A belt sander is a power tool used to shape and finish wood and wooden objects. It features an electric motor that, once engaged, turns a two drums on which a piece of sandpaper is attached. There are dozens of different types of belt sanders, though most work in this same manner. But if you're thinking of using a belt sander for the first time, there are a few safety tips you should follow to reduce the risk of bodily injury.
Use a Dust Collection System
It's a good idea to choose a belt sander with a dust collection system, such as a filter bag or vacuum. In addition to protecting the motor from unnecessary wear, this also reduces exposure to particulate matter -- small pieces of wood and dust that you may otherwise inhale into your lungs.
Wear Impact-Resistant Eyewear
Don't forget to wear impact-resistant eyewear when using a belt sander. This is arguably the single most important piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) for using a belt sander. With its high-power motor, the sander can literally shoot chunks of wood into the air. Without the appropriate impact-resistant eyewear, this could result in serious eye injury or even vision loss. Problems such as these are easily avoided, however, by equipping yourself with the right PPE, including eyewear.
Sand with Belt Motion Away from Your Body
When using a belt sander, position it and the object so the belt motion is away from your body. This reduces the risk of a belt accidentally hitting your body and causing injury.
Inspect Belts and Discs Prior to Use
It's a good idea to inspect the sander's belts and discs prior to use, checking to ensure they are in tact and not damaged. If either the belt or disc is damaged, you should refrain from using the sander until the respective item is replaced. Additionally, you should check to make sure all discs are properly secured and not loose.
Use Two Hands
A belt sander requires two hands to "safely" operate: one hand should be placed on the trigger switch, while the other hand should be planed on the handle knob.
Keeps Hands Away from the Belt
I know this probably sounds like common sense, but it's still worth mentioning that you should keep your hands away from the sander's belt at all times while in operation.
These are just a few safety tips to reduce the risk of injury when using a belt sander.