A Beginner's Guide to Angle Grinders

An angle grinder is the perfect tool for grinding and cutting metal and masonry, but we understand that they can be intimidating for novice users. 

With the right knowledge, an angle grinder is an effective and safe power tool, which is why we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to inform your buying decision and help you work safely. 

When you begin to look at angle grinders, you will need to decide on what size disc you will require, with the two most common sizes being 4.5” (115mm) and 9” (230mm). 

The size of the disc determines the depth of the cut possible, so larger jobs will require larger discs. 

Smaller angle grinders usually have a higher RPM than larger angle grinders, which in turn means the small discs get worn out quicker than a large disc would. 

Perhaps the most common question we receive about angle grinders is what disc should be used for particular jobs. 

Usually, angle grinders aren’t supplied with discs, so when buying them separately you need to know what you’re looking for. 

Luckily for you, we’ve made it simple: 

  • Wire discs are designed for stripping and removing rust and dried paint from surfaces. 
  • Cutting discs are ideal for cutting through touch metal surfaces, exactly as the name implies. 
  • Grinding discs can quickly and easily restore edges, ideally used on lawn mower blades, shovels, axes, etc. 
  • Diamond discs are designed primarily for removing mortar without damaging the brickwork. 

The cutting capabilities of the angle grinder isn’t the only factor you should consider, however, as there are other features which will determine how easy-to-use and comfortable a particular angle grinder will be. 

These include: 

  • Adjustable side handle: This will determine how versatile the machine is during operation, giving you added grip and making it suitable for both left and right handed users. 
  • Spindle lock: Which will allow you to change switches quickly and easily.
  • Adjustable guard: You will have an added layer of protection from sparks and dust with an adjustable guard attached, which adds extra safety. 
  • Lock-on switch: Allows you to keep the grinder powered without you needing to hold the switch in the "ON" position. 
  • Anti-vibration handle: To minimise hand/arm fatigue, an anti-vibration will increase the comfort during operation.

When using an angle grinder, always keep safety at the forefront of your mind. If used incorrectly, or with fleeting attention, they can be very dangerous tools. 

Before you start, always ensure you’re wearing the correct protective clothing, including goggles, a dust mask, ear defenders and gloves. 

Your protective clothing should be designed to withstand sparks that are produced whilst grinding metal. 

They should ideally be fire retardant to prevent your clothes from catching fire, and your working environment shouldn’t contain any flammable materials, such as petrol or fabric. One small spark can create a deadly fire. 

Goggles and a dusk mask will protect you from the large amount of dust which is produced when cutting masonry, which can cause serious harm to your vision and respiratory system. 

Although dust poses less threat to your environment than sparks, it can make your working area extremely dirty. 

If you’re working outside of your workshop, garage or shed, always take care to remove items which are valuable, and even seal doors to prevent the dust from spreading too far from your work zone. 

As with all power equipment, always inform those around you where and when you’ll be working so they can keep a safe distance at all times.

If you’re using an electric angle grinder, you should always manage your cables carefully, to avoid tripping or accidently cutting through them. 

Finally, always make sure that the disc has stopped spinning completely before you put it down at the completion of a job. 

Failure to do so could cause damage to the surface you put it down on and can even send the angle grinder spinning out of control. 

You can see our full range of angle grinders here, and if you’d like any assistance don’t hesitate to contact us on 01437 700123.