Aerostatic spindles are used in precision grinding applications requiring high stiffness and very low error motions (5 to 25 nm). Forces generated during precision grinding are small and present challenges for accurate and reliable process monitoring. These challenges are met by incorporating non-contact displacement sensors into an aerostatic spindle that are calibrated to measure grinding forces from rotor motion. Four experiments compare this force-sensing approach to acoustic emission (AE) in detecting workpiece contact, process monitoring with small depths of cut, detecting workpiece defects, and evaluating abrasive wheel wear/loading. Results indicate that force measurements are preferable to acoustic emission in precision grinding since the force sensor offers improved contact sensitivity, higher resolution, and is capable of detecting events occurring within a single revolution of the grinding wheel.