Comparing with saws, sanding machines may be regarded safe. However, a power sander can do a lot of damage if not used properly or your hands carelessly touch it, especially at high speed. Even a handy random orbit sander can make a painful cut when you accidentally touch the edge of a fast spinning disc. When working with power sanders, always be careful and follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.
Keeping Area Clear
You could trip over when a sander’s electrical cord or vacuum hose can get in your way, and sanders with coarse grid papers can chew through them rapidly. Especially a belt sander can suck up the cord between the belt and the body as well as sand it over. So you should keep the area clean not to have accidents. You should also avoid sanding near flames and sparks to prevent fire hazards.
Wear Proper Gear
When you using a noisy sanders, you should wear ear plugs to prevent hearing loss. Sanding can create debris and safety glasses or goggles should be worn. Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry and put up long hair because a sander can suck them through.
Certain sanders like orbital sanders can make a lot of vibration. Using them even in short period can cause tingling in your hands and wrists and using for an extended time can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. If you wear anti-vibration or vibration-reducing gloves, you can reduce hand fatigues and risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. When you feel uncomfortable with padded gloves, you can wear just one glove on the hand you are using the sander.
Power sanders can generate significant amount of force. When you start a sander, you should turn it on and bring to full speed while holding it away from the work area. When it reaches full speed, set it to work gently and gradually. Otherwise, the sander can kickback, leave scratches, gouge the surface or make swirl marks. When you turn off the sander, make sure it completely stopped before setting it down. Otherwise, you will witness the self-propelled moving tool.
Do not apply too much pressure when using sanders. Many times the weight of the sander itself will provide enough pressure on the work surface. Excessive pressure can cause kickback, overheating or burning of the work surface.
When you use a power sander, the most visible and apparent problem is fine dust. Dust makes you uncomfortable breathing, and prolonged exposure to dust can create all sort of respiratory problems like bronchitis, emphysema, and even nasal cancer. Some like drum sanders have a built-in dust collection system and most orbital or random orbit sanders have a dust bag or can be connected to shop vac, which can capture a significant amount of dust and also make clean-up of work space easier.
However well the dust collection is made, there will still be airborne dust from power sanding. So it is important to wear an eye protection and mask. If you use power sanding extensively, consider having an air cleaner. Dust mask can protect you from fine dust but air cleaners can capture dust from air.