Today, angle grinders do a lot more than grind and cut. There is currently a massive selection

of accessories that increase the usability of this tool, making it a worthwhile DIY purchase.

Inexpensive grinders can be found, but, like all power tools, spending a little extra is worth

it if you want the tool to last you a lifetime.

 

Applications

 

Metal

A hacksaw can be used to cut metal rods and tubes, but not half as quickly and effortlessly as a grinder. Further on that, a grinder can be used to cut away rusty bolt heads. It can also be used to sharpen lawnmower blades, spades and dull garden implements cheaply and easily.

 

Masonry

With the passing of time, and exposure to the elements, mortar in-between bricks can become soft or look aged. Removal and replacement of this mortar is a regular DIY task and requires a grinder. Angle grinders are commonly available in two sizes. The larger of the two can be used to chase channels in walls much more quickly and easily than a hammer and chisel. This comes in handy when you accidentally drill into a water pipe and an immediate repair is preferable. The same is true when preparing walls for the extension of electrical networks inside the home.

 

Ceramic

DIY tile cutters normally only cut on a vertical or horizontal plane. More resourceful means are required when cutting tiles to  make space around permanent fixtures like toilets or basins fixed into the floor or substrate.

 

Wood

Grinders are not used to cut wood but, aggressive sanding disks, make light work of removing material or cleaning a surface. Wire brushes can also be used when working with wood; the right one will help you remove paint and others can be used to create special effects.

 

Features to look out for

Paying more for an angle grinder will extend the usability of the tool. A good grinder will have a spindle washer and spindle nut. These can be attached in different ways to accommodate a larger variety of accessories.

Look out for:

•   Adjustable blade guards.

•   Quick stop mechanisms.

•   The power rating of the motor.

•   Rotational speed.

•   Variable speed.

•   Standard sizes.

 

Blades

Pivotal to success and safety is use of the correct blades and, although many look the same, close attention to the labels is a must. Firstly, ensure that the wheel you intend using is designed to cut the material you intend to grind or cut.  Make sure the maximum revolutions per minute (RPM) of the blade matches, or exceeds, the maximum rotational speed of your grinder. Make sure the size of the insert matches that of your grinder spindle and spindle washer.

 

Safety

Grinders can generate more than 10 000 RPM so the use of safety glasses and ear muffs is non-negotiable and, in many instances, so is a respirator or dust mask.

 

Pivotal to safe use is awareness of the direction of rotation and how the accessory coming into contact with the item being worked on will react. All grinders have an ‘arrow’ indicating the direction of rotation, normally clockwise, but this can be confusing when working at different angles. Depending on what you are working on, ignorance of this consideration may lead to injury whether you are wearing safety equipment or not.

 

Avoid cutting or grinding with the wheel spinning into your torso. This could leave you with a mouthful of plaster, burns or little pieces of material lodged in your clothing or worse.

 

While it may be possible to remove the blade guard from some grinders, it is not a good idea. This increases the possibility of material being flung at the user and, when a disk is spinning at such high speed, it can become dangerous. If a blade happens to ‘explode’, there is no doubt that the blade guard could save your eyes.

 

Caution should be at its highest when working with wire brushes as it can leave you with a strand of hot metal from a wire brush in your leg or face. 

 

Benefits of a cordless grinder

•    No cord to contend with.

•    Slim while powerful.

•    No electrical adaptors.

•    Easier to handle.

•    Less vibration.

•    Ability to access the most inaccessible areas.

 

Grinder accessories

•    Wire brushes.

•    Sanding discs.

•    Polishing wheels.

•    Diamond-cutting wheels.

•    Abrasive wheels.

 

Safety musts

•   It is essential that you wear safety glasses, ear muffs and a dust mask.

•   Wear protective clothing if necessary.

•   Unplug the grinder before changing blades.

•   Switch the grinder on before making contact with the workpiece.

•   Attach and adjust the handle.

•   Adjust the blade guard.

•   Run wheels for one minute to ensure they are not defective.

•   It is best to clamp the object being cut to avoid movement and subsequent binding of the disc.

•   Avoid applying too much pressure and allow the blade to rest on the material and work its way through.

An angle grinder is loud, throws sparks and debris, but it is also a versatile power tool and a major time saver

 

By By Gareth Greathead

Angle grinders