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Oops! Spindle Sander Whirlybird

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Spindle Sander Whirlybird

By Mark Claypool

To clean up the slot I had just cut in a long, narrow piece of white oak, I installed a sanding drum in my oscillating spindle sander. I dropped the slotted piece in place over the drum. The drum fit inside the slot perfectly, I thought. But when I turned on the sander, the piece ripped out of my hands and spun around like a propeller. The machine began to leap wildly about my bench.

Sensing imminent disaster, I hit the deck. I tried to reach the off switch but couldn’t, because the sander kept jumping and the propeller kept threatening. Next, I tried to pull the plug from the socket, but it was mounted in the wall immediately behind the sander, where I didn’t dare to reach. Finally, I ran to the electrical panel and hit the circuit breaker.

The resulting damage included a bent sander shaft and a very frazzled set of nerves. I learned two lessons. First, when sanding internal cutouts, always choose a sanding drum small enough to provide sufficient clearance. Second, have a backup shut-down procedure, in case the off switch suddenly becomes off-limits.


This story originally appeared in American Woodworker July 2004, issue #108.