Bench grinders are one of the most useful machines in the workshop, helping you complete a number of processes including sharpening, grinding, and cutting. However, they do pose a safety risk while operating the machine.
Do read on as I dive into the details of each safety tip mentioned above. This will help you understand their importance and ensure you are well versed in safely operating a bench grinder.
Stabilize the Grinder
While a bench grinder operates at lower speeds than other tools, it is susceptible to vibrations due to its size. As a result, this can lead to the user losing control over the tool, which can cause the wheel to shatter or the tool you are grinding to be flung into the air.
Therefore, It is crucial that your bench grinder is placed on a workbench and secured properly. Most models come with holes in the base plate that allow you to fasten the machine to the workbench using nuts and bolts.
Also, ensure that the workbench on which the grinder is placed does not move around and is leveled.
Wear Safety Equipment
One must make sure not to wear any loose clothing around the bench grinder while operating it. These clothes can get caught in the spinning wheel, causing the user to be dragged into the wheel which can lead to severe injuries.
It is quite important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating a bench grinder. It ensures that the operator is protected from flying debris from the tool or a shattered wheel in case of an emergency.
Having a hard-top helmet helps protect the head region from coming in contact with flying debris. This can prevent serious head injuries that can be caused by high-speed projectiles, which can also be fatal in extreme cases.
Operations like sharpening and grinding involve removing small particles from the tool. As a result, it is essential to wear eye protection like safety goggles to ensure none of these particles strike your eye, which can lead to permanent loss of vision in a worst-case situation.
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Having a face mask will protect you from inhaling fine particles that are created while grinding. These materials can be harmful to health in the long run, with many of them having cancerous properties as shown by numerous studies.
One must also wear ear protection like plugs or sound mufflers to prevent hearing loss in the long run, especially while operating the machine continuously.
Use the Right Wheel
Bench grinders are designed to accommodate numerous wheels of different materials and sizes. This allows users to use the machine for multiple purposes ranging from cutting to sharpening. However, one must be careful that the right wheel has been installed for the given operation.
Ensure that the speed of the wheel matches that of your grinder. If the wheel is too fast, it may end up disintegrating due to very high forces acting on its surface. As a result, the fragments of the broken wheel can then be ejected at high speeds, causing a serious accident.
Using the correct material when it comes to the wheel is also important. This allows for more efficient cutting and prevents any deformation or damage due to extensive heat build-up as well, which keeps the user safe while operating the bench grinder.
It is also essential that users ensure the wheel is aligned correctly and is also tightened sufficiently to the motor to ensure no sudden movements during operation. Ensure that there are no cracks or deformations, which can have an adverse impact on the integrity of the wheel during operation.
Use the Safety Provisions of the Grinder
Most bench grinders come with a host of safety features that protect the user while enhancing the user experience while operating the machine.
A tool rest is a metal plate that is placed in front of the spinning wheel. It helps stabilize the tool before the wheel starts spinning and ensures proper sharpening or grinding.
The spark protector is a transparent plastic piece that is placed just above the grinder. This must be kept along the line of sight of the operator to allow them to view the workpiece while protecting them from the sparks emitted during the process.
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The wheel cover or guard is a hard plastic material covering the spinning wheel. Its main purpose is to prevent high-energy projectiles from being ejected in case the wheel shatters during operation.
A work light helps improve the operator’s sight of the workpiece, allowing to complete the required procedures and minimizing the possibility of errors.
Use Proper Grinding Techniques
Do not sharpen or grind any tool with the side face of the wheel, as it is not designed to withstand the load generated. While using the grinding/sharpening wheel, keep moving the tool across the face of the wheel to ensure even wear of the wheel and a better finish.
Ensure that the tool is in contact with the face of the wheel at an angle to prevent it from getting caught up in the circular motion of the wheel.
Try to keep the motion of bringing the tool in contact with the wheel as smooth as possible. Jerks or bumps into the wheel can lead to a loss of control, which can cause damage to the tool, wheel, and operator.
Also, do not allow the tool to come in contact with the wheel until the latter has reached the required speed.
Do not bring the wheel to an abrupt stop even after the power has been turned down, as this can cause damage to the wheel as well as yourself. Avoid touching the surface of the tool that has just been in contact with the wheel as it can be very hot due to heat generated by friction.
I hope the above-mentioned safety tips will keep you safe and protected while operating your bench grinder. This will also help you enjoy the process and explore its versatility when it comes to maintaining your tools.