Lathe-mounted contour sanding drum
Most woodworkers only have an occasional need for contour sanding of odd-shaped workpieces. The best tool for this process is often a pneumatic sanding drum that mounts between the centers of your lathe. Shopsmith offers these inflatable drums, but what if you don't have time to get one - or don't have enough uses for it to make owning one worthwhile for you.
Here's a quick, affordable solution that will work if you have some drum sanding sleeves available.
This idea will work with practically any sized drum…but 3" or 6" long, 2-1/4" diameter drums work best.
1: Use your lathe to turn two discs, 2/3/4" in diameter by about 3/4" to 1" thick. When making these, form a 1/4", slightly-chamfered rabbet on one end of each, that's about 1/4" to 3/8" high. When finished, this smaller diameter should fit snugly into the ends of your 2-1/4" diameter sanding drums.
2: Tap the point of your lathe dead center into the center of one disc, making a recess for your bearing-type live center. Either mount the other disc to your drive center….or to a small diameter faceplate.
3: Slip your turned disc for the live center end of your drum into position on one end of a drum sleeve and pack the drum with sawdust (the more sawdust you pack into it, the more rigid - and less conforming your drum will be).
4: Position the live center end of your drum on the lathe, then the drive center (or faceplate-mounted) end. Move the lathe's spindle (or tailstock) into position, squeezing the sawdust between the two centers. If the drum isn't sufficiently rigid, repeat the process, packing more sawdust into it.
5: Turn on your lathe (slow speed) and sand your contour…being careful not to exert excessive side-thrust force. Take your time and don't push it.