How to Choose the Best Angle Grinder
The angle grinders are DIY machines equipped with powerful electric engines, which with a variety of discs can be a great tool to do different kind of works around the house: tile cutting, knife sharpening and even cleaning the garden tools.
The angle grinder is a really versatile machine and with modern technology advances more and more functions are given to them. In fact, they are good for way more things than they are being used for. The shops offer a wide range of accessories, those increase our possibilities greatly: different type, brand, size, material, structure pulleys, wheels, brushes and sanding sheets are available. These can be used for cutting, rough and fine sanding, polishing applications of various metals, plastics, and building materials.
So how to choose the right angle grinder, if we were to buy such machine? Of course, you have to take the kind of job you need to do in an account as well as the material, the amounts and the type of work. Fortunately, angle grinder accessories have the great advantage that they are relatively cheap to change and you can use them for different jobs: you can mount them with different discs and brushes.
Before you use one of these versatile tools, it is important to learn what type of angle grinder and discs should you use. An angle grinder is able to save a lot of time and energy for you, but only if you apply all safety regulations and some instructions.
What kind of project are you planning to do?
Choose a machine that fits the kind of work you want to do. You are going to work with a dangerous tool, so you have to pay attention to its usage and it is very important to find the settings that fit the job the best. Very wide range of angle grinders and discs can be purchased on the market, with huge differences in power and performance!
Do you want to cut iron? Clean building material? Sharpen knives? Sand welds? If you can afford it, buy a better quality machine as they are more reliable and safer.
One of the major characteristics of the speed grinder is its speed. The higher speed the machine is running at, the more productive the work is, therefore the sooner you grind /cut the material. Of course, there are exceptions: working with heat-sensitive surfaces (eg. painted surfaces, plastic) is not recommended for maximum speed because it could melt, ruining the material and it could even destroy the disc. To overcome this, the speed control feature was developed, which enables you to set the maximum speed, making your angle grinder perfect for any kind of application.
Another feature may be important, especially for the more powerful machines. This is the soft start. The electronics that ensures the soft start automatically controls the speed after turning the machine on. It does not try to immediately reach the maximum speed, but it increases it gradually. It is advantageous especially if we work in a place where the fuse otherwise could not handle the performance and it would shut the entire circuit off.
What angle grinder to choose?
Of course, there are lesser quality, average and professional machines among angle grinders. The major manufacturers’ high-quality machines provide many features, moreover, they are equipped with the latest technology, making them great for everyday usage or for professionals. In addition, there are mid-range machines (PORTER-CABLE), that offer less user-friendly functions or perhaps the blade is not quick draw. They are still great machines, however, those are recommended for work around the house or at home.
If the angle grinder is used intermittently at home for periods of one hour, mid-range angle grinders are fine choices. The DIY angle grinders are good for periodic usage, they overheat during ongoing work. If it works for longer time (even if only once in a month) then, by all means, a higher category machine is recommended, either Makita or DeWalt.
You can find unbranded products everywhere, as well as poor quality, few-dollar angle grinders. Buying and using those should be avoided if possible. More often than not they can not withstand the expected load and they cause accidents due to the poor quality parts.
Choosing the right discs
Different type of jobs require different type of discs. The sanding flap discs are used in the final part of the work, the cutting discs are used for cutting tile, metal or plastic tubes, while the wire brush wheels are for cleaning. It is important to always use the right kind of disc, you should never grind with cutting disc for example.
Different colors mark the operations that can be carried out with the discs, making them easier to recognize. The blue ones are for metal cutting, red ones for metal grinding and the green discs for cutting stones (bricks, tiles etc.).
From the many options, blue and red discs are the most used angle grinder accessories. Their diameter and material are the same for all purposes, only the thickness of the discs are different. For cutting 2.5-3 mm discs, while for grinding 4-6 mm discs are recommended by the professionals. The data can be read from the discs, their boxes or from the Internet.
Let’s see what the numbers mean, through a general labeling:
4″x0.045″x5/8″ (100mmx1.6mmx16mm); 100m/s; max R.P.M. 14.000 r/min
The first data (4”) shows the disc diameter and the second (0.045”) shows it’s thickness. The 5/8” refers to the borehole diameter. Of course, you can find it in millimeters as well. The fourth is the maximum circumferential speed of the disc, while the last one is the maximum speed. The latter two data shows us the disc’s durability. If a machine is capable of exceeding the given speed, do not use discs with it! In case of speed-control machines, use them on low speeds only!
What you really need to pay attention to is the safety at work: never work without protective gloves and safety glasses, the hot pieces of waste could cause serious injuries. Carefully read all the instructions and guidelines and follow the suggestions given by the production company!
If a disc or any similar accessory of the angle grinder is worn, it can be replaced relatively easily, but after changing them always try the angle grinder in idle for 20-30 seconds to prevent unpleasant surprises.
It is important that before work, every electrical cord, extension cord and wire should be taken away from the vicinity of the work area to prevent electric short circuit or fire.
An angle grinder saves you a lot of time and effort if you choose the right machine and disc for the job. If you are using the machine for a little time (1 hour a day maximum) and if you do basic cutting and grinding work with it, a mid-range angle grinder is optimal for you. When buying always check that the box contains the guard and the side handle because it is not safe to work without them.
If you work for more time continuously (more than 1 hour each time) with the angle grinder and the lower speed is important (paint sanding, fine polishing) then you may want to choose a more professional machine. These include several convenience features that make your job easier and they have stronger longer-lasting engines.