Angle grinders are one of the most popular tools that welders use on an everyday basis. There are so many different attachments for these useful tools, the options are endless.
The cool thing about grinders is that all types of welders use them. They are a necessary tool no matter what kind of welding work you plan on doing. Using a grinder is a skill in itself, and putting a nice finish on a project can be harder than the actual “welding” part.
Becoming proficient with grinding is necessary for any welding job you may land. Welding schools will usually teach students how to use grinders well, but it is good to practice on your own projects as well.
Types Of Attachments
Structural welders can use hard wheels for heavier duty grinding. These wheels can remove a lot of steel in a quick manner – this is great for placing bevels on steel or removing large amounts of material. They will not put a nice finish on steel, however. They are very abrasive and will leave rough marks.
One of the most popular attachments is a wire wheel. These remove rust and paint from steel, and they can also remove slag very quickly. This is especially helpful when you’re stick welding or flux core MIG welding. Wire wheels are made of woven strands of wire that are very durable.
The other popular attachment is a cutoff wheel. These are meant for making quick work of cutting steel while on the job. They are very thin, which allows them to slice through most metals. The cut won’t be as accurate as a saw, but it does work.
For fine finishing work, resin discs are often used. These attachments come in different grits (like sandpaper). Finer 80 grit discs can put a nice finish on projects that need to be very aesthetic.
There are also “flap discs” which offer a sandpaper type of construction. These discs can put extremely smooth finishes on steel when it is required. The flap discs in the photo above have layered grits, this helps them last longer.
How Many Grinders Are Necessary?
So, how many angle grinders do you need? It depends. You can get away with one grinder, but you’ll be switching out wheels a lot. If you’re wire wheeling and you need to switch to a cutoff wheel, that can eat into your productivity time. When juggling through multiple attachments, this can get old and time consuming.
The best option is to consider which attachments you use the most. Let’s say you tend to use a hard wheel and a wire wheel most often. Then having 2 grinders will allow you to switch between the two effortlessly.
Obviously, most welders start out with 1 grinder. Welding schools typically require students to purchase a grinder before their first day of classes (along with other tools). Building your collection of grinders typically happens once you start in the welding work force.
It is also important to consider which route you’ll want to take when you start your welding career.
If you are running your own business, then having a plethora of grinders is probably necessary. Pipeliners carry multiple angle grinders for all of their pipe applications.
If you are like us, shop work tends to be more lenient. Some shops will have a whole rack of angle grinders that are for the employees to use. The shop I work at doesn’t want us burning up our own tools, so we are welcome to use their grinders and hand tools whenever we need them.
This will all depend on your employer and what their rules are.
Corded Vs Cordless
It is also important to consider if you want a corded grinder or a cordless grinder. Corded grinders are great for shop settings since there are outlets nearby (most likely).
They are also good for field welders who have welder generators. You can plug the grinder cord into your welder and work just about anywhere.
Corded grinders are most popular, and manufacturers offer them in more models and ranges. However, if there is no power source nearby, then a cordless grinder may be your best bet.
These cordless models have a rechargeable battery pack that is quite convenient.
Another thing to think about is the size of grinders you’ll need. “Standard” angle grinders are usually 4.5″, meaning that they take attachments that are 4.5″ in diameter. These sizes can tackle most projects without much of a hassle.
There are also larger grinder sizes, 7″ being the most common. These are used for more industrial applications. The wheels cover a lot more surface area, and the actual tool is much more powerful. These grinders can be harder to control and they weigh a lot more.
It is usually best for beginners to start out with a 4.5″ grinder and then try a 7″ grinder once they feel more comfortable. Injuries from angle grinders can be pretty severe, and they are more common than most people think. Wear your eye protection!
How Many Grinders Do We Have?
We usually have about 4 grinders laying around. We keep three 4.5″ grinders with different attachments. Usually a wire wheel, a hard wheel and a resin disc. For the fourth grinder we like to keep a 7″ around. This is mostly used for structural projects where we need to grind large surface areas.
What Are The Best Brands of Angle Grinders?
Grinders have really improved a lot in recent years. Most of the name brands are making models that will last for years on end.
The prices have also come down to more reasonable levels. For less than 100 dollars, you can pick up a grinder that will provide years of reliability.
The top brands that are dominating the market are Dewalt and Makita. These last for so long its pretty unbelievable. I still have a Makita grinder that I bought right before I started welding school. It runs fine and doesn’t have issues.
Dewalt grinders are what you’ll usually see welders using. They are very popular for rig welders and for shop welders too. Dewalt makes robust products that are relatively affordable. Their 4.5″ and 7″ grinders are perfect for novice welders and professionals alike.
Brands like Craftsman and Hitachi also make quality products, and their grinders are no exception. Though you’ll see them less often, they will hold up just as well as a Dewalt or a Makita (in our opinion).
For top of the line grinders, Metabo takes the cake. These are some of the best built, most powerful tools on the market. The prices are WAY higher than the brands listed above, but you get what you pay for. It is not uncommon for Metabos to last 10 years or more with regular use. Most of their models are produced in Germany with exacting specifications.
How Fast Do Grinders Go? (Revolutions Per Minute)
Most grinders on the market range between 7,000 to 10,000 rotations per minute. This is how fast your attachment is actually spinning during a 1 minute period.
Higher end models will have variable speed settings. Choosing how many RPM’s you want can be beneficial when you need less or more power.
Larger 7″ grinders can achieve RPM’s over 12,000. Pairing this speed with a larger wheel ensures faster removal of material. However, some smaller models can achieve these RPM’s as well.
Featured image credit : Piqsels.com