One look at a belt sander may leave you with a false sense of security which states that they aren’t necessarily as menacing and as intimidating as bladed power tools such as circular power saws or wood chippers. However, the fact of the matter is, it is still a tool, and it is still a machine that could cause some serious damage to property and even to your body, if not handled and maintained properly. You would do yourself a huge favor if you took a step back to read up on seemingly unnecessary but definitely vital safety precautions on the manual included with your belt sander, or any other power tool for that matter.
Though there are specific guidelines that manufacturers would impose on for the usage and maintenance of their products in particular, here are some tips that you ought to know, regardless of who made the belt sander you have in your hands.
- Ensure the cleanliness of your workspace. Besides achieving a more professional environment for you to work in, it is actually also for your safety, in the sense that you are clearing the area of any hazardous material that could bite back at you in the future. If you’re working with tougher materials, sparks can fly out as a result of contact with the sanding belt, and you wouldn’t want to regret, say, not cleaning up that idle pool of fuel you accumulated after refilling your power generator. Prepare the workplace as well. Make sure to avoid using the sander in damp or wet conditions as much as possible.
- Take all the proper precautions before actually operating the belt sander. This includes making sure that the tool is switched off before you plug it in, unless you’d like to chase the sander down a short (yet possibly reckless) path. Check that the fixtures and the interior of the machine are absolutely dry and cool before switching it on.
- Wear the right clothing for the job. Take off your watch, and any necklaces. Do not wear anything that could get caught into your belt sander as it works. It sounds crazy, but you never want to leave this sort of issue to chance. As you will be doing a lot of movement, use clothing that isn’t too loose, but doesn’t wrap around your body either. You will probably be doing some sweating, and it is always a good thing to be cool and dry, especially during sanding jobs which require focus and control.
- Use protective gear. No matter how experienced you are, you would do yourself a huge favor to make it a habit to wear the appropriate equipment to protect you as you work. Safety goggles, earmuffs or earplugs, face masks, and hard hats could be all there is between you and a potential injury.
- Handle the Belt Sander with care. If you’re using a handheld belt sander, you may have noticed its weight; if you’re starting off in using belt sanders, one tip is to work with the weight. Don’t strain yourself by applying pressure when the weight of the belt sander is enough to give you the results you need. Belt sanders are usually built to be bulky, but that shouldn’t be a reason for you to go reckless – rollers and the belt itself may be misaligned with improper handling, resulting in uneven sanding jobs, or even injury. If you’re looking to sand areas such as walls and ceilings, make sure you have the proper support so you have the same experience as you would while sanding a surface like a table or cabinet.
Sanding shouldn’t be a daunting or an intimidating task; you can enjoy it as much as you would appreciate any other woodworking tasks, as long as you prioritize your safety and the condition of your belt sander. With these tips, you would definitely be steering clear of any unfortunate incidents that give sanding a bad name.