The Number of Times an Angle Grinder is Used Makes it an Indispensable Power Tool
When you think about the must-have power tools you should own, what immediately comes to mind? Drills, impact drivers, and circular saws are usually at the top of everyone’s list. But let’s not forget about the angle grinder! Understanding the purpose and versatility of an angle grinder is key to appreciating the value it brings to your tool collection. So, what is the angle grinder used for? Let’s dive in!
Before we delve into the various applications of an angle grinder, let’s take a moment to understand how this tool is designed. Angle grinders come with a variety of attachments, often referred to as wheels, discs, or blades. These attachments are powered by the grinder, which spins at thousands of revolutions per minute (RPMs).
For instance, a 5-inch angle grinder can reach speeds ranging from 9,000 to 12,000 RPM, while a larger 9-inch grinder operates at around 6,500 RPM. As the wheel diameter increases, the RPM tends to decrease because a larger wheel doesn’t need to spin as fast to maintain the same rim speed.
Angle grinders utilize various types of wheels such as abrasive wheels, diamond wheels, metal brush cups, louvered discs, and more to efficiently accomplish different tasks. Take a look at the options available to find the right wheel for your needs.
What Can You Do with an Angle Grinder?
1. Cutting Metal
One of the most common uses for angle grinders is cutting metal using grinding or diamond wheels. Manufacturers often turn to angle grinders as a cost-effective alternative to plasma cutters. Masons rely on them to cut rebar, and commercial contractors find them handy for cutting metal studs. Professionals in the oil and gas as well as pipeline industries depend on angle grinders to cut metal pipes.
Around the house and garage, angle grinders are excellent for cutting off frozen bolts, trimming threaded rods, and shaping metal for various weekend projects. It’s important to note that abrasive cutting wheels pose a higher risk of separation, so always prioritize safety by wearing a protective shield, safety glasses, and, if necessary, a thick apron for added chest protection.
2. Grinding/Polishing Metal
Angle grinders are invaluable for grinding and polishing metal surfaces, often requiring the use of multiple wheels. Some wheels aggressively remove material and help level welds or eliminate bumps, while others smooth out surfaces, restoring metal to a sleek, polished appearance. Additionally, there are buffing wheels available for applying polishing compounds, ensuring a perfect finish.
If you prefer to spend more time on smoothing and polishing, consider an angle grinder with adjustable speed settings. Lower RPMs reduce the risk of damaging the workpiece, especially when the grinder lacks a variable speed trigger. While a bench grinder may seem like a more suitable tool for this purpose, many people achieve excellent results using an angle grinder. However, keep in mind that the process will likely require a follow-up with a whetstone to achieve the best edge.
3. Cleaning Metal
Another fantastic application for angle grinders is removing paint or rust from metal surfaces. A wire brush cup or wheel can effectively eliminate both without penetrating deep into the metal like a grinding wheel would. Alternatively, a plastic/nylon stripping disc works at a slower pace but is less likely to damage the underlying material, making it an excellent choice for paint and varnish removal.
While cleaning with an angle grinder, it’s crucial to exercise caution, as paint and rust particles can become airborne and pose a health hazard. Therefore, always wear a mask in addition to safety glasses and hearing protection.
4. Cutting Masonry, Stone, and Tile
Angle grinders aren’t restricted to working with metal alone. Thanks to their stability, they serve as effective substitutes for tile or chop saws when handling smaller tile, masonry, and stone projects. Similar to cutting metal, grinding or diamond wheels are typically used for these materials. However, it’s crucial to check the packaging as there are specific wheels designed for cutting masonry.
When working with these materials, be mindful of the dust they generate. It’s advisable to attach a vacuum cleaner to the grinder using special accessories. At the very least, wearing a mask is essential to protect your lungs.
5. Cleaning Grout/Mortar
In addition to cutting masonry, an angle grinder can be your ally when it comes to cleaning grout or mortar. Since these materials are often in thick strands, you can use a thicker wheel to remove them in fewer passes.
However, keep in mind that cleaning grout or mortar can create dust, so it’s crucial to use the same accessories and personal protective equipment (PPE) recommended for cutting masonry. If you’re working in an enclosed space, like a shower, using an oscillating multi-tool might be a better option for removing grout.
That cordless angle grinder featured in our photo? It’s from HART Tools, and you can read more about it here!
With its incredible versatility, an angle grinder is an invaluable tool to have in your arsenal. Whether you need to cut, grind, polish, or clean different materials, this power tool is up to the task. Just remember to prioritize safety by wearing the appropriate PPE for each application. So, next time you’re contemplating your power tool collection, don’t overlook the mighty angle grinder!