I first started using my drill press as a sander when I wanted to remove a “dove-tail” from the bottom of a bowl I had turned which, because of its’ wavy edge, had no real way of being held in the lathe.
Since then I have progressed and 99% of my work, be it bowl or platter, is not held in the lathe using the conventional “dove-tail” at all, but with a metal ”video head” hot melt glued to the base of my work.
This still leaves me with a little “cleaning up” following the removal of this metal device and subsequent glue residue.
Having achieved such a standard of success using this method, the same system is used to sand flats on bowl blanks prior to attaching my glued on blocks, surfacing flat stock and even to some extent actually thicknessing material.
The photo above shows the variety of abrasive discs that I use and which are readily available. The thing that should be noted, is that they are not the usual flexible rubber discs where the abrasive is installed and held in place by a large washer and screw, you might try one of these but scratching by the washer and screw could result in a spoilt job.
Both the larger discs are made of a fairly inflexible plastic. The red disc is already abrasive coated and comes in various grades and with proper cleaning, seems to last forever. The black disc does have a washer and screw to hold sheet abrasive but these do not impose themselves on the working surface.
My favorite is probably the small black disc made by “3M”. This has removable discs that are actually “screwed” on. Several grades of grit are available and are easily cleaned with a standard disc cleaning stick.
In use the object to be sanded is placed on the drill press table and the table raised until the disc just makes contact. The table, which is not locked, is swung from side to side under the rotating disc. The work may also be moved backwards and forwards, towards and away from the pedestal column. Raising of the table as the work of sanding progresses seems to require only minute adjustments.
This photo shows how a non-slip protective cloth may be used between the work and the table.
Cautionary Notes: This procedure even at low spindle speeds is very aggressive and far more material is removed than by using a disc sander in a hand drill.
It is recommended that a dust mask and safety glasses be worn and that a firm grip is maintained on the work piece.
Finally, a lambs’ wool buff with suitable polish may be used to produce an excellent finish. In this case the table is swung completely out of the way or lowered well below the work and the project, held in both hands is brought up to the buff.