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How to Use an Angle Grinder Safely & Correctly

An angle grinder can be one of the most useful and versatile tools in your tool box if you know how to get the most out of it. Whether you’re grinding, cutting, removing excess materials, sharpening, sanding or polishing, your angle grinder is equipped to tackle countless DIY and home maintenance tasks.

Here at SGS Engineering we’ve taken the time to put together a couple of quick how-to guides to help you better understand how to use an angle grinder and  get the most out of your tool.

  1. Get to know your angle grinder
  2. Prepare your work space and staying safe
  3. Using your angle grinder
  4. What else can you do with an angle grinder

Need help choosing the right angle grinder for you? Have a look at our handy buyers guide for a comprehensive break down of our range.

Get know your angle grinder

Preparing your work space and staying safe

It’s incredibly important to know how to safely use an angle grinder. Unlike a drill that will rotate at around 700-1,200 times per minute, an angle grinder has a free speed of up to 12,000rpm - so it’s really important to follow some basic safety precautions!

  • Unplug (or take the battery out of) your grinder when you’re changing the disc/wheel.
  • Make sure handles are firmly attached to the grinder.
  • Keep a firm grip of the grinder at all times.
  • If your grinder has a guard - use it!
  • When you purchase a new disc, run it in the grinder (in a safe space) for at least 30 seconds to ensure you don’t have a defective blade.
  • Let debris fall down and out of the way of you and the grinder.
  • Make sure the blade is spinning away from you at all time.
  • Beware of sparks catching on anything combustible in your workspace.
  • Keep work pieces clamped or secured wherever possible.
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An angle grinder produces a large amount of dust and sparks, so you need to be well prepared before you start your project. Keep your working area clear of obstacles and make sure there’s nothing that could catch fire with a stray spark.

There’s going to be dust and particulate in a fairly sizeable area around your work piece, so move anything you don’t want to get covered out of the way. When you’re working with an angle grinder, we suggest you wear goggles, tough gloves, protective boots and a dust mask. Bear in mind a spark could burn you or catch against your clothes. Cutting masonry and some tiles will make a large amount of dust - a dust mask is absolutely essential when working on these projects.

Using your angle grinder

We've put together a couple a different how-to guides to help you get the very most out of your angle grinder. With these simple step-by-step guides you’ll soon be able to cut, clean and grind with your tool.

How to cut tile, stone and concrete with an angle grinder

Tile cutters are great for cutting straight across the face of a ceramic or stone tile, however you’ll find it difficult, if not impossible to make precise cuts for fitting a work piece around obstacles like power outlets. Angle grinders make light work of these sorts of fiddly tasks.

1. Marking up & clamp down

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Mark an outline for the cut on both the front and back of the tile. Be as accurate as you can with the outline, because the more fastidious you are now, the better a finish you’ll get.

Firmly clamp your tile to a workbench, with the front facing up. You risk ruining your ceramic or stone tile or potentially causing yourself an injury if it slips as you make the cut!

2. Scoring the face

Start your angle grinder and score around your outline on the front face of the tile. You’re aiming to score around 1/8th of the way through the surface.

3. Finish the cut

Flip your tile over and re-clamp it. Now the back of the tile should be facing up. Cut through the tile from the back. Extend your cuts slighting past the corners to get a perfect, crisp square corner.

Flip your tile over and re-clamp it. Now the back of the tile should be facing up. Cut through the tile from the back. Extend your cuts slighting past the corners to get a perfect, crisp square corner.

How to cut metal bars, rods and bolts

When your choice is either arduously cutting away with a hacksaw (blunting numerous blades as you go), or quickly rough cutting a metal bar with an angle grinder - the choice is normally pretty simple! You can’t beat a grinder when it comes to convenience and time consumption.

1. Prop the bar

Skip to step two if you’re trimming a bolt flush in concrete or another material. Firmly prop the long side of the bar, making sure it’s secure. The part of the bar that will fall away after the cut should be the bit that drops away. Remember: you should be wearing your steel-cap boots!

Skip to step two if you’re trimming a bolt flush in concrete or another material. Firmly prop the long side of the bar, making sure it’s secure. The shortest part of the bar (after the cut) should be the bit that drops away. Remember: you should be wearing your safety boots!

2. Making the cut

Turn your angle grinder on and allow the disc to reach a high speed. Drop the wheel through the metal allowing the weight of the tool to do the majority of the work. Allow the short end to drop away from the bar or rod freely.

How to restore cutting edges and sharpen blades with an angle grinder

With the right disc, your angle grinder can be used to restore rough edges on many of your household tools, including lawn mower blades, shovels, hoes and even axes. You can always refine the finish with a mill file afterwards.

1. Clamp your blade

Firmly clamp down your chosen tool or blade in a vice or with a C-clamp to your workbench. Make sure the grinder disc will be spinning away from you as to deflect sparks. An arrow on the body of the grinder will indicate which way the blade will spin.

Firmly clamp down your chosen tool or blade, in a vice or with a C-clamp, to your workbench. Make sure the grinder disc will be spinning away from you in order to deflect sparks. An arrow on the body of the grinder will indicate which way the blade will spin.

2. Align disc

Angle the grinder disc with the cutting edge of the blade or tool you’re working on. Start the grinder and let the disc spin a full speed. Move the disc steadily across the blade applying only the lightest pressure. Move the grinder from the handle end of the blade and up to the tip of the tool only. Don’t move the grinder back and forth. Start at the bottom, move up to the tip of the tool, repeat.

Angle the grinder disc with the cutting edge of the blade or tool you’re working on. Start the grinder and let the disc spin at full speed. Move the disc steadily across the blade applying only the lightest pressure.

Move the grinder from the handle end of the blade and up to the tip of the tool. Don’t move the grinder back and forth. Start at the bottom, move up to the tip of the tool, repeat.

TOP TIP:Sharpening metal causes a lot of heat to build up. Keep a bucket of water and a sponge close by so you can cool the blade between strokes.

How to clean metal with your angle grinder

An angle grinder, with the right disc, will make light work of removing flaking paint, dry cement or rust from metals. There’s numerous wire brush style wheels out there, all designed for different types of stripping, cleaning and de-burring tasks. Check the manufacturers description before you make your purchase.

1. Secure your work piece

Clamp down whatever you’re working on in a vice or on a workshop bench. Make sure the disc is going to be spinning away from you as wire brushes can catch and kick back. You can check the arrow on the angle grinder to see which way the disc will rotate.

2. Removing materials

Bring the grinder up to speed and gently bring the wheel down onto the paint/rust/cement you’re trying to remove. Be sure to work away from, not into, sharp or rough edges. Wire wheels are very malleable so you’ll be able to get in all the crevices and tight areas.

Bring the grinder up to speed and gently move the wheel down onto the paint/rust/cement you’re trying to remove. Be sure to work away from, not into, sharp or rough edges. Wire wheels are very malleable so you’ll be able to get in all the crevices and tight areas.

How to cut out mortar with your angel grinder

If you’ve got a lot of mortar to remove and a hammer, and chisel just won’t cut it, get your angle grinder out instead. Using an angle grinder with old mortar means you need to prepare for a lot of dust. Get yourself a dust mask, close all your windows and warn the neighbours!

1. Grind mortar

With your dust mask on, bring your grinder up to speed. Clear the joint by making two or three ~12mm cuts, all in the same direction, in the mortar. Stay a couple of millimetres away from the brick work to avoid the possibility of damage.

With your dust mask on, bring your grinder up to speed. Clear the joint by making two or three ~12mm cuts, all in the same direction, in the mortar. Stay a couple of millimetres away from the brick work to avoid the possibility of damage.

What else can you do with an angle grinder

An angle grinder is intended for working with various materials to achieve an array of finishes and effects. By picking the right cutting wheel you can accomplish an even larger variety of household DIY tasks including polishing, buffering, sanding, rounding and shaping.

Type of Wheel Recommended for
Aluminium Oxide Woodworking projects
Buffing Pad Buffing and polishing
Cut-off Cutting metal bolts, rods, and bars
Diamond Cutting concrete, stone and tiles
Fibre Removing rust and burrs from metal
Grinding Restoring edges and sharpening tools
Sanding (available with various abrasions) Sanding, sharpening, surface prepping
Tuck pointingRemoving mortar
Wire or Brush Cleaning metal; removing paint and rust

Angle grinder wheels and discs can be crafted from a number of materials however, in general, a diamond disc will allow for the greatest degree of precision and polish. Wheels are available in a range of abrasion levels (or grit). Use an accessory with a higher abrasion for rougher polishing surfaces.

Hopefully this guide has helped you to get to grips with what you can do with your angle grinder and some of the numerous different operations your power tool is equipped for. If you follow this guide, we’re sure you’ll be safely and accurately grinding, cutting and sharpening with the best of them in no time .

still need help?

Our in house experts are always on hand for buying advice and to provide bespoke care, regardless of the application.

Call SGS on 01332 576 850 or fill out our contact form today.

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