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Uses For an Angle Grinder

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I work in metal. I love abstract metal art. I am an avid learner and am always growing.

Makita Angle Grinder

A Makita Angle Grinder

A Makita Angle Grinder

Uses of Angle Grinder

Here is a list of common and not so common uses for the angle grinder.

  • Grinding weld beads smooth
  • Grinding welds inside pipe and tubing
  • Beveling metals to be welded
  • Removing mill scale from steel
  • Removing rust with wire brush
  • Removing flux with wire brush
  • Sanding smooth
  • Cutting off nails and screws
  • Grinder patterns on metal
  • Cutting Ceramic tiles
  • Cutting and grinding stone and masonry

Description of Angle Grinder

An angle grinder is an electric power tool that is a high speed rotating tool for the DIY'er. It is surprisingly versatile and has many uses for the home and workshop. The basic principle of operation is the tool consist of a high speed AC electric motor. To this motor a right angle attachment where the arbor extends out. This angle allows for stability and control of the tool. The rotation speed is often in excess of 10,000, rpm!

Although it is mainly used for metal work, it had applications involving stone, ceramic, masonry, and even wood working trades! There are a wide variety of wheels and fixtures available for this tool.

Dewalt Heavy Duty 4 1/2 inch Angle Grinder

Grinding Weld Beads

One of the most common uses for the angle grinder is to grind welds. There are a few reasons why this may be done. One a weld that is porous or not properly laid down needs to ground back to the surface to be redone. Another reason might be to simply smooth the weld so an additional weld pass can be applied and a more secure bond ensured. Lastly, the weld could be ground down for decorative purposes. This is an application where the appearance of a weld bead is undesirable. This is a fine line to walk in that enough of the weld needs to remain to maintain joint integrity but a smooth finish applied to the metal.

In the photograph below, I am grinding welds smooth on this 3D steel shape as well as smoothing the face a bit. This serves two main purposes. One, this lends itself to a more decorative edge. Two, smoothing everything down allows me to see defects better so I can go back and re-weld the edges deficient in filler metal.

Grinding Down Welds

Grinding Weld Beads

Grinding Weld Beads

Makita 5 inch Variable Speed Angle Grinder

How Do You Use Your Angle Grinder

Removing Rust with Wire Brush Attachments

One use the angle grinder is very speedy and efficient in is rust removal. This is best accomplished with a wire wheel attachment. There are two main kinds of wire brush attachments. One is the braided wire wheel for irregular and contoured metal surfaces. The other is the cup brush. This is best designed for flat surfaces such as large sections of sheet metal. It is recommended you wear a dust mask or otherwise you will be breathing the orange rust dust cloud in.

Also, these brushes are good for removing paint as well. The video below is very instructive in using the cup brush for rust and paint removal.

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Removing Rust with Cup Brush

Removing Brazing Flux

There are some real benefits to braze welding as opposed to regular welding. Lower temperatures and less distortion are certainly among the benefits. There is a caveat or inconvenience if you will. That is most braze welding operations use a considerable amount of flux. When the metals joined cool, this flux hardens into a discolored glass like substance. This is where the handy angle grinder comes in. Again, we normally use the wire brush. This also works to apply a nice brushed finish to the metals joined as well.

The first photo below shows the artwork in crude form with brazing flux being removed with wire brush on angle grinder. The second photo shows the completed wall décor after wire brush cleaning.

Cleaning flux with wire wheel on grinder

Cleaning flux with wire wheel on grinder

Sunburst Wall Decor

Smoothing and Sanding Metal

Smoothing metal with an angle grinder is not much different than grinding welds or making grinder patterns. Where is differs is that smoothing is done with the removal of less material than grinding. Grinder patterns on metal focus on putting designs in the metal surface, smoothing implies sanding an entire surface to remove blemishes, level uneven surfaces, or further round curved edges.

The attachments and wheels for this particular task are flap disc of various grits. The most common grits readily available are 36, 40,60, 80, and 120. Another option is to get a backing pad that fits the particular model of angle grinder. With this there are sandpaper disc specifically designed for this of simular grit range.

Texturing Sheet Metal with Angle grinder

Grinder Patterns on Metal

What is popular in abstract metal art these days is metal panels with elaborate patternd grinded into them. This affect is especially stunning on aluminum because it is a bright white metal. When A clear or transparent paint is applied, the metal takes on a jeweled prismatic character. There are numerous ways to accomplish this. As the video above shows, a wire cup brush can be used. Other options would be sanding and finsihing disc of different levels of fineness. This is a technique that is better appreciated by practice and experimetation.

Cutting Tile With an Angle Grinder

Cutting Ceramic Tile

When you are installing ceramic tile flooring you may have to cut odd shapes. It might no be convenient or cost effective to work with a special tile cutting saw. One way to do this without a lot of cost and elaborate set ups is to use an angle grinder. For cutting ceramic tile, you will need a diamond blade with a continuous edge.

Below you will see an informative video demonstration of cutting tile with an angle grinder.

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