What is the use of an angle grinder?
As tools go, angle grinders are an invaluable tool for any workshop, service garage, auto repair shop, or home hobbyist. An angle grinder is used for a variety of projects that include cutting and grinding iron, steel, metal roof cladding, corrugated iron, steel sheeting, brick, stone, concrete, slates and building tiles, PVC pipe, rusted bolts, rebar in concrete; sharpening garden tools, sanding wood, removing paint, cleaning rust from steel, cutting up trash for disposal, removing grout for tuckpointing, scoring tile, and for polishing metals to a shiny lustre.
Angle grinders use various wheels or discs that are designed for different tasks, and the discs are what makes an angle grinder so versatile. With a wire cup brush attachment, you can easily remove caked-on cement, rust and paint from your other tools.
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Angle grinders are a versatile home tool that gets its name from the cutting head positioned at an angle to the drive shaft. Depending on the kind of head attachment you use, they can be used to sharpen, polish or even cut.
They are available in a variety of sizes, but the most useful sizes are 4 and 4.5-inch grinders. They come corded or cordless or pneumatically powered and in a variety of motor powers.
Although you can pick one up for not much money, if the work you have to do with it is demanding — say, cutting masonry — you'll want to spend a little more on something with a more powerful motor, say upping from a basic 5-amp motor to a 7-amp motor or more powerful.
There is a range of attachments available for whatever job you have for it. You'll want to make sure you have the right one for the job before getting started.
Just secure the tool with vice grips or clamps, and make sure the brush is spinning away from the edge to prevent kickback. With a metal cutoff wheel attachment, you can easily cost rebar, rusted out bolts, and welded wire fencing, which is much easier and quicker than using a hacksaw.
What are the uses of an angle grinder?
Grinding and Sharpening
This is probably what merchants mainly use angle grinders for. Just install a grinding wheel, and you are ready to grind and clean up the welded joints, remove excess material and do deburring and chamfer.
You'll also be able to restore any edge and sharpen any flat surface with ease. If you have some rough-and-tumble tools that have lost their edge laying around, you can get them up and running using an angle grinder.
Keep in mind that you can easily overheat a metal blade with an angle grinder. When the temperature crosses the recrystallization point, the cutting edge will lose its hardness. If that happens, the edge will become a bluish-black or straw-coloured and may wear off quickly.
To avoid such an issue, make sure to keep moving the grinder throughout the operation. Also, drench the metal frequently using a wet sponge or cloth.
A grinding wheel or disc is used for restoring edges on your rougher tools such as shovels, hoes, and ice scrapers, and is useful for the initial grinding of lawnmower blades, hatchets, and axes.
Just position the grinder (turned off), so the wheel spins toward the edge and away from the body of the blade, then rest the wheel against the tool's blade and match the angle of the grinder to the blade's bevel – you will want to maintain this angle as you grind the edge.
Lift away the grinder from the edge and turn it on, allowing it to come to full speed before moving it into the blade. Stroke the grinder in the direction of the handle, lift-off, and repeat this motion, making sure you maintain the correct angle throughout the strokes.
To avoid overheating the metal, only apply light pressure and keep the grinder moving. It is also a good idea to have a bucket of water and sponge handy to drench the metal frequently. This will help the metal stay cool.
With the right attachment, say a cutting wheel, for example, an angle grinder can join your power tool arsenal as a metal-cutting machine. After all, who has the time to cut rods, bars, and bolts using a hacksaw these days?
Get a thin abrasive cutting wheel, and you can cut sheet metal and rebars with this tool. Construction workers often use metal cutting chop saws and angle grinders to cut rebars that are used for reinforcing concrete.
Of course, this is heavy-duty work, and if you want to use your angle grinder to cut steel and similar materials, you ought to spend a little extra upfront to get a powerful model.
Restore cutting edges
Outfitted with a grinding wheel, an angle grinder is a great tool for restoring edges on rough-and-tumble tools like hoes, shovels and ice scrapers or for the initial grinding of axes, hatchets and lawnmower blades. If you need a sharper edge than the grinder leaves, follow up with a mill bastard file. Photo 7 shows how to sharpen a lawnmower blade. Use the same technique to restore the edge on other tools. Orient the grinder so that the wheel spins from the body of the blade toward the edge (refer to the arrow on the body of the grinder to determine which direction the wheel spins).
Finally, with the grinder off, rest the grinding wheel against the blade and adjust the angle of the grinder to match the blade's bevel. This is the position you'll want to maintain as you grind the edge. Lift the grinder from the edge, switch it on and let it come to speed before moving it into the blade.
Stroke the grinder across the work in the direction of the handle rather than grinding back and forth. Then lift it off and repeat, concentrating on holding the grinder at a consistent angle throughout the stroke.
It's easy to overheat a metal blade with a grinder. The overheated metal turns a bluish black or straw colour and won't stay sharp for long. To avoid overheating, apply only light pressure and keep the grinder moving. Also, keep a bucket of water and sponge or rag handy and drench the metal frequently to keep it cool.
It's also worth noting that you can use an angle grinder to remove old mortar without damaging the bricks. I suggest you use a diamond tuckpointing wheel with thickness close to the width of mortar. You may need to pass the grinding wheel several times to eradicate the old mortar.
Remember to wear a face shield and safety goggles, though, as the process can be really dusty. And the flying debris can cause serious injury. Trust me when I say that grinding beats using a chisel and a hammer any time of the day.
Have a dirty shovel or tool that's beyond a simple wipe-down? Fear not, for the handy-dandy wire cup and its little buddy, the wire wheel, are here to help!
Set the grinder, so the wire spins away from the edge of your dirty tool to avoid catches and kickback, then go to town and see the difference.
These wire tools can clear dirt, rust, chipped paint, and even cement fragments from your tools. Use the cup for big, flat surfaces and the wheel for getting into those hard-to-reach crevasses and smaller surfaces.
Using a wire wheel or cup brush, you can easily remove rust and flaking paint quickly and efficiently. Those two attachments are designed for slightly different purposes, though. On the one hand, wire cup brushes are suitable for rust and paint removal off flat areas. Wire discs, on the other hand, can be used to clean hard-to-reach spots, such as corners and crevices.
There's nothing duller than a metal surface with no shine. Beginning with a sanding disc to remove any scratches, you can use polishing discs or buffing pads to create that perfect sheen. We suggest caution when working with coated or plated metals, however, as you could remove that chrome finish with too much pressure or sanding.
You can use a buffing wheel with the angle grinder to polish metals like aluminium and steel. But before you polish, ensure that you remove the deep marks and burrs using a grinding disc. Metal Polishing with an angle grinder
As you've noticed, angle grinders are incredibly versatile, and using yours for different purposes and applications is as simple as switching the wheel or attachment. One thing to note here: not all accessories are compatible with all angle grinders, so look for a model that matches your job's requirements.
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Refurbishing existing tools is a primary use for an angle grinder. They are handy for removing rust from tools left out in the rain, or for general maintenance on them.
The best auto body shops probably won't tell you that your nice new paint job owes it all to an angle grinder and wire cup. This combo is perfect for large, flat surfaces and can remove the old paint without damaging the metal underneath. The "auto artist" will then polish up the metal before any painting can begin.
Wire wheels and brushes also excel at removing rust. These make for a great choice when there's only a layer of rust, and you wish to preserve the healthy metal underneath.
They can also make easy work of totally eroded sections, cleaning out all of the oxidized metal so you can get a nice, clean surface for the repair work.
Not only can you use your angle grinder to cut tile, but it's also suitable for masonry cutting. All you need is to install a diamond cutting wheel, and no brick will stand in your way. Again, cutting such materials repeatedly can wear off your motor quickly, so make sure to get a powerful unit from the get-go.
Cutting Tile and Concrete
Cutting tiles and concrete pieces are an essential part of construction and renovation jobs. But it can be a real pain in the neck, especially if you don't have a dedicated tile saw laying around.
Fortunately, you can easily cut these materials using an angle grinder, simply by attaching a dry-cut diamond disc, which would make the task a breeze.
Keep in mind that a professional tile saw is a better option for cutting in a straight line. Hence they are the preferred choice for construction work. But when you want to replace the old tiles, an angle grinder is what you need.
A good angle grinder can cut through stone with only minor patience, creating nice, smooth cuts every time. Smaller grinders have extra mobility, making bevels and other small cuts a snap. Note that you will need a dry-cut diamond blade for this task.
Using an abrasive carving disc, you can quickly cut swathes of wood pulp with ease. These attachments are perfect for rough shaping wood but are too powerful for fine cuts. In other words, use this for your kitchen table legs, but not for the kitchen table in your child's dollhouse.
A Japanese wood plane is unparalleled for some tasks, but a carving wheel can handle a much wider range of planing tasks. Much like an abrasive carving disc, the carving wheel has a toothed surface.
Unlike the disc, however, the teeth on these wheels more closely resemble a chainsaw's edge. Just be careful not to apply too much force and switch to sanding when you get close to the desired thickness, so you don't remove too much material by accident.
Abrasive flap discs are essentially turbo-powered sanding surfaces that can smooth out rough wood in a heartbeat. The discs come in a wide range of grit, allowing for removal of surface blemishes or a baby-s bottom smooth finish.
The end results are indistinguishable from hand sanding, save for all those extra hours you now have to play with.
What are the safety precautions in using an angle grinder?
Are angle grinders dangerous? Angle grinders are powerful machines, and as you know, with great power comes a great risk of injury, especially that grinder discs spin at high speeds that can reach 10,000 to 11,000 RPM. One slip of a hand and you may lose a finger, arm, or leg. Scary, huh?
I am not saying that to scare you, but to empathize the importance of safety measures. Safety has to come first regardless of what you're using an angle grinder for. Here are some precautions that you can take:
- Angle grinders toss a helluva lot of dust into the air, so make sure to wear your dust mask, safety goggles, and gloves. If you're not working alone, make sure everyone in the room is wearing a dust mask.
- While doing masonry work, wear a face shield to protect yourself from the flying debris.
- Keep a firm grip with both hands throughout the operation, and attach the handle whenever it's possible.
- Angle grinders produce sparks when cutting, so don't use them near flammable materials.
- When replacing a new wheel, run it in a protected area to make sure it isn't defective.
- The guard is there to protect you, so attach it whenever it's possible.
- When not in use, store your angle grinders away from children.
- Unplug the grinder when you need to change the disc.
Make Your Work Environment Safe
All work environments need to be safe, but when using a power tool, a trip or fall can result in a serious accident. Powerful motors or engines often drive tools, and the business end of the machine can be an abrasive cutting disk, a blade with sharp teeth or a sharp drill bit. As the saying goes "flesh is no match for steel", so safety is paramount.
Here are some tips:
- Declutter Your Workspace. Toolboxes, scattered tools, lengths of steel and timber and power cables can cause trips and falls. Keep everything to one side where it can be accessed if needed.
- Illuminate Your Workspace Adequately. Proper illumination using background lighting and an optional floodlight/spotlight ensures that you can see what you are doing and don't have to strain your eyes. This is especially important when using goggles which can somewhat obscure vision if they become fogged or dusty. Personally, I find a head torch is great as it directs a beam of light exactly where needed. Alternatively, you can work outdoors if weather conditions allow it. The advantage of this is that sparks are less likely to be a hazard, illumination is better, and dust and fumes tend to dissipate
- Power Cables and Flexes. Keep these behind you so they can't end up getting cut or tripping you up.
- Provide Adequate Ventilation. Grinding and cutting will produce dust and metal particles, sparks and fumes. Open doors and windows and try to direct sparks away from you.
- Flammable Materials. Remove gasoline(petrol), diesel, gas cylinders, solvents, sawdust and other flammable materials from the work area. If this is not possible, direct sparks away from these items. Paper and oily cloths are also a fire hazard.
- Rain and Water. Don't work during rainy weather or use a tool which has become wet without drying it thoroughly. For added safety, power the angle grinder from a socket or extension lead fitted with a GFCI (RCD) adapter.
- Jewellery, Loose Clothing and Earphones. Remove jewellery and bracelets, loose clothing such as scarves and anything else which could possibly get caught up in the rotating grinder disk and shaft. If you have long hair, keep it up under a cap
- Fire Extinguisher. Make sure you have one of these handy in the event of a fire. The extinguisher should be of the proper class. A powder extinguisher is suitable for class A, B and C fires
- Be Aware of Those Around You. Keep children and pets out of your work area
Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn to protect your hearing, lungs, eyes, hands and feet from injury. Clothing and gloves should be tight fitting so that they don't get caught and pulled into the tool.
- Eye protection. Safety goggles need to be worn to protect eyes from flying particles and sparks. These should be to EN166B, ANSI Z87.1 or equivalent standard. A full-face visor/shield gives additional protection should the disk shatter.
- Ear Protection. Muffs or earplugs will lessen the risk of hearing damage.
- Hand Protection. Gloves provide protection from sparks, and small fragments of disk and waste metal thrown out by the disk. They also protect your hands from general wear and tear, i.e. minor cuts, scrapes and abrasion. Gloves may give some protection from hot, sharp edges of cut metal, but this depends on the rating of the glove and thickness/material used. Some people advise that gloves should never be worn when using an angle grinder because the tool could be classed as rotating machinery and gloves could get caught in the disk. However, this shouldn't happen during normal use as both hands are holding the grinder, and the guard should be in place. In any case, gloves should be tight-fitting and not "baggy", so that you can hold the tool securely.
- Breathing Protection. Use a suitable dust mask to protect against fumes and dust particles. This should seal properly around the face. Tiny particulate matter (dust particles) entering your lungs over a prolonged period can eventually cause lung disorders, maybe even cancer.
- Footwear. Wear steel toe cap shoes or boots with good grips. If you are working with heavy items which could drop when cutting up, this will protect your toes. Footwear should also incorporate steel insoles to protect feet in the event of walking on nails or other sharp objects in the work area.
- Overalls and/or Leather Apron. These protect clothes from sparks. You can, of course, use old clothes, but avoid flammable materials. Watch out for sparks falling into pockets or turn-ups.
Check Your Grinder Is in Good Condition and Safe to Use
An angle grinder like any power tool should be maintained in good condition and given a quick inspection before use. Check out the following:
- Flex and Plug. The flex should be securely attached to the tool and plug. Exposed cores in the flex at these entry points (where damage often occurs), should be remedied by rewiring the plug or grinder. Cracked and damaged flexes with exposed inner cores should be replaced.
- Check the Guard. The guard on an angle grinder is an essential component which should be in place at all times. It protects the user from sparks thrown upwards and backwards and also takes some of the impacts if the disk shatters, by deflecting chunks of material downwards. It also may give some protection for your face if the grinder falls back against you while grinding overhead (a practice which you should try to avoid. If there is no alternative, always wear a full face visor). The guard should be adjusted to the correct angle, giving maximum protection by deflecting sparks and disk fragments away from the operator. If the grinder needs to be used in a confined location or to make a vertical cut, the guard should be adjusted to suit. Usually, it is only necessary to loosen screws or a bolt, twist the guard and re-tighten the fastener. Any build-up of slag on the inside of the guard should be periodically removed.
- A secondary but equally important function of the guard is to shield the back of the disk from making contact with your hand, potentially causing a serious injury.
- Side Handle. This should be tightly screwed into the tool.
- Ventilation Slots. These should be kept clear to prevent overheating of the motor.
Of course, those tips are directly related to angle grinders, and you still need to follow general safety precautions that apply to all power tools.
Angled grinders are versatile hand tools that combine power with different attachments to maximize your investment. They come in a range of power sources, from pneumatic to cordless models with batteries, and in a range of motor sizes so you can select the right one for the work you need to be done.
There is a wide range of attachments available so that the kind of work you can do is as varied as the models you can do it with. You can use an angle grinder to repair and maintain your other tools but grinding off corrosion or sharpening a dull blade. With different kinds of cutting wheels, you can also use it as a front-line tool to chew up masonry and shorten steel rebar.
When buying one, make sure you find one suitable for the jobs you need doing. Too little power for too much work will wear out your tool quickly and ultimately risks damaging it. Don't overlook basic safety, either. Angle grinders create a lot of flying debris. Outfit yourself with proper protective equipment.
These are just a few of the many ways to use an angle grinder for your projects. To get a better idea of all the attachments that are available to use with your grinder that will ultimately save you a ton of time, just browse your local hardware store.