Common Abrasive Mistakes to Avoid

Abrasives are most commonly used to reshape and refine surfaces and come in various forms, including belts, wheels and attachments. However, to ensure you get the desired result and to ensure the safety of the operator, it’s important to correctly use the tools. Here are some of the most common abrasive mistakes to avoid to make sure you get the best and safest results. 

Using Worn-Out Abrasives

The first mistake we commonly see is people using worn-out abrasives. Worn-out abrasives become dull which will reduce their effectiveness. This means you’ll end up putting in more effort for less material removal which can potentially lead to surface damages. You can easily avoid using worn-out abrasives by inspecting the tool before each use, replacing used abrasives promptly and using the correct abrasive for the correct material. Here’s how you can identify if your abrasive has worn out:

Sandpaper: The abrasive grit will feel smooth, look for bald patches where the grit has become loose. 

Grinding discs/wheels: The abrasive surface will appear dull or glazed. If you see any cracks or signs of excessive wear on the edges, this could indicate it’s time for a replacement. 

Wire brushes: If the wires appear broken, bent or dull, there’s a high chance that the brush is worn and will not clean effectively 

Using The Wrong Abrasive

Choosing the wrong abrasive for your job can be very counterproductive. Just like you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, using the correct abrasives is crucial. If you’re trying to use a very fine abrasive, you may be unable to remove the material effectively. If you were to use an abrasive too coarse for the material, you risk leaving deep scratches. 

To make sure you avoid using the incorrect abrasive for your material, we recommend researching which abrasive is recommended or if you’re unsure, we’d suggest starting your project with a less coarse abrasive and gradually increasing the grit if/when needed. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team who can point you in the right direction!


Applying Too Much Pressure

Whilst it is important to apply pressure, going overboard can be detrimental to your project. Applying excessive pressure can gouge and go deeper than intended. By applying too much pressure, you’re also at risk of the abrasive break which is a serious health and safety risk. When using an abrasive tool on your project, it’s important to let the abrasive do the work. Apply firm and even pressure without forcing it, you should be able to feel cutting/grinding effectively. Before undergoing your project, we’d recommend practising on a scrap piece of material to get a feel for the correct pressure needed. We’d also suggest taking regular breaks to avoid fatigue and to help maintain a consistent pressure level. 


Not Preparing The Surface 

To achieve a flawless finish, a clean slate is essential. If you skip the surface preparation, you may end up with uneven results. Dirt, paint and other contaminants can heavily interfere with the effectiveness of the abrasive. 

To correctly prepare the surface:

  1. Remove all dirt, dust, grease and old paint/finish
  2. For uneven surfaces, consider lightly sanding it down or scraping beforehand
  3. Address and assess any defects like cracks and holes before starting your project. 


Ignoring Safety Precautions

When using abrasives, there are several risks present. Abrasive work generates dust particles that can irritate your lungs, sparks pose a risk to your eyes and skin and flying debris/broken machinery can severely injure you. 

When using abrasives, you must always:

  • Wear safety glasses, a dust mask and gloves. These will protect you from debris, vibrations and dust particles.
  • Ensure proper ventilation to minimise dust inhalation. 
  • Securely fasten the abrasive to the tool, following the manufacturer’s safety guide if necessary. 


Abrasive Tools & Machinery at Engineering Utilities 

Here at Engineering Utilities, we have an incredibly large range of abrasive tools and machinery for your projects. We’re committed to helping you achieve the perfect finish, every time. Take a look at our abrasive accessories or contact our team today if you require additional guidance! 

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