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Preparation is vital to making your job and business successful. You’ve invested in all the tools and equipment you’ll need for success in completing the job at hand. Smart preparation means having the right safety products on hand before you begin a job and reviewing proper procedures with personnel before doing the job. General power tool safety warnings would include the following:

1. Work Area Safety

a) Keep work area clean and well lit.

b) Do not operate power tools in explosive atmospheres, such as in the presence of flammable liquids, gases or dust.

c) Keep children and bystanders away while operating a power tool.

2. Electrical Safety

a) Power tools plugs must match the outlet.

b) Avoid body contact with earthed or grounded surfaces such as pipes, radiators, ranges and refrigerators.

c) Do not expose power tools to rain or wet conditions.

d) Do not abuse the cord.

e) When operating a power tool outdoors, use an extension cord suitable for outdoor use.

f) If operating a power tool in a damp location is unavoidable, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected supply.

3. Personal Safety

a) Stay alert, watch what you are doing and use common sense when operating a power tool. Do not use a power tool while you are tired or under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication.

b) Use personal protective equipment. Always wear eye protection. Protective equipment such as approved respirators, nonskid safety shoes, hard hat or hearing protection used for appropriate conditions will reduce personal injuries.

c) Prevent unintentional starting. Ensure the switch is in the off position before connecting to power source and/or battery pack or picking up or carrying the tool.

d) Remove any adjusting key or wrench before turning the power tool on.

e) Do not overreach. Keep proper footing and balance at all times.

f) Dress properly. Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry. Keep your hair, clothing and gloves away from moving parts.

g) If devices are provided for the connection of dust extraction collection accessories, ensure these are properly used.

4. Power Tool Use and Care

a) Do not force the power tool. Use the correct power tool for your application.

b) Do not use the power tool if the switch does not turn it on and off.

c) Disconnect the plug from the power source and/or the battery pack from the power tool before making any adjustments, changing accessories or storing power tools.

d) Store idle power tools out of reach of children and do not allow people unfamiliar with the power tool to operate the power tool.

e) Maintain power tools.

f) Keep cutting tools sharp and clean.

g) Use the power tool, accessories and tool bits, etc., in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations, taking into account the working conditions and the work to be performed.

5. Service

Have your power tool serviced by a qualified repair person.

When sanding, exposure to dust generated from workplace and/or abrasive material can result in lung damage and/or other physical injury. Use dust capture or local exhaust as stated in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). Wear government-approved respiratory protection and eye and skin protection. Failure to follow that warning can result in serious lung damage and/or physical injury. Also, in the case of hard hat areas, wear the appropriate hard hat.

It’s standard practice in most wood sanding situations to start with a coarse grit abrasive to flatten and remove scratches and then follow with a medium grit and finally a fine grit to create the desired finished scratch profile. For example, if the job will be finished with grade 180, one could use the sequence of 80-100-120-150-180; however, that would be overkill and is not required. To achieve a good sanding sequence, one could skip every other grade because the sanding sequence as illustrated below removes the scratches left from the previous abrasive. Other factors that determine sanding parameters in abrasive selection include the species of wood, wood density, age, etc. In some situations, researching before you begin to sand is a smart move.

Some sanding requires wet sanding to leave a finer finish and also reduce the normal dust from dry sanding. Water or other lubricants used in wet sanding will remove the residue and help increase the life of the sandpaper.

Random orbital sanders can be used on a variety of surfaces and substrates such as wood, paint, composites, solid surface or metalworking applications. The randomness of the orbit helps camouflage the scratch pattern – whereas in hand sanding the cardinal rule is ALWAYS sand with the grain of the wood. The random orbital action of this sander provides rapid stock removal and a more uniform finish, without the swirl pattern often left by one-direction disc sanders. Depending upon the desired finish, the use of different backup pads can change the finished scratch profile in conjunction with holding the abrasive disc to the sander. A soft pad will cut less and result in a softer finish scratch. The most popular orbital sanders in wood working are 5-inch diameter, available in 5-hole, 8-hole, no-hole and universal-hole designs.

Palm finishing and detail sanders come in a variety of sizes and are compact, lightweight and easy to control. They can be used for everything from heavy sanding to final finishing.

Belt sanders are one of the more aggressive tools available for sanding large, flat surfaces and can be used on wood, metal and fiber-glass. They are ideal for heavy stock removal, stripping, coarse sanding and leveling. Sanding belts have a cloth backing that helps the belt track properly on the belt sander.

Angle grinders are used by woodworkers and metalworkers for grinding, cutting and polishing. These tools, which operate at extremely high speeds (5,000-10,000 RPM and higher), are some of the most aggressive power tools on the market.

Remember: Always be safe by using safe tools. Use tools for intended purposes and follow manufacturers’ recommendations. APC

Galen Fitzel is a 3M technical services specialist. He can be reached at gafitzel@mmm.com.


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