VETERANS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE — Woodworker makes military service plaques with his Woodmaster Drum Sander

Dennis Hogan's a volunteer on a mission. Returning from the Service in Vietnam, he felt vets weren't being respected. These days, he's saying "Thanks for your Service" with Service Plaques he makes with his Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Dennis Hogan’s a volunteer on a mission. Returning from the Service in Vietnam, he felt vets weren’t being respected. These days, he’s saying “Thanks for your Service” with Service Plaques he makes with his Woodmaster Drum Sander.

    More than a few Woodmaster owners have shared truly inspiring stories on our blogs. Here’s a powerful new story — a Washington woodworker who honors his fellow veterans with military plaques he makes with his Woodmaster Drum Sander.

“I was in construction for 25 years, then I was a machinist at Boeing Aircraft Company. I retired 13 years ago and have combined those two professions in woodworking.

Super-handy volunteer — the kind organizations love

Here's our man Joe Brennan, head of sales at Woodmaster. Joe was surprised and very pleased when he received the service plaque Dennis made for him.

Here’s our man Joe Brennan, head of sales at Woodmaster. Joe was surprised and very pleased when he received the service plaque Dennis made for him.

All the woodworking I do is volunteer. I can’t remember the last time I charged anyone anything. I do volunteer woodworking, remodeling, cabinetmaking, and more. I’ve done a lot of work building new display cabinets for the Costal Interpretive Center in Ocean Shores, WA.

I’m involved in the VFW, too. The local post acquired a 4,400 square foot building that needed extensive repair. And I built a 24’ x 36’ pavilion for our church last summer.

Deep appreciation for service veterans

But my special interest is making plaques for service veterans, WWII Vets especially. I served in Vietnam and when we all came home, it seemed like we weren’t very well respected. Times have changed but I started making these plaques as a way of showing appreciation for other veterans. They deserve it — they put their lives on the line for other Americans.

Honoring vets, Dennis has made hundreds of commemorative Service plaques. Each one takes him 8 hours or so.

Honoring vets, Dennis has made hundreds of commemorative Service plaques. Each one takes him 8 hours or so.

It’s amazing the stories that come up when I present a plaque to a vet. The stories come up and the tears come down. I find this work to be greatly satisfying.

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8 hours apiece

I use Eastern Ash for my plaques. It’s equivalent to oak but a lighter color. They start as glue-ups – I glue 2 to 4 boards into a blank 15” x 24”. The blanks start out about 1” thick and I dimension them down to 0.800 – a little more than 3/4” — on my Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Here's Dennis' "Ace hardware CNC router." Yes, he made it himself with parts from here and there and Ace Hardware. It obviously does a great job as you can see in the intricate bas relief carvings and engraving on his plaques.

Here’s Dennis’ “Ace hardware CNC router.” Yes, he made it himself with parts from here and there and Ace Hardware. It obviously does a great job as you can see in the intricate bas relief carvings and engraving on his plaques.

I engrave them with a CNC router I built. I call it my ‘ACE Hardware Special.’ I have templates for all the service branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and so on. I engrave the soldier’s name, date going into the service, date leaving, where they were stationed — Vietnam, Korea, more. Often, I’ll engrave the name of a sailor’s ship on his plaque. Then I hand paint them. I give each one with a note of personal appreciation plus a letter explaining why I do this.

I’ve made about 200 of these plaques in the last 4 years, 7 or 8 a month. Each one takes about 8 hours.

Retired builder & machinist, he knows his way around drum sanders

I got my 26″ Woodmaster Drum Sander mostly to make these plaques. I’ve had different sanders through the years but I wanted to make better quality plaques so I looked to Woodmaster. I had a Grizzly® sander and it would burn up sandpaper if you used the wrong speed. It gouged the wood, too. And it wasn’t cheap when you consider the sandpaper I was going through.

Woodmaster had features I liked, like slow sanding speed. The drum turns at 700 rpm, I think, whereas imports run over 1,000 rpm, maybe 1,700 rpm. The imports’ fast speed heats the paper so it loads up and burns wood. That’s not a problem with Woodmaster. It’s very forgiving.

Self-feed plus reverse

Woodmaster, wow, you just put wood in at one end. It self-feeds through and it comes out the other end. A really nice feature is power reverse. I just run it back and forth, sanding both ways, maybe adjusting the sanding depth a little deeper with each forward or reverse pass. There’s no snipe. It does just a wonderful job.

Overhead plaqueBeing able to reverse the feed means I don’t have to walk back and forth, don’t have to carry a 10’ hardwood board from one end of the machine to the other.

Changing paper on imported sanders took me half an hour because you have to take the machine half apart. With Woodmaster’s hook-and-loop paper fastening system, paper changes take just a couple minutes. It’s no time at all to change from coarse, to medium, to fine, though I run 150 grit most of the time.

All today’s sanders are made in China except Woodmaster: USA

I was thinking I wanted a big, wide belt sander but the starting price is up to $7,000. I have a small shop and a small pocketbook! As far as I’m concerned, this Woodmaster does as good a job as a wide belt sander for far less money. There are lots of drum sanders on the market but all are made in China except this one. Woodmaster’s made in the USA and it isn’t any more expensive than imports.

I’m totally pleased with this sander. I’m on a learning curve but I’m pretty close to being up to speed. I had a question so I contacted Joe Brennan at Woodmaster. He got back to me within 20 minutes with the answer. I really like dealing with a company that has service after the sale. So many times these days, if you have a problem, a company will say it’s your fault and that’s it. Woodmaster doesn’t treat me that way — they work with me.

Talking to Joe, we chatted about the military. Back in ’66, I was on a mine sweeper in Vietnam. Turns out Joe was in the same squadron a couple years later. Small world.”

— Dennis Hogan, Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner, Ocean Shores WA

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