No hardcore woodworker or overall DIY man is without a sander, and no operator who has great surface areas to level is without a belt sander in particular. These handheld belt sanders are an absolute joy to use for purposes of covering entire tables and floors, and even walls and ceilings in a flash.
Like any other power tool that is in the shack or garage, these belt sanders come with general guidelines to follow. You may have already read the instruction manual… that means you’re off to a good start. Though there are more specific instructions and rules to using your belt sander according to the manufacturer’s standards, the following tips are general guidelines for you to use your belt sander safely while avoiding any unnecessary wear and tear, for the device and on the material you’re working on.
- 1. It cannot be stressed enough – No matter what brand, make, or form your belt sander is, you should always, always have some sort of eye protection. Safety goggles are the norm, but you can also opt to wear lighter safety glasses, as long as they have the appropriate side shields. Eye protection is necessary not just for using belt sanders, but for any sort of power tool.
- 2. It won’t help to be overly tense while you use your belt sander, but you shouldn’t have a weak, distracted grip while you’re doing a sanding job, either. You would do yourself a favor if you were in the right mindset: alert, and on guard – the ideal balance of tension and relaxation when using a belt sander. This is true especially for aggressive tools such as belt sanders. Be ready to anticipate any recoil or jolts as you switch it on, so you avoid any unnecessary injuries.
- 3. While you are making sure that you have the right gear on, make sure you aren’t wearing the wrong clothing – anything loose, any jewellery or anything dangling from you has the risk of getting caught in the fast spinning belt.
- 4. Take extra care when sanding material such as wood or plastic, because there is the significant chance of heat buildup and eventual burning. Do not place the belt sander on the material for longer than is necessary for levelling to keep that from happening.
- 5. There’s quite a lot friction generated when the moving belt hits hard material; needless to say, this sort of power tool can do serious damage to the skin on contact. Handle the belt sander with care, not only when turning it on, but while operating it as well. Make sure the power tool is switched off before laying it on a surface when you rest or do something else.
- 6. Remember that there will be a lot of dust generated while you do your sanding job. Make sure that you wear a filtered face mask in addition to wearing the appropriate goggles, to protect your entire respiratory system as you work.
- 7. Before even turning the power tool on, make sure that the sanding belt is positioned correctly; carefully switch the trigger to see if the belt is going straight through both rollers of the sander. Do not proceed to sand if you see damage on the sanding belt; replace it immediately.
- 8. You may be used to wearing gloves when using other power tools, but think twice before putting them on when using a belt sander because they can be caught into the belt as easily as any other dangling piece of hair or clothing.
- 9. Do not place the belt sander immediately on the material you will sand before you switch it on. Bring it up to full power before placing it on the wood or plastic you want to sand, because you may damage the sander otherwise. Also, allow time for the sanding belt to slow down to a stop after a sanding session. Most, if not all sanding belts do not stop immediately.
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While you are actually operating the belt sander, keep the following things in mind
- 1. The belt sander is built for power and speed, but safety should always be your priority.
- 2. Ensure that the gap which is in between the material and the rotating belt is as small as you can make it.
- 3. Do not bring your fingers closer than three inches to the belt as it rotates in full power.
- 4. For smaller items, make sure they are absolutely stabilized; if the piece is too small, then you are better off sanding it manually.
- 5. Any material, for that matter, should be securely held in place by the necessary tools before you do any sanding.
- 6. Keep your handling secure but comfortable. Any sudden movements or slips can end up with your skin getting exposed to the moving belt, causing serious injury.
- 7. Place the necessary support on any smaller pieces you will be working with using the belt sander.
- 8. Make sure your work area is as spotless as possible before you start, and take a time to clear any dust in between sanding jobs.
- 9. Do not apply too much force on the belt sander. Let the weight do the job as much as possible. For tougher material, you may want to use heavier belt sanders to do the job quicker.
- 10. Do not attempt to make any adjustments to the belt while you have the sander switched on.
- 11. Consequently, make sure that the power tool is unplugged and switched off before you make any replacements or adjustments on the belt sander.
- 12. Do not let go of the belt sander until it is powered down and the belt has stopped.
- 13. End your entire sanding session by cleaning up the entire work area and the cleaning the belt sander of residue.
As with any other power tool, if you treat the belt sander right, it will treat you right by doing the job flawlessly every time.