The number of times an angle grinder is used makes it a must-have power tool
When you think of the must-have power tools you should own, what comes to mind? Drills, impact drivers and circular saws are usually on everyone's list. But what about the angle grinder? Knowing the purpose of an angle grinder will give you an idea of what these tools are for. So what is the angle grinder used for? let's start!
Before we dive into what an angle grinder is for, it's helpful to briefly understand how the tool is designed. Angle grinders come with a variety of different attachments, usually called wheels, but sometimes called discs or blades. It spins at thousands of RPMs.
A 5 inch angle grinder might spin from 9,000 to 12,000 RPM. A 9-inch one might run at 6,500 RPM. RPM tends to drop as size increases because as the wheel diameter increases it doesn't need to spin as fast to keep the wheel's rim speed the same.
Angle grinders use abrasive wheels, diamond wheels, metal brush cups, louvered discs, and various other types of wheels to get the job done. Take a look here to scroll through some options.
What is an angle grinder used for?
Cutting metal with a grinding or diamond wheel is one of the common uses for angle grinders. For manufacturers, it can be a cheaper alternative to plasma cutters. Masons can use them to cut off rebar. Commercial contractors may use an angle grinder to cut metal studs. Professionals in the oil/gas and pipeline industries use them to cut metal pipe.
Around the house and garage, it's great for cutting off frozen bolts, trimming threaded rods, and cutting metal to shape for a variety of weekend projects.
Due to its thinner nature, there is a higher risk of abrasive cutting wheels separating, so make sure you always use a protective shield and safety glasses. You may need a thick apron as another layer of protection for your chest.
When you're grinding and polishing metal with an angle grinder, you're likely to be using more than one wheel. Some will aggressively remove material and help you remove bumps or grind welds so they are flush with the connection. Other wheels remove material less aggressively and can even out the look or restore metal to a beautiful smooth luster. Then there's the buffing wheel, which you can use to add polishing compounds to give the metal that perfect finish.
If you want to spend more time smoothing and polishing, look for an angle grinder with adjustable speed. There is less chance of damaging the workpiece at slower RPMs, and the grinder doesn't have a variable speed trigger.
One of the most common ways to use an angle grinder around the house is to sharpen lawn mower blades, axes, and axes. It's arguably easier to use a bench grinder, but many people use an angle grinder effectively. It's a rough process that you'll need to follow up with a whetstone to get the best edge.
Another great use for an angle grinder is if you have metal that needs to have paint or rust removed. A wire brush cup or wheel can knock both out without going as deep into the metal as a grinding wheel. A plastic/nylon stripping disc works slower but is less likely to damage the underlying material, so it's a good choice for removing paint and varnish.
Be careful when cleaning with an angle grinder, though. Paint and rust can break off into small enough pieces that you can breathe them in, so make sure you wear a mask in addition to safety glasses and hearing protection.
Cutting masonry, stone and tile
Metal isn't the only material you'll use your angle grinder with. With its stable feel, it's an effective replacement for a tile or chop saw for smaller jobs in tile, masonry and stone. Similar to metal cutting, you will most likely use a grinding or diamond wheel to cut these materials. Be sure to check the package, though. There are different wheels for cutting metal and masonry.
Here's another app where you'll want to keep an eye on your PPE. Cutting these materials kicks up dust that you can breathe in, which isn't doing your lungs any favors. There are special grinder accessories that allow you to attach a vacuum cleaner. At the very least, masks are a smart choice.
Similar to cutting masonry, you can also use an angle grinder to clean grout or mortar. Because these materials are often in thick strands, you can use a thicker wheel to remove them in fewer passes.
Removing grout and mortar can introduce dust into the air, so stick to the same accessories and PPE you would use for cutting masonry products. If you're working in an enclosed space, such as a shower, you're best off removing grout with an oscillating multi-tool.
Like the cordless angle grinder in our photo? It's from HART Tools, you can read more about it here!