There are no two ways around it – cutting concrete can be an intimidating task for a DIYer. Even professionals require special training to safely and efficiently tackle this task.
Often, one of the most important steps in the concrete cutting process is choosing the right tool for the job. Some DIYers might be surprised to learn that an angle grinder can actually perform this task fairly well, especially for small jobs. However, before you pull out your angle grinder and start cutting, you need to learn the proper technique for slicing concrete with this power tool.
This guide will teach you how to do that and demonstrate why this tool is one of the most accessible options for cement cutting in a DIY environment. This guide will also provide you with some tips that are sure to make your upcoming concrete cutting jobs much easier and more efficient.
Can You Cut Concrete with an Angle Grinder?
This is a perfectly reasonable question to ask.
After all, you’re probably more accustomed to using an angle grinder for polishing metal or cutting through thick metal stock such as bolts or rebar. But in truth, this tool can efficiently slice into concrete, so long as it has the proper blade. When such a blade is used, you’ll find this tool to be fairly easy to control, both as you start and finish your concrete cut.
However, if you still don’t feel comfortable cutting concrete with an angle grinder, you do have an assortment of other options. These include purpose-built concrete saws, circular saws, and masonry saws.
How to Use Cut Concrete with an Angle Grinder
Now that we’ve established that it indeed is possible, let’s take a look at how to do it, step by step.
Step 1: Put on PPE
First and foremost, you need to suit up for the job ahead. Dry cutting concrete can be a messy business that sends out a lot of debris, including powdered concrete dust. All of this debris can be harmful to you, so it is essential that you wear all of the necessary PPE before the task.
In particular, your PPE array for this job should include a pair of safety goggles/glasses as well as a face respirator (ideally one that has been rated for use in masonry jobs).
Also, you should consider wearing long sleeves to prevent small cuts from flying concrete bits. Be sure that those long sleeves are not loose, though, as that can be dangerous when working alongside an active saw blade.
Step 2: Mark the Concrete
Once you are properly equipped with PPE, you’ll want to grab some chalk or a similar marking utensil and begin charting out where you intend to cut on your concrete’s surface.
This should always be done with some type of measuring device, such as a ruler or straight edge. However, if you are planning on making an extended cut, you may consider setting your measurements using a tape measure or a chalk line tool.
Step 3: Choose the Right Blade
Once your concrete is measured and marked, you’ll want to move onto the blade selection process.
Suffice to say, your standard wood-cutting or metal-cutting angle grinder blades will not be useful for this task. Instead, you’ll want to pick up a concrete-cutting blade for your angle grinder. These often feature edges reinforced with diamonds, as well as built-in methods for dissipating the immense friction heat that arises from concrete cutting.
At the same time, you’re likely to encounter two different angle grinder blade types that are suitably built for this job.
The first among these are segmented blades, which utilize fin-like blade sections that effectively eject debris while keeping the blade as a whole cool. This effectively extends the blade’s life, especially when performing dry cuts.
Turbo rim blades are also a solid option for cutting concrete. These blades feature a series of holes cut into their metal body near the unit’s center. These act as heat sinks that draw out heat while the blade is in motion. This can ensure that the blade remains plenty cool, even while cutting through limestone and similar materials.
Step 4: Do the Actual Cutting
Once you have your blade picked out, you can kick on your angle grinder and begin the concrete cutting process.
This should be done by gently lowering the spinning blade onto the concrete’s surface and making an initial divot. From there, you can continue to make your cut deeper before progressing it forward with a bit of horizontal force.
Be aware that as you cut, a steady stream of debris may begin to fly up at you. Don’t be afraid to pause during your cut to let this dissipate.
After all, poor visibility can severely impact your ability to safely finish your cut.
Tips & Tricks
Cutting concrete with an angle grinder for the first time can be challenging for even some experienced DIYers. In order to lower that learning curve, consider these following tips for making this process even more efficient:
- Try scoring your concrete before finishing your cut. To do this, only plunger your angle grinder to about half of your desired depth and work across the length of your desired cut. This will create a divot that you can follow to efficiently finish the cut. This also decreases the amount of debris ejected at once time.
- Consider investing in an auxiliary grip. These handle accessories mount onto an angle grinder near its head and provide a second point of contact for the user. This can be especially useful while trying to progressively ease your angle grinder into a concrete slab’s surface.
- Don’t work with a dull or hot blade. Dull blades simply won’t be able to make your cuts with any efficiency and should be replaced. Similarly, a hot blade is more likely to warp and become damaged, even under normal wear. To avoid that, don’t cut into a concrete surface for too long or too often. If you need to do so, have a set of blades on hand that you can cycle through while the others cool down.
You may have come into this thinking that cutting concrete with an angle grinder would be a bridge too far for that productive power tool.
But as you’ve now seen, that task can be accomplished fairly efficiently if you follow the process outlined above.
If you heed the tips listed above, you’ll even be able to complete your concrete cuts without any added hassle or delay.