wire wheels & brushes

Empire Abrasives Wire Wheels and Wire Brushes

We offer a full range of abrasive wire products such as wire wheels, end/cup brushes, hand held wire brushes, and drums. Our wire abrasives are available in crimped or knotted stainless steel, brass and carbon steel.

Abrasive wire tools vary in design and tool compatibility, but they all are made up of stiff metal wires/filaments that can be used to grind down different types of surfaces. Below are the different types of wire abrasives we carry at 

PRO TIP - When using wire abrasives, you should always use a gentle hand when in use. The sharp tips of the metal wires do the bulk of the work. Pressing too hard into the surface will bend the wires, hitting the surface at an angle rather than with the sharp tips.

Abrasive Wire Wheels

Designed with a central hub where the wires point out in a wheel-like shape. Wire wheels can be used from horizontal or vertical angles.

Compatible tools: Angle grinder, Bench grinder, Die grinder, Power drill, Walk-behind saw

Common uses: Metal surface preparation; Removal of paint, dirt, rust, weld spatter, scale, rubber flash; General cleaning; Deburring; Roughening surfaces for adhesion; Cleaning bead welds; Preparing expansive joints; Edge blending

Wire Materials: Carbon steel, Stainless steel 

Configurations: Crimped, Knotted, Stinger

Wire Cup Brushes

Similar in construction to wire wheels, except the wires point forwards instead of outwards. This allows you more flexibility with reaching surfaces from different angles than a wire wheel.

Compatible tools: Angle grinder, Die grinder, Power drill

Common uses: Metal surface preparation; Removal of paint, dirt, rust, weld spatter, scale, rubber flash; General cleaning; Deburring; Roughening surfaces for adhesion; Cleaning bead welds; Preparing expansive joints; Edge blending

Wire Materials: Carbon steel, Stainless steel, Brass 

Configurations: Crimped, Knotted

Wire End Brushes

These are another type of wire brush for drill and die grinders. With a tighter concentration of wires, these make precision work much easier than wire wheels or cup brushes. They are commonly used for working in smaller spaces and on machine parts.

Compatible tools: Die grinder, Power drill

Common uses: Carbon cleaning, removal of paint, rust, corrosion, weld slag; Deburring slots; CNC equipment maintenance; Polishing tools; Surface preparation for welding

Wire Materials: Carbon steel, Stainless steel, Tempered steel 

Configurations: Crimped, Knotted

Handheld Wire Brushes

Excellent tools for working in small spaces or when the power of a wire brush or wheel is not needed. Commonly used by welders, mechanics, and painters for it’s quick and convenient cutting action.

Compatible tools: N/A

Common uses: Removal of paint, rust stains, small burrs, scale, dirt, weld slag; Maintenance cleaning of metal surfaces; Preparing surfaces for welding

Wire Materials: Carbon steel, Stainless steel, Brass

Configurations: N/A

Abrasive Wire Drums

Designed to provide the operator with more surface area coverage to quickly cut and clean a larger surface area quickly. These are often used by auto body workers to quickly remove rust from large sections of cars. 

Compatible tools: Surface conditioning tool (ex. Eastwood SCT®, linear grinder, burnishing tool)

Common uses: Removal of rust, paint, glue, sealant, Bondo, body filler, scale, dross, and oxidation

Wire Materials: Steel, Nylon 

Configurations: N/A

Wire Abrasives FAQ

What is the difference between crimped, knotted, twisted, and stringer beads?

Crimped Wires

The wires extending from the center are wavy/pinched in appearance. Each strand is separated from one another allowing for flexibility with the tool. This added flexibility makes the crimped best suited for uniform brushing and jobs that require less aggressive brushing. They also provide more flexibility on uneven surfaces than the alternatives.

Twisted Wires (Knotted/Braided/Stringer)

The wire strands are constructed in twisted bundles. This design adds rigidity to the wheel that allows for more aggressive brushing, extra cutting/cleaning power, and a longer life for the product.

The terms twisted, knotted, and braided are generally used interchangeably for this type of wire product. Stringer bead wire abrasives, however, are more tightly wound. This makes stringer bead designs much more rigid and more useful for aggressive brushing.

What are the different metal filaments used for?

When shopping for wire products, it is important to choose the correct wire material for the surface you are working with.

  • Carbon steel - A general purpose brush that is useful on most metals, but recommended for ferrous metals like iron, steel, or cast iron to avoid causing after-rust on non-ferrous metals

  • Stainless steel - Can be used on ferrous and non-ferrous surfaces; prevents contamination and rust 

  • Tempered steel - The strongest of the available options, capable of the most aggressive cleaning and cutting

  • Brass coated steel - Not as abrasive as the other options; commonly used to clean plastic extrusion parts and/or metal surfaces without removing the base material (Not to be used on stainless steel surfaces)

  • Nylon - Only available as an abrasive drum; Unlike other abrasive drums, the nylon drums can be used on surfaces with nuts, bolts, brackets, etc. without the drum catching edges.

How much pressure should be applied?

Only a gentle pressure is needed to get the optimal use out of these types of abrasives. Wire abrasive products all have a certain amount of give and flexibility. Forcing too much pressure will prevent the sharp ends of the wires from contacting the surface as these tools are designed for. Knotted, twisted, and stringer beads can have a bit more pressure applied than crimped as they have less give due to their specific construction.

Will my wire abrasives dull with use?

No, they are self-sharpening. As you use any of your abrasive wires, force against the ends of the strands will continuously break down the points, exposing sharp surfaces. The wires will get shorter, but the ends will remain sharp.

Why use wire abrasives over coated abrasive products?

Every task requires a different tool, but when a coated abrasive product is interchangeable with a wire product, there are some advantages:

  • Wire abrasives do not accumulate particles of the surface material that is being removed like coated abrasives

  • Wire abrasive products tend to operate at lower temperatures than coated abrasives

  • Wire products can sometimes be used to remove materials covering a metal without damaging the underlying material