Angle grinders are one of the most versatile tools you can own. Any of the multiple angle grinder uses can be used from professionals to the everyday DIYer. This essential power tool is one that should have a dedicated space in everyone’s toolbox.
What Is an Angle Grinder?
An angle grinder is a compact power tool that spins a disc or similar attachment at high speeds. You may have seen or heard of these tools under other names like “disc grinder”, “right angle grinder”, or “side grinder.”
An angle grinder has a handle for one hand to provide tight control and will rotate a geared head with whatever type of disc is mounted. Your angle grinder’s usefulness will increase as you expand your collection of discs. For example, fitting a grinding wheel will allow you to tackle completely different jobs from cup brushes.
Angle Grinder Variations
Angle grinder uses are just as plentiful as their variations in power source, size, and disc type. Thanks to the multiple types of discs, you can replace numerous other tools with just a few angle grinders.
Angle grinder Sizes
The size of an angle grinder is most often measured based on the discs suitable for the tool. While the length of an angle grinder’s body, handle, potential cabling, and other components vary, the most important thing to consider is the disc size.
Unless you are looking for a particularly special model, most angle grinders will range from 4.5 inches (115 mm) up to 9 inches (230 mm). Common sizes in-between include 5 inches (125 mm), 6 inches (150 mm), and 7 inches (180 mm). The most commonly used size is the 4.5” angle grinder.
Cordless, Corded, and Air Powered
Every angle grinder will need a power source, and depending on the job(s) you have in mind, it might be easier to choose one over the others.
Cordless angle grinders offer much more portability at the cost of batteries, either rechargeable or replaceable. You will never have to worry about a cord getting in the way of your work, and transporting the tool will also be more practical. Many cordless grinders require you to buy separate batteries, making them more expensive to use in the long run.
Angle grinders with a cord are common but more limiting. While extension cables can alleviate the annoyance of needing an outlet or portable battery, that does mean investing a little more for your projects on the go.
Air-powered, or pneumatic, angle grinders work using a compressor to power the motor inside. While air-powered grinders are usually much more expensive than their cordless or corded counterparts, they can work in more conditions and exert plenty of power.
Pneumatic angle grinders also tend to last longer because heat builds up much more in traditionally-powered tools than air-powered ones. It is a balancing act of price and performance, as with most power tools.
If you’re shopping around for your first angle grinder, these options should be considered depending on whether you care most about portability, power, or cost.
Angle Grinder Capacity
The power of your angle grinder will depend on the unit’s motor. Many angle grinders boast considerably high rotations-per-minute functionality thanks to their high wattage. If you are purchasing in-person or online, you should be able to quickly find the watts indicated on the physical unit or online store’s product page.
The higher the wattage, the more horsepower the motor can take advantage of, and the faster you can expect your tool to spin. That being said, faster is not always better. Before attaching anything to your grinder, make sure the minimum and maximum RPMs match.
Angle Grinder Uses for Metalwork
Complex projects involving metal work are no problem for these grinders. Angle grinder uses with metal include simple grinding, cutting, and performing more delicate work like cleaning and polishing. The numerous angle grinder uses get to shine when combined with unique attachments.
Angle grinders used in metalwork often see iron and steel, but make sure to check with the manufacturer or supplier of your discs to see what metals you are okay to use for your project.
As the name implies, angle grinders are well-equipped to handle grinding all kinds of materials, metal included. Using a grinding wheel or abrasive flap disc will allow you to shape metal to your liking.
Multiple grinder discs can easily help you get the desired finish for your metal surface.
Angle grinders are powerful enough when equipped with the right cutting disc to make quick work of most bolts, rods, or pipes used in many industries.
Although angle grinders offer impressive power for their size, they are not advisable in larger-size cutting jobs. When used by professional welders, plumbers, or auto-shop workers, they often help in preparatory work or for precise adjustments.
Another thing you can use your grinder for is to clean metal surfaces. There are several abrasive products that you can use to help with this. Wire wheels and strip discs can remove visible blemishes and extra pieces of loose metal clinging to your work.
The high RPM on most angle grinders works perfectly for many cutting and grinding tasks while also buffing out metals to an ideal sheen. Equipping your angle grinder with a polishing disc will aid you in making short work of the final steps in any project.
The refining process of blending metal is much easier to handle thanks to products like surface conditioning discs. It’s expected that imperfections like discoloration occur during welding, grinding, or similar processes. Tools like the angle grinder and the right preparation disc will allow you to manipulate metals of all kinds.
Most surface conditioning discs are made of an open web nylon mesh that also lets you work with water or solvents without damaging the disc.
Stripping Paint and Rust from Metal
Angle grinders equipped with a stripping wheel can make quick work of old paint and rust hanging on to various metals. Abrasive synthetic fibers target any loose particles and whip them away with the power of the angle grinder’s motor.
You can easily target similar hangers-on like glue, lacquer, bondo, and old solvents and adhesives used on the metal from past projects.
Not only can an angle grinder replace a host of tools that might be taking up too much space in your toolbox or garage, but they can also make sure that tools you don’t replace can last a bit longer.
Yard work necessities like lawn mowers and weed trimmers with metal blades can get dull with continued use and become a pain to replace. Thanks to the relatively small size of angle grinder discs, you restore some of the former glory with abrasive products like flap discs and grinding wheels.
Removing Mill Scale
This iron oxide is an annoyance for all forms of metalworking operations. The non-uniform, poorly-adhering substance can form on steel in many hard-to-reach spots. You can use an angle grinder with a silicon carbide semi flex disc, nylon or metal wire brush, or strip disc to remove mill scale without needing to resort to using chemicals.
Machine processes while working with metal often result in little ridges or uneven spots called burrs. These bumps are the result of small errors with the machines used combined with the unique issues inside the metal.
If left alone, burrs can cause significant quality problems. Angle grinders are used by metalworkers every day to manually smooth out burrs with the right discs.
Angle Grinder Uses for Woodwork
There are some ways you can take advantage of abrasive or sharp discs to cut through wood pulp and shape projects easily. There are even specialty discs and attachments for angle grinders that work with wood projects and surfaces. Some discs mimic the function of chainsaws or more precise shaping tools. These tools are very powerful when you put them up against wood surfaces, so it’s not recommended for delicate work.
If you want to start carving with larger-scale materials like full logs, using an angle grinder can help you skip past a lot of tedious labor. Thanks to the power and speed of the motors inside angle grinders, making big cuts and removing chunks of wood goes by quickly.
Shaping, carving, and sanding wood is possible thanks to different discs. Just like in metalwork, the use of an angle grinder lets you replace other tools commonly used in this type of work.
Using an angle grinder will let you leverage a lot more power when managing wood than a hand plane, and requires much less investment than a mechanical surface planer. While you still have to be careful when using an angler grinder not to shave too much too quickly, it can save you plenty of time.
One of the easiest applications of abrasive angle grinder attachments to both wood and metal projects comes from stripping metal and sanding wood. The cost-effectiveness of synthetic fiber brushes and abrasive sanding discs allows you to efficiently work towards the finish you want for both metal and wood surfaces.
Surface Prep for Shou Sugi Ban
By equipping your angle grinder with a nylon wire cup brush, you can prepare wood for the centuries-old process of heat-treating created in Japan. The “Japanese wood-burning” techniques are still used for the sake of longevity and aesthetic quality in cedar, pine, and others today.
Part of the Shou Sugi Ban wood burning technique includes removing char from planks that have had their surfaces burned. While material like sandpaper could also be employed for the same effect, taking a wire brush-equipped angle grinder will take significantly less time.
Uses for Angle Grinders for Specific Industries & Hobbies
The versatility of angle grinders goes beyond just the realms of metal fabrication and woodworking. You can find them in high-end auto body shops as well as in the arsenal of most carpenters and plumbers. DIYers and professionals can replace tons of extra tools with just a few more discs, not only saving you time but money as well.
Making a knife and keeping it sharp are both possible with an angle grinder. With a limited budget or even high-quality materials, you can get to work on DIY knives with the versatile discs available for modern angle grinders.
Flap discs, grinding wheels, and cutoff discs are usually the commonly used knifemaking tools for newbie and experienced bladesmiths. More experienced knifemakers will use a belt sander to do most of the grinding and shaping of their blade, but an angle grinder is the perfect choice for novices looking to save some money in the beginning.
Auto Body Work
Thanks to the toughness and efficiency of most angle grinders, they see use in auto body shops frequently.
Removing Bondo, adhesives, and other sealants from vehicle parts could involve a chemical solution, but you can also grind through most of these with an angle grinder. This is often done with flap discs, grinding wheels, or paint stripping discs.
Cutting and shaping metal, especially when it comes to individual car parts, is easy enough for grinding and cutting discs to handle. Customizing parts becomes much simpler with a simple angle grinder around.
Next a welding machine, an angle grinder might be the most used tool by many welders. Techniques like maintaining a specific angle with the meta, prepping surfaces for welds, and removing weld slag are everyday uses a welder might have for an angle grinder.
Another vocation that benefits heavily from the use of angle grinders is carpentry. However, as with any job or DIY project, a variety of tools is often called for. Of course, that will depend on the specifics of each job, and an angle grinder can save a ton of room in the toolbox.
Just like metal and wood, angle grinders cover a range of stone materials. Cutting through concrete, mortar, and other masonry materials can be straightforward with a masonry cutting wheel or similar disc.
Thanks to the durability of the masonry discs, blunt and heavy materials will face the full might of the high-rpm grinder without breaking or chipping.
An excellent use for a masonry cutting wheel also comes in cutting tile. After measurements have been made, the angler grinder can make short work of cutting out shapes from your materials and makes for much easier customization on the spot.
There are a lot of examples here for different things an angle grinder can be used for, but there is still so much more. They can be effective tools for woodwork, auto body work, metalwork, and in so many different industries. With the right attachments and discs, an angle grinder can be one of the essential and versatile assets in your kit.