How to Use Angle Grinders and Why They Are Useful

angle grinderAngle grinders are quite arguably one of the most versatile power tools out there, a must-have not just for the professional handy-man, but also for us amateurs who prefer the do-it-yourself approach around the home. With a bunch of handy attachments you can switch about to do anything from cleaning out and sharpening your garden tools to cutting out bits of tile to fit around power sockets, these tools are as multifunctional as they are simple to use, once you get the hang of what you’re doing.

Available in a range of sizes, from 4 inches to 9 inches, the standard sizes for most units (ideal for the amateur handyman) are the 4 inch and 4 and a ½ inch models, with a variety of readily available disks and attachments compatible for use with the unit.

Angle grinders, also known as side grinders or disk cutters, are relatively inexpensive, but as with most commercial goods, price is to some degree a reflection of quality, so if you’re looking for a machine to last you some heavy-duty and prolonged use, we’d recommend not reaching for the cheapest options, especially since a cheaply made power tool is automatically a potential accident waiting to happen.

That said, it’s still possible to score a great angle grinder within a reasonable price bracket if you know what you’re looking for, many brands packaging a machine with a heavy and durable build, a powerful motor and a handful of versatile attachments to let you get your money’s worth out of your power tool. This is not only cost-effective for the initial purchase, but also in the long-run, since a pneumatic or electric hand-held unit you can store away until you need it cuts down the costs of having to hire a professional for things like grinding out old mortar, cleaning metal or sharpening blades.

In fact, there are plenty of applications of angle grinders to warrant having one in your arsenal.

Cutting metal

If you’ve ever tried to use elbow grease to unscrew a rusty or frozen bolt, you’ll know just how difficult – if not downright dangerous – the chore can be. Rather than risking hurting yourself, it’s much simpler to cut the bolt head off, and in cases like this, having an angle grinder around is a blessing. In fact, angle grinders are a much quicker and simpler tool to cut and grind metal compared to the more time-consuming hacksaw – with a metal cutoff wheel attached, you can slice through frozen bolts, rebars for concrete, rough edges for metal, and more.

Stripping paint, sanding and cleaning metal

Wire wheel and wire brush cup attachments are the typical go-to for weld cleaning, perfect for removing splatters, smoothening bumps out of a surface and prepping for welding. The tough, speedy rotations of the wire brushes can smoothly remove rust and dirt, incredibly handy, for instance, when it comes to cleaning out the caked up grime and rust rendering your garden trowel or shovel unusable. These attachments are also great for navigating corners and hard to reach nooks and crannies, as well as to strip off old paint off metal surfaces in preparation for a fresh coat. Sanding pads with varying degrees of grit are also largely compatible with a typical quality angle grinder to help sand surfaces in preparation for paint or polish or for a smooth and flawless finish.

Restoring blades and metal edges

A grinding wheel converts this power tool into a pretty effective blade sharpener, helping you get the razor edge back to your knives or lawn implements, axes, shears and so on, helping restore the shape and sharpness of the edge so you can continue using them effectively.

Cutting tile, stone, masonry

If you’re working with tile, ceramic, masonry or granite, you’ll find an angle grinder fitted with a dry cut diamond wheel makes the job of cutting and shaping these materials much, much easier. An example is cutting a segment out of a piece of tile, if you’re tiling or re-tiling an area but need to make adjustments for a power socket, faucet or other extension. This lets you get that meticulous finish when you’re trying to ensure uniformity with things like a tiled segment fitted around an existing switch board, the smooth curves of a granite surface or the ceramic countertop of your bathroom curving around the lip of an oval sink, for that put-together and seamless finished appearance.

Tips when using an angle grinder

angle grinderThe above are just a few applications of angle grinders – there’s plenty anyone from a professional construction site worker or repairman to a DIY handyman can get done with this power tool. But for complete efficiency and effectiveness, it’s necessary to use the tool properly and safely. It’s essential, for instance, to wear protective gloves and eye-wear whenever you use the grinder, and to move it away from you, avoiding the edge of your work area or project to avoid the machine and its rapidly spinning sharp or abrasive edges from kicking back at you. Also remember to angle the grinder so any resulting debris flies downward and not at you or anyone in your vicinity – in fact, it’s best to work in a relatively cleared out area, where sparks and debris can’t hit anyone, or damage surrounding environments.

It’s also important to ensure whatever you’re working on, be it a rebar that needs a rough cut or a blade that needs grinding, is properly secured and clamped into place to avoid shifting and potentially dangerous accidents when you are using the angle grinder on it.

Angle grinders can be both pneumatic or electrically powered, but pneumatic options generally pack less power compared to electric options, and we’d typically pick a good corded or cordless electric option, ideally one powered by a 5 to 9 amp motor.

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