Things to Avoid With a Belt Sander
The versatility of a belt sander makes it ideal for a variety of uses, including wood shaping, rust removal and metal finishing. These machines work particularly well as wood sanders and are favored by professional craftsmen for their flexibility and ease of use.
All types of power sanders are considered tools for users of intermediate ability. It is imperative that users are aware of the safety implications involved and are always vigilant of potential dangers.
Never operate a belt sander without reading the manufacturer’s instructions first.
Sanders should never be used without wearing the correct safety equipment. Always wear goggles to protect the eyes from wood shavings, metal grindings or belt debris. Wear gloves to prevent hot sparks burning your skin and to protect your hands if the belt sander slips during use.
Avoid loose or baggy clothing. These can easily become entangled within the belt mechanism.
Never operate a belt sander without a suitable dust mask.
Never underestimate the power of belt sanders or other power tools.
Never use a belt sander without carrying out a visual inspection first. Check for worn belts, loose fittings, breaks in electrical cable or other signs of physical damage. If a belt needs changing, always make sure that the belt sander is unplugged first, and then change belts according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Never place the belt sander on the job before introducing power. It is much safer and easier to establish control by turning the belt sander on and slowly lowering onto the job in a slow, sweeping motion.
Try to avoid poor lighting conditions and never start work on a job that still has potential hazards such as nails or old fittings as these can cause particularly nasty snagging points. Always check that the immediate area you are working in is also free of hazards.
It is also advisable to sand a small test area that won’t be seen on the finished project. Because a belt sander can have a significantly different effect on a variety of resistant materials, it is beneficial to check the capabilities of the machine without running the risk of ruining a job.
Jobs should always be firmly secured in a vice or workbench before work commences.
Never work off-balance. Place feet firmly with the belt sander directly in front of you. Never lean or stretch into hard-to-reach areas. It is much safer to move around the job, focusing on small individual areas in sequence.
Never try to operate a belt sander with one hand. The power of the machine can easily cause a pulling effect, so use both hands at all times.
Always let the belt sander carry out the work. There is no need to apply excessive pressure, and doing so can easily damage the job or present a safety hazard.
When working on wood, always move the belt sander in the same direction as the grain. Work in an overlapping motion to produce a smooth and even finish.
Never use the sander with the electrical cable at full stretch. It is much safer to reposition the job or find an alternative power point.
Always keep a careful eye on potential dangers.
Always finish off by lifting the belt sander away from the job while the power is still on. Once clear, it is safe to terminate the power.
If you are leaving the job for an extended period of time or changing a belt, make sure that the machine is unplugged from the power source.