 24"-wide steel extension tables. That adds up to 51" of support surface that makes working with large pieces much easier and very accurate.
The conveyor belt has easy to use tension and tracking adjusters. The adjusters have a wrench permanently captured on the threaded shaft so the wrench you need is always there! They also have a TRACKERS(tm) system built in that makes belt adjustments few and far between.
The conveyor belt slides over a precision flattened steel bed. That goes a long way to insuring you get a super smooth, consistent thickness piece of wood on the outfeed side of the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander conveyor belt drive has JET's EXCLUSIVE SandSmart(tm) variable-feed control system. This infinitely variable rate control provides a range of 0 to 10 feet per minute, allowing you to set the best rate for the wood being worked with. Within that feed system is the JET SandSmart( technology that monitors the load on the conveyor. When a strain is detected, the SandSmart(tm) system automatically reduces the feed rate to help prevent burning of the wood or the abrasive.
The conveyor table is moved up and down through its 4" range to regulate depth of cut. A large, 7 3/4"-diameter cast-iron handwheel turns a lead screw assembly that raises and lowers both sides of the table simultaneously to insure it remains parallel to the sanding drum. Each full turn of the handwheel changes table height by 3/32" making small but precise changes easy to make.
JET added a depth stop on the support post that makes sanding multiple boards to the same thickness fast and very accurate. The depth stop is completely tool free.
Digital Read Out
The DRO (digital read out) is standard equipment on the (#649600) JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander. This digital measuring device takes all of the hassle out of setting exact sanding depths. It also makes returning to a known thickness a "dial it in" task. And, you can do it all with 0.01" resolution! This DRO can show inch or mm readings and even comes with two batteries!
The DRO has multiple functions not the least of which is the "Absolute Measurement". Sand a piece of wood, measure its thickness with a digital caliper and use that dimension to program the DRO. From that moment on, it is dead on the money.
The DRO also has a "Relative Measurement", "Hold" and "TOL" (tolerance) functions. All of the functions and their setup procedures are described in the instruction manual.
In the Shop
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander is impressive because of its construction, design and capabilities. This is a well made machine that despite its remarkable accuracy and range of unique capabilities, remains very user friendly in setup and use. In all normal use situations, the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander is tool-free.
The dual motor concept provides plenty of power with an equally large amount of control. The infinitely variable conveyor speed control allows creating silky-smooth surfaces on any species of wood. JET's exclusive SandSmart(tm) circuitry comes in very handy, especially when making initial passes on wood that is never very consistent in thickness. When the thick part hits the sanding drum, the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander automatically slows the feed rate before anything bad happens to the wood, sanding strips or motors.
Because the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander sands rather than cuts, grain orientation in relation to feed direction is far less important. I still "read the grain" and sand downhill but with the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander, you fear no odd grain pattern. Creating parallel sides on highly figured woods has never been easier. The open end design means we can sand wood up to 44 inches wide by simply making a second pass. Try that on any planer on the planet.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander has a large material capacity but is equally interesting because of the small end of that range. You can sand irregularly shaped pieces of wood as small as 2 1/4"-long and get clean, parallel sides. I can see this "small" capability saving lots of time and effort in many woodworking shops.
The JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander is worthy of consideration by a huge number of woodworkers. It is slower than a pure planer but if we consider that it produces a near finish-ready surface, that can be a plus rather than a minus.
With an expected street price between $1800.00 and $2000.00 (6-21-2008) the JET 22-44 Pro-3 Drum Sander could be a time and money saver for your shop. It also will enhance your projects with super flat, super smooth panels and parts that cold step up your finishing program as well.
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