Angler grinders have been around since 1906 and we still can’t get enough of this powerful and versatile machine. Designed primarily for abrasive cutting, the angle grinder provides portability and tremendous cutting power for metal works and many other industries. The development of battery-powered versions of the tool and a wide range of attachments increased its flexibility, allowing tradesmen’s and homeowners to get the most out of their angle grinders.
Many people don’t know you can convert an angle driver into a chainsaw and other power tools. In this article, we look at the angle grinder and the different functions it can handle in your workshop. Regardless of the projects you do, this machine is so versatile you can always adapt it to one of your tasks to enjoy its exceptional power and speed. But first, it’s important to know what an angle grinder is.
What Is an Angle Grinder?
An angle grinder is a power tool that grinds with abrasive materials. However, the tool does a lot more than grind metal surfaces. The machine can be used for a broad range of functions across multiple industries. The angle driver was invented by FEIN of Germany over a century ago as an abrasive tool for grinding metal. Earlier versions of the tool came with grinders that could do only one job; grind. Nowadays, you can use a plethora of attachments with the angle grinder to sharpen, cut, polish and do a lot more.
Types to choose among:
Angle grinders are available in corded, cordless and pneumatic versions based on the job requirement and customer desire. You can get the tool in different sizes and prices from some of the best names in the power tools industry including Dewalt, Bosch, and Black+ Decker among others. For more information on the best brand for the job, check out our angle grinder buying guide for detailed reviews and recommendations.
Whether you are a welder, mason, or plumber, the angle grinder is an indispensable tool for many artisans and handymen. However, you need to buy a model with the ideal motor rating and appropriate abrasive grinder or cutter for your projects. The most common angle grinders have 4-4.5-inch grinders but you can get other sizes for specialist jobs.
Despites its power and speed, the angle grinder is relatively easy and safe to use. Most versions have a barrel-shaped body that houses the motor and other components. The tool often comes with a side-handle for two-handed use and an adjustable guard to protect you during operation.
You will find angle grinders in metal fabrication shops where welders use them for a wide range of applications. The tool is also a common feature on construction sites, machine shops, and even in emergency rescue operations. Due to its versatile design, many DIYers now buy the angle grinder, particularly compact battery-powered models which can be used for multiple jobs with different attachments.
What Is an Angle Driver Used for?
The angle driver is one of the most versatile power tools in the metal works industry. With the right grinder and head attachment, you can use the tool for many applications. Here are some of the jobs you can do with an angle grinder.
- Cut Metal
The most common use of the angle grinder is to cut metal as that was the primary role for its invention. This is why the tool is a vital part of any metal workshop as it makes cutting most metals fast and easy. In commercial workshops where you need to cut hundreds of iron rebar, the hacksaw will take too long and far more energy to get the job done.
With an angle grinder, you can cut as much iron or steel rebars in less time and with minimal stress. The angle grinder can also cut rods, nuts and bolts among other metal cutting jobs. You only need to have a metal cutting wheel attached to the machine and a motor with the right output for the job.
For metal cutting tasks, use an inexpensive cutting wheel and make sure you don’t wear out your motor.
- Metal Cleaning and Polishing
An angle grinder is an ideal tool to remove rust and dirt from metals. Whether you left your tools out in the open for too long or forgot to clean them after a hectic day’s yard work, the elements set off the process of corrosion. You can use a wire brush to remove rust and dirt, but it’s faster and more efficient with the angle grinder.
To clean metal with this tool, you need a wire cup brush or wire wheel. A wire wheel provides easy access to confined spaces while the wire cup brush is perfect for open surfaces and is designed to remove rust or strip paint. You can get a wide range of wire wheels and brushes but make sure to buy sizes that match your grinder’s spindle threads.
So if you need to polish your tools, concrete or get your stone driveway sparkling again, the angle grinder is a dependable tool if you have the right attachments. When cleaning metals with an angle grinder, it is advisable to clamp the object and make sure your wire brush is spinning away from the edge to avoid kickbacks.
- Cutting Concrete and Tiles
Standard tile cutters often have difficulty making plunge cuts in tiles. But an angle grinder can cut concrete, stones and tiles with relative ease. This is one of the reasons it’s used in emergency rescue operations such as collapsed buildings.
To cut such heavy and hard materials with an angle grinder, you need a durable cutter such as a dry-cut diamond blade designed to slice through hard surfaces.
Cutting tiles and stones with a grinder is simple. Mark the area you want to cut, clamp the tile and cut with the diamond blade. However, you need to be extra careful when cutting heavy-duty materials such as concrete to avoid injury when the parts separate.
- Remove Paint
An angle driver can also serve as a paint remover. Whether you are repainting a house or automobile, you need to remove the old paint before applying the new coat. A wire wheel or wire cup brush attached to an angle grinder makes light work of any stripping paint. This process is far easier and faster compared to using sand papers.
- Sharpen Blades
Another common use of the angle grinder is to resharpen cutting tools. Equipped with a grinding wheel, the angle grinder will quickly restore the cutting edge of knives, shovels, hoes, axes, blades, hatchets, cutlasses and other manual tools. With this tool, you may not have to buy new tools every time as its helps you renew the cutting surface.
When sharpening tools with a grinder, clamp the object to the table or vise and take the grinding wheel to the edge of the blade slowly while maintaining the blade’s bevel.
Make sure to hold the grinder at a consistent angle with each stroke across the blade. Also, avoid overheating the blade as the grinding action increases the temperature of the metal.
An overheated blade won’t hold its sharp edge for long so make sure to drench the metal with water to cool it. Keep the grinder moving and apply minimal pressure on the metal. Also, wear goggles and adjust the blade guard to prevent the sparks from touching you.
- Cut Out Old Mortar
Outfitted with thicker diamond tuck-pointing wheels, an angle grinder trumps a chisel and hammer when you need to remove old mortar. Cutting old motor with this method requires some level of alertness to prevent damaging the bricks. Plus, you need to wear proper clothing, a sound muffler and a dust mask as the grinding action produces a lot of debris and noise.
For best results, make two or three 0.5″ deep passes through the lines along the bricks to separate the joint. To avoid damaging the brick, limit your grinder to 1/8″ into the mortar. Use a side handle to improve handling and control.
An angle grinder is the perfect tool for deburring metals. In metal workshops, metal surfaces often have sharp or pointed edges after welding. To remove all these surface defects, attach a grinding disk to the angle grinder to debur the metal for improved aesthetics and safety.
With a Sanding Belt attachment, you can convert your angle grinder into a powerful belt sander in an instant. You can get this attachment in various sizes from different manufacturers. It can work as a sander and grinder, so you can apply it to a wide range of professional and DIY jobs.
- Shaping Materials
The angle grinder can also be used to shape materials and objects. However, this requires a lot of experience, skill and the right attachments.
There are many other attachments you can use with an angle grinder to increase its function and utility. The above are some of the most common uses of the tool but you can get more out of the grinder if you have the right head attachment and a creative mind.
How to Use an Angle Grinder
Angle grinders are relatively safe tools, but they operate at speeds up to 10,000 rpm and above. So you need to give this machine due respect before trying to use it. The following tips will help you get the best out of your angle grinder.
- Safety First
The first step when using an angle grinder is safety as the machine can be atrociously loud and produces a lot of debris and sparks. If you are not careful, the cutting wheel can kick back at you, often resulting in serious injuries. So, make sure you have eyes and ears protection, gloves, long sleeves and any other safety gadget that will reduce the risk of accidents.
- Check the Tool’s Specifications
An angle grinder has several specifications which the manufacturer recommends to guide its safe and optimal use. Check the maximum rpm of the tool to make sure it meets or exceeds the requirements of the jobs and attachments you intend to use with the grinder.
If you use an accessory that is rated lower than your grinder’s rpm, it may fly off the tool or break, a potentially dangerous situation that could cause injuries.
- Get the Correct Positioning
Angle grinders are notorious for their high speed performance which allows the tool to remove large amounts of material in little time. To reduce the risk of accidents and damage to your workpiece, position the grinder properly for optimal results.
Whether you are cutting, grinding or polishing, it’s essential to know the different angles for various accessories and applications. Knowing the right position will also help deflect the sparks and debris away from your body, reduce the risk of injuries and improve comfort and usability.
- Surface Grinding: Maintain a 20°–30° angle between the flat part of the grinding wheel and the work surface. Adjust the blade guard towards your body to deflect sparks and debris.
- Sanding: Maintain the tool at 5°–10° angle to the work surface while applying minimum pressure.
- Additional Tips
The following tips will help you optimize your angle grinder operations.
- Allow the grinder to reach full speed before applying to the work surface. This will help you achieve consistent cuts and grinds throughout the material.
- To prevent gouges during sanding and grinding, keep the grinder moving. This will give you more refined results.
- Before setting down the tool, make sure it has stopped spinning to prevent damage to the work surface and injury. You can avoid this problem by getting a grinder with a braking system.
- Always unplug the grinder before swapping wheels.
- Always keep the guard on except in situations where it gets in the way. Some grinders have rotary guards that prevent the wheel from catching on the guard.
- Except when using a small, lightweight grinder, make sure to attach the side handle for a firm two-hand grip and better control.
- Secure the workpiece with a clamp or something similar to reduce movement.
- Position the work so the tool spins away from sharp edges, not into them to prevent the wheel from catching on an edge and kicking back at you.
- Keep flammable substances away from your work area.
- Keep angle grinders out of the reach of children and pets.
- When using a new wheel, run it in a protected area for a minute to make sure it’s working properly.
- Let the angler grinder cool before storage.
- Can an angle grinder cut wood?
An angle grinder can cut wood but it’s not the safest tool for working on lumber. Because the tool typically operates at 10,000 rpms and above, the angle grinder is too fast for materials such as wood. Rather than damage the work surface and expose yourself to unnecessary injury, cut wood with a jigsaw, circular saw, reciprocating saw and other such tools.
- Can you cut toughened glass with an angle grinder?
Toughened or tempered glass is designed to shatter into harmless pieces under pressure. You cannot use an angle grinder or any other tool to cut toughened glass as it will break and become useless.
- Can you cut tiles with an angle grinder?
You can make plunge cuts in the center of tiles with an angle grinder. The tool can also cut stones and concrete and masonry materials. However, you need a dry-cut diamond blade to cut tiles with a grinder.
The angle grinder is a must-have tool for metalworkers, masons, construction workers and many other tradesmen. It is an indispensable tool for cutting, grinding, polishing and sharpening metals and several other materials. With the right attachment, you can use the grinder for almost any project in the workshop.
Using the angle grinder is straightforward. As long as you maintain safety procedures and apply the right pressure, the tool will do the rest. However, it’s essential to have safety gadgets such as an goggles, hearing protection and safety gloves to protect yourself from the debris and noise.
Because the grinder produces a large amount of debris and spark, it’s advisable to wear old cloths when working with an angle grinder. Also, never work with the angle grinder without engaging the blade guard.
The angler grinder can be a workhorse in your workshop if you know how to use it. We hope this article has been able to inform you about this powerful tool and the best way to adapt it to your projects.