An angle grinder is a heavy duty, two-handed piece of equipment. Large and loud as it may be, it’s not all that intimidating once you learn how to use it. It can be a very handy and extremely versatile tool to have around the house.
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Think of an angle grinder as a heavy duty whirling piece of sandpaper that is heavy enough and powerful enough to cut through steel, concrete and many other hard surfaces. The grinder is powered by an electric, compressed air or gasoline-powered motor. It drives a high powered right angle geared head that holds an abrasive disc. The disc is changeable and can be made of various materials that cut with no blade involved by actually rubbing one surface against another at high speeds. The angle grinder has a side handle which takes two hands to operate and an adjustable safety guard.
Know what the angle grinder is used for. This tool is really versatile. It can be used for lots of materials including steel, concrete, asphalt, tile, pavers, in rescue work (to extricate victims from cars), metal bars and more. It’s used to grind off rust, to remove old mortar, to remove paint and to polish various metals.
Match the right disc to the right job. Discs come in many materials, grits and degrees of hardness and each one is suited to particular work. Some of them must be kept lubricated with water for safe use. There are abrasive grinding discs, sanding discs, wire brush wheels, polishing pads and diamond blade cut off discs. Diamond discs are used for such things as tile, mortar and pavers. Wire brushes are used for taking off flaking paint and rust. Abrasive cutting wheels grind or cut steel.
Choose an angle grinder by the size of the disc, the type of power source they use and the amount of power you want in the motor. Discs run in size from four to seven inches. All grinders have their advantages and disadvantages. Some are hindered a bit by a cord, others by the extra weight of holding gasoline. For home use, the four to four and a half inch size is most commonly the best choice. They come in a huge assortment of prices but the cheapest ones are generally only good for small and occasional use.
Use the proper safety equipment. Angle grinders are really dangerous if not used properly and with safety precautions. Wheels can shred in use and go flying, sparks of all kinds go flying and the disc can bind and cause the tool to jerk violently. Only use this when you are alert, awake and able to give it your full attention. You need to use good thick gloves and safety goggles, or a face shield with really heavy work. Always have good shoes on if you’re working with anything heavy like steel plate or concrete that could drop on you.
Use your grinder on small jobs to get a feel for it. Read all of the literature that comes with it and familiarise yourself with all of its features and safety guidelines. Always be sure that you buy only the attachments that are suited to your drill for safe use. Keep this and all other power equipment always from children and animals, especially when in use. You’ll find with a little practice and a little precautions, that this tool is an excellent addition to any handyman’s cache.
Tips and warnings
- Do your homework when you buy. Many grinders are specific to certain tasks. Know what you're looking for before you buy.
- Serious injuries can result in unsafe use of angle grinders. Follow the safety precautions. Keep children and pets away from this tool, especially when you work and wear the safety equipment recommended.