Learning to use an angle grinder properly can take a fair bit of practice. Specifically, you’ll often need to practice a variety of techniques for accomplishing the many jobs assigned to an angle grinder.
Along the way, you’ll likely discover that the default disc on your angle grinder can’t accomplish all of your desired tasks. As such, you’ll also need to set aside some time to learn about the various different types available to professionals and DIYers today.
In this guide, you’ll learn about seven of the most popular angle grinder discs and their primary uses. This guide will also highlight what many of these discs are made from, which in turn will help you evaluate whether that type can be safely used on your targeted material.
7 Types of Angle Grinder Discs
Without further ado, let’s take a look at each of the types in detail.
These wheels are disc-shaped in nature and often feature a ribbed edge that is optimized for removing rough metal edges at a rapid pace. To that end, these wheels are used in all kinds of metal fabrication jobs that require smoothing down a fresh-cut edge.
Fresh welds can also be smoothed out with a grinding wheel equipped to your angle grinder.
However, proper safety precautions must always be taken when working with this type of disc. That’s because its metal composition causes metal-on-metal contact at a rapid speed. In turn, such contact can cause a serious volume of sparks to spray from any contact point.
These blades also tend to heat up a lot, so they shouldn’t be touched right after use.
Grinding wheels are considered a rather “blunt” method of smoothing down a rough metal surface. As such, they aren’t generally used on jobs that require a person to eventually handle that newly-smoothed edge or surface. Instead, a fabricator may choose to pull out a flap disc.
These are considered to be the metal equivalent of fine sandpaper.
As such, a properly utilized flap disc can remove metal burrs, chamfer edges, and take off sharp corners with an enhanced level of precision. Some flap discs can even buff out scratches that occur during the cutting and fabrication process.
As such, they indispensable for metal craftsmen whose projects are handled by other folks regularly.
As you likely already, angle grinders can be used to cut into flat and round metal stock with relative ease. Of course, this can only be accomplished if you have a cut-off wheel equipped to your angle grinder.
These discs feature a thin profile and a tapered edge that allows them to efficiently slice into forged metal. In practice, these wheels are often able to efficiently cut through bolts, plate metal, rebar, and more – so long as the wheel itself is of adequate width.
This is because thinner cut-off wheels tend to flex more during a cutting process. This makes them unstable and prone to failure (and sometimes, even shattering) when making deep cuts into thick metal stock. Instead, a thicker cut-off wheel should be used in those instances.
Angle grinders can also be used to accomplish other types of important abrasion jobs if you have the right discs available to you. A wire wheel is one such disc that any good fabricator should have, not least because these wheels are masters when it comes to removing paint and rust from metal surfaces.
They accomplish this with their sets of metal wire fibers, which are arranged into straight or intertwined bunches to maximize their abrasion potential.
Keep in mind, though, that wire wheels range greatly in terms of quality. That is to say, try to avoid cheap wire wheels if at all possible. Such discs tend to degrade quickly, which causes the metal wires to break free and fly around.
Though you should always wear proper PPE when using a wire wheel, these free-flying wires can still pose a risk to yourself and others in your workspace.
While a wire wheel can remove paint fairly efficiently, such efficiency comes at a cost. To be specific, wire wheels tend to scuff up the underlying metal surface once the paint has been removed. To avoid that result, be sure to bring a strip disc with you to the job site. These discs are made of a poly-fiber material that can gently, yet firmly remove paint, glue, and epoxy from most metal surfaces.
If you are removing any of those coatings or adhesives from fiberglass or wood, this type of disc is also a must-have. Otherwise, you’ll find that your wire wheel will do irreparable harm to the surface of either material.
Diamond discs come in several forms. However, most diamond discs on the market today are cutting discs by nature. Not only that, but diamond discs provide top-tier cutting capacity for jobs that involve extra-dense metal stock.
These discs are able to accomplish those tasks with ease thanks to their impregnated edges, which feature a layer of abrasive diamond shards.
While they are plenty capable, diamond discs are also fairly expensive. As such, they should be reserved for use only in cutting jobs that truly warrant their use.
Ceramic Sanding Disc
Ceramic sanding discs are not nearly as common in the professional field, despite their extended service life. In terms of function, ceramic sanding discs can do just about anything a flap disc can do.
However, they can accomplish those jobs without risking overheating due to their ceramic construction. Better yet, many modern ceramic sanding discs carry a higher sanding capacity than their metal counterparts, making them as efficient as they are durable.
Angle grinders are a great multi-purpose tool, regardless of whether you’re a professional fabricator or an amateur DIYer. However, this tool can’t do much more than roughly grind metal without a set of versatile discs available at its disposal.
As such, anyone looking to make the most out of their angle grinder should invest in at least one of each of the discs described above.
That way, you’ll be able to take on as many grinding or cutting jobs as your next on-site job requires.