Many people know how to use a disc sander and think that it takes common sense, but few know how to use a disc sander safely. A few basic tips that anyone can apply when using a disc sander will help keep you (and others) from being injured while using this tool. Do not underestimate the power of the disc sander. See the resources section below for an example of someone who did.
Make sure that there is nothing baggy hanging off of you. This includes (but is not limited to) sweatshirt drawstrings, jewelry of any kind, long hair, long sleeves, ties and wires from electronic devices. Keep everything attached to you away from the moving parts so that they do not become caught and cause you harm. There should also be absolutely no other distractions. The shop should not be overcrowded so that people bump into each other near the sander.
Make sure that you keep you hand away from the wheel when it is plugged in or moving. When the machine turns on, it should be allowed sufficient time to get to full speed; when it is turned off, it should never be brought to a stop by pressing anything up against the disk to bind it up and force it to stop prematurely. Never touch a piece to the disk unless it is up to full speed. Keep your fingers at least four inches away from the disc of the sander at all times. Do not touch the disc, even when it is barely spinning. Be aware of the location of your fingers at all times.
This sander is to be used to sand the outside radius of a piece and should never be used to take off more than an eighth of an inch off of a piece. The piece should be kept constantly moving so that the wood does not start to burn from the friction of the disc, which will leave a black mark, create smoke and pose a fire hazard. Do not press so hard on the disk that you slow the disc down.
Keep the work on the side of the disc that is rotating downward into the machine and not on the side that rotates upwards. This means that if the disk is rotating counterclockwise, the side of the disk you will work on will be to the left of the axis. Use the faster grinding outer edge for speed or the slower moving inner edge for more control.
Put on your goggles and mask while you are working with this machine as it creates dust. Turn on the dust collector and open the pipe that leads to it, if there is one installed on your disc sander. If there is not one installed, make sure that the disc sander is well cleaned after your work is done and that dust is not allowed to build up in the shop.
Keep the table at 90 degrees to the face of the wheel, forming a perfect corner where the two meet. Again, make sure to always grind at the side of the disk that is rotating down toward the table. Check to see that your work is resting flat against the table on a large and flat, stable side rather than a thin edge. Always keep your work in your control. Keep constant pressure on the piece down onto the table and the wheel where you are grinding. Never lift the work up off of the table.
Make sure that there is nobody standing near the machine and that there is nobody (including the operator) standing to either side of the machine in line with the direction of the spinning disk. Make sure that you are standing in a position that is well balanced and not operating this piece of heavy machinery while you are impaired in any way for the sake of safety.
Pre-mark the contours that you want on the piece that you are grinding down so that you can see see when you have reached that shape you desire, sanding down to the marks you have made.
Other trade books will have safety tips and methods of operation but the instructions that came with your machine are the most specific and accurate. If your instructions are missing, go to the manufacturer and get a copy. Some instructions can be found online or borrowed from others who use the same machine.
If you have not used this device before, do so under the tutelage of a seasoned and qualified professional.