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A Complete Guide to Angle Grinders

Posted by Katy | Toolstop on 4th Mar 2021

This complete guide to angle grinders discusses the top uses for angle grinders, how to use an angle grinder and which grinding disc to use for each application. You will be an angle grinder expert after reading this blog!

how to use an angle grinder

What is an Angle Grinder?

Angle grinders are becoming more and more popular in the tool world, and with the right disc fitted, an angle grinder can replace many tools in your existing kit. They are designed to carry out a range of jobs on a variety of materials, which we will run you through in this blog post.

In this Toolstop Guide, we'll explain:


What Does an Angle Grinder Do?

Angle grinders are very versatile tools that will grind metal, cut materials such as tile, polish, sharpen and much more. There are countless compatible accessories for angle grinders which allow you to achieve your desired result - see Toolstop's range.

Angle grinders come in many different styles and sizes, the most popular being 115mm. Shop around at Toolstop and you'll see cordless grinders, electric grinders, 125mm angle grinders up to 230mm angle grinders, and much more. Each serves its purpose, depending on the application and trade.

Small angle grinders, such as 115mm and 125mm, are the most popular. Their smaller size makes them ideal for the DIY'er, though most newer models are powerful enough to be used in professional trades. Due to their compact size, they are usually lightweight, so ideal for prolonged use.

Larger models, like those at 230mm, are typically used in professional and industrial applications. The challenge with larger angle grinders is that in order to cut through larger, tougher materials, you need a more powerful machine, which in most cases equals a heavier, bulkier model - pretty tiring over the course of a whole day's use!

what is an angle grinder

How To Use an Angle Grinder

Before you start grinding, make sure you are wearing the correct PPE for operating your angle grinder. Grinders spin at exceptional speeds and will often produce sparks, so safety glasses are essential as is hearing protection, safety footwear and safety clothing. You can check out our Angle Grinder Safety Checklist Blog to find out more on this using an angle grinder safely.

The side handle can usually be used on both sides of the grinder, depending on your preference. Set it to your preferred side. The position of the safety guard can also be rotate, so set this to your desired position before getting started.

Properly clamp the workpiece to your work surface - you don't want anything slipping when you're using an angle grinder.

When you first switch your angle grinder on, let it build up to its maximum speed before touching the work surface. The speed of the wheel does the work, so there is no need to push hard onto the surface or workpiece.

Slowly work the grinder back and forth between the line you want to cut. This will dissipate the heat to stop the workpiece from getting too hot in one area, providing effortless cutting through tough materials. Always cut straight otherwise the wheel could break - not good!

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Top Angle Grinder Uses

Angle grinders are suitable for a range of jobs and are used by professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. They are widely used in steel fabrication and welding applications. Below we have listed some top uses for angle grinders as well as the discs you should use for each application.

Top uses for angle grinders include:

Cutting:

Angle grinders spin at magnificent speeds, so with the correct cutting disc fitted, you can use them to cut through pipes, metal, tile, stone and more. They can also be used for making plunge cuts in tiles if you need to remove a section. Cutting discs are best for cutting through metal and are available in different thicknesses as explained below.

For standard, everyday jobs on stainless or mild steel, opt for a 1mm or 1.6mm disc thickness. For cutting thin sheet metals, choose a 1mm or 0.8mm disc. The beauty of these thinner discs is that they will cut through sheet metal faster, reducing clean-up work. For heavier steel cutting jobs on thicker metals, opt for a 1.6mm or 2.5mm cutting disc. Thicker wheels are essential for cutting thicker metals, but will cut slowly and generate more heat and friction. Cut-off wheels will also slice through nuts and bolts with ease. Whilst they are great at cutting through metal, they will often leave behind a jagged edge. This needs to be deburred, as if left can cause injury. See below for more info.

Grinding:

Grinding Discs are used for grinding down metal or stone to shape it or smooth down a freshly made cut. They will also smooth out fresh welds as well as remove grout and mortar, providing a fast material removal in many situations. Depressed centre grinding wheels will handle tough right-angle grinding applications. Deburring is essential after cutting metal, as the angle grinder will often leave behind jagged edges. Typically made from aluminium oxide, a type of major abrasive, grinding discs that will do just that. Whilst grinding discs are great, and often an essential after cutting through metal, they may cause some scratches to be left on your workpiece. This is where your flap disc will come in, as explained below.

Polishing:

Angle grinders can also be used for polishing metal thanks to their high RPM. The main tool for doing so is a flap disc or wire wheel. They provide rapid cleaning action on many materials. These versatile grinder attachments will clean, polish and deburr all-in-one. Wire brushes are also great at removing stubborn paint from a variety of surfaces.


Which Angle Grinder Disc to use

When choosing grinding and cutting discs, be sure to check its rpm rating and make sure that it matches or exceeds the rpm of your tool. This can be found in your tools manual. Discs are usually labelled with the purpose and material they are intended for e.g. stone grinding, metal cutting etc.

If you are after a corded angle grinder, we have a full blog reviewing and highlighting the best corded angle grinder.

Flap discs are ideal for finishing work. In car bodywork applications, they will remove old paint without damaging the metal underneath. They can chamfer edges, remove burrs, and take the sharp edges off of corners. They dont produce a lot of sparks and will work at a shallow angle or even flat to the metal surface. They are available in multiple grits. Typically, 40 grit is used for grinding metal quickly, 60 grit will provide good stock removal but with a smoother finish and 80 grit is better for shaping and light stock removal.

Shop Flap Discs


Diamond blades are a popular choice for use with angle grinders. These blades have diamonds fixed onto their cutting edge for cutting harder, more abrasive materials, most often masonry. Diamonds are the hardest naturally occuring substance in the world, so you can imagine what they are capable of. They are typically used for cutting stone, concrete, bricks and tile thanks to their extreme sharpness.

Shop Diamond Discs

Wire wheels provide rapid cleaning action. They are most commonly used on metal, though can also be used on rubber and wood. They provide a smooth polished surface without scratches.

Shop Wire Wheels

That is our complete guide to angle grinders. Each disc serves its own purpose and will carry out a range of metal fabrication as well as DIY jobs. To conclude, take a look at our video on angle grinders.


Grinding Discs at Toolstop:

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