Spindle Sander Safety

Spindle sanders are dangerous. January 15, 2008

I teach a beginning woodworking class as well as working in a custom shop. I personally have had no accidents using an oscillating spindle sander, but students have. I tell them the feed direction of the wood is right to left, and don't press hard into the spindle. However, when the spindle grabs, there is no reaction time, and the last student had her thumb dislocated. Have others found anything to make the tool safer to use?

Forum Responses
(WOODnetWORK Forum)
From contributor L:
Put a metal guard around it that can go up and down to accommodate the thickness of the wood. Then adjust it so it can be 1/4" above the thickness of the wood. You could use Plexiglas in place of the metal for better visibility.

From contributor P:
I unfortunately had an accident on an oscillating spindle sander a year or so ago. I had a piece of plywood 3/4" x 5" x 5" which I had drilled a 2 1/4" hole in the center of. I placed it over a 2" diameter spindle as it was moving. It instantaneously grabbed the plywood piece and thrashed just about all my fingers at once. I felt as if my fingers had been slammed in a car door. Thankfully nothing was broken. The lesson here is that in a case like this, have the spindle size considerably smaller than the diameter of the hole. If in doubt about whether a spindle will grab your work in this way, leave the machine off and place the work over the spindle when the machine is off. Then turn the machine on and poke the work into the spindle with a long stick. My lesson is that this quiet, simple machine can be deadly. Be careful!