As a power tool with incredibly versatile properties, if you need to cut something, sand it, polish or grind it, the angle grinder is the tool for you.
Sometimes known as disc cutters or side grinders, angle grinders are designed to be handheld, and with the right attachments, can be highly specialised tools capable of dealing with a variety of actions. Available with different sized discs, they also come in cordless models, but its worth noting that nothing beats a corded angle grinder (or any other power tool) in terms of power.
Although perhaps most commonly used for removing excess material from one single piece, when fitted with the right type of disc (such as cut-off, abrasive, grinding, sanding, wire brush and polishing), angle grinders can be used for all manner of tasks. Below is a rundown of the most popular angle grinder attachments and their abilities:
Similar to a circular saw but minus the teeth (the metal does the work instead), discs are ideal for cutting through such materials as ceramics and porcelain tiles.
Akin to discs in some ways, pads are more soft and pliant than them, however, and are typically used for finishing materials and grinding them down.
Thicker than a disc, but otherwise similar, flapper wheels give a finish that’s more consistent than some other attachments, while polishing varieties come in nylon and felt.
Helping to turn an angle grinder into more of a drill, cutters are used for exactly that; cutting big holes in a variety of surfaces.
These are also great for cutting materials and grinding them down, such as iron, steel, metal roof cladding, brick, concrete, slates, stone and rusted bolts among others.
- Sanders and wire brushes
These attachments are used for removing paint from a surface, cleaning the rust off steel and sanding wood.
How do you operate an angle grinder?
Firstly, ensure that the grinder and the disc are secured together, and to avoid jamming the grinder, make sure that you don’t apply extra force to try and speed it up and cut completely through a material.
Safety measures when using an angle grinder
As with any type of power tool, you must ensure that your intended workspace is neat, clean and uncluttered, and that you’re wearing the necessary PPE, or personal protective equipment. Never use the grinder in wet conditions, and be sure to check the expiration date of any attachments and discs you may be using.
Below is a more detailed list of the types of PPE you should wear whenever operating an angle grinder:
- Safety goggles – stray sparks may fly when using an angle grinder, hence it’s always wise to wear goggles to protect your eyes. Additionally, you should wear a visor that covers your entire face in the event of a disc or blade shattering.
- Ear muffs – these will reduce the risk of damage to hearing following the use of noisy power tools.
- Dust masks – there can be a lot of dust particles and fumes in the air when power tools are being used, but a mask will make working in such an environment more comfortable.
- Gloves – these keep your hands protected from small fragments of material and sparks that may fly out of an angle grinder.
- Steel toe cap boots – when being cut, a heavier item may fall and land on your feet; these boots will prevent injury from occurring.
- Overalls – overalls and aprons made from natural fibres keep your clothes protected from sparks.