Yes, of course, power tools are dangerous. But I think the solution is to treat them with respect and use them as directed, not abandon using them. I've used lots of power tools that I view as just as hazardous, if not more so (e.g.,chain saws and snow blowers), but you use the tool you need to get the job done. Just as I wouldn't go back to using hand saws and snow shovels just because the powered ones are dangerous, I don't want to be limited to only hand polishing my silverware.
I've just spent some more time searching the internet, and I realize I've been using the wrong search terms. I've been searching on "bench grinder" because that's the tool I'm familiar with. Turns out, that's not what I need. I should have been searching on "bench polisher/buffer." It's a different beast. The motor has longer shafts and no guards around the wheels to make it easier to work the piece against the wheel at different angles, including getting at the inside with a tapered buff. It's also suggested that the tool be mounted on a pedestal, not a bench, again to make it easier to position the piece at different angles against the wheel.
The sites I'm viewing also mention this kind of buffing and polishing is a horribly dirty process (fills the air with a dirty lint). They even go so far as to recommend doing it outdoors, if possible. Obviously, I don't want to do this in the same room where I'm setting up a tabletop photo studio! Time to rethink my plan. I could wall off a corner of the room, with its own exhaust fan, and that may be what I have to do.
As I said before, not a chance for anyone else to be doing this for me. I have to do it myself, or give up doing it, entirely.
And as you might have suspected, there's more to this than just keeping my own personal silverware polished, but I don't believe I'm allowed to discuss that here because there's a commercial aspect to it. My silverware collecting started out as a hobby, and it still is primarily a hobby, but I've found a way to make a little money at it – not a lot, but enough to "feed my habit" – if I can find a way to increase my output without aggravating the stress injuries in my hands.
These bench polisher/buffers come in various horse-powers and speeds. I'd like to get the smallest one that will do the job. Any ideas as to what would be the minimum?