If you’re a newbie at using power tools and have never heard of a bench grinder, you’ll want to continue reading this article. However, when it comes to working with metal (and with wood to a certain extent), this is a very commonly used tool. So, what is a bench grinder, and what does it do?
As you’re about to find out, a bench grinder can be used for various tasks. This includes, but is not limited to, grinding, removing material, polishing, buffing, sharpening, shaping objects, etc.
What is a Bench Grinder?
A bench grinder is actually a relatively simple tool. There’s a motor attached to a grinding wheel, and many bench grinders have dual grinding wheels − one on each side. To use a bench grinder, you hold a workpiece against the fast-spinning grinding wheel to do a specific job.
A bench grinder has various components. One of these components is the motor that spins the wheel at anywhere between 3000 to 3600 RPM.
In addition, there’s the grinding wheel itself, which comes in different shapes and sizes.
There will also be a bench grinder tool rest that helps prevent a workpiece from slipping while being ground. Other components include wheel guards and eye shields.
The guard is a vital component for safety; it should cover roughly 75% of the grinding wheel. Using a bench grinder without a guard is strictly prohibited in most places. It’s all about preventing metal fragments from flying in your direction.
The Main Uses of Bench Grinders
Now that we know precisely what bench grinders are let’s discuss what they are used for. As you are about to see, a bench grinder can perform many jobs.
Grinding and Removing Material
One of its most common uses is for grinding. Specifically, we’re talking about removing a lot of material from a metal surface very quickly.
The grindstones that bench grinders use come in varying levels of coarseness for different types of material. So, for example, you don’t want to use the same grindstone for aluminum that you would use for steel.
Using the right grinding wheel for a specific type of metal is essential for safety purposes. If you need to grind down a piece of metal to a much smaller size, a bench grinder is one of the first tools you should consider using.
Cutting Hard Materials
A bench grinder can cut very hard materials such as metal, masonry, and even wood. First, however, you might wonder how a grindstone can make a cut.
You would hold the piece being cut in the tool rest and then slowly rotate it towards the surface of the grinding wheel. Once the grinding wheel makes contact with what you want to cut, you keep turning the material until it is in two pieces.
Keep turning the material as you make the cut to prevent a fire. This will also help avoid an uneven cut. Then dip the cut ends in water to temper them.
Sharpening Pieces of Metal
Another common use of a bench grinder is to sharpen metal objects. For example, you can use a bench grinder to sharpen a knife, a file, various cutting tools, saw blades, chisels, and even lawnmower blades.
Because a bench grinder can grind away metal from a surface, it can also grind away metal from a dull edge to refine it.
However, if you use a bench grinder for sharpening purposes, you should run the wheel slower. You don’t want too much heat to build because you may undo the temper or heat treatment on the tool.
Yet another use of a bench grinder is to remove rust from metal materials to bring them back to their original condition.
However, you will probably want to sharpen the tool after removing rust. Again, when removing rust from a metal surface with a bench grinder, run the wheel at a slower speed to prevent heat buildup.
Bench grinders can be used for buffing metals, but you will need a special buffing wheel for your bench grinder. Buffing is a very common job used on metal products that helps to ensure good texture retention and edge retention. Buffed metal always holds onto its edge for longer.
Remember that you don’t want the metal to get too hot when buffing. You will therefore be dipping it in cold water as you buff.
Another everyday use of the bench grinder is for polishing metal pieces. Using the correct wheel type, you may also use a bench grinder to polish wooden pieces.
However, if you are polishing wood, never hold it on the grinder for too long. This can cause excess heat, and the wood could catch fire.
You will need a fine grinding wheel with a fine texture for polishing jobs. Another tip when polishing is to apply firm and steady pressure to allow for an even polishing job.
A bench grinder can do one more job to shape various metal objects. For example, you may have a big piece of metal you want to grind into a specific shape.
If you have old scrap metal you want to turn into something else, a bench grinder is a great tool to use. But, of course, this is ideal for more than just scrap metal.
For instance, if you have forge-welded the basic billet of a knife or any type of blade, you can use a bench grinder to refine the blade’s shape and get a sharp edge.
However, when using a bench grinder to shape metal, constantly move the metal back and forth to ensure evenness. Applying even pressure will also help in terms of safety.
As you can see, a bench grinder does serve many purposes. For instance, if you are making a knife, you can first use a bench grinder to shape the blade, sharpen the edge, and polish everything.
Bench Grinder Uses – Final Thoughts
As you can see, when it comes to metalworking, a bench grinder is one of the most effective and valuable tools that you can have.
It can also be used to work on wood, although metal is a much more common material it is used with.
There are many jobs a bench grinder can do. But, of course, what you can do with a bench grinder depends on the grinding wheel you have affixed to it.