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Portable Cutoff Wheel Safety - Do’s, Don’ts, and Safe Practices

Aug 4th 2020

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Cut-off wheels are an incredibly useful tool for quickly cutting different materials, but when used incorrectly, can be extremely dangerous. Safe use of a cutoff disc includes wearing the right safety gear, inspecting the wheels before use, and making sure you are using the cutting discs as intended. Please take these "do’s and don’ts" safety tips into consideration before operating any tools with a portable cutoff wheel.

Cutting Wheel Safety Always DOs:

  • Always wear proper safety equipment. Personal protective equipment is extremely important. This includes wearing safety glasses, along with goggles, and/or a face shield. We also recommend wearing other protective equipment, as needed, such as dust masks and gloves.
  • Always do a safety check of each cut-off wheel before usage. Check for cracks or any damage. This will prevent flying bits around the shop or a broken disc from shattering during use.
  • Prior to use, check the maximum operating speed marked on the wheel and compare it against the machine’s speed. BHA’s can be found on any product description page or on the front of the cutting disc.
  • Check to make sure that your disc is the right size for your angle grinder or other power tool you plan on using it with. Using one too small or too large can be dangerous.
  • Do ensure the cut-off wheel is meant for the material you are using it on. This also prevents contamination and waste of materials and wheels. This step can save you quite a bit of overhead cost.
  • Do make sure your portable cut-off wheels are mounted on grinders that have proper guards and proper flanges.
  • Do position the wheel guard so that it is properly in place between the operator and the cut-off wheel.
  • Always do a one-minute test run of your wheel in a protected area before cutting. This allows for you to ensure the wheel will be safe to use before cutting your workpiece.
  • Always do a check to ensure that the workpiece is secure at both ends before cutting. The slightest movement or sliding of the piece can be a major hazard.
  • Do ensure that the portable cut-off wheel is only used for cutting. Never use it for a task it isn’t intended for like grinding or deburring.
  • Always maintain a 90-degree angle for the cut-off wheel to the workpiece.
  • Always stop cutting when you hear or feel any unusual vibrations, sounds, or if something doesn’t feel right. Inspect the wheel before continuing on.
  • Always do your best to prevent impacts to the cut-off wheel. If an impact happens stop cutting and inspect the wheel for damage -- change your wheel if damage is seen.
  • Do use a moderate and consistent rate of feeding to the wheel.
  • Do keep all clothing and body parts clear of the cut-off wheel, especially while it is in motion. This also includes your protective wear.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the spark stream to protect both yourself and bystanders.
  • Do ensure your work area is clear of flammable materials.
  • Always replace wheel guards that show any sign of damage.
  • Always handle and store your portable cut-off wheels carefully and safely.
  • Do check your wheel for all warnings and follow all of them.
  • Always review safety data sheets for your wheel and the material your wheel shall be cutting prior to use.
  • Always reach out to us regarding any additional safety information or concerns regarding your BHA cut-off wheels. Your safety is our number one priority.
  • Always ensure you are complying with not just OSHA and ANSI B7.1, but also thoroughly read and review your machines guidelines, warning, and safety paperwork. It is your responsibility to ensure not just your safety but everyone in the surrounding vicinity safety when you are operating your machine.

Cutting Wheel Safety DON’Ts: 

  • Don’t ever use a different size cut-off wheel than what your machine takes.
  • Never remove or alter any wheel guards on your machine.
  • Never use a wheel that has been damaged, cracked, or dropped.
  • Don’t use arbor bushings other than those supplied by the wheel manufacturer.
  • Don’t use your wheels to cut any material that they are not specifically designed for.
  • Never use your cut-off wheel to cut wood.
  • Don’t use the side of the cut-off wheel or operate it in a manner it is not intended for.
  • Don’t use excessive or abrupt pressure while operating the cut-off wheel.
  • Never allow the wheel to twist, turn, or bend during cutting.
  • Don’t use the cut-off wheel if you notice it is bent or twisted, even the slighted bit.
  • Never use the machine or the cut-off wheels before having reviewed all the safety materials for both the machine and the specific cut-off wheel you are going to us.
  • Never put your grinder down with it leaning on the wheel.
  • Never leave flammable materials in your work area, especially within the spark stream.
  • Don’t use the wheel prior to letting it run for 60 seconds.
  • Don’t forget that your safety and those around you should be the most important thing. Don’t take shortcuts or use these tools and abrasives outside of their intended use. 

When to Replace a Cut Off Wheel

There are several instances when you should definitely replace a cutoff wheel:

  • Always replace a cutting disc if it shows any signs of damage. This includes, but is not limited to visible cracks and chips or any signs of bending or twists to the wheel.
  • Cut off wheels should be replaced when they hit their expiration date. This can be found imprinted on the metal center of the disc. Time, UV light, changes in temperature, humidity, and other storing conditions cause the bonding agents that keep the disc together to break down.
  • If you have any reservations about the safety of your disc, you should probably replace it. Don’t take a risk because you think that “maybe” it is good to use.

Having respect for both your tools and the abrasive materials that go with them is paramount to preventing unnecessary accidents or even deaths. While Black Hawk Abrasives/BHA makes an excellent product it is important to inspect your cut-off wheels upon receipt to ensure there was no damage during shipping.

At EmpireAbrasives.com, we do everything we can to ensure the safe arrival of safe-to-use products. However, damages during shipping can happen. It is important that you also never forget to inspect the wheel once more prior to use. Damage can happen accidentally while operating, transporting, or even during storage.

Always remember to use the appropriate wheels for your machine. Whether you use a depressed or flat center, Black Hawk Abrasives does offer quite the selection of top quality cut-off wheels for angle grinders, chop saws, die grinders, and other power tools in varying materials and various sizes. 

Not Sure Which Cut-Off Wheel to Get?

If you are unsure which cut-off wheel is right for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We know how difficult it can be when a few products may work for you and we’re here to help guide you as best we can. Please feel free to reach out to one of our experts at Empire Abrasives, 1-800-816-3824. Whether you are experienced or a novice -- we are always happy to lend a helping hand.