An angle grinder is a metalworker’s best friend. It not only can transform ugly welds into smooth, paintable surfaces but also can cut metal stock, remove rust and deburr pipe (as well as perform a bunch of home-improvement chores outside the realm of metalworking). Of course, the key to making the best use of this tool is to understand it and the many attachments available to expand its versatility. Here’s a brief primer to help you get started.
Angle grinder anatomy
An angle grinder is a fairly simple tool that includes a motor-driven spindle onto which a cutting wheel or some other task-specific implement is attached. Angle grinders can be powered by compressed air or gasoline, but most are electric, powered by standard 110-volt household current.
Unlike drills, which typically spin at 700 to 1,200 rpm, angle grinders spin at a very high speed – often in excess of 10,000 rpm. To avoid injury, it’s vital that you follow a few basic safety guidelines whenever you work with an angle grinder:
• Wear a face shield, hearing protection, long sleeves and gloves.
• Unplug the grinder when you’re changing wheels.
• Attach the auxiliary handle, and maintain a firm grip with both hands.
• Allow the tool to reach full speed before touching it to the workpiece.
• Work at a consistent speed. Do not force the cut, but do not work so slowly that the tool burns the workpiece.
• Use the guard whenever possible.
• Run a new wheel in a protected area for one minute to make sure it’s not defective before using it on a workpiece.
• Orient the work so debris is directed downward and so that the wheel spins away from, not into, any sharp edges. Sharp edges can catch on wheels (especially wire brushes) and cause the grinder to kick back.
• Keep bystanders away. Everyone in the vicinity should wear safety glasses.
• Keep sparks away from flammable materials.
• Never use a dust-collection attachment when cutting metal.
• Do not use lubricants with cutoff wheels. Use lubricants only with grinding wheels when specified by the manufacturer.
Wheels and attachments
To use an angle grinder to its full potential, you’ll need to understand the ...
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