Using an Angle Grinder and Choosing the Correct Discs for Your DIY Job

Summary: Advice on using an Angle Grinder for a variety of tasks including cutting, grinding and polishing stone or metal using the proper safety equipment. How to chose the correct angle grinder for your DIY job and which discs to use in your angle grinder.

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An angle grinder, also called a side grinder, is a power tool which is hand held and used for grinding, cutting and polishing surfaces.

This power tool is designed for basic use either cutting through materials or grinding, more used for straight cutting but can be used for curves when one has more experience with the power tool. Curves are simply cut in a series of short, straight lines and then ground off.

Angle grinder

Angle grinder

The majority of models sold come with a basic on / off push slide switch, so the disc will power up immediately. Respect should be given to this action and the power tool held with a firm grip. As with all power tools, eye and hand protection should be worn at all times. There will be a lot of debris and sparks if working on metal from this power tool even with the guard in place.

All grinders come with a guard which protects the user from debris thrown out by the disc which is normally sent in a direction away from the user. This guard can be moved to allow use of the grinder in awkward working positions.

Discs are purpose made for either cutting or grinding. Do not attempt to cut with a grinding disc or grind with a cutting disc. Discs are labeled either "Stone" or "Metal". The material you cut should be only cut with the disc labeled for that material. Stone cutting disc will actually cut metal but they will tend to tear up and the flying debris can cause a great deal of harm. Always grind and cut with the open section of the blade facing away from you.

The locking nut of a grinder will always tighten in the direction which will not allow it to come undone when the grinder is in motion. Grinders also have a disc locking button which allows you to lock the turning action of the wheel while you undo and tighten the blade.

The most important factor when choosing which Angle Grinder to purchase is the depth or size of material to cut / grind. This will direct you to which size and kind of disc you will need to complete your task.

There are many different types of discs for different jobs:

  1. Cut-off discs (diamond disc)
  2. Abrasive discs
  3. Grinding stone discs
  4. Sanding discs
  5. Wire brush
  6. Polishing pads

Discs vary considerably in quality and the best indicator is usually price. Cheaper discs (both grinding and cutting discs) will wear out considerably more quickly than expensive discs.

Angle Grinders come in varying sizes, small, general, light and large. You can also buy them in either petrol or electric versions. They can vary in cost from £30 - £500 depending on your job needs.

The most common size used for DIY needs would be a 115mm Angle Grinder (the 115mm being the size of the disc). These range from £30-£100.

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