Tips for choosing the right grinder for your project

December 26, 2014

Grinders are among the most versatile power tools in your workshop. They’re great for smoothing edges, removing or trimming excess materials and sharpening your tool set.

Tips for choosing the right grinder for your project

Types of grinders

Grinders come in different styles.

Bench-top grinders: These powerful and sturdy grinders are secured to a bench or stand for maximum control. They have two grinding wheels, one on either side of the motor.

Portable grinders: Portable grinders are available as angle grinders and die grinders and are usually smaller and handier than bench grinders. Final shaping and touch-ups are often best done with a portable grinder.

Angle grinders: Angle grinders are maneuverable and versatile. They're great for smoothing, sanding, sharpening and cutting.

Die grinders: Die grinders are designed for one-hand operation with smaller blades and higher speeds for fine detail work in tight spaces. A mini-grinder is ideal for precise jobs like shaping and engraving.

Types of grinding wheels

Different types of grinding wheels are effective on different surfaces.

Silicone carbide: This is a high-abrasive grinding wheel, great for working with materials like grey iron, brass, aluminum and stone. It is also recommended for sharpening and rounding metal tools and pipes.

Aluminum oxide: Aluminum oxide and zirconia alumina are the best materials for grinding steel and steel alloys. Both are strong and durable. Aluminum oxide is built for superior precision and is also great for woodworking and materials that might otherwise crumble under pressure.

Straight wheel: The classic wheel shape looks like a regular circle, with the grinding edge on the outside.

Specialty wheels: Others like cylinder and cup wheels are named for their shapes and built to reach and grind highly specific materials.

Grinder features

  • Eye shield: Some grinders, especially bench grinders, feature a guard above the wheels for protection from flying debris
  • Side handle: Many angle grinders have an adjustable handle for a safe and precise grip
  • Spindle lock: This button allows you to lock or release your grinder wheel
  • Soft start: This feature forces the grinder to start slowly, making it safer and easier to handle

Factors to consider when buying a grinder

Consider power output and durability when buying your next grinder.

Replacing parts: Certain types of grinder wheels, like aluminum oxide, require more frequent replacement. Consider the longevity of each material when making your purchase.

Pneumatic vs. electric: While electric grinders are generally powerful, pneumatic compressed air grinders are best when precision is necessary since they can be lighter and easier to handle.

Precision: Choose a grinder based on the kind of work you’ll be doing. A portable cordless grinder enables you to move about freely while a stationary bench grinder offers less flexibility.

Power isn’t everything when it comes to your new grinder. Consider the materials you’ll be working with and how much control you'll need to do the job right.

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