GUIDE TO CUTTING WHEELS
In metal fabrication and manufacturing operations, various tools use cutting wheels to cut material from a workpiece.
What is a cutting wheel? Cutting wheels, or cut-off wheels, differ from grinding wheels in their function and structure. Where grinding wheels use an abrasive to grind large pieces of material off a workpiece from a shallow angle, cutting wheels typically make narrow, precise cuts at 90-degree angles. Consequently, cutting wheels are often thinner than grinding wheels — though they do not have the lateral strength required for side grinding, their minimal thickness makes them better for clean, accurate cuts.
Weiler Abrasives offers several cutting wheels for different applications. We provide everything from 1-millimeter cutting wheels to extended-diameter wheels for larger cuts. This guide to cutting wheels covers the differences between various types of cutting wheels and explains how to choose the right wheel for a given application.
TYPES OF CUTTING WHEELS
Cutting wheels come in a few different types. Some common types are type 1, type 27, type 41, and type 42, where the various numbers signify the wheels’ different shapes and properties.
TYPE 1 CUTTING WHEEL (TYPE 41 CUTTING WHEEL)
A type 1 cut-off wheel, also known as a type 41 cut-off wheel, is completely flat. It is typically considered the most efficient type of wheel for general all-purpose cutting. Because it lacks a depressed center, it provides more cutting surface and minimizes interference with the workpiece.
The flat profile helps create deep 90-degree cuts into a workpiece. It allows for the maximum depth of a 90-degree cut at the expense of a small amount of visibility for the operator. Though their straight profile and the way they mount close to the guard can diminish visibility for the operator, type 1 cutting wheels are exceptionally useful in grinders, die grinders, high-speed saws, stationary saws, and chop saws.
TYPE 27 CUTTING WHEEL (TYPE 42 CUTTING WHEEL)
Instead of being completely flat, a type 27 cut-off wheel, also known as a type 42 cut-off wheel, has a depressed center. The depressed center allows for added clearance when the operator is working at a constrained angle, though it gives the wheel limited cutting ability when working around corners, profiles, or extrusions. The depressed shape allows for a raised hub as well to hold the wheel securely in place.
The profile of a depressed-center cutting wheel gives the operator a better view of the cut, and it provides the ability to flush-cut because the raised hub means the locking nut can be recessed. Type 27 cutting wheels are designed for right angle grinders.
CUTTING WHEEL MATERIALS
Cutting wheels typically contain a few different materials — primarily the grains that do the cutting, the bonds that hold the grains in place, and the fiberglass that reinforces the wheels.
The grains within the abrasive of a cutting wheel are the particles that perform the cutting.
Grains may come in several types. Common types of grains for cutting wheels include ceramic alumina, zirconia alumina, aluminum oxide, and silicon carbide.
- Ceramic alumina: Ceramic alumina performs exceptionally well on steel, stainless steel, and other hard-to-cut metals, including inconel, high nickel alloy, titanium and armored steel. When used and maintained properly, it offers a superior lifespan and cut, and it tends to cut cooler than other grains, so it reduces heat discoloration.
- Zirconia alumina: Zirconia alumina provides superior cutting for steel, structural steel, iron, and other metals, and it is ideal for rail cutting and other heavy-duty applications. It offers a fast cut and a long life and holds up under extreme pressure.
- Aluminum oxide: Aluminum oxide is one of the most common abrasive grains. It provides a fast initial cut rate and consistent performance for steel and other metal.
- Silicon carbide: Silicon carbide is an extremely hard grain that produces very sharp and fast cutting. However, it is also friable, meaning it is not as tough as other grains.
The grain’s grit helps determine its physical and performance properties as well. The grit refers to the size of the individual abrasive particles, in the same way sandpaper grains receive classification by their size. Grit sizes range from 16 to 60, with smaller numbers indicating larger, coarser particles and larger numbers indicating smaller, finer particles.
The bond of a cutting wheel is the substance that holds the abrasive grains in place.
Manufacturers often refer to the grade, or hardness, of a wheel. The grade signifies not the hardness of the abrasive grains themselves but the hardness of the bond holding them in place. Generally, under identical conditions, a harder bond means the cutting wheel will have a longer lifespan, whereas a softer bond means the cutting wheel will have a shorter lifespan.
A softer bond does provide certain advantages — it sheds its grains more rapidly to provide a faster cut. With a stronger bond, the bond may hold the grains in place after they have become worn. A softer bond releases them faster to reveal fresh, sharp grains more often and increase the wheel’s cut rate.
With certain metals, it is important not to introduce contaminants into the metal when cutting. When cutting stainless steel and aluminum, always make sure the abrasive contains less than 0.1% of chlorine, iron, and sulfur, ensuring it is contaminant-free. Contaminant-free products will have identifying labels.
One of the bonds commonly used with abrasive grains for cutting wheels is resinoid. Resinoid bonds contain organic compounds. They tend to have better shock resistance than other types of bonds and can withstand operation at elevated peripheral speeds. They are ideal for cut-off applications, and they allow for self-sharpening by exposing new grains. Some specialized bonds are resin-over-resin bonded. These bonds provide additional moisture and heat resistance, as well as a stronger overall bond to make better use of the grains.
Cutting wheels contain fiberglass that may provide single, double, or triple reinforcement. Single reinforcement relies on a single layer of fiberglass and is useful for delivering exceptional cutting speed while reducing burrs on the workpiece. Double and triple reinforcement use multiple layers of fiberglass to provide added support for high-vibration and heavy-duty industrial applications.
At Weiler Abrasives, all our cutting wheels for right angle and die grinders have two layers of reinforcement. We do offer some single-reinforcement wheels in our large-diameter chop saw line and some triple-reinforced wheels in our new high-speed gas and electric saw wheel line.
SELECTING CUTTING WHEEL SIZE
With cutting wheels, the tool the operator has access to will often determine the wheel size, and selecting the correct size for the given application is also essential. Choosing the correct size involves calculating the right rate of revolutions per minute (RPMs) — the RPM rating of the cutting wheel should match or exceed the RPM rating on the grinder that will use it. In addition to verifying the RPM rating, it is also important to ensure that the wheel fits on the tool without interfering with or removing the guard.
CUTTING WHEEL DIAMETER
A wheel’s RPM rating tends to correspond with its diameter and the tool it is designed for. Common cutting wheel diameters range from 2 to 4 inches for die grinders, 4 to 9 inches for angle grinders, and 12 to 20 inches for chop, stationary, or high-speed saws.
CUTTING WHEEL THICKNESS
The right wheel thickness often depends on the precision and accuracy necessary for the cut. For a highly precise cut, a thinner wheel can perform with greater accuracy and precision. They cut more quickly and generate less heat. Thinner wheels also remove less material with each cut, which is ideal when making repairs or fitting up parts. The tradeoff is that they tend not to last as long as thicker wheels under identical conditions. In applications where precision and accuracy are not as critical but longevity is, a thicker wheel may be suitable.
Weiler Abrasives offers two ultra-thin high-performance cutting wheels — the Tiger Zirc Ultracut 1-millimeter and the Tiger Inox Ultracut 1-millimeter. Both of these cutting wheels come in 4 1/2- or 5-inch diameters. The Tiger Zirc Ultracut 1-millimeter offers an ultra-fast cutting rate and long life, and it is ideal for cutting thin sheet metal, tubes, profiles, and small cross-section rods. The Tiger Inox Ultracut 1-millimeter is ideal for stainless steel because it is contaminant-free.
Weiler Abrasives has an exciting new line of chop, stationary, and high-speed saw wheels as well. The chop saw wheels have a 3/32-inch thickness, and the high-speed saw wheels and stationary saw wheels have a 1/8-inch thickness. These cutting wheels are ideal for cutting applications in the metal fabrication, construction, and rail industries, and some of the specialized models can provide precise rail cutting, burr-free cutting, and stud cutting for heavy-duty applications.
CUTTING WHEEL APPLICATIONS
So far, we’ve discussed how types 1, 27, 41, and 42 cutting wheels offer distinctive shapes for different cutting applications. We’ve delved into the various common grains used in cutting wheels and how they are optimized for use on different metals, and we’ve explored the way diameter and thickness affect wheel speed and precision. Now let’s look into a few applications for industrial and professional cutting wheels and how to choose the right wheels for these uses.
In general metal fabrication, 0.045-inch wheel diameters are common choices. With thinner materials, an operator may want to choose a 1-millimeter wheel instead for greater precision, less heat generation, and fewer burrs that will require removal before welding. The choice of grain will likely depend on the material composition of the workpiece — higher-performing grains for structural steel and difficult-to-cut metals, contaminant-free wheels for stainless steel.
In metal pipe fabrication, the choice of cutting wheel often depends on the diameter of the pipe to be cut. For a 3/4-inch or smaller pipe, a 4 1/2-inch diameter will usually be sufficient. For a pipe of up to 2 1/2 inches, a 6-inch cutting wheel is effective, and for a pipe of up to 3 1/2 inches, a 9-inch cutting wheel is often most suitable. It’s also advisable to choose the thinnest wheel possible to minimize heat and friction and to use a type 1 wheel for a deeper cut unless the application imposes a particular constraint. For larger pipe often found on the pipeline, a depressed-center cutting wheel provides added clearance when working at a constrained angle, and 0.045-inch wheel thickness is ideal for cutting applications in fabrication yards or on the right of way for field repairs.
When an operator is working on the confined, hard-to-access spaces of a ship, making a cutting wheel last as long as possible is often a priority. For this reason, the operator will often want to choose a harder, potentially longer-lasting wheel like Tiger Ceramic. However, when operators must use air tools whose hoses have stretched over long distances to access difficult areas of the ship, the tools may be underpowered. In this case, wheels with a soft bond will be ideal because they make it easier to maintain a fast cut. In shipbuilding, the work material often influences the cutting wheel selection. When working with aluminum, an operator may want to select a cutting wheel that will not load or gum up, like Tiger Aluminum.
Preparing for welding typically involves exact metal cutting. With a basic cut-off operation, precision is not critical, but with complex work or repairs that need to preserve the initial aesthetic qualities of the material, precision can save time and money. Using a 0.045-inch cutting wheel — a little more than a millimeter thick — is common in welding to allow for precise and accurate cuts. For precise cuts on thin sheet metal, profiles, and small diameter rods, a 1-millimeter UltraCut wheel will provide smooth cutting and exceptional control for clean, ultra-precise cuts.
Modern railways use hard-to-cut alloy steels, so a high-performance cutting wheel is necessary for high-speed gas saws. A self-sharpening zirconia alumina grain that retains a high cutting performance throughout the life of the wheel offers excellent performance. The Tiger Zirc 14- and 16-inch cutting wheels are designed specifically for high-speed gas saws and deliver the high-performance solutions needed to increase productivity and profitability.
Building and construction sites feature a wide variety of metal cutting applications. Operators often look for a wheel that can do it all, from cutting off rebar to making long cuts on sheet metal. Many times, an aluminum oxide wheel provides the right mix of versatility, performance, and price. The Tiger AO line offers both flat and depressed-center cutting wheels in various sizes for die and right angle grinders. The Tiger AO line also expands into larger sizes from 12 to 16 inches for chop saws and high-speed gas and electric saws.
These large-diameter cutting wheels have several signature wheels designed with the construction industry in mind. For chop saws, the line includes a wheel designed for stud cutting and options for burr-free cutting that feature a single layer of fiberglass. The high-speed saw offering includes wheels with three layers of fiberglass for added support in heavy-duty cutting applications.
PARTNER WITH WEILER ABRASIVES FOR QUALITY CUTTING WHEELS
To see the benefits of superior cutting wheels in your industrial and professional operations, make Weiler Abrasives your trusted source for surface conditioning solutions. Our cutting wheels come in various types, grains, bonds, diameters, thicknesses, specialized features, and price points, so we can help you find the wheels or small cutting discs that are right for your applications.
The value you’ll receive extends far beyond the purchase of a cutting wheel. Our Value Package offers additional advantages such as safety training to facilitate the safe and effective use of your cutting wheel and direct field support to answer your questions and help you make your facility more efficient and productive.
Angle Grinder Blade Types and Uses
An angle grinder may be used in any trade field, including construction, metallurgy, and even woodworking. It is a far more versatile power tool than you might initially believe.
You may use them with a wide variety of angle grinders wheels and discs, including grinding wheels, cut-off discs, flap discs, and more, making them adaptable. You can do anything with these various wheels, from cutting metal sheets to scraping paint.
We’ll look at the wide varieties and their applications in this article. After that, you’ll know more about how each one operates and which one you’ll need to complete a particular activity.
Types of Angle Grinder Blades
Due to their versatility, grinding wheels, also known as grit discs, are the most recognizable and widely used of all the discs on the market. To handle particular applications, they come in a variety of diameters up to 10 inches and with variable levels of thickness.
There are various grit levels for grinding wheels. Higher grit numbers will be less coarse than lower grit values, and vice versa. Choose a high-grit grinding wheel for a smoother finish. Low-grit grinding wheels are ideal for quick, clumsy labor where the final appearance of your item isn’t as significant to you.
A grinding wheel is mainly used to remove extra material from a project’s surface. You may use a grinding wheel for various tasks, such as cleaning up cuts and preparing metal for welding, making it an all-purpose disc.
Cut-off wheels serve pretty different purposes despite their similar appearance to grinding wheels. The cut-off wheels are recognizable by their thin design, which enables them to remove metal bars and sheets more precisely. Wear the appropriate safety equipment because these discs can be hazardous due to their slim design.
Different wheel thicknesses are available, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Although you can do cuts more quickly on thinner discs, they will be more brittle. A thicker disc is more durable and less likely to deform after being cut. The disc will break if it is bent in an unusual way, scattering dangerous pieces around the room.
Cut-off wheels are typically employed to slice various metal objects, such as bars, tubes, and tiny pieces of sheet metal or plates. You can also use them to shorten excessively long bolts or remove welds.
The flaps are a term for the multiple overlapping abrasive sheets that make up the disc. Although flap wheels don’t look like a regular grinding wheel, it functions similarly. It distinguishes itself by giving your project a significantly more refined finish and is frequently used for finishing work. Different grit options are available, and they all follow the same principle: the more grit, the smoother the finish.
After working on a surface using a grinding wheel, you’ll typically transition to a flap wheel. The revolution will continue to function at its peak until all of the grit has been removed because as the flaps deteriorate, more determination is revealed. These angle grinder wheels are frequently used in metalworking, fabrication facilities, and autobody shops. They eliminate rust, polish surfaces, and remove minor flaws like burrs or scratches.
Another effective method for removing paint from a character is to use wire wheels. Although wire wheels come in various designs and serve multiple functions, they all essentially consist of wires that protrude from a circular base.
They have bristles that are either thick, twisted, more abrasive for quicker, more accessible work, or thinner, straighter, and less abrasive for more delicate, precise work. Be careful because they can cause scratches on the surface even when used on softer materials. Various angle grinder accessories are intended to remove rust or stubborn polish metal quickly.
Diamond cutting wheels are just as durable as diamond blades and are among the most rigid blades on the market. Diamond grits are embedded in the edges. They typically last longer than conventional blades because of their rugged construction.
The disc will last longer and be more durable if the cutting rim is higher. In wet and dry cutting processes, you can utilize diamond cutting discs on some of the most complex materials, such as masonry or stone. In the vast majority of programs, you can work quickly and efficiently.
PAINT STRIPPING WHEELS
Wire wheels frequently substitute paint-stripping wheels when removing paint from metal surfaces. These wheels are often referred to as strip discs. Since they won’t harm the material, they perform best when working with slightly more sensitive fabrics like soft metals, wood, or fiberglass. Strip discs are more suited to working on more delicate surfaces without endangering them because they are made of poly-fiber material. You can also use them to get rid of epoxy or other leftovers.
CONCRETE GRINDING WHEEL
A grinding wheel attachment is available for polishing or removing concrete from your surface. Wheels for grinding concrete come in a variety of sizes and designs. For concrete, fiberglass and other abrasive materials are used.
Stone, masonry, granite, marble, and other complex materials can all be ground using concrete grinding wheels. These discs have a structure that makes them durable over time, but they eventually wear out, so you should replace them when they start to chip.
When using an angle grinder, always be careful to follow the correct safety precautions and wear any necessary personal protective safety equipment. The disc size and angle grinder RPM must be compatible to prevent disc damage, which could result in injuries. Every day, the leading power tool manufacturers create new safety innovations to make using your angle grinder safer for you and those around you.
Types of Angle Grinder Discs Their Uses
Let’s check out the different types of angle grinder discs and their uses.
What is an Angle Grinder Disc?
First things first—let’s go over the basics. An angle grinder disc is any disc designed to fit in an angle grinder and rotates at high speed to perform cutting and polishing operations. The angle grinder disc or wheel spins at anywhere from around 2,800 rpm to 12,000 rpm, depending on the brand and model of the tool and the settings you select.
Just by switching different discs in and out of the tool, you can use your angle grinder for a variety of applications. You can cut, grind, polish, carve, and more.
over, you can work on a wide range of materials such as metal, stone, mortar, brick, or wood.
Angle Grinder Disc Types
Now that you know what an angle grinder disc is, let’s check out some of the most common types of discs you can use and what you can do with them.
Large and small versions of these discs are available to suit the size of your angle grinder. For general purposes, consider a larger disc. For detailed work, consider a smaller disc.
It makes sense to talk first about grinding discs, also called “grit discs.” These are the discs you need if you want to grind metal or stone. Each disc features an abrasive compound consisting of grains and a bonding agent. You can choose a higher or lower grit depending on how fine or coarse you want the abrasive grains to be.
You may want to start with a low, coarse grit to speed through the beginning of a task, and then switch to a high grit for a smoother finish.
Next, we have cut-off discs, also known as parting wheels. Choose this type of slim, tapered wheel if you want to cut metal stock. You will find variations in thickness for cut-off discs. There are tradeoffs either way. The thinner the disc, the more easily it can slice into metal. But thin abrasive discs are brittle and more prone to breakage. The thicker the disc is, the sturdier it is, and the less likely it is to warp or fracture while you are using it.
So, you will need to weigh those pros and cons when choosing your cut-off discs. In either case, however, try not to push too hard or too fast into the metal. Doing that only makes it more likely you will damage the work and shatter the disc you are using.
Diamond Cutting Discs
If you are working with masonry or stones, a regular grit disc or cut-off disc won’t cut. You will need a diamond cutting disc which is a superior alternative. As the name implies, diamonds grits are embedded into the edges of a steel disc.
As diamond rates a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, it makes for efficient cutting of concrete, tiles, stones, etc. It also offers superb durability.
So, with a diamond disc, you can work more quickly and easily, even on harder metals. It will cost you more to purchase diamond discs, but they should outlast others, making them more cost-effective in the long run than they may initially appear.
A flap disc is probably the best option when you need to do some sanding with an angle grinder.
This type of disc uses abrasive (usually Aluminum Oxide) that is similar to a grit disc, but a whole lot finer. The main difference here is that instead of a single flat piece, the flap disc is made of multiple layers of overlapping abrasive sheets called flaps. Sometimes these are referred to as flap wheels, although that name is more appropriate for a radial flap wheel that you use on a drill or rotary tool.
Flap Disc Uses
With a flap disc, you can remove minor imperfections from a surface, remove rust, and polish the surface. Also, if there are fine grinding tasks that you cannot tackle using a regular grit disc, a flap disc may be appropriate. These types of angle grinder discs are often used in autobody shops, metalworking, and fabrication industries. Worried about a flap disc overheating? You can try a ceramic sanding disc as an alternative.
One of the most distinctive-looking types of wheels you can get for your angle grinder is a wire wheel. You can use a wire wheel to remove paint or rust from metal.
You also can polish hard metal with a wire wheel—but keep in mind that on softer materials, using a wire wheel is more likely to lead to scratches than a smooth finish. Instead of featuring a cutting or grinding disc, this wheel includes clusters of bristles protruding in a radial formation. These bristles may be slender and straight, or they could be thick and twisted.
The type of wire disc you should get depends on the application you have in mind. The thick, twisted bristles are kind of like coarse grit on a grinder disc. Choose them for tasks that require more speed than precision. Then, switch to straight, fine bristles for work that requires more exactness.
You should always wear safety goggles when you are working with your angle grinder. But it is extra important with a wire wheel, as wires sometimes snap off. That is about the last thing you want flying into your eye. I have seen a lot of novice users ignoring the basic safety practices when with a grinder. I wrote an entire guide on angle grinder safety since this is really important.
Paint Stripping Discs
A wire wheel is not your only option to remove paint. An alternative wheel to consider is a paint stripping disc.
If you are working on a material like wood, fiberglass, or soft metal that you could end up scuffing with a regular wire wheel, a paint stripper may be more suitable.
Instead of wire bristles, a paint stripper wheel features poly-fiber material. It removes paint with efficiency, but should not scratch or scuff the underlying surface. You also can use it to remove epoxy or other residues.
You are probably wondering by this point whether there is a type of disc designed with the specific purpose of polishing in mind. Actually, what you are looking for is a polishing pad, which is also called a “buffing pad.”
A variety of different types of polishing pads are on the market. You will need to choose a material that is right for the surface you are working on. For fine surfaces such as polishing your car, get a buffing wheel made of wool.
It is important to take it slow when you are polishing. If you select too high a speed, you will probably end up damaging your surface. Bigger angle grinders are more likely to offer you speeds that are suitable for the job.
Concrete Grinding Wheels
With the right discs, your angle grinder can not only handle metal but can even grind or polish concrete.
There are assorted shapes of concrete grinding wheels and various grit materials. You can find wheels with silicon carbide grain or diamond grit. The diamond cup wheel is the most widely used type since it can be used on a variety of materials and are durable.
Along with hard abrasive materials, these wheels are made of sturdy materials through and through like durable fiberglass. Such materials not only preserve the life of the wheel but also help it push through concrete. Besides grinding concrete with these types of discs, you can also use them to grind granite, stone, marble, masonry, and similar materials.
Although a concrete grinding wheel can offer great longevity, these tough discs eventually wear down. An old disc becomes increasingly likely to chip during use.
Wood Cutting Discs
A couple of times now, we have mentioned grinding or cutting wood using an angle grinder. But as you already know, quite a few types of discs are only suitable for harder materials. If you attempt to use them to cut or carve wood, you might end up damaging your project.
So, is there such a thing as a wood cutting disc? The answer to that question is “yes.”
Woodcutting discs typically feature a toothed, circular blade. You will notice the tips are often tungsten carbide. The reason manufacturers use carbide tips for wood cutting discs is because carbide is incredibly hard. In fact, if you need to sharpen carbide tips, you will require diamond to get the job done.
Because carbide teeth are so hard, they can make clean cuts through both softwood and hardwood. Not only that, but you can get a lot of use out of them before you need to sharpen or replace them.
What types of wood can wood cutting discs handle? You should have no problem slicing a quality disc through pine, cherry, walnut, oak, mahogany, maple, or any other wood you can name.
Wood Carving Discs
If you want to bring carving, shaping, and grinding into your woodworking, you may need to go beyond wood cutting discs to purchase wood carving discs as well.
These discs also usually include carbide teeth. But instead of a flat disc, a wood carving disc has more of a donut shape to it. The teeth are not located around the edges. Instead, they cover the entire surface of the wheel. Typically, they number in the hundreds.
With this shape, this type of disc is especially ideal for creating a concave surface—say, for example, if you are carving out the interior of a wooden bowl.
Keep in mind that working on wood is a bit different from working on metal or concrete. Those materials are typically homogenous. Wood, on the other hand, has natural contours and knots. When working with a wood carving or cutting disc, you must take care not to let your tool catch on irregular features like these. Some wheels are more prone to this than others.
- What is an Angle Grinder Disc?
- 10 Angle Grinder Disc Types
- 1. Grinding Discs
- 2. Cut-off Discs
- 3. Diamond Cutting Discs
- 4. Flap Discs
- 5. Wire Wheels
- 6. Paint Stripping Discs
- 7. Polishing Pads
- 8. Concrete Grinding Wheels
- 9. Wood Cutting Discs
- 10. Wood Carving Discs
What Angle Grinder Blade Cuts Metal? | Things You Should Know
Ann Hutchinson is the heart of the team, senior editor and our Head of Product Reviews which means she sets the testing parameters of each group review ensuring that tests resemble everyday use.
An abrasive type 1 or type 27 angle grinder blade can effectively cut through metal of any density. With appropriate cutting techniques and safety protocols, the abrasive blade makes the cutting process extremely safe and efficient.
When tackling woodworking projects, you will inevitably face the conundrum of having to cut through metal. Using a hacksaw for the task can be taxing and time-consuming, and that’s where an angle grinder shows its versatility.
But before you grab your trusty grinder and start working, you should consider a few things about both the power tool and the blade. Let’s explore how you can maximize your efficiency by using the right metal cutting discs and the right techniques.
Cutting Sheet Metal With Angle Grinders
- 1. The Make
- 2. The Durability
- 3. The Thickness
- 4. The Cutting Depth
- 5. The Blade Type
- 1. Using The Right Tools
- 2. Check Machine And Cutting Wheel Condition
- 3. Affix The Cutting disc
- 4. Final Checks
- 5. Turn The Grinder On
- 6. Cutting The Metal Right
- 1. Workplace Safety
- 2. Proper ventilation
- 3. Protective Gear Checklist
- 4. Fire Extinguisher
Angle grinders are capable of cutting through even the densest of metals, provided they are fitted with the right disc. And while grinders are usually used for refurbishing and polishing metal materials, you needn’t limit its use to that.
You can use your angle grinder for a variety of metalworking purposes, ranging from making knives to automobile body parts. Each application of this hand-held power tool can be performed with a metal disc that suits the job well.
A good angle grinder and blade combination will leave no room for complaints once you’ve finished with cutting dense steel and even sheet metal. And so, the role of a blade in metalwork cannot be understated. The right kind of disc will make cutting metal or polishing hard edges significantly easier.
The Right Cutting Blade For Metal
The right cutting blade for metalwork is an abrasive cut off disc, also known as a cutoff wheel. These discs have abrasives embedded in the grinding wheel suited for specific metals, such as aluminum cutting discs using aluminum oxide and silicon carbide abrasives. You have the option of using a one-blade-cuts-all disc, but they may turn out to be less effective than metal-specific abrasive discs.
Here is what you should consider when picking the right kind of metal cutting disc for your angle grinder.
Cutting discs best suited for metals are made with resinoid-bonded abrasives, which results in the abrasive materials being fused into the wheel. In short, the abrasives don’t wear off easily as the disc continues to age, enabling you to cut metals with it for longer.
A cutting disc that breaks midway through a job is less than ideal, which is why the disc should be able to withstand prolonged pressure. To this end, most cutting wheels utilize fiberglass to strengthen them and resist damage when they are used.
Thinner discs cut metal faster and produce much less waste. These range from 0.04 to 0.045 inches in thickness and their point-of-contact with the cutting surface is minimal.
On the other hand, thicker discs cut slowly, produce more heat and can lead to the potential discoloration of the metal they cut. Thicker discs are also more durable, so if you’re willing to accept the trade-off, you may be able to work with them. Their thicknesses range from 0.06 to 0.09 inches.
The Cutting Depth
You can only fit a disc that can cut no deeper than 2.75 inches in a standard angle grinder. It would be wise to keep that in mind while looking into getting the correct cutting disc.
The Blade Type
There are several types of cutting discs designed to cut metal, but the ones best suited for the job are type 1 and type 27. These discs cater to different cutting needs, surfaces, and environments, giving you options when choosing one for your specific task.
Type 1 cutting discs are completely flat and are used to cut metal of all types, including mild steel. The downsides to using these is that they may make it difficult to make a flush cut and may break when used too much.
In contrast, the type 27 discs feature a depressed center that allows your cutting wheel to get closer to the metal. The trade-off with type 27 discs is the high cost and a narrower range of applications.
How To Use An Angle Grinder To Cut Metal
Using The Right Tools
Depending on the kind of metal you’re about to work on with an angle grinder, you’ll need an abrasive disc suited for the job. Hobbyists can get away with using an all-purpose disc for the job instead, as it’s more readily available.
You can also use a C-clamp to keep the metal in place before you begin cutting. The less your metal moves as you cut, the better and safer it will be.
Lastly, you can gather protective equipment such as safety goggles and earmuffs before you begin working. Sparks and stray pieces of metal may fly everywhere, and preventing any unfortunate injury as you work is paramount.
Check Machine And Cutting Wheel Condition
If you’ve been using the angle grinder habitually, you should check the machine before and after you use it. Over time, the handheld power tool can show wear and tear, and any chances of parts breaking and flying off should be reduced to the best of your abilities.
The same goes for the cutting wheel, and you should ensure twice over that it shows no signs of corrosion. If you see any, address the issue at once, or else you may see shattered chunks of the cutting wheel breaking apart and damaging your project. Worse still, it can lead to serious injury if you don’t don the appropriate safety gear.
Affix The Cutting disc
Next, secure the cutting disc properly to the angle grinder and ensure that the disc fits snugly. Type 1 discs need to have the flat side of the nut facing downward against the grinder, while type 27 discs need the protruding part of the nut facing down.
You can perform a few final checks before you begin slicing and shaping your metal. These tests ensure that the cutting process remains as safe as possible while giving you the best results.
- The angle grinder turns on and functions properly
- The metal is secured correctly with the C-clamp
- Your protective gear (safety glasses and face shields) is in pristine condition
- The cutting disc isn’t warped and doesn’t move abnormally
- There are any hazardous objects in your vicinity
Once you’ve marked all these safety points off the checklist, you can move on to the next step of the process.
Turn The Grinder On
When you turn the angle grinder on, you should have the guard face your body. The guard will protect your fingers from getting caught in the cutting blade as you work, but remember to be careful!
You may position the machine in a manner that doesn’t require you to cross your arms while you cut. The last thing you’ll want happening while cutting is the grinder slipping from your hands, after all.
Cutting The Metal Right
Use the following checklist to ensure that you cut the surface well and prevent the cutting wheel from snapping:
- Keep the cutting edge at a 90-degree angle with the metal
- Be patient and take your time cutting the metal
- Apply no more than moderate pressure on the wheel
- Keep your eyes on the cutting surface
- Don’t leave a cut unfinished, as it can lead to jagged metal edges
Angle Grinder Safety Tips
As you cut through metal, sparks will fly in all directions and may end up igniting flammables in your vicinity. These sparks can reach up to 1,800 F, which is why you should clear your workplace of anything that can easily catch fire.
- Wood and sawdust
- Oils and fuel
- Anything that uses aerosol
- Power cables
Sparks may accompany fumes as well since metal discs can produce a lot of heat as they slice through metal. Keep your doors and Windows open and if there’s a strong breeze coming in, position yourself in a way that directs the sparks away from your person.
Protective Gear Checklist
You should wear personal protective equipment while working with metal, such as:
- Safety goggles for eye protection
- Face shield
- Sturdy gloves
In addition to these, ensure that you don’t wear excessively loose clothing to reduce the risk of it getting caught in the machine. Clothing made of synthetic fibers is a no-go, as it can catch fire much more quickly than any organic piece of clothing. Lastly, wearing a long sleeve shirt to cover exposed skin on your arms is also a good idea to protect you from minor burns.
It’s a no-brainer to have a fire extinguisher within reach and ready to be used in a workshop. Ensure that the extinguisher works properly by testing its functionality regularly and refilling in case it is depleted in a previous use.
Angle Grinder Blade Cuts Metal Conclusion
Thus concludes our guide on angle grinder blades and how they can be used to cut metal. Metal can be quite difficult to slice through, but an abrasive metal cutting disc can effectively do the job.
If you’ve used angle grinders before, you may have noticed that the blade types used for metal are different from the angle grinder blade for concrete. The process for cutting metal requires extra safety precautions with the additional safety hazards that it poses, especially when compared to the process followed with angle grinder discs for wood.
As long as you have the right power tools and safety gear with you, the process is safe and highly efficient. All things considered, you can pick out the right cutting disc for the material of your choice and get to finishing that DIY project of yours!