An angle grinder, also known as a side grinder, is an extremely versatile handheld power tool. It can grind metal and cut tile, steel, concrete and other hard materials, as well as sharpen and polish, using various wheels of abrasives. These wheels are easy and quick to change or replace when worn.
Angle grinders are used by construction, welding, road, emergency and rescue workers, among others. Having an angle grinder on hand at home can also be useful around the house. You can, for example, use it to polish car bumpers, to remove rust and flaking paint, and cut pipes.
Step 1 – Choose the Right Parts
There are many types of angle grinders, so you need know what purpose you will be using it for. Consider foremost the motor power and the disc size.
Electric grinders, which tend to have larger discs, are usually for large, heavy jobs covering a lot of surface, and pneumatic grinders (smaller discs) can easily be maneuvered and are generally reserved for smaller, lighter ones. But don’t let the size fool you, pneumatic grinders can be very powerful. Electric grinders are activated by electricity and pneumatic ones by air pressure.
Choose a disc that is the best fit for your project. There are sanding disks, abrasive grinding disks (to cut steel), polishing pads, wire brush wheels (used to remove excess material like rust or paint) and diamond blade cut off disks (used to cut hard surfaces such as tile). Disks measure between 4 and 7 inches, with 4.5 inches being most people’s preference.
Read the labels on the disk’s packaging to find out what types of jobs it is made for.
Step 2 – Ensure Safety
Safety is of the utmost importance when using an angle grinder. Wear a hard hat, safety glasses, ear protectors, a face shield and working gloves at all times. Head and face injuries are the most commonly associated with angle grinders. You should be properly trained in power tool safety before operating one.
Keep the following safety tips in mind. Ensure bystanders stay at a distance. Make sure children don’t have access to angle grinders. Hold handle of angle grinder firmly with both hands. If you are using an electric grinder, unplug it when it is not in use or you are changing a disk. Do not work near flammable materials. Know how to quickly access the safety guard in an emergency.
Step 3 – Using the Angle Grinder
Read instructions and safety guidelines that come with the angle grinder. Practice using it on small jobs until it feels comfortable to you.
Secure the piece you are working on into place (clamps work well). Power the angle grinder. The disk must be spinning before you apply it steadily and to your working surface. Your grasp should be firm so that you have full control of the direction in which the angle grinder is moving.
When you are done, gently lift the angle grinder, shut off the power, and store it in a safe place away from children.
Need a new grinder? Find the right one with our Grinders Buyer's Guide.